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Illinois Famous People
Famous Americans: History and Biographies
Links to histories and biographies of the famous people of Illinois. Many famous people of Illinois have made significant contributions to the history of our nation and the state of Illinois. These famous Americans, famous entertainers, famous players, famous scientist, famous singers, famous statesmen, famous women, heroes, great explorers, and others Illinois famous Americans have all made Illinois their home. This list includes Illinois historical figures, celebrities and those individuals of Illinois who have influenced the lives of others.
- Jane Addams (1860 - 1935) Earned a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in helping the inner city poor; born in Cedarville.
- Black Hawk (1767 - 1838) Sauk leader who led the Indians in the black Hawk War; born near Rock Island.
- Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 - 2000) The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Price; grew up in Chicago.
- Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947 - ) Lawyer, politician, First Lady to President Bill Clinton, First Lady elected to the United States Senate; born in Chicago.
Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Davis was born on May 26, 1926, to an
affluent African American family in Alton, Illinois. His father, Miles Henry Davis, was a dentist. In 1927 the family moved to East St. Louis, Illinois. Widely considered
one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music,
including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.
John Deere (1804 - 1886) Invented the first successful steel plow; born in Vermont lived in Grand Detour.
Walt Disney (1901 - 1966) the creator of Mickey Mouse and founder of the Disneyland and
Walt Disney World Theme Parks was born in Chicago, Illinois. One of the world's most creative pioneers and innovators in graphic arts, Disney received more than 950
honors and citations from every nation in the world, including 48 Academy Awards and seven Emmys.
George Ferris (1859 - 1896) Inventor of the Ferris wheel; born in Galesburg.
Marshall Field (1834-1906) Established the Marshall Field & Company store that became the largest retail business in the world at that time; lived in Chicago.
Harrison Ford (1942 - ) Actor made famous in Star Wars and as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels; born in Chicago.
Eve "Jennie" Garth (born April 3, 1972 in Urbana, Illinois) is an American actress and film director, best known for starring as Kelly Taylor
throughout the Beverly Hills, 90210 franchise and Valerie Tyler on the sitcom What I Like About You. In 2012, she starred in her own reality show, Jennie
Garth: A Little Bit Country on CMT. Garth landed her first role in the television sitcom Growing Pains. She also appeared in six episodes on A Brand New
Life as Erica McCray.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961) Nobel Prize winning author; born in Oak Park.
"Jackie" Joyner-Kersee (born March 3, 1962 in East St. Louis, Illinois, and was named after Jackie Kennedy.) is a retired American athlete, ranked among the
all-time greatest athletes in the women's heptathlon as well as in the women's long jump. She won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals, in those two
events at four different Olympic Games. Sports Illustrated for Women magazine voted Joyner-Kersee the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century, just ahead of Babe
Didrikson Zaharias. After retiring as a competitive athlete, Joyner-Kersee has been involved with many philanthropic efforts and has joined the Board of Directors for USA
Track & Field (USATF), the national governing body of the sport.
- Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865) The 16th President of the United States; moved from Kentucky to New Salem at the age of 21.
Marlee Matlin (1965 - ) The youngest recipient (21) to win an Oscar for an acting role; born in Morton Grove.
- Bill Murray (1950 - ) Actor made famous in Saturday Night Live and movies such as Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day; born in Evanston.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911 - ) The 40th President of the United States; born in Tampico.
Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967) was born in Galesburg, Illinois. Sandburg was a poet and biographer who
won Pulitzer Prizes for his biography Abraham Lincoln: The War Years and for his Completed Poems in 1951. He was also a novelist, journalist, children's author, and
Shel Silvertstein (1932 - 1999 ) Author of children's books such as Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree; from Chicago.
