Wyoming: Jackson Pollock
We’re cheating on this one a bit. Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming. However, at 10 months old, Pollock moved with his family to California. All the same, Pollock is revered as one of the most famous American painters of the last century. His skill in abstract expressionism still remains prevalent today. Pollock’s story was compelling to the point that a film was made in his honor. Esteemed actor Ed Harris portrayed Pollock quite well.
Other Notables: Eric Bischoff, Brandon Nimmo
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Vermont: Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President of the United States. A pillar from his presidency included advocating heavily for racial equality. Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. His father was involved in local Vermont government matters. Coolidge himself was also educated at two very prestigious Vermont academies before enrolling at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
Other Notables: Bernie Sanders, John Deere, Brigham Young
Image Source: Politico
Alaska: Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin first burst onto the scene during the 2008 election. Appointed as John McCain’s running mate for the Republican party, Palin gained a ton of popularity for her cheery disposition and her never-ending collection of notable catchphrases. However, we must inform Mrs. Palin that it is nearly impossible to see Russia from the state of Alaska.
Other Notables: John Muir, Benny Benson, Jewel
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North Dakota: Phil Jackson
After growing up in rural Montana, Phil Jackson attended both high school and college in North Dakota. As it were, Jackson became a fixture in professional basketball. He holds the NBA record for the most overall titles (13) as well as titles as a head coach (11). Many regard him as one of — if not the best NBA coach in the sport’s history.
Other Notable: Richard C. Halverson
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South Dakota: Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw has long been a staple within the mainstream news cycle. Both as an investigatory journalist and as an anchor, Brokaw was seen for multiple decades on NBC. Interestingly enough, Brokaw’s roots are strongly fashioned to the state of South Dakota. He was born in Webster, and grew up in Yankton. He even attended the University of South Dakota.
Other Notables: Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Sparky Anderson
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Delaware: Caesar Rodney
Caesar Rodney was a prominent figure within the Revolutionary War. He was especially a source of pride for the state of Delaware. Rodney was the President of the Delaware colony during this time period. Additionally, he was immensely significant in organizing the colony’s militia for battle. Rodney was born and raised in Kent County, Delaware.
Other Notables: George Thorogood, Robert Montgomery Bird, Howard Pyle, E.I. du Pont
Image Source: Delaware Business Times
Montana: Evel Knievel
Daredevil extraordinaire Evel Knievel (real name Robert Knievel Jr.) is the most famous person to hail from the great state of Montana. Participating routinely in death-defying stunts, Knievel made a name for himself predominantly throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Knievel was born and raised in Butte, Montana.
Other Notables: Jeannette Rankin, Dana Carvey, Reggie Watts
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Rhode Island: Viola Davis
Though born in South Carolina, Viola Davis grew up in the state of Rhode Island. She was a fixture in the community of Central Falls. Upon graduating from high school, Davis spent the next eight years honing her acting skills at both Rhode Island College and Julliard. Davis has burst onto the scene in recent years. Aside from her Academy Award-winning performance in Doubt, Davis has also won a Tony, an Emmy, and has been the leading actress in multiple high profile shows (such as How to Get Away with Murder).
Other Notables: Bill Conti, Charlie Day, James Woods, The Farrelly Brothers
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Maine: Stephen King
Stephen King is a king when it comes to horror novels and short stories. He’s long been regarded as a gem within the United States literary scene. A native of Durham, Maine, King first cut his teeth as a writer in high school. He then proceeded to graduate with an English degree from the University of Maine. The rest — as they say — is history.
Other Notable: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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New Hampshire: Adam Sandler
During the mid-’90s, there wasn’t a more popular comedic mind than Adam Sandler. Hits such as Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Big Daddy, and The Waterboy remain cult classics. Sandler first got his start on Saturday Night Live. Since then, he’s enjoyed a lengthy film career. Sandler grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Other Notables: Dan Brown, Seth Meyers
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Hawaii: Barack Obama
Barack Obama — the 44th President of the United States — was unquestionably the top choice for the state of Hawaii. President Obama became the first African-American President in the history of the country. Duly, he was also rooted in the state of Hawaii. Born in Honolulu, Obama spent most of his youth in the state. He graduated from Punahou High School before enrolling at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
Other Notables: Don Ho, Chris Pratt, Kamehameha V, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
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Idaho: Ezra Pound
The uber-talented Ezra Pound registers as the namesake individual from the state of Idaho. The world of poetry was highly influenced by Pound’s prowess in the field. Though some of his views became rather extreme, the man was still considered incredibly brilliant with the written word. Pound was born and raised in Hailey, Idaho before moving to Europe as an adult.
