Movie Actress Marcia Gay Harden hosts dinner for one lucky guest at Ellis Island, talks about family history

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Oscar winning actress Marcia Gay Harden hosted a dinner for one lucky guest at Ellis Island. AirBnb, which is a lodging renting company organized the event.  They organized an “overnight at Ellis island” contest. Participants had to write an essay on why Ellis was important to them. Winner, Courtney Messer won the exclusive trip with her essay. She wrote:

“One of my happiest childhood memories involves taking the ferry to Ellis Island and rubbing tracing paper over the names of my mother’s parents, Julius Kaplan & Dora Belinsky, inscribed on the Wall of Honor. My brother and I proudly clutched those papers the rest of the day, including to the 107th floor observation deck of the South Tower, overlooking the same city where my grandparents were finally accepted and respected in their new home, a foreign concept to generations of Eastern European Jews.”

Messer and her mother got to dine with Harden and a list of select guest right there on the island. Harden said she attended the dinner out of sheer curiosity about her family history.

“We have Irish potato thieves in one side and land thieves on the other,” Harden joked. “I’m trying to discover my family history and it is a long process.”

Harden had talked about the island earlier, she said, "Ellis Island holds a special place in my heart as many of my Irish and German relatives came here seeking a better life in America," The tony winning actress said, "Guests will have the special opportunity to trace their own heritage and experience what it must have been like to sail around the end of New York in the shadow of Lady Liberty, in search of the American Dream."

Harden has been in the entertainment industry for as long as we can remember. She is perhaps best known for her performances in movies like Miller’s Crossing, Flubber and Pollock (for which she won an Oscar). Harden was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Mystic River. She also won a Tony Award for her role as Veronica in God of Carnage. Harden has twice been nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards. Harden recently starred in the hot new erotic drama, Fifty Shades of Grey, which garnered Box Office success. The movie follows the story of a college student, Anastasia who begins an affair with millionaire Christian Grey. Harden plays Grey’s mother.  She has a net worth of $12 million.

Harden has three children, Eulala Grace, Julitta and Hudson, whom she had with her ex-husband, Thaddaeus Scheel. Harden married her boyfriend, Prop master Scheel in 1996, just months after meeting him on the set of The Spitfire Grill. After 13 years of marriage, they got divorced in 2012.