While our town of Edison derives it’s name from the most famous of all Edison’s – inventor Thomas Alva Edison – you’ll be surprised to learn how many interesting people were either born, raised or spent a good deal of time here. This is a perfect opportunity for residents at any of one of our BestrentNJ.com communities at Edison Woods, Edison Woods Senior 55+, Edison Village, Blueberry Village, & Rivendell Heights to bone up on their local trivia!
Mark L. Polansky, NASA ASTRONAUT
Born in Paterson NJ in 1956, Polansky graduated from Edison’s own John P. Stevens High School in 1974. In 1978, he graduated Purdue University with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, and a master of science degree in aeronautics and astronautics. Polansky received an Air Force commission upon graduation from Purdue University in 1978 and thru 1992 he logged over 5,000 flight hours in over 30 different types of aircraft. Polansky joined NASA in 1992, as an aerospace engineer and research pilot. Mark was a crew member on three Space Shuttle flights; Atlantis (2001), Discovery (2006) and Endeavor (2009). Whether teaching fellow astronaut pilots Space Shuttle landing techniques or as Chief of the Return to Flight and Orbiter Repair Branches, Polansky skills an aviator coupled with his engineering expertise, Polansky’s contributions were considered “invaluable” by Peggy Whitson, Chief of The Astronaut Office. At a ceremony he attended with friends and family in June 2006, Edison township officials unveiled a sign for Mark Polansky Park. He frequently returns to Edison for programs at the local library.
Susan Sarandon, ACTRESS
Born in 1946 in Queens, N.Y, Oscar winner Sarandon was raised right here in Edison and graduated from Edison High School in 1964. She was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2010 and has had more than 100 film & TV roles. Her most notable films include Joe, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Pretty Baby, Atlantic City, Tempest, The Hunger, Witches of Eastwick, Bull Durham, Thelma & Louise and the list simply goes on and on! Sarandon has 5 Oscar nominations and 7 Emmy nominations to her name and prides herself on being a social and political activist. Never one to shy away from controversy, Sarandon’s spoke truth to power before it was fashionable and is widely admired for her humanitarian efforts. She was appointed to be a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1999 and received the Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award in 2006.
Akash Modi, OLYMPIC ARTISTIC GYMNAST
Born in Edison NJ in 1995, Akash recalls just how he got his gymnast career started. “In 2001, my parents got a coupon for a month free at the gym and thought, ‘Why not?’ So I ended up going and I liked it from the beginning.” An athlete and a scholar at Stanford in Mechanical Engineering, Modi’s has been racking up the awards; Most recently in 2017 he received USA Gymnastics’ Nissen Emery Award for Best Senior Male Collegiate Gymnast. While his debut in the Tokyo Olympics is delayed till 2021, Modi remains upbeat even though younger talent will be one year better, making it harder for him to compete. “I’m okay with that; I just want the US to be better overall.”
Bernard Purdie, SESSION DRUMMER
Purdie is considered by peers and fans alike to be one of the most prolific drummers of all time. Born in 1939 in Elkton, Maryland, Purdie is NJ based and has resided at different times here in Edison, Teaneck and Springfield. Whether backing up James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, Nina Simone, Albet Ayler, Hall & Oates, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, BB King or any of the hundreds of acts he’s worked with, “Pretty” Purdie’s legend continues to grow. It’s no small thing having a drum pattern named after you and the signature triplets against a half-time backbeat “Purdie Shuffle” inspires drummers to this very day across a wide swath of genres. After 3,000 different albums recorded, the ‘World’s Most Recorded Drummer’ offers the following lesson for those who think they may be past their creative prime; “There’s no age limit in music.”