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Red carpet rolls out for California Hall of Fame

Lester Holt says California 'is a place that fuels creativity and ambition'

"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, who was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, says growing up here helped fuel his career.
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"NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, who was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, says growing up here helped fuel his career.

The cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, country music legend Buck Owens and actor Robert Downey Jr. were among those inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.

Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, presented medals to inductees or their family members at the California Museum following a red carpet walk – a relatively rare event in the state’s capital.

In addition to Schulz, Owens and Downey Jr., members of the ninth class of inductees are:

▪ David Hockney, the British artist famous for his stylized paintings of swimming pools in Los Angeles.

▪ Lester Holt, the news anchor and Rancho Cordova native.

▪ Bruce Lee, the martial-arts icon who died in 1973.

▪ Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina astronaut in space with a 1993 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

▪ Kristi Yamaguchi, the figure skater who won a gold medal in the 1992 Olympics.

Hockney, discussing how California inspired his art, said, “It’s the space that was terrific. ... It was the sex, it was everything. ... I felt very, very free here.”

It’s the space that was terrific. ... It was the sex, it was everything. ... I felt very, very free here.

David Hockney, artist inducted into California Hall of Fame

Downey Jr. wouldn’t talk to reporters. But Yamaguchi praised the opportunities available in California.

“There’s a lot of open-mindedness to encourage people to dream big and to go after their dreams no matter how crazy they may be,” she said.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla praised the inductees for embodying the “spirit of the West.”

The Hall of Fame event was started by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver in 2006. In 2011, with Brown in office, organizers moved the event to a larger venue, Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium.

Attendance there proved thin, however, and the event returned in subsequent years to the museum.

Press was limited Wednesday to coverage of the red carpet and “pool” coverage of the ceremony. Organizers said they did not have enough room for media inside.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Oct. 28, 2015.

Olympic champion figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.

British artist David Hockney, who was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, discusses how the state inspired his art.

Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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