Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s List of Louisiana’s 200 Most Notable People
We celebrated the Bicentennial of statehood in 2012 so I created this list of the 200 most notable people in Louisiana history. It is not necessarily a list of our greatest, most popular or, even, most significant people. It is a compilation of individuals whose influence was felt in Louisiana, but also spread beyond our borders. Most, but not all, are doers of great things, individuals who have brought honor, notoriety or attention to our state. Although selecting the 200 was difficult, the criterion was simple: identify the 200 people whose lives have been notable and influential in the history of Louisiana and/or America and in their respective field of endeavor.
In order to include individuals who shaped the fortunes of Louisiana before statehood, I allocated fifteen of the spots to those whose exploits helped define us as a people. The list also includes individuals who were not born here, but who lived here and established a close and well-recognized identity with our state. The balance of the list is composed of individuals born in Louisiana, even if they did not grow up or live here for a substantial period of time. The list is alphabetized with native-born Louisianians parenthetically identified with their date and place of birth. The fields of music, food, entertainment, politics and sports are heavily weighted on the list, particularly the latter, which shows the inherent partiality of the one-man selection committee. Please bear in mind that this is simply a Bicentennial stab at compiling a roster of Louisianians whose lives have impacted others and whose accomplishments, exploits, contributions to pop culture and brushes with history have left a mark.
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 Billboardcountry music chart, including three number one hits. He was a finalist on the television show The Celebrity Apprenticeand 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 Jackson Square.
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 series, Tremé.
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 London.
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 1988.
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 Creole.”
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 & Winemagazine. 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 Orleansand 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 IllustratedSportsman 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-American 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 CrossFireand 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 pundit.
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 shoulders.
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 Lifemagazine 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 20 thcentury. 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 Acadieand 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-Americanand 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 100 thanniversary 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 Trailwith 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 Rockyand 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 Dynastyand 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 Derby winner.
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 government.
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 the mid-1700s.
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 Carson.
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 Cowboy.
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-Americanin 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 Sportsmanhe 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 50 thAnniversary 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 The Green Hornet television show.
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 was the chair of the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission.
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 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 Yorkercovers. His animated short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. MorrisLessmore, produced at Moonbot Studios, won the 2012 Academy Award.
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 Orleans.
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 assistance.
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 Louis XIV.
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 World.
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 to 1932 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 20 the 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 Thibodaux.
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 Boston Celtics.
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 Branford Marsalis.
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 movies.
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 six of his eight seasons at LSU.
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 Isand 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 other classics.
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 Moviegoerwon 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 Fiction.
Tyler Perry (1969, New Orleans): Emmitt Perry Jr. was recognized by Forbesmagazine 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 Ninth Ward.
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 his honor.
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 namesake.
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 Madison.
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 “Murrow’s Boys.”
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 Thirteen.
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 Boudreaux.
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 Pitt Stadium.
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 success overseas.
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 Jambalayais 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 Traditionand All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight, which was the opening theme of Monday Night Footballfor 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 Louisiana.
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 100 thYear 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 cuisine.
About the list…
There are 122 native born Louisianians. There are 63 non-native born Louisianians and 15 whose lives pre-dated statehood.
There are 26 women and 44 African Americans and Creoles.
The list includes individuals from the following general categories, with native born Louisianians indicated in parentheses:
SPORTS: 49 (32)
MUSIC: 38 (29)
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT: 25 (18)
POLITICS: 18 (14)
BUSINESS: 17 (7)
LITERATURE: 14 (7)
MILITARY: 10 (5)
FOOD: 9 (6)
ART: 3 (2)
RELIGION: 2 (2)
Those born in Louisiana hail from the following parishes:
ORLEANS (38), CADDO (11), EAST BATON ROUGE (10), POINTE COUPEE (5), CLAIBORNE (4), LAFAYETTE (4), LINCOLN (4), OUACHITA (4), ST. LANDRY (4),CONCORDIA (3), RAPIDES (3), CALCASIEU (2), IBERIA (2), JEFFERSON (2), NATCHITOCHES (2), RICHLAND (2), ST. MARTIN (2), WEBSTER (2), WINN (2), VERMILION (2), AVOYELLES, BIENVILLE, CAMERON , IBERVILLE , JACKSON , LAFOURCHE , MOREHOUSE , SABINE , ST. BERNARD , ST. JAMES, ST. TAMMANY, TANGIPAHOA , TERREBONNE , UNION, WEST CARROLL (1 EACH)
William Tecumseh Sherman (1820): The Union general who led the famed march through Georgia and the burning of Atlanta had previously served as the first superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in Pineville, which eventually became Louisiana State University. He left that position at the outbreak of the Civil War and quickly rose in the ranks from a colonel at the first Battle of Bull Run to brigadier general.
