Trace Adkins (1962, Sarepta): A multiple Grammy
nominee and the Academy of Country Music’s 1996 top new
male vocalist, he remains one of America’s favorite country
music performers. Twenty of his songs have made the Billboard country
music chart, including three number one hits. He was a finalist on the
television show The Celebrity Apprentice and provided voice-overs for
KFC television commercials.
Antoine Alciatore: A native of Marseilles, France, he
opened Antoine’s restaurant on St. Louis Street in the French Quarter in
1840. It remains the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States,
having been operated for generations by the Alciatore and Guste
families. The restaurant created “Oysters Rockefeller” and is
memorialized in the book Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson
Keyes. It was the site of President Franklin Roosevelt’s famed visit in
1937 when Mayor Robert Maestri asked Roosevelt, “How you like dem
erstas, Mr. President?”
Don Andres Almonester (Pre-Statehood): A wealthy
Spaniard, he was the most influential developer of New Orleans during Spanish
control in the late 1700s. He built the first charity hospital, the
first public school and the forerunner of St. Louis Cathedral. His
daughter, the Baroness Pontalba, built the first apartment house in America,
which still stand as the Upper and Lower Pontalba Apartments, bracketing
Stephen F. Ambrose: The moving force behind the
establishment of the World War II Museum (originally the D-Day Museum), the
UNO history professor wrote numerous books, including the critically
acclaimed Band of Brothers, D-Day and Undaunted Courage.
Louis Armstrong (1901, New Orleans): Arguably the
most famous of all Louisianians, he originally was nicknamed “Satchel Mouth”
because of his large mouth. The nickname was shortened to “Satchmo.” A
jazz trumpeter known for his raspy voice, he has both a park and an airport
named for him in his native New Orleans.
James Andrews, M.D. (1942, Homer): Perhaps the most
renowned orthopedic surgeon in America, the LSU graduate has developed a
reputation as one of the top sports medicine practitioners in the country.
His patients have included a laundry list of world-class athletes. He
was the SEC indoor and outdoor pole vault champion in 1963
Elizabeth Ashley: Born Elizabeth Ann Cole in Ocala,
Florida, she was raised in Baton Rouge. Her career spans five decades
and she earned a Tony Award in 1962 for her role in Take Her, She’s Mine.
She starred on stage and screen and, last year, was featured on HBO’s popular
John J. Audubon: The great naturalist and painter
visited Oakley Plantation in St. Francisville in 1821 and began work on his
book of illustrations, Birds of America. He completed 32 of the
paintings while at Oakley where he came to teach painting to Eliza Pirrie,
daughter of the plantation owner. The Audubon State Historic Site
and the new John J. Audubon Bridge, which unites West Feliciana and Pointe
Coupée parishes, stand in tribute to the area’s brief guest.
Seimone Augustus (1984, Baton Rouge): A three-time
All-American for the LSU Lady Tigers Basketball Team, she was the College
Player of the Year in both 2005 and 2006, leading LSU to three straight Final
Four appearances. She was the first overall pick in the WNBA draft and
led the Minnesota Lynx to the 2011 championship, earning the Most Valuable Player
Award. She will be a member of the USA team at the 2012 Olympics in
Gene Austin: After growing up in Minden in the
early 1900s, the native Texan became a vaudeville star and one of America’s
first “crooners,” gaining fame with “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “My
Blue Heaven,” which was the largest selling record of all time until
replaced by Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”
Leon Barmore (1944, Ruston): He coached the
Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters for 20 years, retiring with a .869 winning
percentage, the best in major college basketball history. He is a
member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s
Basketball Hall of Fame. His team made trips to the NCAA tournament in
every one of his coaching years, which includes a national championship in
Robert H. Barrow (1922, Baton Rouge): The 27th Commandant of the United States
Marine Corps, he was a highly decorated veteran of three wars, having
received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in Quang
Tri Province, Viet Nam.
Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard (1818, St. Bernard): One of seven
full generals in the Confederate Army, he personally ordered the first
shots of the Civil War fired upon Fort Sumter on January 9, 1861.
He helped create the Confederate Battle Flag and became known as “The Little
Geoffrey Beene (1924, Haynesville): A legendary
fashion designer who established a world-renowned showroom in New York, he
was designated as an “American Original” by The Smithsonian Institute.
Joseph Beidenharn: The first bottler of Coca-Cola, he
was a soda fountain operator in Vicksburg, Mississippi who later moved to
Monroe where he became one of the first franchisees of the popular soft
drink. His home on the Ouachita River in Monroe is now the Beidenharn
Museum and Gardens.
Judah P. Benjamin: The first Jewish member of the
United States Senate and first Jewish statewide elected official in
Louisiana, he was a sugar planter and one of the organizers of the Illinois
Central Railroad. He later served as Secretary of State, Secretary of
War and Attorney General of the Confederate States of America. A native
of the British West Indies, he moved to England after the war and became a
prosperous lawyer and Queen’s Counsel, practicing in the House of Lords.
J. Stanley “Skip” Bertman: He transformed a sleepy baseball
program into a national powerhouse, winning five College World Series
Championships as coach of the LSU Tigers. A member of the College
Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, he
coached the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, which won the bronze medal. He was
voted the second greatest college baseball coach of the century in a 1999
Baseball America Poll.
John Besh: Born in Meridian, Mississippi, and
reared in south Louisiana, he was named one of the “Top Ten Best New Chefs in
America” by Food & Wine magazine. His restaurants,
including August, Lüke, American Sector and Dominica, are frequently
recognized among the best restaurants in America. He is a frequent
guest on numerous television channels and food shows. A former U.S. Marine,
he served in Operation Desert Storm and is the author of several cookbooks
including My New Orleans and My Family’s Table.
Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne Bienville (Pre-Statehood): Iberville’s
younger brother was just eighteen years old when he arrived in
Louisiana. After discovering a crescent bend in the Mississippi River,
he was led by Choctaw Indians through the Rigolets to Bayou St. John and the
plot of land now known as the Vieux Carre. It was there, in 1718, that
he founded New Orleans, which he named in honor of the Duke of Orleans, the
Prince Regent of France. He earlier had a fabled encounter with English
ships at what is now known as English Turn. He served four terms as
governor of the Territory of Orleans.
Mel Blount: Recruited by Southern University
out of Vidalia, Georgia, he was an All-American defensive back who became one
of the NFL’s hardest hitting and most feared defenders. He was the
leader of the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense in the 1970s and was
selected the NFLs most valuable defensive player in 1975. A five-time
Pro Bowler, he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Corinne Claiborne “Lindy” Boggs (1916, Pointe Coupée): The widow
of former House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, she filled his unexpired term and
was elected to Congress eight times thereafter. She was permanent
chairwoman of the 1976 National Democratic Convention, the first female to
preside over a major party convention, and later served as United States Ambassador
to The Holy See.
Hale Boggs: At the time of his election to the
United States House of Representatives, at age 26, he was the youngest member
of Congress. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he was
re-elected thirteen times before disappearing on a plane trip from Anchorage
to Juneau, Alaska. At the time of his death, he was the Majority Leader
of the House of Representatives, having previously served as the House
Majority Whip. A member of the Warren Commission, he dissented from the
majority conclusion that a single bullet killed John F. Kennedy.
Arna Bontemps (1902, Alexandria): A novelist and
author of many children’s books, he wrote The Story of the Negro,
which cemented his role as an important contributor to the Harlem Renaissance
Movement where he collaborated with Langston Hughes. The Bontemps
African American Museum is located in the building where he was born.
Calvin Borel (1966, St. Martinville): The
diminutive jockey was a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby
(2007-09-10.) He is the only jockey to win the first two jewels of the
Triple Crown on different horses. Known for staying close to the rail
led to his nickname “Calvin Bo-Rail.” He has won more than 4,500 races,
including 1,000 at Churchill Downs.
