With a rich history of successful alumni, Pittsburgh Allderdice High School didn’t have much trouble finding six graduates to honor in its inaugural Hall of Fame.
It had trouble choosing six.
Formerly known as Taylor Allderdice, many illustrious alumni from the high school warranted a nomination into its Hall of Fame, making the final decision tricky.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, Allderdice will hold an official Hall of Fame induction ceremony to honor six distinguished alumni: Comedian and actor Marty Allen; the late Steelers broadcaster and award-winning writer Myron Cope; writer Iris Rainer Dart; Olympic Bronze medalist and businessman Herbert Douglas; clinical cancer researcher Dr. Bernard Fisher; and Holocaust survivor, engineer and teacher Robert Geminder.
The community is invited to the free event, the only requirement being an R.S.V.P.
Established in 1927, Allderdice is the largest of the public high schools in Pittsburgh, with enrollment this year currently at 1,369. The school was named for Taylor Allderdice, an industrialist, school board member and Squirrel Hill resident. Graduates with fond memories of high school are proud to be associated with Allderdice, according to Jeff Rosenthal, president of the Taylor Allderdice Alumni Association and a 1971 graduate.
“It’s really kind of funny,” Rosenthal said. “Allderdice is almost like a cult.”
All five living honorees showed more than a willingness to come to the ceremony; no one asked to be paid or to have the high school cover their expenses to come to Pittsburgh. The inductees agreed to address the student body for a speaker series connected to the ceremony, to let current students interact with Allderdice’s distinguished graduates.
Rosenthal said the message is: “These people walked down the hall you did.”
Inductees will speak to select classes. Videotaped recordings of the speeches and activities will be housed in the Allderdice videotape library to allow for future viewings.
The Sept. 24 ceremony will begin with a presentation in the Allderdice auditorium, followed by a walk down the hall for the unveiling of plaques. Guests and inductees will mingle over coffee and dessert in the cafeteria.
Inductee Iris Rainer Dart — a self-described “best selling author, playwright and Bubbie” — graduated from Allderdice in 1962, when it was a seventh-through 12th-grade school.
Known as Iris Ratner, Dart was already writing shows in high school. At 16, she teamed up with another Allderdice student, 13-year-old Michele Brourman, who went on to an illustrious career as a songwriter. The two will soon celebrate 50 years of friendship.
Dart’s post-high school career includes writing for Cher’s variety show in the 1970s and later for Sonny and Cher’s post-divorce television show. Among her nine novels, she wrote The New York Times bestseller, “Beaches,” which became the movie of the same name starring Bette Midler. She also adapted a Sidney Sheldon novel for television.
Dart wrote her newest book, “Larry: The King of Rock and Roll,” for children. For the past 14 years, she has been working on the “passion of her life,” a musical about three generations of Jewish women, which she hopes will eventually make it to Broadway.
Except for an “A” in geometry, Dart doesn’t remember shining much in math classes at Allderdice. But she was singled out at the time for the quality of her writing. “I had three outstanding English teachers,” she said. “I was all about writing. I soared in English.”
Dart moved to Los Angeles in 1966, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in acting from Carnegie Mellon University. She now resides in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Dart is thankful for the world of experiences that opened up for her and doesn’t necessarily agree that what she does is Hall of Fame worthy.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed,” she said. “I think they (Allderdice committee) made a clerical error.”
(Angela Leibowicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)