Famous people in Kentucky include Daniel Boone & Muhammad Ali
Famous Kentuckians born or raised, or both, in the Bluegrass State include explorers and legendary pioneers (Daniel Boone); some of the world’s most athletic and influential sports stars (Muhammad Ali), actors (George Clooney), musicians (The Judds), and even some of America’s most significant political figures (Abraham Lincoln).
View the list of famous people in Kentucky below:
Explorers, Pioneers & Frontiersmen
Judge Roy Bean (1825-1903) – Infamous "hanging judge" of Langtry, Texas. Born in Mason County, died at Langtry.
Daniel Boone* (November 2, 1734-1820) – Hunted and explored Kentucky (1767-74.) Cleared the Wilderness Road and founded Fort Boonesborough, 1775. Born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, died in Osage Creek, Missouri, buried in Frankfort.
James Bowie (April 10, 1796-1836) – Hero of the Alamo, designer of the Bowie knife. Born in Logan County, died at “The Battle of the Alamo,” San Antonio, Texas.
Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson (December 24, 1809-1868) – Indian agent, trapper, scout. Born in Madison County, died at Fort Lyon, Colorado.
George Rogers Clark* (November 19, 1752 1818) – American Revolution frontier general and explorer, secured the Northwest Territory for the U.S., founder of Louisville, 1778. Born in Albemarle County, Virginia, died in Louisville, buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.
William Floyd Collins (July 20, 1887-1925) – Explorer whose entrapment and death in a cave became one of the most widely reported stories in the 1920’s. Born in the Mammoth Cave area of Kentucky, died in Sand Cave near Mammoth Cave.
James Harrod* (1742-1793) – Frontiersman, founder of Harrodsburg, first permanent settlement west of the Alleghenies, in 1774. Born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, died unknown.
Simon Kenton* (April 3, 1755-1836) – Frontier explorer, soldier, scout for Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark. Born at Bull Run Mountains, Virginia, died at New Jerusalem, Ohio.
Dr. Thomas Walker* (January 25, 1715-1794) – Led the first documented expedition through the Cumberland, Gap, 1750. Born in Walkerton, Virginia, died in Castle Hill, Albemarle, County Virginia.
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Scientists, Inventors & Physicians
Ephraim McDowell* (November 11, 1771-1830) – Performed first successful surgical removal of an ovarian tumor, 1809. He settled in Danville, and began his practice as a surgeon. Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, buried in Danville.
Garrett A. Morgan (March 4, 1877-1963) – African American inventor who originated a respiratory protective hood similar to modern gas masks. Invented first automatic, tri-color traffic signal, 1923. Born in Paris, Kentucky, died in Cleveland, Ohio.
Thomas Hunt Morgan (September 15, 1866-1945) – Nobel Prize winner in medicine for genetic research, 1933. American geneticist and embryologist. Born in Lexington, died in Pasadena, California.
Matthew Bacon Sellers* (1869-1932) – Among first to experiment with gliding and power flight, aeronautical research, born in Baltimore, Maryland, died in New York. The first son of two native Kentuckians.
Phillip Allen Sharp (June 6, 1944- ) – Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of split genes and for advancing research on cancer and hereditary diseases, 1993. Born in Falmouth.
Nathan B. Stubblefield (November 22, 1860-1928) – Successfully demonstrated wireless voice transmission radio, 1892. Born in Murray, died in Almo, Kentucky.
John T. Thompson (December 31, 1860-1940) - United States Army officer, inventor of the Thompson Machine Gun (tommy gun). Born in Newport, died in Great Neck, New York.
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Artists & Architects
John James Audubon* (April 26, 1785-1851) - Ornithologist, artist. Began his work on "Birds of America" in Kentucky. Born in Les Cayes, Haiti, died in Manhattan, New York.
Frank Duveneck (October 9, 1848-1919) - Painter, sculptor, educator. Some of Duveneck’s works may be viewed at the Richmond, Kentucky Art Museum. Born in Covington, and was buried there.
Fontaine Fox Jr. (June 4, 1884-1964) – Famous cartoonist and illustrator. Originated the nationally syndicated cartoon "The Toonerville Trolley." Born near Louisville, died in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Edward Norton Hamilton, Jr. (February 14, 1947-) – Sculptor, best known for his famous work “The Spirit of Freedom,” in Washington, D.C. and “Abraham Lincoln” in Louisville. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, raised in Louisville.