Jim Bowie: A native of Kentucky, he spent
much of his life near Opelousas before his celebrated death at The
Alamo. His legend spread following the infamous sandbar fight in 1827
near Vidalia where he killed the sheriff of Rapides Parish with a large
weapon that became known as the Bowie Knife. His brother, Rezin,
supposedly designed the knife in Avoyelles Parish
Terry Bradshaw (1948, Shreveport): After setting
a national record throwing the javelin 245 feet at Woodlawn High School, he
became a record-setting quarterback at Louisiana Tech and the top pick in the
1970 NFL draft. He led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl
titles and was the 1978 NFL MVP. A member of the College Football Hall
of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he is now a popular NFL studio
host and commentator.
Tim Brando (1956, Shreveport): One of the
most familiar faces in sports broadcasting, he is the play-by-play announcer
for CBS Sports’ NCAA tournament coverage and the host of College Football Today.
He has been a play-by-play commentator on the Fox Sports Network, ESPN and
Raycom. He started at WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge and was the voice of LSU
basketball in the early ‘80s.
Lou Brock: Born in El Dorado, Arkansas, he
moved to Collinston a short time later. He led Southern University to
the NAIA Baseball Championship and then began a nineteen-year major league
career that resulted in his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He broke Ty Cobb’s all-time major league stolen base record and led the
National League in stolen bases eight times. He was a six-time All-Star
selection and two-time World Champion with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Drew Brees: The Texas native was the MVP of
Super Bowl XLIV, leading the New Orleans Saints to the championship. A
six-time Pro Bowl quarterback, he was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in
2004 and holds the single season record for most passing yards. He was
the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 2010 and is destined
for the NFL Hall of Fame.
Owen Brennan (1910, New Orleans): The patriarch
of an extended restaurant family, he began his culinary career as the
proprietor of the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street. He later opened
Brennan’s and created the “Breakfast at Brennan’s” experience that gained
worldwide fame for the restaurant. His son, Pip, assumed management of
the restaurant upon Owen’s death and other family members subsequently
entered the restaurant business. The Brennan name is widely known in
culinary circles with Ralph Brennan and Dickie Brennan owning and operating a
number of popular restaurants in New Orleans and elsewhere.
Leon “Kix” Brooks, III (1955, Shreveport): The host of
American Country Countdown, a syndicated radio show, Kix is the first
half of Brooks & Dunn, a duo which has won more Country Music
Association and Academy of Country Music Awards than any other act in the
history of country music.
Beausoleil Broussard (Pre-Statehood): The leader of the
first wave of Acadian people to travel to Louisiana, he had been a champion
of the resistance to British occupation of Acadia in Nova Scotia. He is
the patriarch of many Broussard families who settled in what was known as the
Atakapa area throughout southwest Louisiana
Dale Brown: The dynamic and often
controversial native of Minot, North Dakota, was hired to coach the LSU
basketball team in 1972. He retired 25 years later after 448 wins and
two Final Four appearances. He was twice named National Coach of the
Year, appeared in 15 straight national tournaments and is the second winningest
coach in SEC history behind Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp. His motivational
skills have made him a popular speaker across the world.
Joe Brown (1925, Baton Rouge): The
undisputed Lightweight Champion of the World in 1956, he made 11 successful
title defenses over a five-year period. He won 105 professional bouts
and is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
James Lee Burke: A native of Texas, he grew up in
New Iberia, the setting for more than a dozen of his novels about the
fictional detective, Dave Robicheux. He is a two-time winner of the
prestigious Edgar Award. His writings are harsh, violent and profane,
but feature some of the most beautiful prose ever written about
Louisiana. His novel, The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111
times over a nine-year period, but upon publication by The LSU Press was
nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
James Burton (1939, Dubberly): A member of the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he recorded and performed with Elvis, Ricky
Nelson and John Denver, among others. His statue stands in front of the
Shreveport Municipal Auditorium across the street from where his charitable
foundation is housed. The foundation established the James Burton
International Guitar Festival held annually in Shreveport.
Billy Cannon: Though born in Philadelphia,
Mississippi, he grew up in Baton Rouge and became a legend at Istrouma High
School. A two-time All America and 1959 Heisman Trophy winner at LSU,
his 89-yard punt return against Ole Miss in 1959 is considered the greatest
play in LSU history and one of the top moments in all of college
sports. A sprinter and shot put champion, he has been referred to as “either
the strongest dash man or the fastest shot putter” in history. He was
the first pick in the 1960 draft by both the NFL and AFL and was inducted
into the National College Football Hall of Fame.
Truman Capote (1924, New Orleans): Born Truman
Streckfus Persons, he is best known for his chilling book In Cold Blood
and the award-winning play Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He was the
subject of the critically acclaimed movie “Capote” which
received five Academy Award nominations.
Kitty Carlisle (1910, New Orleans): Although
best remembered as a regular on the television game show To Tell the Truth,
she was born Catherine Conn and was an accomplished opera singer. She
appeared in several movies including “A Night at the Opera” with the Marx
Brothers. She was chair of the New York State Council of the Arts and
received the National Medal of the Arts from President George H. W. Bush.
James Carville (1944, Carville): A political
consultant and commentator, he was the lead strategist for the Bill Clinton
presidential campaign. He was a co-host of CNN’s CrossFire and
has worked on political campaigns throughout the world. A Democrat, he
and his wife, Republican Mary Matalin, are the authors of several
books, He is a regular television commentator and colorful political
Tony Chachere (1905, Opelousas): A descendant
of Creoles who escaped the French Revolution, he had three successful
careers. He established the Louisiana Drug Company, which featured
elixirs known as Mamou Cough Syrup and Bon Soir Bug; he was a member of the
Millionaires Club with Equitable Life Insurance and, after retiring at age
65, started Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods, which feature his now-famous
original Creole seasoning.
Leah Chase (1923, Madisonville): The queen of
Creole cuisine, she and her husband established the famed restaurant Dooky
Chase which became a gathering spot in the 1960s for many participants in the
civil rights movement. She has received numerous awards for her
culinary talents and her community service. Her famed Gumbo Z’Herbes is
traditionally served on Holy Thursday in the restaurant which was flooded
during Hurricane Katrina but reopened in May 2007.
Clifton Chenier (1925, Opelousas): The “King of
Zydeco,” he won a Grammy in 1983 and is a member of the Blues Hall of
Fame. He popularized Zydeco music, a distinct Louisiana sound featuring
the accordion and the frottoir, a washboard that hung easily from the
Claire Lee Chennault: Born in Commerce, Texas, he was
raised in Waterproof. Lieutenant General Chennault established the
“Flying Tigers,” an all-volunteer service that fought the Japanese in
China. He later led all Allied air forces in the Far East in World War
II. Featured on Life magazine covers and in various books,
General Chennault remains a hero to this day in China for his courageous
efforts in the Far Eastern skies.
Kate Chopin: Katherine O’Flaherty was born in
St. Louis, Missouri. Though not recognized as such during her lifetime,
the novelist and short story writer is now considered a forerunner of
feminist authors of the 20th century. Most of her work was set in Louisiana, including her
most celebrated novel, The Awakening. She married a Louisianian,
Oscar Chopin, and lived in New Orleans and Cloutierville. The
Natchitoches area inspired several of her works including A Night in
Acadie and Desiree’s Baby.
William C.C. Claiborne: The first territorial governor of
Louisiana following the Louisiana Purchase, he was the state’s first elected
governor after statehood in 1812. Thereafter, he briefly served in the
United States Senate until his death in 1817. Earlier in his life, he
was elected to Congress from the State of Tennessee and is believed to be the
youngest Congressman in United States history.
Patricia Clarkson (1959, New Orleans): One of
Hollywood’s classiest character actresses, she won an Emmy for Outstanding
Guest Actress in the television show Six Feet Under. She appeared in The
Untouchables, The Green Mile, Shutter Island, as well as
made-in-Louisiana movies Everybody’s All-American and All the
King’s Men. She was nominated for an Academy Award for best
supporting actress in Pieces of April.
Van Cliburn (1934, Shreveport): A
world-renowned pianist, he won the first international Tchaikovosky
competition in Moscow in 1958. He opened the 100th anniversary season of Carnegie
Hall in 1987 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003 and
the National Medal of Arts in 2010.
Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. (1937, Shreveport): A renowned
trial lawyer in Los Angeles who represented numerous celebrity clients, he
gained international fame defending O.J. Simpson and uttering the now famous phrase
“If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Iron Eyes Cody (1904, Kaplan): Born Espera Oscar
de Corti, Tony Cody was the child of Sicilian immigrants. He parlayed
his physical appearance as a Native American into more than 200 movie roles,
including The Big Trail with John Wayne and A Man Called Horse
with Richard Harris. He became widely known as the “crying Indian” in
the early 1970s Keep America Beautiful television commercials.
Harry Connick, Jr. (1967, New Orleans): The popular
singer and actor has produced more Number One albums than any other artist in
U.S. jazz history. He made his screen debut in Memphis Belle,
has performed on Broadway and created the soundtrack for the popular movie When
Harry Met Sally. His father, also a singer, was the longtime
district attorney of Orleans Parish.
Bill Conti: A graduate of LSU, he wrote the
heralded music for the motion picture Rocky and its sequels. He
won an Academy Award for the score of the movie The Right Stuff.
He composed the music for the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only and
themes for television classics Dynasty and Falcon Crest.
He regularly was the musical director for the Academy Awards ceremonies and
has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hollis Conway: A two-time Olympic medalist as a
high jumper, he is the American indoor record holder with a jump of 7 feet
10.5 inches. As a six-time NCAA All-American and three-time champion at
then-University of Southwestern Louisiana, he twice broke the American record
on his way to two World No. 1 rankings. He is now a minister and
leading motivational and inspirational speaker.
Lodwrick M. Cook (1928, Castor): A philanthropist
and former chairman and CEO of The Atlantic Richfield Company, he is a major
benefactor of LSU where the Lod Cook Alumni Center and Cook Hotel stand as a
tribute to his generosity. One of five graduates of the Grand Cane High
School Class of 1946, he became a confidant to several presidents and chaired
the Reagan Presidential Library Board.
Al Copeland (1944, New Orleans): The founder
of the Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuit fast food franchise was a powerboat
enthusiast and colorful character. The controversial Christmas light
display in the front lawn of his mansion stalled traffic in Jefferson Parish
and resulted in litigation.
John David Crow (1935, Marion): After growing up
in Springhill, he enrolled at Texas A&M University and became one of Bear
Bryant’s “Junction Boys.” He won the Heisman Trophy in 1957 and was a
four-time Pro Bowl Selection during his ten-year career in the NFL. He
is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Willie Davenport: The Alabama native came to
Southern University to run track. He was the gold medalist in the
110-meter high hurdles at the 1968 Olympics and won the bronze medal in the
1976 Olympics. He also made appearances in the 1964 and 1972 Summer
Olympics, as well as competed for the United States bobsled team in the 1980
Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. He is one of only four
Americans to compete in both the summer and winter games.
Jimmie Davis (1899, Beech Springs): A two-time
governor of Louisiana, he was primarily known as a recording artist who
popularized Louisiana’s state song “You Are My Sunshine,” which remains the
second most recognized song in the world after “Happy Birthday.”
Willie Davis (1934, Lisbon): A five-time Pro
Bowl Selection, he anchored the Green Bay Packer defense that won five NFL championships,
including the first Super Bowl. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall
of Fame. He received the Walter Camp Man of the Year Award and the
Career Achievement Award from the NFL Alumni. Following his stellar
career, he became a major force in the business world, serving on the boards
of several major companies.
Sarah Morgan Dawson (1842, New Orleans): The daughter
of Judge and Mrs. Thomas Gibbs Morgan, she lived on the land eventually
donated to construct the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge. She kept a
fascinating diary during the Civil War which was later published as The
Civil War Diary of Sarah Morgan. She now is memorialized as the
“ghost” of the Old State Capitol.
Michael E. DeBakey, M.D. (1908, Lake Charles): A
world-renowned doctor who was a pioneer in the development of the artificial
heart. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National
Medal of Science and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Ellen DeGeneres (1958, Metairie): The winner of
13 Emmy Awards, she hosts the Ellen DeGeneres Show, one of television’s most
popular syndicated talk shows. She began her career as a stand-up
comedian and has hosted both the Academy Awards and Emmy Awards.
Eddie Delahoussaye (1951, New Iberia): The winner of
two consecutive Kentucky Derbys, a Preakness and a Belmont, he is a member of
the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He is the 12th
winningest jockey in history and ranks sixth all-time in purse winnings.
Kent Desormeaux (1970, Maurice): In 1989, he won
more races (589) than any jockey in the history of thoroughbred racing.
A Hall of Famer, he won more than 5,000 races and is a three-time Kentucky
Jean Noel Destrehan (Pre-Statehood): The owner of a
plantation named in his honor in the community bearing his name, he was
Speaker of the territorial House of Representatives and a member of the
Orleans Territorial Council which created Louisiana’s parish system of
Bill Dickey (1907, Bastrop): In the 1920s, the
New York Yankees won seven World Series championships with a lineup anchored
by Dickey, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He caught 100 or more games for 13 years
in a row and finished his career with a .313 batting average, leading to his
selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He starred as himself in two
baseball movies, Pride of the Yankees and The Stratton Story.
Dave Dixon (1923, New Orleans): The man who
was primarily responsible for the dream that made the Superdome a reality, he
advocated for professional football in New Orleans during the 1950s. He
convinced Governor John McKeithen to support construction of the domed
stadium in New Orleans despite public doubt and opposition. He also
conceived the idea for the United States Football League. The long-time
owner of a French Quarter fine arts, antique and jewelry shop, he is
remembered as a visionary leader in bringing the Superdome to New Orleans.
James C. Dobson (1936, Shreveport): A
psychologist by training, he is the founder of Focus on the Family, an
Evangelical Christian organization which produced a daily radio and
television program reaching international audiences. He also founded
the Family Research Council and has authored more than 30 books on parenting
and human behavior.
Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino,
Jr. (1928, New
Orleans): An American icon, his top ten hits include Ain’t That A Shame,
Blueberry Hill, I’m Walkin, and Walking to New Orleans.
He received the National Medal of Arts, which (like his house) literally was
lost in Hurricane Katrina, but replaced by President George W. Bush.
Michael Doucet (1951, Scott): A Cajun fiddler,
he founded the popular band BeauSoleil. He received a National Heritage
Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and won two Grammy
Awards. The band was named for Beausoleil Broussard, who led the
Acadian people into Louisiana following their expulsion from Nova Scotia in
Donna Douglas (1933, Baton Rouge): One of the
most recognizable television personalities of the 1960s, Dorothy Smith starred
as Elly Mae Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. She later
became a Gospel singer and now makes regular appearances and testimonials to
church groups and youth groups across the country.
Edwin W. Edwards (1927, Marksville): A four-time
governor of Louisiana, he spent almost a decade in federal prison following
his conviction on racketeering charges. The flamboyant, French-speaking
Democrat was known for his political aplomb, his sharp wit, his eloquence and
his trouncing of David Duke in the 1991 governor’s race, which featured a
popular bumper sticker reading “Vote for the Crook. It’s important.”
Allen J. Ellender (1890, Montegut): His career in
the United States Senate spanned five decades. He was the most senior
Democrat member of the Senate and chairman of the Appropriations Committee
when he died in 1972. He previously had been a city attorney, a
district attorney, a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and
Speaker of the House.
Marshall Faulk (1973, New Orleans): A three-time
All American running back at San Diego State, he ran for an NCAA record 386
yards and scored 44 points in one game as a freshman. He was twice
named NFL MVP and was a seven-time Pro Bowl Selection. He is the only player
in NFL history to log 6,000 yards in receiving and 12,000 yards rushing for
his career. He was a 2011 inductee to the NFL Hall of Fame.
John Folse (1946, St. James): From his humble
origins as the proprietor of Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant in Donaldsonville,
he now operates a huge catering business and is featured on numerous
television and radio shows about Louisiana cuisine. He is the author of
three tributes to Louisiana culture and cooking: The Encyclopedia of
Cajun Creole Cuisine, After the Hunt and Hooks, Lies & Alibis.
