Every state has its own special something that sets it apart, whether it be the food, the drinks or the landmarks. But every so often, we're reminded that a star we’ve only read about or seen on the big screen once walked the very same streets as us. Sure, plenty of influential figures make their way to Hollywood and New York City, but big dreams often have humble beginnings. Here are the most famous people born in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C.
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Rosa Parks, a pivotal figure in the civil rights movement, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, and dedicated her life to activism in Montgomery. Parks is best known for spurring the Montgomery bus boycott after refusing to give up her seat to white passengers after a long day of work.
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Before leading the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series in 1993, Curt Schilling was born in Anchorage, Alaska. Schilling would go on to win a World Series championship with the Arizona Diamondbacks and two more with the Boston Red Sox.
Emma Stone is best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in "La La Land" and for being the highest-paid actress of 2017. But before she graced the big screen, she lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. Fun fact: Stone's birth-given first name is Emily, but the actress went with Emma in honor of Baby Spice from the Spice Girls after noticing "Emily Stone" was already registered with the Screen Actors Guild.
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Johnny Cash, "The Man in Black," was born in Kingsland, Arkansas. After relocating to Dyess, Arkansas, Cash would sing tunes with his family while working in cotton fields. Time in the cotton field led to the inspiration of Cash’s most popular songs and eventual success as one of the best-selling recording artists of all time.
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Before he was everyone's favorite cowboy in “Toy Story,” Tom Hanks was a native of Concord, California. It was while attending California State University Sacramento that Hanks discovered his love for acting. In his 30-plus-year career, Hanks has received two Academy Awards — one for his portrayal of Forrest Gump, a kind-hearted man from Alabama, and another for playing a lawyer with a life-defining secret in "Philadelphia."
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Speaking of "Toy Story," Tim Allen, known for voicing Woody's space buddy Buzz Lightyear, was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. Thanks to his hit television show "Home Improvement," Allen is one of the highest-paid TV stars of all time.
Katharine Hepburn, the 20th-century movie star who gave us classics like "The Philadelphia Story" and "Bringing Up Baby," was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. Best known for her charismatic and rebellious personality, Hepburn holds the record for the most Academy Awards for acting as well as the most nominations. When she wasn't working, she frequently returned to her seaside estate that sold for $11 million in 2017.
Valerie Bertinelli is a Food Network star these days with go-to recipes ranging from the perfect pasta dish to savory casseroles, but before her days on the screen, Bertinelli was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Fans of "One Day at a Time" and "Touched by an Angel" may recognize Bertinelli from her recurring roles.
Tom Petty, a three-time Grammy Award-winning artist, was born in Gainesville, Florida. Petty is best known for being the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and releasing classic hits like "Free Fallin’." Fun fact: After meeting Elvis Presley at just 10 years old in his home state, Petty claimed he knew he was destined to make rock 'n' roll music.
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Fans of "Breaking Bad," the 16-time Emmy Award-winning television show, may recognize Aaron Paul from his portrayal of Jesse Pinkman, the bad-boy companion to Walter White. But before Paul graced the big and small screen, he lived in Emmett, Idaho. Paul still has ties to his birthplace: His mother works for a local radio station, and he has a cabin in McCall, Idaho, with his wife and children.
Harrison Ford may be best known for flying the Millennium Falcon in "Star Wars" and dodging death traps as Indiana Jones, but the megastar was born in Chicago, Illinois. Ford attended Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, and was the first student to hold a broadcast at his school’s radio station. Today, he is the second highest-grossing actor of all time, behind Samuel L. Jackson.
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James Dean is a pop culture icon who, with only three films under his belt, paved the way for many of today's critically acclaimed actors. Dean was born in Marion, Indiana, and is the first actor to have received a posthumous Academy Award nomination for his performance in “East of Eden.”
The mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart during a flight around the globe has inspired plenty of conspiracy theories — an alien abduction and Earhart assuming a new identity are only two of many — but the Atchison, Kansas, native did much more than vanish. Not only did she defy gender stereotypes by fearlessly navigating the sky, but she also contributed to the advancement of women in aviation by being the first person to fly alone from Hawaii to the United States.
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Muhammad Ali, who first earned the world heavyweight boxing title in 1964 and is considered one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Fun fact: Ali's passion for boxing began at the age of 12 after his bike was stolen and he told a policeman he wanted to "whup" the culprit.
