CHS Hall of Fame to Induct ‘Die Hard’ Producer Joel Silver, ‘Vogue’ Editor Grace Mirabella, More

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On June 8, the Columbia High School Hall of Fame will induct four more remarkable graduates to its impressive ranks: Grace Mirabella, Class of 1946, former editor-in-chief of Vogue; and the three founders/inventors of Ultimate Frisbee: Joel Silver, Class of 1970, famed film producer with credits including The Matrix, Lethal Weapon and the Die Hard series; Bernard “Buzzy” Hellring, ’70, transformative editor-in-chief of The Columbian who died in a car accident during his freshman year at Princeton University; and Jonathan Hines, ’70, a Princeton University and University of Virginia law school graduate who practiced international law in Russia for 22 years before recently relocating to Manhattan. 

The induction ceremony is open to the school community and invitees, not the general public.

In recent years, the CHS Hall of Fame has inducted superstars like Grammy Award-winning artist SZA (Solana Rowe), actor and director Zach Braff, world-renowned quilter and artist Bisa Butler, actor and singer Rotimi,  Grammy Award-winning producer and musician Eric Hudson, YouTube powerhouse Marques Brownlee, and Olympic Bronze Medal fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

In the mid-1980’s, the CHS “Hall of Fame” Committee was established as part of Student Council, to recognize the vast accomplishments of its graduates. In 1985, the Hall of Fame inducted its first two alumni – Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Amalya Kearse and actor Roy Scheider (“Jaws”). Other notable Hall of Fame members include: Grammy Award-winner Lauryn Hill, Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs, mathematician Erna Schneider Hoover, Daily Show head writer David Javerbaum, E Street band drummer Max Weinberg, actress Teresa Wright, actors Andrew and Elisabeth Shue, researcher Alfred Kinsey, and PEN Literary Award-winning author Paul Auster, among many others.

2022 Columbia High School Hall of Fame Inductee Biographies

Grace Mirabella (‘46)

Grace Mirabella was born in Newark, NJ on June 10, 1929 to the parents of Italian immigrants. When she was in Junior High they moved to Maplewood where she attended Maplewood Junior High School and Columbia HS, graduating in 1946. While she was at Columbia HS she participated in numerous clubs such as The MIrror Advertising committee, Homeroom secretary and treasurer and drama club. After Columbia HS she attended college at Skidmore in Saratoga, NY.

Grace Mirabella, as editor in chief, transformed Vogue magazine from 1971-1988.  During her time there she took the magazine from a circulation falling towards 400,000 in 1971 to rising above a million and half in 1988. Ms. Mirabella went on to found Mirabella, a magazine for women as interested in culture and travel as in clothes and interior design.

In November 1974 she married William G. Cahan, a thoracic surgeon. Grace Mirabella became the first person to remove tobacco and nicotine ads from magazines. Notably, while at Vogue she was the first person to put a Black model on the cover of a magazine — super model, Beverly Johnson.

Ms. Mirabella passed away at the age of 92 on December 23, 2021. She leaves behind her two step-sons, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.  

She has also co-authored a book by Judith Warner about her life in the fashion industry called, “In and Out of Vogue.” Grace Mirabella was a forward thinker and a trail blazer who helped bring style to the ever changing world of fashion.

Bernard “Buzzy” Hellring, Jr. (‘70)

Bernard “Buzzy” Hellring, Jr. (1952 -1971) was one of the co-creators of the sport of Ultimate Frisbee and was responsible for the concept of “The Spirit of the Game,” which prioritized good sportsmanship and fair play in the nascent sport. 

Along with his close friends, Jonny Hines and Joel Silver, Hellring created Ultimate in the parking lot of Columbia High School and subsequently codified the rules of the sport. Together they encouraged other students to play their new game. They refined and rewrote the rules, and published and distributed a pamphlet entitled “Rules of Ultimate Frisbee”. From the start, they called themselves the “Columbia High School Varsity Frisbee Squad” despite a lack of varsity recognition by the school. The rules they came up with over 50 years ago underlay the transition from merely a game of catch to the highly athletic and competitive sport that is played worldwide today.

