List of ‘Famous Great Neckers’ grows

List of ‘Famous Great Neckers’ grows

Edgar von Schmidt-Pauli began his hobby of compiling an annual list of what he calls “Famous Great Neckers” six years ago with a group of about 100 noteworthy area residents.

With the 47 new names the 1953 Great Neck North High School graduate added this year, the area’s list of famous residents past and present has grown to now include 407 recipients.

“I think somebody who doesn’t know what Great Neck is would be interested,” von Schmidt-Pauli said of his list. “Those who have lived in Great Neck want to know who did live here because it’s a town which has a history and they know that.”

In compiling his initial listing in 2007, von Schmidt-Pauli said he used the books, “Inventing Great Neck” by Judith S. Goldstein and the “Ultimate Book of Great Neck” by Marcelle S. Fischler as source material to find the famous people who have called at least one of the Great Neck peninsula’s nine villages home.

“I said ‘geez, this would be interesting to have a list,'” said von Schmidt-Pauli, who now lives in Virginia. “I made up a list and put a little bio next to it, so people would know a general idea of who the person is. They can always search the name on the computer if they want more information.”

Over the ensuing years, von Schmidt-Pauli has sent the list to the Great Neck Historical Society and various other people around the area, including his classmates from Great Neck North. He said their help has been invaluable in adding names to the list.

“Every year I get e-mails during the year, (saying) ‘could you add? Did you know? Things like that,” von Schmidt-Pauli said. “There’s over 50 years in here of names.”

New additions to this year’s list, which was unveiled via e-mail on Jan. 1, include Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Julius Genachowski, member of the 1974 NBA champion Boston Celtics Phil Hankinson, director of the U.S. Department of Energy Argonne National Labratory Eric Issacs, big band trumpeter Stephen Lipkins, actress and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Mimi Michaels and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences President Neil Portnow.

“There’s different types,” von Schmidt-Pauli said of the different endeavors people on the list have undertaken. “There’s TV. There’s music. There’s political, lawyers, doctors, Indian chiefs that have walked the halls of Great Neck schools and the streets of Great Neck.”

And every so often, von Schmidt-Pauli does have to exclude people from his list.

“I try to do as much as I can to get the name on the list, but sometimes there’s nothing and I say ‘oh I can’t do that,'” von Schmidt-Pauli said.

If an Internet search of the submitted person does not turn up enough information to validate his notoriety, von Schmidt-Pauli said he asks for more information about the applicant from the submitter of the name.

“It’s loose,” von Schmidt-Pauli said of the list. “The word ‘famous’ or ‘recognized’ it’s a loose word, but it does grow every year. I do the best I can.”

“I haven’t had any problems yet,” he added, “that I know of.”

Von Schmidt-Pauli said he spends about 10 hours each year on the list of “Famous Great Neckers” and receives anywhere from 10 to 15 applicants who wish to have a name added to the list annually.

“Some of them have two or three names listed that they think are important,” von Schmidt-Pauli said. “Some just have one.”

In the end, von Schmidt-Pauli continues to compile the list each year for one reason.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s just a hobby. All I do is have some fun with it and it’s interesting to know the people that lived there.”

After residing in Great Neck from 1938 until 1963, von Schmidt-Pauli moved to Virginia, but he said he still maintains a close connection with the area through compiling the list.

“It doesn’t take up that much time,” von Schmidt-Pauli said. “It’s the end of the year where I send it out. Within the next week after I send it out, I start getting (submissions) because people are reminded of the list and they think of names and then they send it in. It doesn’t cost me anything.”

Von Schmidt-Pauli said he hopes his list will inspire others to continue research into prominent people who have some connection to the Great Neck area. His list can be found at

“If someone wants to use the list to create their own, fine,” von Schmidt-Pauli said. “It’s just information. I offer those who have any questions on it to let me know. My classmates enjoy reading it every year when I send it out, but there’s nothing personal I get out of it except people saying ‘nice job.'”

Reach reporter John Santa by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 516.307.1045 x203


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