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Before revolutionizing the world of jazz with the sound of his trumpet and voice, Louis Armstrong lived in New Orleans, Louisiana. After dropping out of school in the fifth grade, Armstrong worked for a wealthy family that helped him purchase his first cornet. His time at the Colored Waifs Home for Boys led to him perfecting his cornet playing, and the rest is history.
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The King of Horror, responsible for terrifying audiences both young and old, was born in Portland, Maine. Stephen King attended the University of Maine as an English major and was a teacher at the local high school before signing his first major book deal with "Carrie." Since then, King has sold more than 350 million copies of his work. Many of his stories take place in three fictional towns in Maine that invented: Castle Rock, Derry and Jerusalem’s Lot.
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John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is known for his thick New England accent thanks to his time in Brookline, Massachusetts. Fun fact: Kennedy is the only president in United States history who has won a Pulitzer Prize, which he did with his book, “Profiles in Courage,” an examination of eight senators Kennedy felt exhibited great courage under pressure.
Madonna, born Madonna Louise Ciccone, is one of the biggest pop stars on the planet and has been labeled the "Queen of Pop" because of her popular singles and overall influence in the recording industry. Before dominating the charts, Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan, and raised in the Detroit area.
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Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince Rogers Nelson grew up in a house full of sound thanks to his music-playing father and jazz-singing mother. He taught himself how to play the piano, guitar and drums at a young age, and his natural talent led to an Academy Award and multiple Grammy nominations and wins. Prince's legacy still lives in Minnesota: His private estate in Chanhassen is open for touring.
Elvis Presley, quite possibly the most significant American cultural icon of the 20th century, grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, before building his legacy in Memphis. The "King of Rock and Roll" was just as much a movie star as he was a powerhouse musician. He starred in more than 30 films and was a 14-time Grammy-nominated artist. Fans of Presley can tour his birthplace in Tupelo at the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum.
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Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens, was born in Florida, Missouri, and hopped across the state throughout his childhood. Under his pseudonym, Twain wrote American classics "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." Fun fact: His pseudonym was derived from his time as a riverboat pilot; “mark twain” means “mark number two,” the second mark on a line that was dropped to measure water depth. The line indicated two fathoms, or a depth of 12 feet.
Dana Carvey, a favorite on "Saturday Night Live" for more than five seasons, was born in Missoula, Montana, before making his way first to California and eventually to the Big Apple. Carvey is best known for starring alongside Mike Myers in the cult classic "Wayne's World."
Warren Buffett may be the third richest person in the world (with a net worth of over $70 billion), but the Omaha, Nebraska, native still calls the Cornhusker State home. As one of the most influential figures in American business, Buffett is often called the "Oracle of Omaha" because of his ability to invest in companies that eventually succeed.
Andre Agassi — an eight-time Grand Slam winner and career Grand Slam champion — was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, to an Olympic boxer. Agassi first picked up a tennis racket as a toddler and left school permanently in the ninth grade to pursue a promising career. The rest, as they say, is history.
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Dan Brown, the author of fan favorites like "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. "The Da Vinci Code" is one of the best-selling novels of all time. Here's another fun fact: Other critically acclaimed American authors like Robert Frost and J.D. Salinger also lived in New Hampshire.
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Nicknamed "Ol’ Blue Eyes" because of his striking eye color, Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. Sinatra's sultry voice made him a massive star and pop culture icon, and he enjoyed decades of success, recording timeless tracks like "Fly Me to the Moon," acting in numerous films and participating in radio programming.
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A real estate developer, tabloid icon, TV personality and 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump was born in the borough of Queens in New York City, and attended the Kew-Forest School in Queens and the New York Military Academy in the Hudson Valley. When not at the White House, at his mansion in Palm Beach or at one of his many golf courses, his home base of operations is the gilded Trump Tower in Manhattan.
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Ralph Dale Earnhardt Sr., one of the most renowned drivers in NASCAR history, was born and raised in Kannapolis, North Carolina. He won seven NASCAR champions, tying with two other racers for the most in history. Earnhardt's son, Dale Jr., continues to carry on his father's legacy as a NASCAR racer himself.
Singer, songwriter and actress Peggy Lee's career spanned more than 60 years in Hollywood, but the Jamestown, North Dakota, native found her start as a singer for KOVC radio in her home state. Lee was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.
The first man to walk on the moon was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio. As a high school student at Blume High School, Neil Armstrong acquired a love for flying and airplane design, and earned his flight certificate before he could even drive.
