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Famous Alumni From Miami Beach High School

November 08, 2007 By Maria de los Angeles in Miami: Local News  | 36 Comments

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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.

Broadcast Journalism

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.

Acting

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.

Music

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.

Sports

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.

Politics

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.

Justice

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.

Local

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.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Maria de los Angeles is a freelance wordsmith who loves to write about all things travel in Florida and the Caribbean. She is also the author of the award-winning blog Sex and the Beach.

See more articles by Maria de los Angeles.

See more articles by Maria de los Angeles

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36 Comments on

"Famous Alumni From Miami Beach High School"

Mark Pilnick says:

Did a Rochelle Jean Bornstein graduate either in 1967 or 1968? I used to date her when we were teenagers. Now I’ve found there’s a talk show host named Rollye James who grew up in Miami and I wonder if it’s the same person. Thanks.

Posted on 02/12/2008 at 8:50 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Hi Mark, did you visit Rollye’s site? I’m sure you’d be able to ID her in person.  Here is a link to her Wiki.  It says she went to school in Miami, but not which school.  Let me know.  I’ve never heard of her, but apparently she is extremely controversial.

Posted on 02/13/2008 at 12:01 PM

Linda Hirsh Karpf (71) says:

I was an old friend of Rollie’s at Bay Harbor Elem.  She graduated from MB in 1970.  My Mother was good friends with her Mom but lost contact with (now Rollye) when Mrs Bornstein passed away.

Posted on 02/26/2008 at 8:38 AM

Mark Pilnick says:

Linda, thanks for the conformation.  I did get in touch with Rollye through her web site and we exchanged a few e-mails.  It actually was the former program director of a radio station that we both worked at, though at different times, who brought me up to date on what several of the station staff were doing, though I know she spelled her name Rollie when I knew her. She was so mature, poised and pretty and I couldn’t believe I was dating her! 

I graduated Norland in ‘68 and left Miami in early ‘90 after my dad died.  Been back a few times and as I told Maria de los Angeles, who also responded, I find myself missing Miami with each passing year and I told my wife that if my novel gets published, we migh be moving.  I still have family and friends there so it would be like coming home.  Take care.

Mark

Posted on 02/26/2008 at 10:36 AM

judy Carson says:

Robert Rubin’s photo is inaccurately posted w/ Gerald Kogan’s name.
nice to hear about people.  it was a great school and community

Posted on 11/20/2008 at 9:28 PM

Bobbie Levinson Galex says:

True,,,Robert Rubin also graduated in our class in ‘56!

Posted on 03/23/2009 at 1:43 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Dear all, I received an email from someone a while back about the corrections—but it got lost somehow! If you do know the correct names, please email me.  I’d be happy to correct the graphic.

Posted on 03/23/2009 at 2:11 PM

Gus says:

We fixed the photo. Sorry for the name mix up.

There’s been so many famous people graduate from Beach High, it’s hard to keep all of you straight.

Please let us know if we are missing anybody.

Posted on 03/24/2009 at 4:54 PM

Ralph says:

If it’s the same Rollie, it’s been a long time since the days of WQAM and “Chickenman”

Posted on 03/29/2009 at 2:29 PM

Mark Pilnick says:

Ralph, she spells her name differently, now, but she’s one and the same.

Posted on 03/29/2009 at 3:18 PM

Dr. Arlene Amarant MBSHS 63 says:

We’ve had many more Beach High graduates contribute positively to society. Mike Telson, Michelle Oka Doner, Norman Brooks, Marty Engels, Abbey Morris Chase Palgon, should also be mentioned from the class of ‘63. Arnie Staloff and Nicki Englander Grossman are now in the Beach High Hall of Fame, too.

Posted on 03/29/2009 at 11:22 PM

Paul Goodman says:

What a wonderful past that was created by MBHS and it’s classmates.I met my wife of 55years[barbara"hotrock]Firestone now deceased.Paul Goodman (45)

Posted on 04/06/2009 at 12:02 PM

Jules Weiss says:

I attended MBHS 1953-1957..been living out
here in the San Francisco Bay Area since
1966, but I still flash back on that great old school and that special era that was
Miami Beach in the 1950’..MISS IT!!!..

Posted on 06/23/2009 at 5:12 PM

Scott R. Jay says:

Be sure to check out the Miami Beach Senior High School Alumni Association’s website for more distinguished alumni who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.  The site has over 500 pictures taken at various Alumni Association events or submitted by alumni.

If you graduated Miami Beach Senior High School, be sure to register so that you can peruse the entire site and be able to locate former classmates and friends in our database which currently numbers over 4,500 alumni.  Registration is free and open to all graduates.
s

Posted on 08/03/2009 at 10:49 AM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Hi Scott! Thanks for stopping by! It seems like the website has been revamped since I wrote this article.

