Hall of Fame inductees are the pioneers, explorers and artists in America's river history. They were movers and shakers from the days gone by and the recent past. These men and women made significant contributions related to America’s rivers, which is why we honor them.
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Inducted in 2006
Edna Ferber, Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II and Paul Robeson, the creators of Showboat and Ol’ Man River. Edna Ferber wrote the epic novel Showboat, inspired by the floating theaters of the rivers. That book was the basis for what is now considered the first American musical, also named Showboat, created by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein.
The most moving piece of that musical, and perhaps the most moving musical piece about rivers of all time, was Ol’ Man River. It has brought tears to the eyes of its listeners perhaps more than any other song in America. Of all the singers who performed Ol’ Man River, the most memorable was Paul Robeson. He starred in 350 performances of Showboat and was also in the 1936 film production of Showboat.
Showboat was a national phenomenon and a vehicle for one of America’s best loved songs. The artists who brought us this classic song and musical are legendary, not only in river history, but in American history.