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Travolta, Bennett Head New NJ Hall Of Fame Class

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- The newest inductees into New Jersey's Hall of Fame include actors John Travolta and Queen Latifah and singer Tony Bennett.

Others winning induction to the hall this spring include business magnate Martha Stewart, football greats Franco Harris and Joe Theisman and former Gov. Brendan Byrne.

Gov. Chris Christie announced the list of 13 inductees Thursday afternoon in Trenton. The red-carpet induction ceremony will be in June at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Rounding out the hall's fourth class are actor Bruce Willis, World War II heroes John Basilone and Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, novelist Mary Higgins Clark, jazz great Bucky Pizzarelli and business owner Leon Hess.

The hall honors New Jerseyans who have made their mark in the fields of history, entertainment, enterprise and sports. There's also a general category for educators, military leaders and politicians.

Many inductees were born or raised in the Garden State; some still live here or have other significant ties to New Jersey. Travolta was born and raised in Englewood, for example. Higgins Clark is active in several New Jersey charities. Hess, who died in 1999 and will be inducted posthumously, once owned the Jets professional football franchise.

Christie, who was an honorary chairman of last year's induction event, noted how tough it is to get into New Jersey's Hall of Fame if Woodrow Wilson, a former Princeton University president, New Jersey governor and U.S. president, didn't get elected until 2010, in the hall's third class.

"That's how great New Jersey is -- Woodrow Wilson made it in the third round," Christie said then.

Recipients were chosen by fellow New Jerseyans, who voted online from a list of 30 nominees, and by a voting academy made up of 100 state organizations.

Previous inductees include Bruce Springsteen, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Yogi Berra. Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Les Paul, Count Basie and Carl Lewis were inducted in May.

The hall, which had existed virtually, mounted its first exhibit on the boardwalk at Asbury Park last fall. Items on view included Nicholson's second-grade report card and Susan Sarandon's Edison High School cheering jacket. The hall will exhibit items at the State Chamber of Commerce conference in Washington next week.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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