Other Notables: Nikki Sixx, Harmon Killebrew, Picabo Street
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West Virginia: Don Knotts
Portraying lovable Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, Don Knotts enjoyed a lengthy career in show business. Growing up in Morgantown, Knotts had a tumultuous childhood. After initially being a shy child, Knotts emerged in a large way. After graduating from West Virginia University, Knotts appeared in a number of films and television shows. He became somewhat of a cult icon in his later years.
Other Notables: Brad Paisley, Mary Lou Retton, Steve Yeager, Nick Saban
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Nebraska: Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett was born and bred in Nebraska. A native of Omaha, Buffett is one of the most successful individuals in United States history. Much of his money was made through excellently timed investments. As of 2018, Buffett’s net worth is alleged to be hovering around $91 billion.
Other Notables: Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda
Image Source: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc
New Mexico: Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris grew up in New Mexico. The child actor-turned-cult icon was born in Albuquerque, and grew up in Ruidoso, New Mexico. His Doogie Howser, M.D. role was followed by appearances in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle and Murder She Wrote. Most recently, NPH starred on the hit show How I Met Your Mother. He’s also won four Emmy Awards and one Tony Award throughout his illustrious career.
Other Notables: Demi Lovato, Ralph Kiner, Demi Moore, Unser Family
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Nevada: Andre Agassi
An arguable top-five tennis player of all-time, Andre Agassi is a fixture within the Las Vegas community. He was born in Vegas, raised in Vegas, continues to live in Vegas, and also opened a charter school for at-risk students in the city. As a player, Agassi won eight Grand Slam titles as well as an Olympic gold medal.
Other Notables: Jenny Lewis, Brandon Flowers, Harry M. Reid
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Kansas: Buster Keaton
The genre of silent film stars begins with Buster Keaton. The actor/director had a phenomenal run of cinema in which he cemented himself as an all-time great. Keaton’s family hailed from the small town of Piqua, Kansas. Keaton remained in Kansas until moving to New York at age 21.
Other Notables: Melissa Etheridge, Martina McBride, Barry Sanders, Walter Chrysler, Fatty Arbuckle
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Arkansas: Johnny Cash
Regardless of genre or era, Johnny Cash is an all-time great. His ability to seamlessly mesh varying genres together was spectacular — as was his songwriting ability. In a sense, Cash was a poet on stage. When combining his lyrical brilliance with a sultry voice, the audience was left with something truly special. Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas. He then proceeded to grow up in Dyess, Arkansas.
Other Notables: Maya Angelou, John Grisham, Bill Clinton, Bill Bob Thornton
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Mississippi: Elvis Presley
“The King of Rock and Roll” was transcendent in a number of ways. Elvis was an unabated showman — and one which could get the crowd in a crazy frenzy with the simplest of hip thrusts. He had an uncanny ability to mesh together a number of prominent genres (blues, country, rock) whilst also being original in the process. Aside from his musical prowess, Elvis had the presentation of someone everyone wanted to be. He was energetic, fun, and highly talented. His impact in music can surely be felt today. It extends across a wide range of genres, and his aesthetic look even had a major influence on past and present generations.
Other Notables: Jerry Rice, Morgan Freeman, Jimmy Buffett, Jim Henson, B.B. King, Walter Payton
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Utah: Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy was one of the most famous outlaws that ever lived. After immigrating with his family from England as a child, Cassidy grew up in the remote city of Circleville, Utah. From there, he became a real pro at stealing large sums of money from people. Cassidy traveled all over North and South America — and was even rumored to be in Europe. However, his earliest roots pinned him to the state of Utah.
Other Notables: The Osmond Family, Roseanne Barr, J. Willard Marriott
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Iowa: John Wayne
“The Duke” was born in Winterset, Iowa. He spent his early years in the state before moving with his family to California. Along with Clint Eastwood, Wayne set the stage for the Western genre. His towering persona made him a global star. Wayne starred in over 80 films within the genre — a mark few, if any, have touched. Simply put, he’s one of the greatest actors in the last century.