Warfield Tibbets, Jr. (February 23, 1915 – November 1, 2007) was a brigadier general in the United States Air Force, best known for being the pilot of the
Enola Gay (named for his mother), the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb in the history of warfare. The bomb, code-named Little Boy, was dropped on the Japanese city
of Hiroshima.Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr., was born in Quincy, Illinois, the son of Paul Warfield Tibbets, Sr., and his wife, Enola Gay Tibbets. When he was five years old,
the family moved to Davenport, Iowa, and then to Iowa's capital, Des Moines, where he was raised, and where his father became a confections wholesaler.
- Robin Williams (1952 - ) Actor made famous in the television show Mork and Mindy and movies such as Patch Adams and Toys; born in Chicago.
More Famous People of Illinois
- Franklin Pierce Adams author, Chicago
- Gillian Anderson actress, Chicago
- Mary Astor actress, Quincy
- Arnold O. Beckman inventor, Cullom
- Jack Benny comedian, Chicago
- Harry A. Blackmun jurist, Nashville
- William E. Borah public official, Fairfield
- Ray Bradbury (1920 - ) the author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and the Illustrated Man, was born in Waukegan, Illinois. Bradbury has published
more than 500 works of science fiction and fantasy including short stories, plays, novels, screenplays, television scripts and verse. In 2000 he was awarded the National
Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
- William Jennings Bryan orator, politician, Salem
- Edgar Rice Burroughs author, Chicago
- Marvin Camras inventor, Chicago
- Gower Champion choreographer, Geneva
- John Chancellor TV commentator, Chicago
- Raymond Chandler writer, Chicago
- Jimmy Connors tennis champion, East St. Louis
- James Gould Cozzens author, Chicago
- Cindy Crawford model, DeKalb
- Richard J. Daley mayor, Chicago
- John Dos Passos author, Chicago
- James T. Farrell author, Chicago
- Betty Friedan feminist, Peoria
- Benny Goodman musician, Chicago
- John Gunther author, Chicago
- George E. Hale astronomer, Chicago
- Dorothy Hamill ice skater, Chicago
- John M. Harlan jurist, Chicago
- Charlton Heston actor, Evanston
- Wild Bill Hickok scout, Troy Grove
- William Holden actor, O'Fallon
- Rock Hudson actor, Winnetka
- Burl Ives singer, Hunt City
- James Jones author, Robinson
- Quincy Jones composer, Chicago
- Walter Kerr drama critic, Evanston
- Archibald MacLeish poet, Glencoe
- David Mamet playwright, Chicago
- Homer Z. Martin inventor, Chicago
- Stanley Mazor inventor, Chicago
- Robert A. Millikan (1868-1953) was born in Morrison, Illinois. As a scientist, Millikan made numerous momentous discoveries, chiefly in the fields of
electricity, optics, and molecular physics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1923 for his work in demonstrating the existence of electrons.
- Sherrill Milnes baritone, Downers Grove
- John G. Neihardt poet, Sharpsburg
- Bob Newhart actor, comedian, Chicago
- Frank Norris author, Chicago
- William S. Paley broadcasting executive, Chicago
- Drew Pearson columnist, Evanston
- Richard Pryor comedian, actor, Peoria
- Lewis Hastings Sarett inventor, Champaign
- Sam Shepard playwright, Fort Sheridan
- William L. Shirer author, historian, Chicago
- McLean Stevenson actor, Bloomington
- Preston Sturges director, Chicago
- Clyde W. Tombaugh astronomer, Streator
- Gloria Swanson actress, Chicago
- Carl Van Doren writer, educator, Hope
- Melvin Van Peebles playwright, Chicago
- Irving Wallace author, Chicago
- Alfred Wallenstein conductor, Chicago
- Raquel Welch actress, Chicago
- Florenz Ziegfield theatrical producer, Chicago
US Famous People
Links to histories and biographies of
famous people from each of the 50 states
. Learn history through the biographies of the famous people from your state. These famous Americans have influenced the lives of others and all have made the US their home. People listed are almost always native to the state. We do (on occasion) include those that have
either lived within a state for most of their adult life, or have made a significant
contribution to the state in their personal endeavors.