By Bill Gelman
Who remembers the South Philly Review Famous 500 issue? We are talking an extensive list of A-list talent who made their respective marks in the worlds of music, television, sports, politics and other areas. Angelo Dundee, the man who trained the likes of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, once called South Philly home.
So did Irvin Kershner, the man who directed “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Rob McElhenney, the executive producer, writer and star of the FX hit comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” may have been too young for the first famous edition, but there is no doubt he must be included in any current conversation. Former Mayor Frank Rizzo may be the center of a controversial debate these days, but he is one of the most beloved figures to ever come out of South Philly. Speaking of current stars, Jaeden Lieberher, who plays Bill Denbrough in the hit movie “It” also has strong South Philly ties.
We could go on and on with the likes of Mario Lanza, Marian Anderson, Chubby Checker, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Rydell, Jack Klugman, Sherman Hemsley, Al Martino, James Darren, Paul Arizin and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, but you get the point.
Instead of filling the pages of this week’s issues with an endless list of worthy names, we are going to take a step back and let you, our loyal readers, weigh in on the conversation.
The South Philly Review’s 70th anniversary issue is coming out on Nov. 29 (it will be here before you know it) and will include a section once again devoted to former and current stars who called South Philly home. Feel free to debate among yourselves, and share with us what names make the cut and why. Unlike the judges on the NBC hit reality shows “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent,” the stars we are talking about here have already achieved greatness and don’t need the approval from a panel of judges to determine whether or not he or she is worthy of inclusion.
Like those talent showcases, there are only 70 spots available and some tough decisions will have to be made. Who would you put on the list? We will be accepting names via email, Facebook and Twitter, so be on the lookout for our social media posts. The final list will be a combination of South Philly Review staff selections and reader input. Just to be clear, the likes of fictional Rocky Balboa and Will Smith, who is West Philly born and raised, will not be considered. Sorry. Shouting “Yo Rocky!,” however, is not against the rules.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let the famous South Philly name game begin. Send your list of five, 10, 50 or all 70 — there is no limit. Keep an eye on our social media channels for random questions tied into the Famous 70.
Check out next week’s Review for more details about our 70th anniversary edition.
Email your list of names to firstname.lastname@example.org.