Lafcadio Hearn (1850): Born in Greece, he came to New Orleans in the 1870s as a newspaper reporter and thereafter began writing extensively about New Orleans. Perhaps more than any other writer, his descriptive stories on Louisiana food, cuisine and culture helped catapult New Orleans to its position as a destination for excitement and intrigue. One of his best-known works is Chita: A Memory of Last Island, a story based upon the devastating of hurricane of 1856, which destroyed the popular vacation retreat along the Louisiana coast.
Samuel Zemurray (1877): Born in Russia, “Sam the Banana Man” established a successful fruit company in Honduras and eventually became head of the United Fruit Company. He created the Zemurray Foundation, which remains one of the great philanthropic entities in Louisiana. His former home on Audubon Place is now the residence of the president of Tulane University. The Zemurray Gardens in Loranger is a botanic tribute to his generosity as well.
Monroe Jackson Rathbone (1900): “Jack” Rathbone was born in West Virginia and named after one of his forebearers, General Stonewall Jackson. He started his career as a design and drafting engineer at the Baton Rouge Refinery of the Standard Oil Company and rose through the ranks to become president of Louisiana Standard in 1936. He eventually became president of ESSO Standard Oil and Jersey Standard, which, under his leadership, eventually was reorganized into the Exxon Company. In 1975, he was one of nineteen men chosen by the editors of FortuneMagazine for permanent induction into the Hall of Fame of Business Leadership.
Walter Isaacson (1952, New Orleans): A Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Harvard College and Oxford University, he previously served as the editor of TIMEmagazine and the chairman and CEO of CNN. He is the author of biographies about Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger. Currently serving as president and CEO of The Aspen Institute, he also chairs the board of Teach For America. In addition to serving on numerous other boards, he was vice chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.
Having realized several key Louisianians were left off the list and having heard from several sharp-eyed readers, the List of 200 Notable Louisianians could have included at least five more persons. Rather than seek to delete those already chosen, I simply add the following, each representing forty-year intervals in our 200-year history.
And five who live in infamy …
1. H. Rap Brown (1943, Baton Rouge)
The chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the 1960s, he made the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List early in his life, spent five years in Attica Prison where he converted to Islam and, upon his release, was involved in a shootout that resulted in a murder conviction. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Georgia.
2. David Duke
Though born in Oklahoma, he gained notoriety in the 1970s as a swastika-wearing LSU student who frequented Free Speech Alley to espouse the views that would lead him to become Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. A one-term state representative, he made it to the 1991 gubernatorial runoff where he was defeated handily by Edwin Edwards. He later went to Russia and federal prison where he continued to foment his white supremacist rhetoric.
3. Carlos Marcello
The owner of the Creole Tomato Company, he was the reputed boss of the Cosa Nostra in Louisiana. Born in Sicily, he came to New Orleans as a young boy. As a teenager, he fell into a life of crime. Following in the footsteps of Frank Costello, his alleged reign over gambling in Louisiana began in the 1940s. He took the Fifth Amendment during Congressional hearings into organized crime in the 1960s.
4. Huey P. Newton (1942, Monroe)
As a student in Oakland, California, he and Bobby Seale organized the Black Panther Party in 1966. He was in prison for manslaughter resulting from a shootout between Panthers and the police in 1967. A decade later, he again was charged with murder, fled to Cuba, but returned and freed after two hung juries failed to convict him. He was killed during a confrontation with a drug dealer in Oakland in 1989.
5. Lee Harvey Oswald(1939, New Orleans)
A native New Orleanian, he frequented the city in the early 1960s distributing pro-Castro leaflets on downtown streets. The Warren Commission concluded that he was the lone gunman responsible for the JFK assassination, a controversial finding that remains America’s most debated crime mystery.
