Biography Information Page

Please check back often as this page will be updated when additional Hall of Fame members are inducted.


Congratulations to the prestigious Hall of Fame Inductee’s



Joan Drost-Sommers
Grammy nominated singer, was known as "The Voice of the Sixties". She sang with the Venice High band, recorded her first album at age 19 and is best remembered for her 1960s “Come Alive” ads for Pepsi and her single "Johnny Get Angry” which charted at #7. She worked with the best musicians and arrangers of her time and with no formal training, her incredibly rich and unmistakable voice remains instantly recognizable to this day.


Tom (Tommy) McCraw
Tom McCraw played baseball and basketball at Venice and was MVP and Player of the Year in the Western League and 1st Team All-City. In 1960, Tom signed a professional contract with the Chicago White Sox which started a career that spanned over 35 years as both a player and coach in Major League Baseball. In 2000, Tom worked in the MLB Commissioner’s Office and retired from baseball in 2006.


Dr. Nicole Marquez
Dr. Nicole Marquez earned her Bachelors in Biological Science at UCSB and Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Chapman University. She treated patients in Culver City and went on to become a professor at Chapman University, presenting research nationally and internationally. Nicole volunteers to teach in developing countries to advance neurological and orthopedic rehabilitation as well as volunteers in schools to educate students about college opportunities.


Thomas (Tommy) Yoshikawa, MD
Dr. Thomas Yoshikawa was class president at VHS. He received his BA from UCLA and his MD from University of Michigan. Tom has trained doctors and medical students, and has done research throughout his entire medical career. He coached children in softball and basketball at the Venice Japanese Community Center, gave lectures on healthy aging to various Japanese communities and was board President for Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, serving underserved economically challenged Asians and Hispanics.


Marilyn Bergman Sands
Marilyn is an alumna of Venice High and UCLA School of Music. She performed in all school programs, on TV, radio, and in films and recordings. Marilyn became the first person to give a concert on the first computerized reproducing Steinway grand piano in 1978, now in the San Sylmar Museum. Marilyn has generously supported youth in music.


Betty Bomeisler Edwards
Dr. Betty Edwards is an art teacher, lecturer, and author, earning a B.A. and Doctorate in art from UCLA. It was when teaching at Venice High that she began to understand how best to teach drawing. These insights eventually became her internationally best-selling book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (1979). From 1978-91 she was Professor of Art at Cal State Long Beach. Betty continues to write and lecture, and in 2020, published a new book, Drawing on the Dominant Eye.


Kevin Fidel
Kevin played Varsity Football at VHS 1973-1975 and went on to play for San Diego State University. He received Westside and Western League Honors, College First Team All-WAC, and played in the 1979 Hula Bowl Game. Fidel was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1979 as a Center. He was the CEO of Fidel Freightlines, Inc. and coach for special needs kids. Kevin contributes to UCLA for a cure to Alzheimer’s and its relationship to football.


Grant Francis
During his thirty-five years at Venice High School, Grant was Chairman of the Industrial Education Department, Technical Director of the Performing Arts Dept., the first men’s volleyball coach, Stagecraft Consultant for the L.A.U.S.D. and past Faculty Association President. Grant taught a multitude of courses at Venice High School before retiring in 2001. He continues to contribute tirelessly to Venice students and to the alumni association.


Jim and Kathy Blackwood
It is a rare thing for people to live in their community their entire lives. It is rarer yet for them to personify the unique characteristics of that place, to represent its hopes and promises. Jim and Kathy made a lifelong commitment to community service, as students at Venice High in the 1950’s, and later as teachers, parents, boosters and alumni. They knew firsthand the importance of a supportive community and worked to ensure students at Venice had one.


Craig Breedlove
Craig is a professional race car driver and a five-time world land speed record holder. He was the first person in history to reach 500 mph and 600 mph. His car, the Spirit of America, was displayed for decades at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Beach Boys’ song Spirit of America was “inspired by” Breedlove’s land speed record, set in 1963.


Barbara Carrasco
Barbara is an artist and muralist with her art exhibited in the U.S. and Europe. Her mural sketches are in the Permanent Collection of Works on Paper at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. A permanent collection of her papers is archived at Stanford University Special Collections. Barbara’s image of labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta was adapted as a Girl Scout merit badge.


Stacy Peralta
Stacy was an original Z-Boy (Zephyr Competition Team) of Dogtown (Venice, CA). At 19 Stacy became the highest ranked professional Skateboarder. In 1992 he began directing and producing television. He directed and co-wrote the award-winning documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys and directed several other films. He also directed and produced skating demo videos for skaters such as Tony Hawk.


Jerry Turner
Jerry played Varsity Football and Baseball at VHS 1970-1972. A member of the All-City First Team in 1971 and 1972, he was Captain and lead the 1972 City Championship team. He was named L.A. City Player of the Year. Drafted by the San Diego Padres right out of VHS, Jerry played with the Chicago White Sox in 1981 and then with the Detroit Tigers in 1982. He played 10 years in the Major Leagues.


