Famous Alumni From Miami Beach High School
Miami Beach High School has been educating local kids since 1924 and has produced a most impressive roster of alumni.
The alumni listed here are just a few of the most well-known; the list is long and includes a great number of professionals in various fields who have come back to live and work in the area.
Barbara Walters (‘47) is one of the world’s most respected female broadcast journalists. Walters was the first female evening anchor for ABC Evening News and worked 10 years as morning anchor of NBC’s Today followed by a 25-year as co-host for the news magazine 20/20. Walter currently co-hosts The View.
Entertainment journalism pioneer Jeanne Wolf (circa ‘58) honed her skills on Entertainment Tonight and went on to report for many major print and broadcast outlets including Nightline and Good Morning America. Currently, she hosts a daily syndicated radio show, Jeanne Wolf’s Hollywood, and is the West coast editor of Parade Magazine.
Roy Firestone (‘71) turned his love for sports into a brilliant broadcasting career. He began as a sports anchor and reporter locally, branching out to Los Angeles with KCBS-TV and eventually landing on ESPN’s Sportslook and Up Close Prime Time. Firestone has won seven Emmy Awards for his work.
Andy Garcia (‘74) began his acclaimed acting career in South Florida. His role in Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables brought him Hollywood fame. He later earned an Academy Award nomination for his acting in The Godfather Part III. He has recently appeared in the Ocean’s series. His next appearance on screen is on The Next Pink Panther, which is scheduled for release in 2009.
Fellow thespian Mickey Rourke (circa ‘74) was devoted to boxing in his early career but turned to acting after suffering a concussion. Rourke caught the attention of critics for his role in The Pope of Greenwich Village and later became a sex symbol in 9 ½ Weeks. In recent years, Rourke acted in the film Sin City and its sequel.
Kim Hunter (circa ‘40) played the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. She later won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for the same role on film. Hunter also starred as the chimpanzee scientist Zira in the first three films The Planet of the Apes.
Diora Baird (circa ‘01) was vice-president of the school’s thespian society before appearing in Wedding Crashers and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. She has also appeared in Playboy and modeled for Guess?.
Film and Theater
Brett Ratner (‘87) directed music videos early on in his film career but is best known for three Rush Hour films starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. He most recently directed X-Men: The Last Stand. Ratner’s next film, Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra, is in production.
Screenwriter Mitch Glazer (circa ‘71) is best known for writing Scrooged and adapting Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations, to the big screen. Glazer is also an active producer and worked on the associate level for Lost in Translation.
Marc Medoff (‘58) is an award-winning playwright, theater director and screenwriter whose work includes Children of a Lesser God, which was also adapted to film and earned him an Academy Award nomination. On stage, he directed Waiting for Godot, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Equus, among others.
Daniel Taradash (‘29) wrote for the big screen. He won an Academy Award and Writer’s Guild of America award for his most famous work, From Here to Eternity.
Songwriter, producer and performer Desmond Child (‘72) has written countless songs for major pop and rock musicians, including Bon Jovi (“Livin’ on a Prayer”), Cher (“Just Like Jesse James”), Aerosmith (“Crazy”) and Ricky Martin (“Livin’ La Vida Loca”), to name a few.
Rapper Luther Campbell (circa ‘78) studied drama while in school but went on to become a controversial record label owner and rap performer. His original company, Luke Records, was responsible for popularizing the rap group 2 Live Crew.
Duane Starks (circa ‘92) plays as defensive back for the NFL. He most recently played for the Oakland Raiders. During Super Bowl XXXV, Starks became a star player after returning an interception for a touchdown.
Neal Walk (‘65), a 6’10” Jewish NBA player for the Phoenix Suns, was the only team member to have more than 1,000 rebounds in a season.
Pauline B. Eisenstadt (‘56) held the post of senator for the State of New Mexico from 1997-2000.
Steven J. Green (‘63) took on the role of United States Ambassador to Singapore (1997-2001) and is currently an Honorary Consul General for Singapore in Miami.
Robert Rubin served as the 70th United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton’s administration (1995-99). Rubin co-authored a memoir along with Jacob Weisberg titled In An Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington, which was a New York Times bestseller in 2003.