And five who died young in Louisiana …
1 – 2. Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker, age 23, and Clyde Chestnut Barrow, age 25, were killed in a dramatic ambush on Highway 154 near Gibsland on May 23, 1934. They were notorious bank robbers and killers who long had been pursued by law enforcement officials across the country. Their bodies and the vehicle in which they were riding were riddled with dozens of bullets in rural Bienville Parish. Four Texas troopers, Bienville Sheriff Henderson Jordan, and his chief deputy, Prentiss Oakley, participated in the shootout. Bonnie had foreshadowed their tragic end in rhyme, shortly before their death:
“Someday they’ll go down together And bury them side by side To some it’s grief To the law a relief But it’s death to Bonnie and Clyde.”
3. Jim Croce
He was only 30 years old when a chartered plane transporting him from the Natchitoches Regional Airport crashed upon takeoff. His final concert was at Northwestern State University. Many of his songs remain popular today, including “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “Time in a Bottle,” “I Got a Name” and “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song.”
4. Jayne Mansfield
The blonde bombshell and former Playboy Playmate of the Month was killed in an early morning automobile accident on U.S. Highway 90 near Slidell. She was traveling from Biloxi to New Orleans when the automobile in which she was a passenger struck the rear of a tractor-trailer, killing the three adults in the front seat. Her minor children, one of whom was the actress-to-be Mariska Hargitay, survived.
5. Bo Rein
Technically, his place of death is listed as the Atlantic Ocean, but 34-year old Bo Rein was killed in a plane crash returning to Baton Rouge from a recruiting trip in Shreveport in January 1980. He had just been hired as the head football coach at LSU, but died before he ever coached a game. The private plane in which he was a passenger veered thousands of miles off course and crashed over the Atlantic Ocean. No wreckage was recovered and the bodies of Rein and his pilot, Louis Benscotter, were never found.
And a little lagniappe …dozens of other NATIVE BORN LOUISIANIANS worthy of consideration:
Musicians - Tab Benoit, Terence Blanchard, Henry Roeland Byrd (Professor Longhair), Ernie K. Doe (“Mother-in-Law”), Terrance Semien, Irma Thomas (The Soul Queen of New Orleans), Buckwheat Zydeco
Jazz Greats - Harold Battiste Jr., Buddy Bolden, Joe “King” Oliver
Stage & Screen Stars - Bryan Batt, set-designer Gene Callahan, John Larroquette, Garrett Morris (Saturday Night Live), Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian), Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed in Rocky), Lynn Whitfield
Politicians - F. Edward Hebert (Louisiana’s longest serving Congressman), Bob Livingston (almost Speaker of the House), Buddy Roemer (presidential aspirant), Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (first female governor of Louisiana), Dave Treen (first Republican governor since Reconstruction)
Political Consultants & Pundits - Donna Brazile, Charlie Cook, Gus Weill
Authors - John Ed Bradley ( It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium), Shirley Ann Grau, Lillian Hellman, Harnett Kane, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Rebecca Wells ( Divine Secrets of theYa-Ya Sisterhood)
Baseball All-Stars - Joe Bill Adcock, Vida Blue, Will Clark, Mel Parnell, Lee Smith
Basketball Greats - Frank Brian, Joe Dumars, Bob Love, Robert Parish
Football Greats - Tommy Casanova, Jake Delhomme, Kevin Faulk, Bert and Dub Jones, Ed Reed, Jackie Smith, Jerry Stovall
Miscellaneous - Music producers Dave Bartholomew, Cosimo Matassa; golfers Jay Hebert, Lionel Hebert, Clifford Ann Creed; tennis great Ham Richardson; boxer Willie Pastrano; songwriter Percy Mayfield ( Hit the Road Jack); legal legend Judge John Minor Wisdom; Sister Helen Prejean ( Dead Man Walking); New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson; jewelry designer Mignon Faget; Clarke M. Williams (owner, Oak Ridge Telephone Co., the predecessor of CenturyLink); Joseph Haspel (the seersucker suit man); Thomas Ryder (Chairman, Reader’s Digest); Reverend T.J. Jemison (President, National Baptist Convention) and the Laborde Brothers: Alden “Doc” Laborde (Chairman, CEO and founder of ODECO and designer of a submersible, transportable drilling rig), John P. Laborde (Co-founder, President and CEO of Tidewater, Inc.), Lucien Laborde (gentleman farmer), all three of whom participated in the D-Day invasion