Harry F. Winebrenner
Harry studied art at the University of Chicago, the British Academy in Rome and Académie de la Grande Chaumiére in Paris. He taught in Chicago before becoming the Art Director at VHS for 26 years. Harry sculpted “Fountain of Education” which was erected in front of the VHS campus in 1923. Myrna Loy posed for the central figure “Inspiration” in the allegorical sculpture group.


Linda Alvarez ~ 1959
TV news anchor-reporter well known for 23 years on air with CBS and NBC in Los Angeles. As first Latina to anchor a weekday English-language TV newscast in LA she earned 12 Emmys and 7 Golden Mikes plus numerous other awards. Linda was also an embedded reporter with the military during the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served on many community non-profit boards.


Brian Asawa ~ 1984
While attending VHS Brian played cello in the orchestra, trombone in the marching band, sang in the choir and was part of the award-winning Crescendos Jazz Band. He went on to become a world famous opera countertenor. He was widely praised for the size, richness, agility and silvery beauty of his voice, as well as for his superb musicianship and engaging stage presence.

 Beau Bridges ~ 1959
Film, television, and stage actor and director, Beau’s acting career began at the age of 7. He is a three-time Emmy, two-time Golden Globe, and one-time Grammy Award winner and a multi-award nominee. In 2003, Beau was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2011, he was awarded the Lone Sailor Award by the United States Navy Memorial.

John Clayton ~ 1969
Grammy winner and multi-nominated bassist, composer and conductor, John has written and arranged music for numerous well known artists. He has been commissioned by many ensembles, including the American Jazz Philharmonic, The Iceland Symphony, The Metropole Orchestra, The Carnegie Hall Big Band, and the Amsterdam Philharmonic to name a few.


Walter Cunningham ~ 1950
Retired American astronaut, Walter orbited Earth 163 times as a Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. He was NASA's third civilian astronaut, a fighter pilot, physicist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author, lecturer, and radio host. He has a Masters from UCLA and an MBA from Harvard. A building on campus was named after him.

Robby Duron ~ Faculty
After being stationed in the Philippines during WWII, Robby played basketball and volleyball at USC where he received a Master's in Education. He spent 35 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator. He coached championship baseball and football teams at Venice and Pierce College. He participated in many educational and community projects.


Derrick “Skip” Engblom ~ 1967
Artist, writer and actor, Skip helped found the modern gravity sports industry. A co-founder of the Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions Surf Shop in Santa Monica, he sponsored the Z-Boys and was the reason they started competing. He appeared in Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001), Lords of Dogtown (2005) and The Search for Animal Chin (1987).


Bill Fairbanks ~ Faculty
Bill was a Marine Corps Drill Instructor. Known for his many cameo appearances on the Venice High stage and cheery demeanor, he is best remembered for coaching Bee basketball, JV baseball and swimming. In one year, he also coached Varsity football and cheer. Bill was a dedicated teacher and coach who inspired many athletes to pursue their dreams.


Angelo Gasca ~ 1978
VHS All-Western League QB & Captain of the 1977 league championship team. He taught Special Education, coached at SMC, LIU-C. W. Post and NIU. As head coach he lead VHS to 12 consecutive Western League Champion titles and a 47-game winning streak. In 2003 he brought Venice to the CIF Championship held in the LA Memorial Coliseum. Over 80 of his players have played in the NCAA.


Gogi Grant (Myrtle Arisberg) ~ 1942
American and UK pop singer and actress, Gogi had a #1 hit on Billboard Top 100 in 1956, and was awarded Most Popular Female vocalist by Billboard Magazine. She starred in the movie The Big Beat in 1958, and was featured on the Show Boat LP. Gogi appeared in television in the 1960’s, and continued to perform until 2013.

Artie Harris ~ Faculty
As a baseball coach, Artie led his team to 6 consecutive Western League Championships and the L.A. City Championship in 1972. His overall record was 222 wins and 57 losses. Artie went on to inaugurate the West L.A. College baseball program. In 1987, he was a front office staff member and a scout for the L.A. Dodgers retiring in 2015.


Abbot Kinney
Abbot was an Industrialist, Conservationist, Real Estate Baron and Writer. An innovative entrepreneur in Los Angeles history, Kinney developed “Venice of America,” creating a canal system with arched bridges and gondolas reminiscent of Venice, Italy. One of Venice’s main thoroughfares, Abbot Kinney Boulevard, is named for him.


Jimmy Lennon Sr. ~ 1932
Although he worked nationwide as a performer, he was known primarily as the ring announcer at the Olympic Auditorium in LA and other venues with his famous, commanding, recognizable voice. Renowned for announcing wearing a tuxedo, he was an expert in name pronunciation and set a standard of excellence for all future announcers.


Donna Loren ~ 1963
Singer and actress, Donna was the Dr Pepper spokesperson from 1963-1968. She was a vocalist on “Shindig,” guest star on TV series and cast member of the Beach Party movie franchise. Donna retired in 1968, recorded again in the 1980s and ran a fashion business in the 1990s-2000s. She returned to performing in 2009 and released albums and a book.