Other Notables: Johnny Carson, Buffalo Bill, Herbert Hoover
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Connecticut: Benedict Arnold
The individual Benedict Arnold has developed into more of an adjective in today’s culture. Arnold had been a prestigious member of the United States Army during the thirst for independence. Despite being a military officer for the United States, he made the treasonous decision to instead defect to the British. Arnold was born and raised in what is considered to be present day Norwich, Connecticut.
Other Notables: John Mayer, Nathan Hale, Katharine Hepburn, Harriet Beecher Stowe, P.T. Barnum
Image Source: Smithsonian Mag
Oklahoma: Jim Thorpe
There aren’t many athletes like Jim Thorpe. Aside from winning multiple Olympic gold medals, Thorpe was also a professional athlete in football, basketball, and baseball. We don’t think there’s another person who’s able to make that claim. Thorpe was born in present day Prague, Oklahoma.
Other Notables: Woody Guthrie, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, Mickey Mantle, James Garner, Garth Brooks
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Oregon: Matt Groening
Matt Groening is responsible for the creation of the longest-running cartoon in the United States. A native of Portland, Groening based the fictional town of Springfield in The Simpsons after his hometown. The Simpsons is not only highly popular, but it’s also an American institution at this point.
Other Notables: Courtney Love, River Phoenix, James Beard, Sally Struthers, Tommy Thayer, Ty Burrell
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Kentucky: Abraham Lincoln
Honest Abe is the top choice when it comes to the state of Kentucky. As iconic a leader the United States has ever had, Lincoln was an integral force in the abolishing of slavery. He was also a fixture in wading through the treacherous waters of the Civil War. Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky. His family had been rooted in the states dating back to the late 1700’s.
Other Notables: Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise
Louisiana: Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong was a pillar of the jazz movement during the roaring ’20s. His ability on the trumpet was sublime — as was his improvisational skills from a vocal standpoint. Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans. Although he passed away in 1971, the city of New Orleans named its main airport after the beloved musician.
Other Notables: Truman Capote, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled
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Alabama: Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks will forever be known as a leader within the civil rights movement. She was the integral figure in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. By refusing to relinquish her seat to a white passenger, Parks set off a firestorm of activity for the ultimate goal of racial equality. Her lasting impact continues to be seen today.
Other Notables: Jesse Owens, Zelda Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays
South Carolina: Joe Frazier
‘Smokin’ Joe’ Frazier truly staked his claim as an all-time great boxer. For a three-year span, Frazier was an undisputed heavyweight champion. This included a highly publicized victory over the iconic Muhammad Ali. Frazier was born in Beauford, South Carolina. He grew up in South Carolina before eventually moving to Philadelphia.
Other Notables: Darius Rucker, Eartha Kitt, Dizzy Gillespie, Andrew Jackson
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Colorado: Jack Dempsey
One of the greatest boxers of all-time hails from tiny Manassa, Colorado. Jack Dempsey developed into a world championship fighter. As he rose up the ranks, the elite fighter continued to build a global brand. Dempsey was massively strong — an aspect which made him phenomenal within the heavyweight division. In the annals of boxing, Dempsey ranks among the best.
Other Notables: Tim Allen, John Denver, Amy Adams, Lon Chaney
Minnesota: Bob Dylan
As one can see, the state of Minnesota is loaded with top-notch candidates. From entertainers to writers to athletes, there’s quite a bit of talent emanating from this part of the country. Bob Dylan will get the nod based upon his longevity in the realm of music. He’s been atop the game for decades upon decades. This includes winning a Nobel Prize, an Academy Award, and 11 Grammy Awards. Dylan was born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing.
Other Notables: Roger Maris, Prince, Judy Garland, Jean Paul Getty, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Schulz
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Oprah epitomizes the ‘American Dream’ perhaps more so than any other prominent figure in today’s culture. The billionaire moved from Mississippi to Milwaukee as a young child. After enduring a rather horrifying childhood, Oprah worked her way into becoming a highly successful talk show host. From there, she doubled-down — ultimately transforming herself into a benevolent businesswoman of the highest order. Virtually everything Oprah touches has turned to gold.
Other Notables: Al Jarreau, Gene Wilder, Harry Houdini, Mark Ruffalo, Liberace, Orson Welles, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Chris Farley
Maryland: Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman embodies benevolent humanity as well as anyone. Using her brilliant mind and shrewd skills, Tubman was able to help free upwards of 70 enslaved individuals. ‘The Underground Railroad’ became a literal lifeline for those who were beset by abhorrent conditions and cruel treatment. Tubman herself was born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland. She later escaped (whilst also freeing many family members in the process).
