Big Names from Louisville
Growing up in Indianapolis, there are four things that came to mind when I thought of Louisville, Kentucky: The Kentucky Derby (of course), Muhammad Ali (there is an entire center with his name on it), Colonel Harland Sanders (KFC—enough said), and the infamous Louisville Slugger. We hear enough about the just-mentioned. Aside from them, and the champion Louisville Cardinals, who are other “big names” with significant ties to the Derby City?
Diane Sawyer—Lila Diane Sawyer—was born in Glasgow, Kentucky. However, soon after her birth, her family relocated to Louisville. After graduating from college in Massachusetts, Sawyer worked as a news and weather reporter for WLKY-TV from 1967 to 1970. During the 1970’s, Sawyer was a White House press aid and lawyer and literary assistant to former President Richard Nixon. During the 1980s, Sawyer rose to a more national prominence as an anchor for the CBS Morning Show then a correspondent for 60 Minutes. She has also been co-anchors for Primetime Live, 20/20, and Good Morning America. Sawyer currently works as an ABC World News anchor. My most memorable time of seeing Diane Sawyer was in the famed 2002 “Crack is Whack” interview with Whitney Houston. Sawyer’s father is Erbon Powers "Tom" Sawyer, a judge. Louisville’s E. P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park was named in his honor after his death in 1969.
Sue Grafton, best known as an author of detective novels, was born in Louisville in 1940 to Author C.W. Grafton. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen one of Grafton’s 'alphabet series' novels on a shelf at a bookstore or library ("A" Is for Alibi, "B" Is for Burglar, "C" Is for Corpse , etc.), which feature private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, California. The University of Louisville graduate’s hugely-successful writing career has spanned three decades, with the alphabet series reaching “W” thus far. I wonder why Grafton didn’t use a fictional Kentucky city in the series.
Sean Young was born in Louisville in 1959. She called the city home until her family relocated to the Cleveland area during her high school years. Young’s name may not be quite house-hold, but her face is surely recognizable from the numerous major films in which she has been a star, especially from the 1980s and 1990s: Blade Runner, Dune, No Way Out, Wall Street, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Young’s more recent, notable roles include Parasomnia (2010), James’ Patterson’s 1st to Die (2003), and Poor White Trash (2000). Young has co-stared with some of the biggest names in the film industry, such as Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, Kevin Costner, and James Woods.
The Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. However, at six years-old, her family moved to Louisville. Scherzinger’s birth name is Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente. As a teenager, Scherzinger was the first runner-up at the 1996 Kentucky State Fair's Coca-Cola Talent Classic contest. Since the start of Scherzinger’s career in 1999, she and The Pussycat Dolls have sold 80 million records worldwide and Billboard ranked her, along with the group, as one of the top ten most successful musical acts of the 2000s in 2009. The girl-group is known for pop songs such as “Baby Love,” “Come to Me,” and “Buttons.” The group disbanded in 2010 and Scherzinger released a solo album, Killer Love, which had two top-ten hits: "Don't Hold Your Breath" and "Right There."
Actress Jennifer Lawrence was born in Louisville in 1990. At twenty years-old, Lawrence was the second-youngest actress to ever be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her role in Silver Linings Playbook earned her an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Satellite Award, and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress. Lawrence is the youngest person to ever be nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress. Lawrence’s lead role in Debra Granik's Winter's Bone is generally regarded to as her “break-through.” Other films the Louisville-native is known for starring in are House at the End of the Street (one of my personal favorites), Hunger Games, and X-Men: First Class.
Static Major—Stephen Ellis Garrett—was born in Louisville in 1974. The Grammy Award-Winning rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer was a member of R&B trio Playa, but is best known for his appearance on Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III on the mega-successful “Lollipop.” While his debut album was in the works, Static Major died February 25, 2008 at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville. His death is credited to myasthenia gravis. Songs credited to Static for either production or writing include Ginuwine’s “Pony,” Aaliyah’s “Try Again,” “Are You That Somebody?,” “More than a Woman,” “We Need a Resolution,” and “Rock the Boat,” as well as songs from Pretty Ricky’s album Blue Starr and Nicole Ray’s Make it Hot. Static’s work has been featured on soundtracks for Dr. Dolittle and Romeo Must Die.
I could go on and on about other Louisvillians people may not necessarily know are from Louisville. Singer Joan Osborne, famed for her 1995 hit “One of Us,” which is the theme song for the television series Joan of Arcadia, grew up in Anchorage. Female actress Charley Chase is credited with over 350 adult films and has won numerous adult film awards was born in Louisville in 1987. Other Louisvillians include Professional Baseball Player Pee Wee Reese, You Don't Say!, Split Second, and Name That Tune game-show host Tom Kennedy, and television show Psych actress Maggie Lawson.