Matthew Harris Jouette (April 22, 1788-1827) - Portrait artist who painted such notables as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette. Born in Lexington, buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.
Paul Sawyier* (March 22, 1865-1917) - Landscape artist known for scenes of Frankfort and the Kentucky River. Born in Madison County, Ohio, buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.
Gideon Shyrock (November 15, 1802-1880) – Architect, introduced Greek Revival style to the West. Designed buildings such as the Old Kentucky State Capitol, state houses, courthouses, and colleges. Born in Lexington, buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.
Moneta J. Sleet, Jr. (February 14, 1926-1996) - First black American to win Pulitzer Prize in photography, 1969. Photographer of the American Civil Rights Movement. Born in Owensboro, died in New Orleans.
Helen M. Turner (November 13, 1858-1958) - Impressionistic landscape artist, portraitist. Born in Louisville, died in New Orleans.
Enid Yandell (October 6, 1870-1934) - First female member of the National Sculpture Society. Sculpture collection is at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville. Died in Boston, Massachusetts, buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, the city of her birth.
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Authors & Journalists
James Lane Allen (December 21, 1849-1925) - American novelist and short story writer his works included "The Choir Invisible," and "A Kentucky Cardinal." Born near Lexington, buried in the Lexington Cemetery.
Harriett Simpson Arnow (July 7, 1908-1986) - "The Dollmaker," "Hunter’s Horn," and “The Kentucky Trace” were some of her Appalachian works. Born in Wayne County, buried at her farm in Keno, Pulaski, County.
Wendell E. Berry (August 5, 1934-) - Poet/novelist/environmentalist. Prolific author of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Born in Henry County.
William Wells Brown (November 6, 1816-1884) - America's first black novelist. He was a prominent abolitionist lecturer, novelist, playwright, and historian. Born into slavery near Lexington, died in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Harry Caudill (May 3, 1922-1990) – Author, historian, lawyer, legislator, and environmentalist from Letcher County. Some of his works are "Night Comes to the Cumberlands,"and "The Mountain, the Miner” and the Lord". Born in Whitesburg, died at his home in Mayking.
Edgar Cayce (March 18, 1877-1945) - Psychic counselor/author. Born near Hopkinsville, died in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Thomas D. Clark* (July 14, 1903-2005) – Kentucky’s most notable historian. Historian Laureate of Kentucky. Best known work is “A History of Kentucky.” Born in Mississippi, died in Lexington, buried in the Lexington Cemetery.
Billy Curtis Clark (December 19, 1928-2009) – American author of 11 books, numerous poems, and short stories, heavily influenced by his childhood growing up in poverty in Kentucky. Born in Catlettsburg in Eastern Kentucky during the Great Depression, died in Farmville, Virginia, buried in Catlettsburg.
Nicholas Joseph "Nick" Clooney (January 13, 1934-) - Journalist, politician, anchorman, game show host. Born in Maysville. Father of actor and film director George Clooney, and brother of Rosemary Clooney.
Irvin S. Cobb (June 23, 1876-1944) - Journalist/humorist/short story writer, authored more than 60 books and 300 short stories. Born in Paducah, and died in New York City.
Joe Creason (June 10, 1918-1974) - Journalist, his popular column, “Joe Creason’s Kentucky” documented the lives of everyday Kentuckians. Born in Benton, died in Joe Creason Park in Louisville.
John Fox, Jr. (December 16, 1862-1919) - An American journalist, novelist, and short story writer. Two of his best known works are "The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come," and “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.” Born in Stony Point, died in Big Stone Gap, Virginia and was buried in the family plot in Paris, Kentucky.
Janice Holt Giles* (March 28, 1909-1979) – A Kentucky author who lived near Knifley, in Adair County. Born in Altus, Arkansas, died in Knifley.
A.B. Guthrie, Jr.* ( January 13, 1901-1991) - Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist for fiction in 1950 for his “The Way West.” Worked 22 years as a news reporter and editor for the Old Lexington Leader in Kentucky. Born in Bedford, Indiana, died in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Duncan Hines (March 26, 1880-1959) - Restaurant-guide publisher best known today for the brand of food products that bears his name. Born in Bowling Green, buried in Fairview Cemetery in Bowling Green.