Faith Ford (1964, Pineville): After growing
up in Pineville, she got her start on soap operas. She has appeared
in numerous television movies and series, gaining critical
acclaim for her role as Corky Sherwood on Murphy Brown.
Pete Fountain (1930, New Orleans): America’s
most famous clarinet player, Pierre Dewey LaFontaine Jr. was an early member
of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. He operated popular jazz clubs in New
Orleans and founded the Half Fast Walking Club, a marching Mardi Gras
Krewe. He was a frequent performer on The Tonight Show with Johnny
Ernest Gaines (1933, Oscar): A recipient of the
National Humanities Medal, he authored numerous books including A Lesson
Before Dying, the National Book Critics Circle Award winner; The
Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Gathering of Old Men.
Bernardo de Galvez (Pre-Statehood): The Spanish
General led American troops along the Gulf Coast in the only battles fought
outside the thirteen colonies during the Revolutionary War. He was one
of the Spanish governors of Louisiana and also served as governor of Cuba.
Mickey Gilley: Though born in Mississippi, he
spent much of his youth growing up in Ferriday with
his cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy
Swaggart. A multiple Academy of Country Music Award winner, he had a
string of Number One hits in the 1970s. He operated “the world’s
biggest honky tonk” in Pasadena, Texas, which was popularized in the movie Urban
Leon Godchaux: A French immigrant who bought the
Souvenir Plantation in Bonnet Carré and changed the town’s name to Reserve,
he expanded his empire to a dozen other river parish plantations in the 1800s
and became ”the sugar king of the south,” producing more than 27
million pounds of sugar a year.
John Goodman: Though not a native, he is a
longtime resident of New Orleans, having met his wife while filming Everybody’s
All-American in Louisiana. He won a Golden Globe for his role on the
television series Roseanne, has hosted Saturday Night Live twelve
times and has been featured in popular movies like Raising Arizona, The
Big Lebowski and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Claude “Grits” Gresham, Jr.: Grits was a legendary author,
outdoorsman and conservationist. He received a master’s from LSU and
authored books about hunting, fishing and the great outdoors. As the
co-host with Curt Gowdy of The America Sportsman he regularly was
joined by celebrities on hunting and fishing trips across the world. He
gained prominence on popular Miller Lite beer commercials and was the first
outdoorsman chosen for membership in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Ron Guidry (1950, Lafayette): “Louisiana
Lightning” played his entire 14-year major league baseball career with the
New York Yankees. He was a four-time All Star, a two-time World Series
champion and the 1978 Cy Young Award winner. That memorable year he
went 25-3 with a 1.74 earned run average and an 18-strikeout-performance in
Yankee Stadium against the California Angels.
Bryant Gumbel (1948, New Orleans): The host of Real
Sports with Bryant Gumbel” on HBO, which has won 15 Emmy
Awards, he spent 15 years as co-host of NBC’s The Today Show. His
brother, Greg Gumbel, is a well-known sportscaster.
Sue Gunter: In 22 years as the head coach of
the LSU Lady Tigers basketball team, her teams played in 16 post-season
tournaments and made a Final Four appearance in 2004. She is the
third-winningest women’s basketball coach in NCAA history and her 40 year
coaching career is the longest in NCAA history. She was posthumously
enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was selected
to coach the 1980 United States Olympic basketball team, which never competed
due to the United States’ boycott of the Moscow games.
George “Buddy” Guy (1936, Lettsworth): He created a
distinctive blues sound with high energy performances. He opened for
the Rolling Stones in the 1970s and has been hailed by Eric Clapton as the
“best guitar player alive.” He was ranked 30th by Rolling Stone magazine
on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
Sister Marie-Madeleine Hachard (Pre-Statehood): One of the
earliest nuns to accompany French settlers in the New World, Sister St.
Stanislaus maintained a diary, Voices From An Early American Convent.
Her famous dispatch to the church elders in France described life in the
early days of Louisiana and perhaps foreshadowed our subsequent social
development: “… the devil has a vast empire here.”
James D. Halsell (1956, West Monroe): He is a
retired NASA astronaut and a veteran of five space shuttle missions. He
led the return to flight planning team after the Columbia accident.
Henry E. Hardtner (1870, Pineville): The son of
German immigrants, he was a sawmill operator and conservationist
who became known as “The Father of
Forestry in the South.” After attending President Theodore Roosevelt’s
conservation conference in 1908, he was named chairman of the Louisiana
Conservation Commission, the first of its kind in the nation.
Robert Harling (1951, Natchitoches): He authored
the play and screenplay Steel Magnolias, the movie version of which
featured Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Julia Roberts and
others in an ensemble cast filmed entirely in Natchitoches.
Elvin Hayes (1945, Rayville): “The Big E” led
the Houston Cougars to a victory over UCLA in 1968 at the Astrodome in the
“game of the century,” which was the first nationally televised regular
season college basketball game. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star and was
named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time team.
He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Pete Herman (1896, New Orleans): In 1917,
“Kid” Herman won the Bantamweight Championship of the World, a title he held
for three years. He finished his boxing career with 21 knockouts and is
a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Andrew Jackson Higgins: The New Orleans shipbuilder was
cited by Dwight D. Eisenhower as “the man who won the war” for his design of
the “Higgins boat,” the personnel carrying watercraft that deposited soldiers
on the shores of Normandy. He gained notoriety long after his death
when the movie “Saving Private Ryan” and the opening of the D-Day
Museum in New Orleans made his amphibious landing craft famous.
Al Hirt (1927, New Orleans): The
internationally acclaimed trumpeter is best remembered for his Grammy Award
winning million seller Java, and the theme for TheGreen Hornet
Russel L. Honoré (1947, Lakeland): A lieutenant
general in the United States Army, he gained national fame after
being designated commander of
the Joint Task Force Katrina, becoming known as the “John Wayne Dude” who
told a reporter not to get “stuck on stupid” when questioned about the
federal government response to the storm. He chairs the Louisiana
Johnny Horton: One of the early stars of the
Louisiana Hayride at the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, his recording of
The Battle of New Orleans was a Number One hit and a light-hearted
tribute to one of the most important military battles fought on American
soil. This historical ballad won the Grammy Award for Best Country and
Western Recording in 1960.
Clementine Hunter (1886, Cloutierville): Spending
most of her life on Melrose Plantation, near Natchitoches, she began painting
relatively late in her life and is now considered a folk art legend.
Although she never profited from the success of her paintings, they now are
valuable depictions of plantation life and other simple scenes.
Pierre LeMoyne d’Iberville (Pre-Statehood): The older of the
two intrepid French-Canadian brothers dispatched to explore the Mississippi
River Valley, he landed in Louisiana in 1698, on Mardi Gras Day, and
generally is credited with founding the French Colony of Louisiana.
Andrew Jackson: The frontier general from
Tennessee was dispatched to New Orleans to stop the British from capturing
the city at the end of the War of 1812. “Old Hickory” assembled the rag
tag group of Creoles, Native Americans, pirates and newly arrived Americans
from the East Coast to defend the ramparts on the battlefield in
Chalmette. He is memorialized with a magnificent statue in the square,
formally known as the Place D’Armes, that now bears his name. He
parlayed his success at the Battle of New Orleans into a successful campaign
to become the seventh president of the United States.
Mahalia Jackson (1911, New Orleans): “The Queen
of Gospel” recorded more than a dozen million-sellers from the 1950s to the
1970s. She was hailed as one of the most influential black women of her
era. Upon her death, her life was celebrated in both Chicago and New
Orleans with funeral services featuring Sammy Davis, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald,
Aretha Franklin, Dick Gregory and Lou Rawls.
Randy Jackson (1956, Baton Rouge): A Grammy
Award-winning record producer, he began his career as a musician and
later produced records for a number of stars including Mariah Carey,
Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. He has hosted two radio countdown
shows and has gained fame for his role as a judge on the popular television
show American Idol.