Brad Pitt is recognized for his Hollywood good looks and acting chops, but most are unaware that the Academy Award-nominated actor was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, before making his way to Hollywood.
Matt Groening may not be a common household name, but his signature creations — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson — certainly are. Groening, born in Portland, Oregon, was also the creative force behind "Futurama" and Netflix’s "Disenchanted." Springfield, the fictional town where the Simpsons live, was supposedly inspired by Springfield, Oregon.
As noted in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme song, Will Smith was indeed born in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Smith has been nominated for a myriad of accolades and won four Grammy Awards after inspiring audiences everywhere to "get jiggy with it."
Viola Davis, star of fan-favorite shows like “How to Get Away with Murder” and critically acclaimed films like “Fences,” was raised in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Since her days at Central Falls High, Davis has accomplished a historic milestone by becoming the first African American actress to achieve the “Triple Crown of Acting”: Academy Award, Emmy and Tony.
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John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, a native of Cheraw, South Carolina, has been hailed as one of the most influential figures in modern jazz, and quite possibly the greatest jazz trumpeter of all time. Gillespie first gained prominence by playing with popular swing bands in the early 20th century, and he went on to become a band leader, composer and, with Charlie Parker, the driving force behind bebop.
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TV journalist and author Tom Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakota, and as a teenager he served as tour guide at the state’s Gavins Point Dam. He anchored the “NBC Nightly News” from 1982 to 2004, and along with ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’ Dan Rather, was one of the “Big Three” news anchors for decades. He’s written several books, most notably “The Greatest Generation,” and today he’s a special correspondent for NBC News.
Quentin Tarantino's films have inspired a cult following, making him one of the most prominent directors in movie-making history. The mind behind films like "Kill Bill," "Reservoir Dogs" and “Pulp Fiction” was born in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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Beyoncé is a cultural icon who, as she notably remarks in songs, originates from Houston, Texas. Other than being the voice of Nala in "The Lion King," Beyonce is the highest-paid black recording artist of all time, the most nominated woman in Grammy history, and is one of the highest-selling artists of all time.
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Donny and Marie Osmond's career began at the age of five and four, respectively, when they were invited to perform on "The Andy Williams Show" with their four other brothers. The Ogden, Utah, natives would go on to become teen sensations, TV performers and major recording stars, and they’ve frequently performed together; an 11-year Las Vegas residency will be wrapping up later this year.
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, was born in Windsor County, Vermont. Coolidge was known for being a silent and stoic figure, earning the nickname "Silent Cal." He led the United States to tenuous prosperity during the roaring ‘20s, but a year after his departure from the White House, the Great Depression began.
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Commander in chief of the Continental Army, presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention, and first president of the United States, George Washington is a towering figure in American history, with both a state and the nation’s capital named after him. But Washington was born and raised in Virginia, and maintained his residence there throughout his life. Today, you can visit his estate, Mount Vernon, located just downstream from D.C. on the Potomac River.
Bill Gates, the principal founder of Microsoft and one of the most influential entrepreneurs of our time, hails from Seattle, Washington. Gates' mansion, named Xanadu 2.0 after the home owned by the fictional mogul in "Citizen Kane," took seven years and $63 million to build. It overlooks Lake Washington in Medina, Washington, and is one of the largest mansions in America.
Samuel L. Jackson may have hilarious catchphrases that have resonated with generations, but the Washington, D.C., native has established himself as a powerhouse as one of the highest-grossing actor of all time. Jackson has appeared in mega-franchises like the "Star Wars" prequels and "Jurassic Park," and has starred in critically acclaimed dramas like "Pulp Fiction." You can catch Jackson as Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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Comedian Steve Harvey was born and raised in Welch, West Virginia, before relocating to Cleveland, Ohio. He returned to his hometown as a student at West Virginia University. Harvey's career has spanned more than 30 years; he currently hosts two of the highest-rated game shows, "Family Feud" and "Celebrity Family Feud."
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At the age of 8, while living in his native Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a young Gene Wilder, born Jerome Silberman, discovered acting as a way to help his mother recover from an illness. More than 30 years later, Wilder would go on to perform in his most notable film, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Matthew Fox is best known for playing the role of Dr. Jack Shephard on the TV show “Lost” and Charlie on “Party of Five.” But before he hit the silver screen, the Crowheart, Wyoming, native lived on a cattle ranch where he was homeschooled by his mother. Crowheart is about a two-hour drive from Jackson, Wyoming, one of the many cities worth adding to your bucket list.
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