Annie Fellows Johnston (March 15, 1863-1931) – Born Annie Julia Fellowe. Best known for her 13 book series "The Little Colonel,” she authored over forty books. Born in Evansville, Indiana, died in Pewee Valley.
Barbara Kingsolver (April 81955-) – American writer of poems, short stories, and essays. Born in Annapolis, Maryland and grew up near Carlisle.
Bobbie Ann Mason (May 1, 1940-) - Novelist, Mason writes about the working-class people of Western Kentucky. Mason’s first novel was “In Country,” later made into a feature film starring Bruce Willis. Born in Mayfield.
Ed McClanahan (October 5, 1932-) An American novelist, essayist, and professor. Born in Brooksville.
Thomas Merton* (January 1, 1915-1968) - Essayist on spiritual and social issues. He wrote more than 70 books. Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky. Born in Prades, France, died in Bangkok, Thailand.
James Thomas Cotton Noe (May 2, 1869-1953) – Lawyer and poet, Kentucky's first poet laureate, 1926. Born in Washington County, died in Beverly Hills, California, buried in the Lexington, Cemetery.
Marsha Norman (September 21, 1947-) - Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, two of her famous screenplays are “The Secret Garden,” and “The Color Purple.” Born in Louisville.
Theodore O'Hara (February 11, 1820-1867) – Poet and an officer for the United States Army in the Mexican-American War, and a Confederate colonel in the Civil War. Best known for his poem "Bivouac of the Dead." Born in Danville, died in Guerrytown, Alabama.
John Ed Pearce (1917-2006) - A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has been called Kentucky’s best newspaper writer. Born in Norton, died in Louisville.
Alice Hegan Rice (January 11, 1870-1942) – Wrote over two dozen books, the most famous of which is "Mrs. Wiggins of the Cabbage Patch." Born in Shelbyville, died in Louisville.
Elizabeth Madox Roberts (October 30, 1881-1941) – Novelist and poet, primarily known for her novels and stories about the Kentucky mountain people including "The Time of Man," and "The Great Meadow." Born in Perryville, died in Orlando, Florida, buried in Springfield.
Diane Sawyer (December 22, 1945-) - TV journalist/commentator for ABC and co-anchor of its morning news show. Named one of the 30 most powerful women in America. Born in Glasgow.
Effie Waller Smith (February 2, 1879-1960) – An African-American poet her published output consisted of three volumes of poetry including "Rhymes from the Cumberland." Born in Chloe Creek in Pike County, buried in Neenah, Wisconsin.
James Still* (July 16, 1906-2001) – An Appalachian poet, novelist and folklorist. Better known for his work, "River of Earth," and "The Wolfpen Poems." Born in Alabama, lived most of his life in a log house along the Dead Mare Branch of Little Carr Creek, in Knott County, died in Knott County.
Jesse Stuart (August 8, 1907-1984) – Author/educator/poet laureate of Kentucky. Born and raised in Greenup County, buried in Plum Grove Cemetery in Greenup County.
Allen Tate (November 19, 1899-1979) – American poet, essayist, social commentator, and was a Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Born near Winchester, died in Nashville, Tennessee.
Hunter S. Thompson (July 18, 1937- 2005) – Journalist, author, noted for Gonzo journalism and the literary movement, New Journalism. Born in Louisville, died in Woody Creek, Colorado.
Helen Thomas (August 4, 1920-). – UPI White House Bureau Chief, she covered 10 presidents beginning with John F. Kennedy. American news service reporter, a Hearst Newspaper columnist. Born in Winchester.
Robert Penn Warren (April 24, 1905-1989) – American poet, novelist, and literary critic, Pulitzer Prize author of, “All the King’s Men,” and the Pulitzer prize for poetry, 1947. Born in Guthrie, died in Stratton, Vermont.
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Military & Social Leaders
Daniel Carter Beard* (June 21, 1850-1941) – American illustrator, author, youth leader and social reformer who founded Boy Scouts of America, 1910. Lived in Covington, near the Licking River, where he learned the stories of Kentucky pioneer life. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, died in Suffern, New York.
Madeline McDowell Breckinridge (May 20, 1872-1920) – National leader in the Women's Suffrage Movement. Helped found the Kentucky Tuberculosis Commission. Born in Woodlake, died in Lexington.
Anna Mac Clarke (June 20, 1919-1944) – WAC who was the first black officer to command a white unit. Born in Lawrenceburg, buried in Lawrenceburg.