Other Notables: Thurgood Marshall, Francis Scott Key, Upton Sinclair, Babe Ruth, Billie Holiday, Johns Hopkins
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Missouri: Walt Disney
The Disney brand is one of the most successful entities on Earth. There’s one man to thank for this: Walt Disney. The creative genius started out as an animator — though parlayed that success into film franchises, theme parks, and all sorts of brilliant merchandise. Disney was raised in Marceline, Missouri, and spent his high school years in Kansas City.
Other Notables: Eminem, Mark Twain, Vincent Price, Harry S. Truman, Langston Hughes, T.S. Eliot, Walter Cronkite, Yogi Berra, George Washington Carver
Tennessee: Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton completely embodies the energy and wholesomeness of Tennessee. From an early age, Parton became a fixture all across the state. She started out as a youth singer — which then turned into her becoming a gigantic country star. Since becoming famous, Parton — a native of Pittman center — has succeeded in a number of different fields (which includes business, philanthropy, acting, writing, and producing).
Other Notables: Duane Allman, Bessie Smith, Justin Timberlake, Davy Crockett, Tina Turner
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Indiana: Michael Jackson
“The King of Pop” needs no introduction. Michael Jackson is the most gifted performer in the history of music. Yes, we’re really going there. There has not been another individual possessing Jackson’s combination of vocal range, charisma, and dancing ability. His impact within the world of pop will live on for centuries to come. Before moving to Los Angeles as a child, Jackson was born and raised in Gary, Indiana.
Other Notables: James Dean, Larry Bird, David Letterman, Kurt Vonnegut
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Massachusetts: Ben Franklin
The state of Massachusetts is a who’s who of noteworthy people. It’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to one single individual. However, we must give that title to Ben Franklin. The prestigious individual still is one of the single-most important people in this country’s history. His views on philosophy and politics are still used today — as are his ideas on a plethora of everyday inventions.
Other Notables: Dr. Seuss, Paul Revere, John F. Kennedy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Emily Dickinson, E.E. Cummings, Henry David Thoreau
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Arizona: Cesar Chavez
Born and raised in Yuma, Arizona, Cesar Chavez is largely known for his promotion of Latino American civil rights. Much of this was seen through his efforts with those who were farm workers. For 25 days, Chavez fasted in order to illustrate the poor pay/harrowing conditions many were enduring out in the fields. To this day, Chavez remains as a highly revered figure.
Other Notables: Alice Cooper, Linda Ronstadt, Geronimo
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Washington: Bill Gates
The ever-changing world of technology owes a great deal to Bill Gates. The original founder of Microsoft, Gates revolutionized how the world is experienced. This includes the development of household/personal computer devices. By making this accessible to the public, Gates became one of the richest humans of all-time. Gates was born and raised in Seattle.
Other Notables: Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Adam West, Bing Crosby
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Virginia: George Washington
George Washington is arguably the most famous person to ever hail from the United States. His name alone holds tremendous clout — and can be seen on street signs, schools, buildings, and in all sorts of recognizable areas (such as Washington D.C.). Washington was the inaugural President of the United States. The iconic figure was born in what is present day Westmoreland County, Virginia. He also grew up in Fairfax County on Mount Vernon.
Other Notables: Arthur Ashe, Warren Beatty, Ella Fitzgerald, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Robert E. Lee, Woodrow Wilson
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New Jersey: Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra was flawless as a performer. Ushering in a new era of cool, Sinatra was integral in transitioning music within the United States from the swing era into something slower — and thus more personal. His crooning nature was only complemented by his terrific fashion and electric personality. Rarely has the world seen someone captivate an audience the way Sinatra would. A native of Hoboken, Sinatra passed away in 1998 at the age of 82.
Other Notables: Jon Bon Jovi, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Bruce Springsteen, Anthony Bourdain
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Michigan: Henry Ford
Do you own a Ford automobile? If so, you can thank Henry Ford for that. His utilization of the assembly line enabled him to produce a mass amount of cars at affordable prices. The general public were then able to purchase the cars — which directly correlated with the boom of the auto industry within Michigan. Ford himself was born in Wayne County, and grew up in the greater Detroit area.
