Also on display: Susan Sarandon's 1963-64 Edison High School cheerleading jacket, red flannel and hooded, with "Sue" embroidered on the left front and "64" on the arm.
Rusty Paul, the son of guitar legend Les Paul of Mahwah, was on hand for the ribbon-cutting for the exhibition, which also features a 1952 Les Paul Goldtop Guitar, distinguished by strings that were incorrectly threaded underneath a trapeze tailpiece instead of over it.
"Two thousand of them were made," said Rusty Paul. "My dad stopped them."
Paul said his father, who died a year ago, would have been honored to be included in the show. "I helped put him in the Hall of Fame," said Paul, who still lives in the house he grew up in, on Deerhaven Road in Mahwah, and himself travels with a band. Paul is still thinking about the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in May, which brought out an impressive array of Jersey royalty: "Jack Nicholson showed, Bruce Springsteen, Frankie Valli - all the good guys."
Until now, the Hall of Fame's public face has existed only as a website and an induction ceremony, which follows an online voting process open to the public.
Nicholson, Paul, and Sarandon are among 42 inductees into the Hall since 2008, ranging from Thomas Edison (whose 1903 Gem Model phonograph was also on display) to Bruce Springsteen (no artifacts yet, but Asbury Park itself is one big Bruce artifact) to Harriet Tubman and writers Philip Roth and Judy Blume.
The inaugural exhibition space at 1200 Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park is temporary. Eventually, there will be a permanent N.J. Hall of Fame in Trenton, plus regional museums in Newark and Atlantic City.
The mission of the Hall of Fame is to present "powerful role models" for the children of New Jersey, way beyond Snooki and the housewives.
On the walls is an exhibit of 30 large photographs of New Jersey celebrities (ranging from Whitney Houston to James Gandolfini, Queen Latifah, Meryl Streep, and, again, Nicholson) taken by celebrity photographer Timothy White. This winter, the exhibit will travel to the Cheesequake Rest Stop on the Garden State Parkway.
Don Jay Smith, the executive director of the Hall of Fame, said he was actively seeking more artifacts. Already on the way are Jon Bon Jovi's denim jacket, adorned with Bon Jovi and New Jersey patches, and a suit worn by Jersey Boy Frankie Valli.
(No word if The Situation will be donating his six-pack. Oh, wait, he has a long way to go to the N.J. Hall of Fame.)
Other inductees who might have interesting artifacts include Frank Sinatra, Bill Bradley, Toni Morrison, Althea Gibson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Abbott and Costello.
"New Jersey has been fertile ground for some remarkable accomplishments," said Smith.
Smith said Bon Jovi thought long and hard over what to donate, considered a gold record, but settled on the more homespun denim jacket. "This was really important to him," he said.
The family of Les Paul, meanwhile, first offered Smith a guitar valued at $1 million, which he declined, not wanting to take responsibility for putting such a valuable item on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, revitalized or not.
The exhibition space was donated by Madison Marquette, the development company that has spearheaded the comeback of Asbury Park, which has gone from the poster child for failed resorts to the envy of boardwalk towns everywhere. The exhibition is just a block or two from the Stone Pony and the Wonder Bar, both fabled Springsteen hangouts, just steps away from Madam Marie.
"People are donating some of their most cherished items," said Gary Mottola of Madison Marquette. "For Susan to give her own personal high school jacket, for Jack to give his report card, shows they really care about New Jersey."
Getting back to young Jack, it should be noted that Mrs. Govett tried again for second period. "Jack should be more self controlled," she wrote.
Each time, Nicholson's mother, Edith Nicholson, dutifully signed the report card. Never mind the one C in conduct and two C's in "shows self control." Let's hope Mrs. Nicholson focused on the A's her son scored on everything else, from Oral English to Numbers to Observable Health Habits and even "Works Well with Others."
And in the end, the rambunctious Nicholson won his teacher over. The final notation: "Promoted to third grade."
The exhibition on the Fifth Avenue Pavilion of the Asbury Park Boardwalk will be open Fridays between 4 and 8 p.m. and weekends from noon to 8 p.m. More information on the Hall of Fame and its voting process is at www.njhalloffame.org.
Contact staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg at 609-823-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.