Piyush “Bobby” Jindal (1971, Baton Rouge): In 2008, he
became the youngest sitting governor in America and the country’s first
Indian-American governor. A Rhodes Scholar, at age 24 he served as
Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals and later became
President of the University of Louisiana system.
Charlie Joiner (1947, Many): When he retired from
the National Football League in 1986, he had the most career
receptions, receiving yards and games played of any wide receiver in NFL
history. A three-time Pro Bowl Selection and member of the Pro Football
Hall of Fame, he was called “the most intelligent , the smartest, the most
calculating receiver the game has ever known” by legendary San Francisco
49ers Coach Bill Walsh.
William Joyce (1957, Shreveport): The author of
more than 50 children’s books and the recipient of three Emmy Awards, he is
an author, painter and illustrator whose works have appeared on numerous New
Yorker covers. His animated short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of
Mr. MorrisLessmore, produced at Moonbot Studios, won the 2012 Academy
Blaine Kern (1928, New Orleans): The son of a
sign painter, Blaine began creating Mardi Gras float designs in 1947,
eventually developing lavish floats and props at Blaine Kern Studio which now
has expanded to the ultimate Carnival experience at Mardi Gras World in New
Doug Kershaw (1936, Cameron): This Cajun
fiddler gained national acclaim for his million-seller Louisiana Man
and the Cajun classic Diggy Liggy Lo.
Jean Lafitte: Whether known as a pirate,
privateer, brigand or buccaneer, he is one of Louisiana’s most legendary
figures. He plied the backwaters of Barataria Bay and smuggled fortunes
and slaves into New Orleans using his blacksmith shop near Jackson Square as
a front. He detested the British and became a surprising ally to Andrew
Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans. Lafitte, his brother Pierre, and
his cohort Dominique Youx were pardoned as a result of their invaluable
Emeril Lagasse: “BAM!” One of the original
telegenic and iconic chefs of the past two decades, he was executive chef at
Commander’s Palace before opening his first restaurant, Emeril’s, which was
named “Restaurant of the Year” by Esquire Magazine. He
subsequently opened several other restaurants and gained national acclaim for
his Food Network shows The Essence of Emeril and Emeril Live.
Dorothy Lamour (1914, New Orleans): Mary Leta
Dorothy Slaton was named Miss New Orleans in 1931 and became a popular
pin-up girl during World War II. Early in her career, she performed
with Herbie Kay and Rudy Vallee and went on to become one of Hollywood’s most
glamorous leading ladies. She was best known for her roles in “the road
pictures” with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
Maurice “Moon” Landrieu (1930, New Orleans): A two-term
mayor of New Orleans and appellate court judge, he served as secretary of the
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development under President
Jimmy Carter. He was the last white mayor of New Orleans until
succeeded by his son, Mitch. He is also the father of U.S. Senator Mary
Landrieu and Judge Madeline Landrieu, two of his nine children.
Ali Landry (1973, Breaux Bridge): Selected as
Miss USA in 1996, she gained instant notoriety as the Doritos girl in a
fabled 1998 Super Bowl commercial. That same year, she was named as one
of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People magazine.
She has hosted several television shows and specials.
Robert de LaSalle (Pre-Statehood): Sent to explore
the Mississippi River in 1682, he planted the French flag near the mouth of
the river and christened the land “Louisiana” in honor of his boss, King
Marie Laveau (Pre-Statehood): The legendary
voodoo priestess is believed to have been born in the French Quarter, the
daughter of a Creole woman from Haiti. Her own daughter, also named
Marie Laveau, was also a voodoo priestess. She led exotic celebrations
on St. Ann Street and is buried in St. Louis Cemetery Number One along with
members of the Glapion Family. Her tomb regularly attracts visitors
seeking assistance from her spirit.
John Law (Pre-Statehood): A Scottish
mathematician, economist and gambler, he convinced King Louis XIV to allow
him to lead the establishment of New Orleans. His Company of the West
was given control of trade between France and Louisiana. He convinced
wealthy European investors that gold and silver riches awaited in the New
World. The so-called “Mississippi Bubble” burst but not before Law was
responsible for settling New Orleans with a group of Germans, slaves, salt
smugglers and French aristocrats hoping to build a second fortune in the New
Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter (1888, Mooringsport): A folk
artist who played the 12-string guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin
and accordion, he spent time in Angola but, upon his release, became a famed
Louisiana troubadour. His hits include Cotton Fields, The Midnight
Special, Goodnight Irene, and Rock Island Line.
Dudley J. LeBlanc (1894, Youngsville): “Coozan Dud”
is one of the most fascinating characters in Louisiana history.
His political career stretched from 1924 until his death in
1971. He served four terms in the Louisiana Senate and was a champion
of the French language in Louisiana. He was a patent medicine salesman
who parlayed his entrepreneurial skills into a small fortune by inventing and
marketing Hadacol, an alcohol-laced elixir hailed as a “dietary supplement”
which allegedly cured a multiple of ailments.
John A. Lejeune (1867, Pointe Coupeé): The 13th Commandant of the United States
Marine Corps was known as “the greatest of all Leathernecks.” He
commanded the American expeditionary forces in France during World War I,
receiving the French Legion of Honor Award and the Distinguished Service
Medal. Camp Lejeune in North Carolina bears his name.
Jerry Lee Lewis (1935, Ferriday): “The Killer” is
one of Louisiana’s most famed artists, best known for his hits Whole Lotta
Shakin' Goin' On, and Great Balls of Fire, which is also the title
of the movie chronicling his life. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
inductee, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 24 on its list of the 100
Greatest Artists of All Time. He, Elvis and Carl Perkins helped Sam
Phillips launch the famed Sun Records.
Michael Lewis (1960, New Orleans): The author of
best sellers Moneyball and The Blind Side, both of which became
hit motion pictures that blend business and sports, he also authored The
Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine and Liar’s Poker.
Lil Wayne (1982, New Orleans): One of the
most successful recording artists of the hip hop era, Dwayne Michael
Carter Jr. got his first taste of success as a teenager and went
on to be named “Workaholic of the Year” by GQ Magazine.
Robert R. Livingston (Pre-Statehood): One of America’s
Founding Fathers, he served as Minister to France during the negotiation of
the Louisiana Purchase, a transaction he called “the noblest work of our
whole lives.” As the first Chancellor of New York, the highest judicial
officer in the state (which then was the nation’s capital), he administered
the oath of office to President George Washington.
Earl K. Long (1895, Winnfield): A three-time
governor of Louisiana, Uncle Earl called himself “The Last of the Red
Hot Poppas.” His tumultuous career in politics, which played out under
the shadow of his older brother Huey, ended in a well-publicized fling with
the Bourbon Street stripper Blaze Starr and his election to Congress in 1960,
occurring only days before his untimely death.
Huey P. Long (1893, Winnfield): The Kingfish
is unquestionably the most dominant political figure in Louisiana
history. He is one of two Louisianians recognized with a statue in the
United States Capitol. The Kingfish served as governor from 1928 to1932
when he took his seat in the United States Senate, to which he had been
elected in 1930. A demagogue and a populist, his “Share the Wealth”
philosophy may have catapulted him to the presidency had he not died in a
hail of bullets in the Louisiana State Capitol in 1935.
Russell B. Long (1918, Shreveport): Serving in the
United States Senate from 1948 until 1987, he was the Senate Majority Whip
and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He was considered an
expert on the tax code and was instrumental in the merger of the NFL and AFL,
leading to New Orleans being awarded the first expansion franchise after the
merger. He is credited with the often-used quote “Don’t tax you.
Don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Although he never lived in Louisiana,
his epic “Evangeline” told the tale of a young Acadian girl waiting for her
long lost lover, Gabriel. The 1847 poem is considered his defining work
and created a national identity for the plight of the Acadian people.
The 1929 movie of the same name starred Dolores del Río and was one of the
first movies made in Louisiana. The famed Evangeline Oak in St.
Martinville is a Louisiana historic site.
