By our count, Linus Pauling was granted forty-seven honorary doctorates over the course of his lifetime, as well as every meaningful award that a scientist can receive. He remains, of course, the only person to have received two unshared Nobel prizes – images of the Nobel medals and many other of his awards can be viewed here – and was also the proud, or at least gracious, conferee of several lesser-known decorations, including an honorary black belt in karate.
This past Monday, more than fourteen years after his death, another honor was granted to Pauling, this time by the California Museum in Sacramento – membership in the California Hall of Fame. In all, twelve very diverse Golden Staters – or, in the case of those honored posthumously, their representatives – were singled out for having lived extraordinary lives in the nation’s thirty-first state.
Here’s the 2008 class: Pauling (represented by his eldest son, Linus, Jr.), musicians Dave Brubeck and Quincy Jones, actors Jane Fonda and Jack Nicholson, health enthusiast Jack LaLanne, industrialist and philanthropist Leland Stanford, photographer Dorthea Lange and sculptor Robert Graham, architect Julia Morgan, restaurateur Alice Waters and writer Theodore S. Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Suess.
Several documents and artifacts from the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers are included in the Pauling Hall of Fame exhibit – an original research notebook, volume 1 of the famous United Nations bomb test petition, a handful of molecular models and a collection of peace buttons. The museum is also displaying a Henney-Kilowatt electric car, though Pauling’s connection to that project is a subject of some debate.
Of his eleven co-inductees, the only person that we’re sure Pauling met is Jack LaLanne, with whom Pauling appeared on The Phil Donohue Show in 1987. One memorable exchange went this way:
Phil Donohue: How did you control your vanity? I mean you must have a pretty good ego, huh?
Linus Pauling: My son Peter said to me once, ‘Pop, why are you so vain?’ That was a shock to me, you know. I don’t think I’m vain.
Phil Donohue: You are a cocky guy, though, you know. But maybe you shouldn’t have to apologize for that.
Jack LaLanne: You know what he said, if he had humility he would be perfect.
By all accounts the Hall of Fame ceremonies were a lively, star-studded occasion. The Sacramento Bee has posted a short video and slide show and the California Museum has much more on the companion website to its physical exhibit.