Other Notables: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Bob Seger, Francis Ford Coppola
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North Carolina: Michael Jordan
North Carolina’s most famous figure is undoubtedly Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Though born in Brooklyn, Jordan was raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. After attending the University of North Carolina, Jordan developed into the greatest basketball player of all-time. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships. In the process, Jordan also created the Jordan apparel brand — an entity which continues to be a global giant.
Other Notables: Thelonious Monk, James Taylor, Richard Petty, Andy Griffith
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Georgia: Martin Luther King Jr.
The father of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. is unquestionably the most famous person to ever hail from the state of Georgia. Aside from being a bastion of equality and hope, MLK galvanized an entire nation into warding off systemic racism in favor of mass equality. The Nobel Peace Prize-winning individual led numerous marches in the streets — including the famed March on Washington in 1963. King Jr. was born and raised in Atlanta.
Other Notables: Ray Charles, Ty Cobb, James Brown, Ossie Davis, Otis Redding
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Ohio: LeBron James
LeBron James is the best basketball player of all-time not named Michael Jordan. James was a child prodigy — and has since lived up to all the hype. Off the court, James developed his own media company. He also opened up a school in his native home state for children from impoverished backgrounds. Without question, James is very prideful of his Akron roots.
Other Notables: Neil Armstrong, Doris Day, Clark Gable, Ulysses S. Grant, Dean Martin, Paul Newman, Jack Nicklaus
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Pennsylvania: George Marshall
Pennsylvania offers a host of very impressive names. The most noteworthy from a historical standpoint is George Marshall. During WWII, there wasn’t a more significant figure from a strategic standpoint than Marshall. The former Secretary of State aided tremendously in not only helping the Allies win the war, but also creating the Marshall Plan (with the hopes of helping Europe rebuild properly). Marshall was born and raised in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Other Notables: Bill Cosby, Louisa May Alcott, Daniel Boone, Arnold Palmer, Gertrude Stein, Honus Wagner, John Updike
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Illinois: Ronald Reagan
Whether it be as an actor, a philanthropist, or a politician, Ronald Reagan is a very well-known man. His influence as the face of the GOP cannot be overstated enough. Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was even named after Reagan (due to his mother’s love of Reagan as an actor). The figurehead was born in Tampico, Illinois, and grew up all throughout the state.
Other Notables: Ray Bradbury, Miles Davis, Carl Sandburg, Harrison Ford
Image Source: Mary Anne Fackelman-Miner/White House/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
New York: Donald Trump
Donald Trump — particularly in this current time — is the most recognizable figure hailing from the state of New York. Trump grew up in the Jamaica, Queens neighborhood. From there, the financial backing of his father enabled him to become a prominent businessman. Most recently, Trump became the 45th President of the United States.
Other Notables: Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Duke Ellington, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Barbra Streisand, Humphrey Bogart, Norman Rockwell, Rockefeller Family
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Florida: Tom Petty
The late Tom Petty was one of America’s most treasured musicians. At 18 years old, Petty embarked on a career which saw him sell 80 million records worldwide. He also managed to win three Grammy Awards during this time. Petty’s ability to connect with his fans largely stemmed from deeply personal songwriting. “Free Fallin'” and “American Girl” are two of his most iconic tunes. Petty was born and raised in the college town of Gainesville.
Other Notables: Sidney Poitier, Jim Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston
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Texas: Willie Nelson
Who doesn’t love Willie Nelson? The 85-year-old sings terrific songs, and consumes large quantities of marijuana. Aside from a lengthy music career, Nelson also dabbled in both acting and activism. He continues to advocate for a number of worthwhile causes. Raised by his grandparents, Nelson grew up in Abbott, Texas, and briefly attended Baylor University.
Other Notables: Jeff Bezos, Carol Burnett, Janis Joplin, Roy Orbison, Dwight Eisenhower, Gene Autry, Matthew McConaughey, Lyndon B. Johnson
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California: Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood is easily one of the most iconic American actors of all-time. The ‘spaghetti western’ genre sat directly in Eastwood’s wheelhouse. His steely expressions, beady eyes, and intimidating presence made him a global star. Eastwood still acts and directs well into his ’80s. Eastwood was born in San Francisco, and grew up in Piedmont, California.
Other Notables: Serena Williams, Tom Hanks, Leo DiCaprio, Shirley Temple, Robert Frost, Jerry Garcia, Richard Nixon
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