Ted Lyons (1900, Lake Charles): A Baseball
Hall of Famer, his 21 year career in the major leagues was spent entirely
with the Chicago White Sox. His 260 career wins are the most in
franchise history. He tossed a no-hitter on August 21, 1926.
Karl Malone (1963, Summerfield): Named by Sports
Illustrated as the Greatest Louisiana Athlete of the 20th century, he starred at Louisiana
Tech before launching a spectacular career in the NBA. He was a
two-time Most Valuable Player and eleven-time All-NBA First Team
Selection. He ranks second all-time in points scored behind Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar. A member of the “Dream Team” that won the Gold Medal in
the 1992 Summer Olympics, he was selected as one of the “Fifty Greatest
Players in NBA history.”
Archie Manning: Although his remarkable career at
Ole Miss gave the LSU Tigers fits, the Mississippi native makes the list as
both the greatest quarterback in New Orleans Saints history (until the
arrival of Drew Brees) and the father of two of the NFL’s finest quarterbacks
thus far in the 21st century, both graduates of Newman
High School in the Crescent City.
Eli Manning (1981, New Orleans): Emerging from
the shadow of his older brother, he is a two-time Super Bowl Champion and MVP
with the New York Giants. He annually joins his father and brother
Peyton to host the Manning Passing Academy at Nicholls State University in
Peyton Manning (1976, New Orleans): Named the
Most Valuable Player in the NFL a record four times, he was the MVP of Super
Bowl XLI and has been selected to 11 Pro Bowls. Considered the premier
quarterback of the past decade, he is a future Hall of Famer and considered
one of the most intelligent signal-callers to ever play the game.
Pete Maravich: When his father, Press, was hired
to coach the LSU basketball team in 1966, “Pistol Pete” came along for the
ride … and it was magical. The all-time leading scorer in college
basketball history, he averaged an incredible 44.2 points per game, but is
more remembered for his dazzling and spectacular passing. Playing
before desegregation changed the nature of college sports in the south, his
showmanship and style prompted Carl Stewart, the coach of all-black McKinley
High School in Baton Rouge, to observe, “My God, he’s one of us.” A
Hall of Famer, he was named one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history
following an all-star career with the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Jazz and
Wynton Marsalis (1961, New Orleans): The artistic
director of jazz at Lincoln Center, this trumpeter has won nine Grammy Awards
in both classical and jazz music and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for
Music. The Marsalis family also includes several other noted musicians,
particularly his father, Ellis Marsalis, and his brother, saxophonist
Tim McGraw (1967, Delhi): He grew up Timmy
Smith in Start, Louisiana, but changed his name after learning that his
father was Tug McGraw, the famed pitcher for the New York Mets. He went
to ULM to play baseball and began playing the guitar. With 21
Number One Billboard hits, he has won multiple Grammys, Academy of Country
Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards and People’s Choice
Awards. Married to singer Faith Hill, he has also appeared in numerous
Edmund McIlhenny: Born in Maryland, he arrived in
New Orleans around 1840. In the mid-1860s, during Reconstruction, he
created a pepper sauce by blending seeds from Central American red peppers
with the salt from Avery Island, where the family lived, to create a pepper
sauce that became known as TABASCO©, a word of Mexican-Indian origin believed
to mean “place where the soil is humid.” The iconic sauce is now
labeled in twenty-two languages and sold in more than 160 countries. The
company is operated by the sixth McIlhenny in a chain of direct descendants
of the company’s founder.
Rodney Milburn (1950, Opelousas): The dominant
110-meter hurdler during the early 1970s, he tied the world record three
times and won the Gold Medal in the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Les Miles: The grass-eating, high-hat wearing
coach of the LSU Fighting Tigers football team won the BCS National
Championship in 2008 and was the National Coach of the Year in 2011, leading
the Tigers to another, though disappointing, BCS Championship game
appearance. He has won 10-plus games in five of his seven seasons at
Percy Robert Miller (1967, New Orleans): One of
America’s early rap singers, Master P founded No Limit Records and other No
Limit entities and produced multiple platinum albums in the 1990s. He
now manages the career of his popular rap star son, Romeo Miller.
James Monroe (Pre-Statehood): One of the
principal negotiators of the Louisiana Purchase, he served as Foreign
Minister to France and, later, Secretary of State, Secretary of War and
President of the United States.
Jelly Roll Morton (1885, New Orleans): A Creole,
Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe claimed to be the founder of jazz. Although
this is disputed, he certainly is recognized as a major figure in the
development of this Louisiana genre. He began his career as a piano
player at a brothel in the famed Storyville district and later toured the
country. His place in jazz history is cemented by more than eight hours
of recorded music and interviews for the Library of Congress.
Kim Mulkey: The head basketball coach at
Baylor University, she is the first person in NCAA history to win a
basketball national championship as a player, assistant coach and head
coach. She guided the Lady Bears to a 40-0 record enroute to a second
national championship in 2012. She was an All-American guard at
Louisiana Tech, leading the Lady Techsters to two national championships.
She was also a member of the gold medal team at the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Aaron Neville (1941, New Orleans): His distinct
vocal sound blends Cajun, Creole and soul music and has made him an iconic
New Orleans figure. His hits Tell It Like It Is and Don’t Know
Much, a Grammy Award-winning duet with Linda Ronstadt, are his most
recognized hits. His father, Ivan, and his brothers, Art, Charles and
Cyril (The Neville Brothers) are also renowned musicians.
Randy Newman: Though born in Los Angeles, the
singer/songwriter should have been a native son. His beautiful, lilting
ballad “Louisiana 1927” about the ravages of the Great Flood of 1927 stands
as one of the greatest songs ever written about the state of Louisiana.
He has won two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards and his songs Kingfish
about Huey Long and Short People about short people are two of his
Alton Ochsner, M.D.: After being lured to New Orleans
to teach in the Tulane Department of Surgery, he founded the Ochsner Clinic,
which is now known as the Ochsner Foundation Hospital. He was one of
the first physicians to document the link between cancer and cigarette use
decades before medical science identified smoking as a major health risk.
During his lifetime, he performed about 20,000 operations, including 13 on
April 30, 1967, the day he retired from surgery at age 70.
Shaquille O’Neal: While his stepfather was stationed
at a U.S. Army post in West Germany, Shaq first came to the attention of LSU
basketball coach, Dale Brown. Years later, he literally became Coach
Brown’s biggest recruit ever, twice earning All-American honors and being
named the NCAA Player of the Year in 1991. He was a two-time SEC Player
of the Year and was the most dominant player in the NBA during the past
decade. He was a four-time NBA Champion, a three-time Finals MVP and
the Most Valuable Player in 2000. At 7’1”, 325 pounds, he was one of
the largest players in NBA history.
Mel Ott (1909, Gretna): In his 22-year
career with the New York Giants, he batted .304 with 511 homeruns. He
was a six-time National League home run champion and the first National
Leaguer to hit 500 home runs. He was a 12-time All-Star and led the
Giants to the 1933 World Series title. He was a first ballot inductee
to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Walker Percy: One of the most beloved southern
writers, his 1961 novel The Moviegoer won the National Book Award for
fiction. He was instrumental in the publication of John Kennedy Toole’s
remarkable novel A Confederacy of Dunces, which was published more
than a decade after the author’s death and which won the Pulitzer Prize for
Tyler Perry (1969, New Orleans): Emmitt Perry
Jr. was recognized by Forbes magazine as the highest paid man in the
entertainment industry in 2011. His first movie was Diary of a Mad
Black Woman and a string of successful motion pictures followed,
including Madea’s Family Reunion. He also produces the television show
Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.
Bob Pettit (1932, Baton Rouge): His
autobiography, The Drive Within Me, chronicles his career after being
cut from the basketball team as a freshman and sophomore at Baton Rouge High
School. He became an All-American at LSU and was the NBA Rookie of the Year
in 1954. He was the NBA’s first Most Valuable Player and the first
player to score 20,000 career points. He was an NBA All-Star in each of
his 11 seasons. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball
Hall of Fame and was named one of the top 50 players in NBA history.