Judge Gerald Kogan (‘50) served as Chief Justice for the Florida Supreme Court (1987-98) and Judge Alan S. Gold (‘62) currently serves as U.S. Federal District Judge. He began his appointment in 1997.
Judy Drucker (‘47) is the founding Artistic Director of the Concert Association of Florida. As South Florida’s leading arts impresario for 40 years, she brought world-class dance, music and theatre to local stages.
Mitchell Kaplan (‘72) is the founder of Miami’s longest-standing major independent bookstore, Books and Books, as well as the c0-founder of the Miami Book Fair International.
Kenneth Treister (‘48) is the architect and sculptor behind Miami Beach’s landmark Holocaust Memorial, which was dedicated in 1990.
Miami Beach Alumni Association - Hall of Fame 2007
Steve Cohen (‘70), the school’s alumni association president, speaks proudly about the accomplishments of many Miami Beach alumni. “All of these people are responsible for so many good things in the South Florida community or on a national level,” Steven emphasizes. “There isn’t a school in the world that can claim this roster.”
What is it about Miami Beach? Cohen believes it’s the close-knit community: “It was a special place to grow up because it was a small yet very talented community. Talent and intelligence within the community brought everyone to a higher level.”
Cohen is in charge of organizing this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which has been honoring alumni since 1999. Each year, a committee chooses five alumni and one faculty member. “It’s hard to pick which one, everyone has contributed something,” Steve says.
Here are some brief career highlights from this year’s group of inductees:
Judge David M. Gersten (‘69) has served on the Third District Court of Appeal since 1989 and is currently serving a two-year term as chief judge of the court. He has been an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, Florida since 1994.
Dr. Barry Katzen (‘63) is a pioneer in angioplasty (a surgical procedure to open blocked arteries) and is the Founder and Medical Director of Baptist Cardiac and Vascular Institute in Miami. He is also a Clinical Professor of Radiology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Dr. Guy Stofman (‘75) specialized in otolaryngology and plastic surgery and became a full-time faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh. He also worked as Chief of Plastic Surgery at The Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh’s trauma center and burn unit. Dr. Stofman has helped patients suffering from severe deformities, loss of limb and life-threatening illness.
Irving “Red” Heller (‘51) served the Miami-Dade Police Department for 43 years, during which time he rose to the ranks of Assistant Deputy Director and implemented several community-oriented programs that helped young people. Retired since 2001, Assistant Director Heller remains committed to crime prevention.
Stanley F. Whitman (‘37) is the owner and developer of Bal Harbour Shops, which is South Florida’s top mall – ranked number one most productive shopping center in the U.S. by Women’s Wear Daily. He was also founding director of the Community National Bank and Trust of Bal Harbour (now Sun Trust, Inc.).
Debbie Zane (‘79) created her own casting company and is responsible for casting many hit films such as Dreamgirls, Men in Black, all three of the Ocean’s series as well as next summer’s installment of Indiana Jones.
Zelda Glazer (faculty 1967-‘77) was the English Department Chair at Miami Beach High School from 1970-75. She later became the Director of Language Arts for the entire Miami-Dade public school system.
The induction ceremony and luncheon takes place on November 16th, 11:30 am at the Biscayne Bay Marriot. Call Steve at (305) 674-1799 for more information.
Paradise Project - A Retrospective of the Past 75 years at Miami Beach High School
Visit the Miami Beach Senior High Alumni Association website and click on “The Paradise Project” for a preview video clip of the 75-year retrospective. Imagine playing hooky at the beach only to find your homeroom teacher is doing the same!
The campus used to have portraits of the inductees framed on a wall, but the display was taken down because of current construction. Miami Beach Senior High School is located right around the corner from the Convention Center and Botanical Gardens on Prairie Avenue and Dade Boulevard.
You Deserve More Than an Ordinary Vacation.
Travel with Miami Beach 411 Today!
The Miami Beach 411 Travel Store is Open 24/7.
36 Comments on
"Famous Alumni From Miami Beach High School"Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.