published Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

First Walnut Street Bridge plaque ceremony honors Ochs, Jordan

by Andrew Pantazi
Actor Leslie Jordan receives his Walnut Street Bridge plaque from childhood friend Nina Jones Chapin, left, at the south end of the bridge during a Tuesday ceremony. The occasion was the first of a monthly series honoring local celebrities.
Actor Leslie Jordan receives his Walnut Street Bridge plaque from childhood friend Nina Jones Chapin, left, at the south end of the bridge during a Tuesday ceremony. The occasion was the first of a monthly series honoring local celebrities.
Photo by Tim Barber.

South of the Walnut Street Bridge, the man and women who grew up together hugged and patted each other’s arms.

Leslie Jordan, a television and film actor who won an Emmy Award in 2006 for his performance on “Will and Grace,” was back in his hometown of Chattanooga to visit his mom, Peggy Jordan, and commemorate the Parks Foundation Walk of Honor on the bridge.

Jordan and the late Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of the Chattanooga Times and New York Times, are the first local celebrities to be honored with plaques on the bridge.

Ruth S. Holmberg, also a former publisher of The Chattanooga Times, accepted the recognition on behalf of Ochs, her grandfather.

“We don’t have the key to the city,” Parks Foundation President Garnet Chapin said as his wife gave them the plaques, “but we have something I think is just as good.”

  • photo
    Garnet Chapin, left, and Ruth Holmberg welcome actor Leslie Jordan to be honored with a Walnut Street Bridge plaque at a Tuesday ceremony.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

After receiving the plaques, Jordan posed for photos with fans and talked to passers-by before announcing, “We’re in a hurry to make a 6:30 movie I’m in.”

He has a part in the newly released film, “The Help.”

Each month for the next two years, the Parks Foundation will name two historically or culturally significant people with ties to Chattanooga to receive a new plaque made of zinc and plastic, Chapin said.

The middle of the west side of the bridge is being reserved for the 40 to 50 celebrities selected to the Walk of Honor.

Brass plaques that were already on the bridge, holding the names of people who had contributed money to its renovation, were being stolen because of the metal’s value. In 2009, a campaign was started to replace the brass plaques with zinc ones.

The zinc plaques are not as valuable and sponsors hope they will last longer, Chapin said. Under normal circumstances, the new plaques should last at least 20 years, he said.

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about Andrew Pantazi...

Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...

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rosebud said...

Nice. Luther Masingill has worked here for 70 years and can't get a nameplate on the Walk of Honor. Lesley Jordan moves away, gets a few bit parts because he's 4'11" and effeminate, and his main claim to fame is the book he wrote about his gay sex fantasies. Stay classy Chattanooga.

August 17, 2011 at 10:50 a.m.
PaulWilson said...

I think I'd wait until the end of the two years is up to see if they name Luther or not before sticking my foot in my mouth if I were you. Leslie Jordan, whether you like him or not, has made a name for himself and has not denied his roots and unlike some of the celebrities Chattanooga has produced, he is proud to be from Chattanooga. Mr. Jordan is back in the news because of his new role in, yet another, hit movie. Give it time, you don't know that Luther won't receive one.

August 17, 2011 at 12:50 p.m.
dchatt said...

You know, it is possible to show support for one individual without trying to belittle another. I'm sure there are many words that could be used to describe you, rosebud, but I will not lower myself to that level. Saying that he has had a few "bit parts" is ridiculous, as he has recurring roles on several television series, has had STARRING ROLES in various movies and plays, and he doesn't seem to be ashamed of his hometown, unlike many others who move away and become famous. I agree that there are local celebrities that are deserving of a plaque on the bridge, and I think they will get to them in time. Patience is a virtue. I think you need to take a look at how you present yourself, rosebud, and maybe rethink how to express yourself without making bigoted remarks. That's not very classy.

August 17, 2011 at 2:23 p.m.
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