Antoine Peychaud: Although some claim earlier
origins, the word “cocktail” arguably was created by this Creole owner of an
apothecary in the French Quarter. He concocted a drink of brandy,
sugar, water and Peychaud bitters which were served in a double-egg cup, in
French termed a coquetier. Peychaud’s bitters were used in the
first “branded” cocktail, the Sazerac.
Webb Pierce (1921, West Monroe): One of the
early performers on the Louisiana Hayride, he has a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. His
biggest hit was In the Jailhouse Now which stayed at No. 1 for 21
weeks in 1955.
Brad Pitt: After filming Interview With
The Vampire in New Orleans in 1994, he returned following the devastation
of Hurricane Katrina to film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a
beautiful cinematic tribute to New Orleans, for which he was nominated for an
Academy Award. He and Angelina Jolie moved to New Orleans and
established the Make It Right Foundation to rebuild affordable houses in the
Homer A. Plessy (1862, New Orleans): A
light-skinned free person of color, he was the plaintiff in Plessy vs.
Ferguson, the United States Supreme Court decision which legalized
segregation as long as the facilities were “separate but equal.” In an
attempt to challenge Louisiana law, Plessy rode in the white section of a
train car, prompting his arrest. This doctrine remained the law of the
land until overturned by the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education
which led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Leonidas Polk: “The Fighting Bishop” was a
Confederate General who also served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of
Louisiana. A close friend of Jefferson Davis, he was tremendously
popular with his men, though often at odds with other more experienced
military men in the Confederate Army. Fort Polk in Leesville, where
millions of Americans trained for the battlefields of Europe at the outbreak
of World War II, is named in his honor.
Oliver Pollock (Pre-Statehood): An Irish
merchant, he is a relatively unknown patriot who literally helped win the
Revolutionary War. Based on his friendship with fellow Irishman
Alejandro O’Reilly, who was the second Spanish governor of Colonial
Louisiana, he became the most successful businessman in New Orleans. He
provided much needed supplies to the colonists during the war. He also
is said to be the largest personal financier of the American
Revolution. He is credited with creating the American dollar in 1778.
Julian Poydras (Pre-Statehood): The delegate to
the United States House of Representatives from the Territory of Orleans, he
was president of the first legislative council of the Territory.
A generous benefactor, he left his fortune to many educational and charitable
institutions and is buried on the grounds of the Old Poydras High School in
New Roads. One of the primary thoroughfares in New Orleans is named in
Louis Prima (1910, New Orleans): A singer and
songwriter, he became a big band performer and gained notoriety for his
lounge performances at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. He and Keely
Smith won a Grammy for That Old Black Magic and his composition Sing,
Sing, Sing became a Benny Goodman classic. He has a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Paul Prudhomme (1940, Opelousas): The former
executive chef at Commanders Palace, he opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in
1979, making famous the blackening of fish and launching a series of
cookbooks and television appearances that popularized Cajun cooking.
Mac Rebennack: The winner of five Grammy Awards,
Dr. John, a crossover artist, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame in 2011. He gained fame as The Night Tripper, having taken the
name of a famed Louisiana voodoo priest. His distinctive sound is
captured in his best-known hit Right Place, Wrong Time.
Willis Reed (1942, Hico): A member of the
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and voted one of the 50 Greatest
Players in NBA history, he was a two-time NBA champion and the MVP of the
1970 Finals when his dramatic appearance in Game 7 in Madison Square Garden lifted
the New York Nicks to victory. Due to a torn thigh muscle, he was not
expected to play, but limped onto the court to score the first two field
goals of the game (his only points) inspiring his team to the championship.
Anne Rice (1941, New Orleans): Born Howard
Allen Frances O’Brien, she is one of the most celebrated novelists in
American literary history, best known for gothic fiction works. Her
Vampire chronicles, most notably Interview With The Vampire became a
made-in-New Orleans movie starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
Zachary Richard (1950, Scott): An icon in Canada,
particularly Quebec, he was named an honorary member of the Order of Canada
for his role in promoting the French language. He has recorded Cajun
and Zydeco music for more than three decades, including five gold
albums. His biography describes him as “the most American of French
songwriters and the most French of the American.”
Johnny Rivers: Born John Henry Ramistella in New
York City, he spent his early years in Baton Rouge and recorded his first
record while a student at Baton Rouge High School. His hits include Poor
Side of Town, which rose to No. 1 on the charts, Summer Rain, and Secret
Agent Man. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Cokie Roberts (1943, New Orleans): The daughter
of two members of Congress, Hale and Lindy Boggs, Mary Martha Corinne
Morrison Claiborne Boggs is a senior news analyst for National Public
Radio. She was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as
one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. She is a
syndicated columnist and co-author of The New York Times bestseller From
This Day Forward.
Robin Roberts: The Mississippi native came to
Hammond to play basketball at Southeastern, graduating cum laude with a
degree in communication. She joined ESPN as a sportscaster and now is
one of the most familiar faces on television as millions wake up with her on
ABC’s Good Morning America. She is a member of the Women’s
Basketball Hall of Fame.
Eddie Robinson (1919, Baton Rouge): Married to
the same woman, having the same job, for the same employer for 57 years,
Coach Rob left a legacy that probably never will be repeated. As the
football coach at Grambling State University, he won 408 games and holds the
all-time Division I record.. The Eddie Robinson Museum on the
campus stands as a beautiful tribute to a man who graduated 80 percent of his
student athletes and sent more than 200 players to the NFL.
George Rodrigue (1944, New Iberia): The popular
Cajun artist is known worldwide for the creation of the Blue Dog series
of paintings, which is an homage to the loup garou (French for
werewolf) which supposedly haunts the swamps of Acadiana.
Bill Russell (1934, Monroe): He grew up in
Oakland, California, and led the University of San Francisco to consecutive
national championships. He is generally considered the best defensive
player in NBA history, leading the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA
championships. He was a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 12-time
All Star and was named to the NBA 25th and 35th anniversary teams and selected
one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Henry Miller Shreve: An engine designer, he made
significant alterations to Robert Fulton’s original steamboat design and
eventually opened the Mississippi, Ohio and Red rivers to navigation.
He famously broke the Great Raft, a massive logjam on the Red River, the
largest concentration of which was located at Shreveport, which is his
Richard Simmons (1948, New Orleans): Born Milton
T. Simmons, he opened a health club in Los Angeles and developed a clientele
that led him to a recurring role as himself on the soap opera General
Hospital. His flamboyant advocacy for weight loss and his Sweatin’
to the Oldies line of videos and DVDs has made him a cultural icon.
Fulwar Skipwith (Pre-statehood): A veteran of the
American Revolution, he was Consul-General in Paris under the administration
of Ambassador James Monroe. Upon his return to America, he settled in
Spanish-controlled West Florida and was one of the leaders of the rebellion
leading to the establishment of the Republic of West Florida, which existed
for only 74 days. He served as President of the Republic and, after
some reluctance, agreed to the annexation of West Florida by President James
Percy Sledge: Born in Alabama, he has called
Baton Rouge his home for most of his life. His classic romantic hit When
A Man Loves A Woman is one of the most enduring songs of the 1960s.
He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Howard K. Smith (1914, Ferriday): A Rhodes
Scholar educated at Tulane University, he co-anchored the ABC Evening
News and became a fixture in television news during the 1970s. His
career began as one of the CBS News World War II correspondents known as
Steven Soderbergh: A graduate of University High
School, which he attended while his father was Dean of Education at LSU,
Soderbergh launched his meteoric career as a filmmaker with “Sex, Lies and
Videotape.” an intriguely-titled independent film shot entirely in Baton
Rouge. He is now one of America’s premier directors, having won an
Academy Award for Traffic. His other hits include Erin
Brockovich, and Ocean’s Eleven,Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s
Britney Spears: A pop music icon of the last
decade, she is often referred to as a native of Kentwood, though she was born
in McComb, Mississippi. Her chartbusters, Baby One More Time and Oops!