Myrna Loy ~ 1921
Film, television and stage actress, Myrna performed from 1925-1981. In 1921, she posed for Venice High teacher Harry Fielding Winebrenner for the central figure "Inspiration" in his allegorical sculpture group Fountain of Education. The sculpture group was erected in front of the campus outdoor pool in May 1923 where it stood for decades. Myrna has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as a Sony Studios building named after her. She is memorialized in front of New York City’s Theater 80 and received the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988. In 1991 the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts opened in Helena, MT.


Teena Marie(Mary Christine Brockert) ~ 1974
Singer-songwriter and producer, known for her distinctive soulful vocals. Teena starred on The Beverly Hillbillies at the age of 8, and sang in big bands and at weddings before the age of 10. She signed with Motown in 1975. Ooo La La La reached #1 on the charts in 1988 with several other songs in her career reaching the top 40.


Dana McLemore ~ 1978

Dana played football for Venice High School and the University of Hawaii. He was First Team All-City Los Angeles, 1979-1981 College First Team All-WAC, and 1981 Hula Bowl Champion. McLemore was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1982 NFL draft. He was a cornerback from 1982-1987 and is a Super Bowl XIX Champion.


Ken Medlock ~ 1967
Ken played football and baseball and was on the All-City Team in both sports. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1967 and played for the Giants and Angels organizations during his 10-year career. Ken was an assistant baseball coach at Venice High for many years. He became an actor appearing in commercials and films such as Moneyball in 2011.


Cheryl (Arnold) Moseley ~ S’1964
A philanthropist, speaker, writer, adventure traveler and award-winning photographer, Cheryl volunteered with Mother Teresa over a span of 20 years and studied with the Dalai Lama. She has worked many facets as an RN. In1963 she held the titles of VHS Homecoming Queen, Miss Venice, Miss Santa Monica, Miss LA, and 1st Runner-up to Miss California.


Audrey O’Brien ~ 1954
In the 1950s Audrey was a member of the Flying Valkyries, a roman horse riding group and worked in a Wild West show in Belgium. Audrey was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage and pioneer spirit in their trail blazing efforts.


Peggy Oki ~ 1973

Skateboarder, surfer, artist and environmental activist, Peggy was an original member of the Z-Boys, competing with the Zephyr Competition Team and appearing in the film “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” She is an art instructor at Santa Barbara City College, works with youth art programs and founded the Origami Whales Project raising awareness on commercial whaling.


Billy E. Paney ~ Faculty
Billy served as a Navy Seal during the Korean conflict. He was a professional musician before beginning his career as a teacher. Paney served as the Venice High band director and composed the “Mighty Gondolier” Fight Song. He relocated to Maui in 1978 where he continued his work as a music teacher.


George Rose ~ Faculty
In 24 years of coaching boy’s gymnastics, George produced 25 High School All-Americans winning 15 league championships, 7 city championships, 1 state championship and 1 national championship. He was the girl’s gymnastics coach for 2 years, and they won 1 league championship. He led the Bee football team to 15 league championships in 24 years as coach.


Jeffery ~ 1973 Shimizu

Jeff was a member of the 1972 City Championship Baseball team and captain for the 1973 football and baseball teams. He returned to teach and coach at Venice High in 1980, leading the baseball team to City Championships in 1984, 1985 and 1986. He retired from Santa Monica College in 2016 as Interim President and Executive Vice President.


Harry Snyder ~ 1932
Harry was born in Vancouver, BC; the family moved to Seattle, WA and ended up in Southern CA where he attended Venice High. After serving in WWII Harry worked as a caterer in Seattle where he met and married Esther. In 1948 the Snyders moved to Baldwin Park, CA and opened their first In-N-Out Burger. The restaurant chain is now more than 300 stores strong.


Tony Vazquez ~ 1973
Tony has devoted his life to education, economic prosperity and improving the quality of life issues Tony for all Californians. Tony was elected to Santa Monica City Council in 1990, served as Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore in 2015 and served as Mayor in 2016. He continues to be a Santa Monica City Councilmember.


Clifford L. Warner ~ 1980
Cliff has managed the strategic planning process in theatre, film, theme parks, museums and location based entertainment. He’s collaborated with some of the most talented creative people in the entertainment industry. Cliff has an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and he founded Thinkwell Group. He is the Chairman and co-founder of MYCOTOO.

Sam Whipple ~ 1978
Sam was a television, film and theatre actor. He appeared on many TV programs and had regular roles on “Seven Days,” “Bagdad Cafe” and “Open All Night.” His guest appearances include “Seinfeld,” “NYPD Blue,” “L.A. Law,” “Moonlighting,” “Newhart,” “Family Ties” and “Home Improvement” among others. His film appearances include “The Rock” and “The Doors”.





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We’re loyal to you Venice High School, to thee we will always be true…