Hellring was the son of Sally and Bernard Hellring, and lived on Harding Drive in South Orange.

While at CHS, Buzzy was Editor-In-Chief of The Columbian for 2 years. He was devoted to the newspaper and worked tirelessly to expand its coverage, length and frequency of publication. In the Spring of his freshman year at Princeton, Hellring died in an auto accident. He was elected posthumously into the Ultimate Hall of Fame. After his death, funds were raised to fulfill his dream of producing The Columbian entirely within the school, through purchase of a Compugraphic Headliner for CHS.

Buzzy was above all well loved by his family and large circle of friends and colleagues as a super-considerate, engaging, intelligent, accomplished human being — and he will always be remembered so.

Jonathan H. “Jonny” Hines (‘70)

Jonathan H. “Jonny” Hines was born in Newark in 1952, and lived on Mayhew Drive in South Orange from age 2 — then went through South Mountain School, South Orange Junior High, and finished out high school in 1970.  While here he was sports editor of The Columbian, and was one of the three original developers of Ultimate Frisbee.

He went on to Princeton University, where he majored in International Affairs and Russian Studies (including intensive Russian language study) —  and in his spare time organized Princeton’s Ultimate team, and co-stage-managed the first intercollegiate Ultimate game pitting Princeton against Rutgers.

After that, Jon graduated from the University of Virginia Law School, and then spent a year on a graduate fellowship program in law at Moscow State University in Russia (where he met his now-wife, Olga Dyuzheva, who remains a law professor there). He then returned to New York — first to clerk for a federal judge in Manhattan, and then launched his career as a lawyer at Debevoise & Plimpton, a leading New York-based international law firm for nearly 20 years.

In the year 2000 Jon moved to another firm in Moscow, where he practiced for the next 22 years — specializing in large-scale joint ventures in the oil & gas sphere, in Russia and all over the former Soviet Union.  He is also a long-time member of the governing Presidium of Russia’s leading commercial arbitration tribunal, and the Board of Directors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.

Jon has recently relocated back to his Manhattan home, in connection with the Ukraine-Russia crisis, while continuing his active legal practice.

In addition to his wife Olga, Jon has two sons, and two grandchildren and another on the way.

Joel Silver (‘70)

Joel Silver was born in South Orange in 1952.  He attended kindergarten through 8th grade in the South Orange-Maplewood School District, before attending Columbia High School, from where he graduated in 1970.  During his time at CHS, he wrote for the Columbian and also started a film festival, which was an all-day event. Along with his close friends, “Buzzy” Hellring and Jonny Hines, Joel also established and developed the rules for Ultimate Frisbee – which was initially planned as a frisbee competition between Student Council and the school newspaper. Ultimate Frisbee went on to become an international sport.

Joel later went on to study film production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Joel later began working at Lawrence Gordon Productions, where he first served as an associate producer of the 1979 film, “The Warriors.”  Joel would later become President of the motion picture division. While working with Gordon Productions, Silver produced “48 Hours” (1982), “Streets of Fire” (1984), and “Brewster’s Millions” (1985).

In 1985, Joel formed Silver Pictures, and produced a number of action films, including “Commando” (1985), the “Lethal Weapon” franchise (1987-1998), the “Die Hard” franchise (1988-2020), as well as the first two films of the “Predator” series (1987) and “The Matrix” franchise (1999).

Joel directed “Split Personality” (1992), an episode of the HBO horror anthology “Tales from the Crypt.” He currently runs two production companies, Silver Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment, which is co-owned by Robert Zemeckis.

In 2005, Joel was inducted into the USA Ultimate Hall of Fame, a not-for-profit organization that serves as the governing body of the sport of Ultimate Frisbee in the U.S., along with co-founders, Bernard “Buzzy” Hellring, Jr. and Jonathan H. “Jonny” Hines.

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