For our readers, here is the URL for the site:  http://www.beachhigh.com/

Posted on 08/03/2009 at 11:28 AM

Rosalind Merritt, Past President: Miami Beach Sr. says:

Here are some of our other “Hall of Famers” from Miami Beach High School:

Debra Zane is a casting agent in Hollywood, having casted many award-winning movies. 

Stanley Whitman is the force behind development of Bal Harbour Shops, as George Berlin was to Aventura.

Stephen Zack is national president of the American Bar Association.

Andrew Hall is a Holocaust survivor who litigates internationally against terrorists…and wins!

Bonnie Tischler broke the “glass ceiling” in law enforcement.

Stephen Ross is owner of Miami Dolphins and the SunLife Stadium.

We also have very many famous doctors in our midst:  Richard Berger, Barry Katzen, Lawrence Robbins, Richard Grossman, Bernard Nusbaum, Guy Stofman, Chris Gallen, Arthur Gilbert, Jamie Barkin, & Jeffrey Chesky, to name a few!

Many more judges in our midst: Judge Robert Cohen, A. Jay Cristol, & Eugene Fierro. 

More politicians:  Locally:  State Senator Nan Rich, Nicki Englander Grossman & Jimmy Morales. Nationally: Mayor Larry Klein of Palo Alto, Sen. Pauline Bauman Eisenstadt from New Mexico, and Ambassador David Litt.

More outstanding teachers: Stephen Herzfeld, Irene Roberts, Mary Elizabeth Teller McCall, Zelda Glazer, Gary Glick, Coach Chuck Fieldson, and who could forget our illustrious principal, Dr. Sol Lichter?  At the college level, we’ve honored Professor Isadore Newman.

There are many distinguishing business-people and philanthropists such as Sylvia Laeser Goldsmith from Jewish Family Services and Barton Goldberg, banker. 

There are many more distinguished honorees, so if I’ve omitted mentioning the others, please forgive me.  Pay a visit to our NEW Beach High school, and in the lobby of the auditorium, you’ll see a whole wall of our 82 Hall of Fame Members.

Posted on 02/06/2010 at 5:15 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Rosalind, thank you so much for stopping by and enlightening us on the other graduates! That is certainly an impressive list.  Would you be able to help me arrange a visit to the lobby of the auditorium? (I’m assuming I can’ t just walk into the school grounds.)

Posted on 02/07/2010 at 10:11 AM

Scott R. Jay says:

Maria -  If Roz is unavailable, I would be happy to meet you at the school to show you the Hall of Fame exhibit.  We also have over 50 pictures from this year’s presentation online at our website at http://www.beachhigh.com

Scott R. Jay, President, Miami Beach Senior High School Alumni Association

Posted on 02/07/2010 at 10:59 PM

Maria de los Angeles says:

Thank you, Scott! I will keep you in mind.

Posted on 02/08/2010 at 8:50 AM

Glo Brown says:

Did Luther campbell at anytime attend miami central hs or madison jr high?

Posted on 06/12/2010 at 12:50 PM

Larry Schwartz says:

Herbert G. Yalof, ‘54, became president of Macy’s East.  He passed away in September 2009.  His wife, Ina Schwartz, ‘56, is a distinguished author.

Posted on 08/08/2010 at 6:49 AM

Larry Schwartz says:

Ina Schwartz, ‘56, is a distinguished author having published 11 books related to medicine and personal health, and co-authoring with Janet Evanovich.  She has been a writing teacher at Dartmouth College.  Ina’s husband, Herb Yalof, was a major figure in the retail sales industry.

Posted on 08/08/2010 at 6:56 AM

Scott R. Jay, President, MBSHS Alumni Association says:

We have a new group on individuals who will be inducted into the Miami Beach Senior High School Hall of Fame on November 12, 2010, at the Biscayne Bay Marriott.  It is again an impressive list and I invite everyone to visit the Alumni Association website to get more information on them and the event.  Tickets will go on sale for the event in the near future and are $75.00 in advance and $85.00 at the door if any are available.

Posted on 08/11/2010 at 8:20 PM

Kathy Hersh says:

I’m interested in interviewing Beach High alums for the Miami Beach Visual Memoirs Project, being produced by my production company in conjunction with the Miami Design Preservation League. Please get in touch via email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted on 10/26/2011 at 9:14 AM

HARRY WEISS says:

Zelda was my English teacher in 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade…She moved from Ida M. Fisher along with Dr Lichter aand Mr Marmar to Miami Beach High.. I moved right along with them…I don’t think I would have graduated if it were’nt those 3 greatest people. Very fond memories of them will live in my heart forever. Harry Weiss…Henry in the year book 1969.

Posted on 09/26/2012 at 3:06 PM

Harry Weiss 1969 says:

Mrs. Zelda Glazer, Mich Glazer’s mother.