… I Did It Again, made her one of the most popular young divas in pop
music history. She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
Louis St. Denis (Pre-Statehood): A French
entrepreneur, he received from Bienville Louisiana’s first land grant, which
resulted in the founding of our first town, Natchitoches, in 1714. He
became a prosperous merchant at the crossroads of the El Camino Real, the
Road of the Kings, which connected the New World with Mexico.
Hal Sutton (1958, Shreveport): The PGA
Championship winner in 1983, he won fourteen PGA Tour events during his career.
A five-time member of the USA Ryder Cup Team, he has received several
national awards for his charitable efforts following Katrina and for
establishing CHRISTUS Schumpert Sutton Children‘s Hospital in his hometown.
Jimmy Lee Swaggart (1935, Ferriday): Growing up with
cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley, he began preaching early in his
life, foregoing an opportunity to join his cousins in a music career.
He founded The Family Worship Center, affiliated with the Assemblies of God
Church, and became an internationally known televangelist in the 1980s.
Jim Taylor (1935, Baton Rouge): An
All-American at LSU, he joined Bart Starr and Paul Hornung in the Green Bay
Packers backfield that won four NFL championships, including the first Super
Bowl. He led the NFL in rushing in 1962 and was named MVP. He is
a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is considered one of the
toughest and most bruising rushers in league history.
Zachary Taylor: The Virginia native became the 12th President of the United
States. Then-Colonel Taylor established Fort Jesup in Sabine Parish in
1822, bringing law and order to the territory known as “No Man’s Land”
because there was no recognized border between Louisiana and what would
eventually become Texas.
George H. Tichnor, M.D.: A surgeon in the Confederate Army,
he suffered a serious leg wound during the Civil War but refused
amputation. He treated his own wound with an alcohol-based solution
that he developed. After the war, he set up a private practice in
Canton, Mississippi where he developed Dr. Tichnor’s Antiseptic, which was
bottled in New Orleans. The Dr. G.H. Tichnor Antiseptic Company remains
in operation today and now is the primary manufacturer of Boudreaux’s Butt
Paste, the diaper rash treatment invented by Covington pharmacist George
Yelberton Abraham (Y.A.) Tittle: One of the most interesting names
in sports history belongs to this Marshall Texas football star, who
originally signed to play college ball at Texas, but quickly transferred to
LSU. A two-time NFL Most Valuable Player, he is a member of the Pro Football
Hall of Fame. He is best remembered for (a) losing his pants
during a scamper in Tiger Stadium; and (b) being captured in an iconic
photographic showing him on both knees with his bald head bloodied at the old
David Toms (1967, Monroe): The 2001 PGA
Champion, he has won 13 PGA Tour events and owns a successful golf course
design business. His David Toms Foundation raised more than $1.5
million for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
Allen Toussaint (1938, New Orleans): One of
America’s most fabled songwriters, he composed Working in the Coal
Mine,Southern Nights, Sneaking Sally through the Alley, and Mother
in Law. He is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who has
collaborated with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul McCartney and Jerry
Garcia among others.
Paul Tulane: Born near Princeton, New Jersey,
he became a successful businessman and philanthropist in New Orleans.
His huge donation of more than $1 million in land, cash and securities “for
the promotion and encouragement of intellectual, moral and industrial education”
to the Medical College of Louisiana, then a public school, resulted in the
institution being renamed Tulane University of Louisiana. This is the
only instance of a public school being converted into a private one based on
one individual’s benevolence.
Steve Van Buren: A native of Honduras, he grew up
in New Orleans, became a football star at LSU and a first-round pick of the
Philadelphia Eagles, whom he led to two NFL championships. He was a
seven-time All-Pro, four-time NFL rushing champion and was inducted in the
Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Shirley Verrett (1931, New Orleans): An
internationally-renowned operatic mezzo-soprano, she was an African-American
pioneer in American classical music. She appeared in the first concert
televised from Lincoln Center and performed with the Metropolitan Opera,
starring opposite Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo, both of whom wrote
forewords to her autobiography, I Never Walked Alone.
Robert Penn Warren: While an English professor at LSU,
he founded the Southern Review with Cleanth Brooks. He authored
the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King’s Men, the
not-so-fictional work of fiction based upon the reign of Governor Huey
Long. Critics identify it as a study of power and its tendency to
corrupt. A native Kentuckian, he is the only person to have won
Pulitzer Prizes in both fiction and poetry.
Edward Douglass White (1845, Thibodaux): The son of
former governor Edward Douglas White Sr. (the second “s” in his name is a
mystery,) he was a United States Senator, a Justice on the Louisiana Supreme
Court and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In
1910, he was named Chief Justice of the United States. He sided with
the majority opinion in Plessy vs. Ferguson, which approved “separate
but equal” segregation and also originated the “rule of reason” as the
standard in antitrust litigation. The plantation home in which he was
born is a Louisiana historic site.
Tony Joe White (1943, Oak Grove): Actually born
in Goodwill, this singer/songwriter is best known for his hits Polk Salad
Annie and Rainy Night in Georgia. He has enjoyed touring
Doug Williams (1955, Zachary): The first black
quarterback to play in and win a Super Bowl, the former Grambling great led
the Washington Redskins to the title in Superbowl XXII. He succeeded
Eddie Robinson as the head football coach at Grambling, leading the Tigers to
three consecutive SWAC championships.
Hank Williams: A native of Alabama, he gained
fame at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, which helped launch his career
as a country music legend. His song Jambalaya is a Louisiana
classic, as is Hadacol Boogie, a tribute to the wonders of the famous
patent medicine of the ‘40s and ‘50s. He is best remembered for his
hits Your Cheatin' Heart; Hey, Good Lookin’; and I’m So
Lonesome I Could Cry.
Hank Williams Jr. (1949, Shreveport): Born Randall
Hank Williams, son of country music legend Hank Williams, Bocephus (nicknamed
after a Grand Ole Opry ventriloquists’ dummy) has enjoyed a long string of
hit recordings including A Country Boy Can Survive,There’s A Tear In My
Beer, Family Tradition and All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over
Tonight, which was the opening theme of Monday Night Football for
more than 20 years.
Tennessee Williams: The adventure-seeking playwright
came to New Orleans and fell in love with the city. He called it “the
world in miniature.” His play and movie, A Streetcar Named Desire, set,
of course, in New Orleans, established some of theater’s most remarkable
characters and one of the most famous screams in history: “Stella!” He
also wrote the Broadway hits The Glass Menagerie and Cat on a Hot
Tin Roof. He won two Pulitzer Prizes and one Tony Award.
Justin Wilson (1914, Roseland): The original
Cajun cook was actually born in Tangipahoa Parish. A safety engineer by
trade, he published cookbooks and recorded several comedy albums. Active in
politics, his father was Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner. His
trademark greeting was “How Y’all Are?”
Reese Witherspoon (1976, New Orleans): The daughter
of a military surgeon, she left Louisiana shortly after her birth. Her
most notable role as an actress came as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.
She won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2006 for her role as June Carter Cash
in Walk The Line.
Joanne Woodward: A Darling of LSU in 1949, she won
an Oscar in 1957 for her role in The Three Faces of Eve. She appeared
with her husband, Paul Newman, in 10 movies, including The Long, Hot
Summer and The Drowning Pool, both of which were filmed in
Andrew J. Young (1932, New Orleans): A civil
rights activist and confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he was a United
States Congressman in Georgia, mayor of Atlanta and a United States
Ambassador to the United Nations.
Paul “Tank” Younger (1928, Grambling): The first
athlete from a historically black college to play in the National Football
League, he led the Los Angeles Rams to the NFL Championship in 1951. He
joined Walter Payton, who played at Jackson State, in the backfield on Black
College Football’s 100th Year
All-Star Team. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Emile A. Zatarain, Sr.: A native Spaniard, he started his
food and spice company with a trademark to market root beer in 1889.
The product range expanded to include Creole mustard, pickled vegetables,
crab boil and ready-to-serve rice dinners. The company now manufactures
more than 200 varieties of products mostly featuring New Orleans-style