SARANAC LAKE - Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau quietly became the third member of the village's Walk of Fame club Saturday morning.
A bronze plaque in his honor was unveiled on the front of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise building downtown at 54 Broadway. The plaque had been attached to the front wall earlier in the week and covered by an Enterprise promotional banner. The only people present when the banner was removed around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, other than passersby, were Trudeau, Mayor Clyde Rabideau, Enterprise Publisher Catherine Moore and this writer.
The brief, unannounced event had taken a while to arrange, but that was to avoid a ceremony rather than to plan one. The Walk of Fame is one of Rabideau's pet projects, and he had proposed to close off the street and unveil the plaque with fanfare. Trudeau didn't want to be part of anything like that, but he did agree to show up for a casual unveiling. It was scheduled for when he was coming here anyway from his home in Manhattan to attend his sister's stepson's wedding in Paul Smiths.
From left, Adirondack Daily Enterprise Publisher Catherine Moore, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau and Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau pose Saturday with Trudeau's newly unveiled Saranac Lake Walk of Fame plaque on the front of the Enterprise building.
(Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)
Rabideau had arranged semi-formal receptions for the prior two additions to the Walk of Fame: Olympic gold-medal-winning Nordic combined skier Bill Demong and Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, who was Garry Trudeau's great-grandfather, the village's founder and a groundbreaking tuberculosis physician and scientist. Demong's plaque hangs on the Harrietstown Town Hall on Main Street, since Demong did much of his early ski racing at the town-owned Dewey Mountain cross-country ski center. E.L. Trudeau's plaque is on the renovated Saranac Laboratory the doctor had built on Church Street in 1894.
Since Garry Trudeau's comic strip appears in newspapers, the Enterprise was selected as the location for his plaque, which identifies him as "artist, journalist."
"A lot of people say 'artist, journalist' because they think I'm offended by 'cartoonist,'" he said with a grin Saturday. "But that's what I am, folks. That's what it (Doonesbury) is, but I don't mind the cache of 'artist, journalist.'"
Dr. E.L. Trudeau's plaque calls him "healer, scientist." Demong's says "Olympic champion."
"I'm thrilled and honored, and I'm hopeful, as is the mayor, that this will become a destination," Trudeau said.
Rabideau said the Walk of Fame selection committee hopes to have about 20 plaques downtown in the next few years. That, he thinks, will be enough of a "critical mass" to make the walk a real attraction.
Other candidates named by the committee include author Robert Louis Stevenson, composer Bela Bartok and baseball greats Christy Mathewson and Larry Doyle, all of whom stayed in Saranac Lake while curing from tuberculosis.
Rabideau also hinted about another candidate - Faye Dunaway, who waited tables at the Dew Drop Inn before becoming a movie star with "Bonnie and Clyde" in 1967. She won the 1976 Academy Award for Best Actress for "Network" after previously being nominated for it for "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Chinatown."
Each bronze plaque costs about $700, paid for with local fundraising. Rabideau said local taxpayers would never let him get away with spending public funds on them.
About Garry Trudeau
Garretson Beekman Trudeau was born in New York City on July 21, 1948, the son of Dr. Francis B. and Jean Trudeau. He grew up in Saranac Lake and attended Lake Colby School from kindergarten through sixth grade, after which his parents sent him away to boarding school.
Doonesbury is one of the nation's most famous comic strips, having been syndicated in newspapers nationwide since 1970 and winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1975. It's long been known for its liberal politics, its numerous characters and its wry humor, and in the last decade it has also become a staunch defender of war veterans.
In Saranac Lake, Trudeau serves on the board of Homeward Bound Adirondacks, which is trying to establish a respite center here for war veterans. He has also designed a pin for every Saranac Lake Winter Carnival since 1981, and he has been a trustee of the Trudeau Institute medical research lab, which his father founded.
He still visits Saranac Lake regularly, staying with his stepmother Ursula Trudeau in the house he grew up in on Trudeau Road. He said he and his wife, former NBC "Today" show host Jane Pauley, visit here multiple times a year, more frequently now that their three children are in their 20s. He has also started to make a few public appearances here, something he had avoided for decades.