Posted on 09/26/2012 at 3:13 PM

Rosalind Merritt, Exec. Director says:

An update on Miami Beach High Alumni:  We now have 111 HOF members as of this November 15, 2013 in our alumni Hall of Fame!  We urge alumni, friends and families to attend our luncheon honoring them that day at Temple Israel of Greater Miami.  Cost is $75 in advance, with free parking.  RSVP .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more details or visit http://www.beachhigh.com Newest inductees are:  the late Fred Singer, class of 1952, Coronado Studios’ pioneering leader in media videography;  Meredith Porte, class of 1969, WLRN host, producer/director of award-winning TV shows;  Bruce Rogow, class of 1957, lawyer extraordinaire who teaches law at Nova Southeastern University and is the leading attorney from Florida who has tried the most cases at the U.S. Supreme Court level; Dr. Joel Kleinman, class of 1962 who is making new discoveries in severe mental illness at the National Institute of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Medical Center; Neisen Kasdin, class of 1972, former Mayor of Miami Beach, instrumental with our New World Symphony Academy creation; and Sabrina Cohen, class of 1995, whose non-profit foundation that educates teens on perils of driving and living dangerously and is nationally known for spinal cord injury awareness with stem-cell research.  Incidentally, your photo shown of David M. Gersten is not him.  You incorrectly placed a photo of the late David Gerstein, who was Dade County’s state attorney while David M. Gersten was attending Beach High.  Please correct!

Posted on 08/28/2013 at 2:21 PM

Larry Schwartz says:

Most of the comments are about others, but since no one knows these about me, I’ll brag a bit.  While working for IBM, I invented electronic reading which lead to all the e-book readers, and the first device to project a computer screen onto a wall, etc., so that the whole room could read it.  Unfortunately for my wallet, IBM kept ownership of these inventions.  I’ve had two books published by IBM (my sister is more prolific) and have edited books in unrelated fields such as computer aided design for model railroading.  I was the operating system consultant for the Mercury program and trained all of the programmers for Mercury and Gemini.  I was the chief programmer for a team that set the world’s record for programming productivity and error free code.  And, I was the software technology lead for the UK air traffic control project ($700M).  I retired from IBM after 30+ years and joined Lockheed Martin from which I retired after 12 years working with intelligence satellites.  I’ve had an unbelievable career, worked in 16 countries, lived in Holland for three years, and learned to speak 4 other languages; the funny one is the Queen’s English with an American accent grin

Posted on 11/01/2013 at 10:23 AM

Burton Black,DVM says:

I was in the class of 1952.
Does anyone remember the name of the large grocery store on Washington Ave. and 6th street?

Posted on 07/17/2014 at 2:44 AM

Gus Moore says:

Hi Burton, our tour guide, Jeffrey Lieberman, graduated from MBHS in 1952. I asked him your questions and he told me there was a small grocery store near Washington and 6th named Thrifty Market. The market was next to Al’s Drug Store and below the 5th Boxing Street Gym.

Posted on 07/19/2014 at 8:02 AM

Burt Black says:

Many thanks , Burt

Posted on 07/19/2014 at 8:39 AM

Ricky Neross says:

Seth Bramson, Beach High 1962, is the City Historian for Miami Beach as it enters it’s Centennial Year. He is also is also the most published author of South Florida History Books and the Historian of the Florida East Coast Railroad. If there is any question about Miami Beach and it’s history, ask Seth.

Posted on 08/30/2014 at 12:05 PM

Gene Fierro - Class of '59 ( 11th Judicial Circuit says:

Just a note of thanks to those alums that work so hard on the Hall of Fame every year.
The annual installations are a great way to meet up with old classmates and “relive the dream”!

Posted on 10/04/2015 at 12:00 AM

Jeff Levine says:

Two other notable names from Beach High was it’s (and UM’s) former coach Skip Bertman and actress Nancy Kulp (who played “Miss Jane” on the Beverly Hillbillies).

Burton Black asked about the market that was later called “Thrifty”.  It was Table Supply, the predecessor of Winn-Dixie.  One of the other grocery chains W/D absorbed was Margaret-Ann.  One of their stores was located on 6th Street near Meridian Avenue.  (I used to be into local history trivia).

Posted on 10/21/2015 at 9:27 PM

Jeff Levine says:

Oh, and if creativity counts for anything, I’m not famous… but I am a designer of retro-influenced digital computer typefaces which have been purchased by many notable companies and organizations as well as hundreds of creative artists and agencies.

I started my small enterprise with just ten designs nearly a decade ago, and I currently have 1,080 typefaces sold and distributed for me on MyFonts.com and Fontspring.com… with ten more fonts being released next week and [hopefully] many more to come.

Posted on 10/21/2015 at 9:32 PM

David Kline says:

I’ve seen no mention of the great tennis player, EDDIE DIBBS. I believe class of ‘69.

Hall of fame at um, and top ten in the world for about ten years running.

Posted on 08/25/2016 at 12:43 PM

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