Mary Desha (March 8, 1850-1911) – Co-founded the Daughters of the American Revolution. Born in Lexington, and buried in the Lexington Cemetery.
John Luther "Casey" Jones* (March 14, 1864-1900) – Railroad engineer moved to Cayce, Kentucky where he got his nickname. He was killed when his passenger train collided with a stalled freight train causing his dramatic death trying to stop his train and save lives. Born in Missouri and died in Vaughan, Mississippi.
Mary Todd Lincoln (December 13, 1818-1882) – First Lady of the United States from 1861-1865. Wife of the 16th President. Born in Lexington, died in Springfield, Illinois and is buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.
McCoys of the Hatfield-McCoy feud (1878-1891) - Involved two warring families of the West Virginia-Kentucky backcountry.
John Hunt Morgan* (June 1, 1825-1864) - "The Thunderbolt of the Confederacy," Confederate general and cavalry officer in the Civil War. Best known for Morgan’s Raid in 1863, when he led 2,460 troops racing past Union lines into Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Moved to Kentucky when Morgan was six years old. Born in Huntsville, Alabama, died in Greenville, Tennessee, buried in the Lexington Cemetery.
Carrie A. Nation (November 25, 1846-1911) – Temperance crusader known as "the lady with a hatchet." Born in Garrard County, died in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Colonel Harland Sanders* (September 9, 1890-1980) – Kentucky Fried Chicken founder. Born in Henryville, Indiana, died in Louisville, buried at Cave Hill Cemetery, in Louisville.
John Thomas Scopes (August 3, 1900-1970) – Defendant in famous "Monkey Trial" for violating a Tennessee law against teaching evolution. Born in Paducah, buried in Paducah, at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Franklin Runyon Sousley, PFC (September 9, 1925-1945) – Helped raise the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima, immortalized in the most famous war photograph in history. Born in Hilltop, killed in the battle of Iwo Jima, buried in a makeshift grave in Iwo Jima, re-interred at Elizaville, in Fleming County.
Cora Wilson Stewart (January 17, 1875-1958) – Educator whose school for adult education became a model throughout the world. Born in Farmers, died in North Carolina.
Whitney M. Young, Jr. (July 31, 1921-1971) – Civil rights leader, director of the National Urban League, 1961-71, awarded Medal of Freedom, 1969. Born in Shelby County, died in Lagos, Nigeria.
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Alben William Barkley (November 24, 1877-1956) – U.S. Vice President under Harry Truman, 1949-53. Born in Graves County, died in Lexington.
John Cabell Breckinridge (January 16, 1872-1920) – U.S. Vice President under James Buchanan, 1857-61. Born and died in Lexington.
Louis Brandeis (November 13, 1856-1941) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1916-39. Born in Louisville, died in Washington, D.C.
Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler (July 14, 1898-1991) – Two time governor (1935-1939 and 1955-1959) and U.S. Senator (1939-1945). The second Commissioner of Major League Baseball, and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Born in Corydon, and died in Versailles.
Cassius Marcellus Clay (October 19, 1810-1903) – The Lion of White Hall, Ambassador to Russia, abolitionist, a founder of the Republican Party. Born and died in Madison County.
Henry Clay* (April 12, 1777-1852) – The Great Compromiser, U.S. Senator, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Secretary of State. Born in Hanover County, Virginia, died in Washington, D.C. Clay’s estate is named Ashland, in Lexington. Clay is buried in the Lexington Cemetery.
Martha Layne Collins ( December 7, 1936- ) – First female Kentucky governor, 1983-87. Born in Bagdad. Instrumental in bringing the Toyota auto manufacturer to the U.S. and to Kentucky.
John Sherman Cooper (August 23, 1901-1991) – U.S. Senator, ambassador to India and East Germany, member of the Warren Commission. Born in Somerset, Kentucky and died in Washington, D.C.
Jefferson Davis (June 3, 1808-1889) – Only President of the Confederate States of America, 1861-65. Born in Christian County, and died in New Orleans, Louisiana.
John Marshall Harlan (June 1, 1833-1911) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1877-1911. Born in Boyle County, died in Washington D.C.
Richard M. Johnson (October 17, 1780-1850) – U.S. Vice-President under Martin Van Buren, 1837-41. Born in Beargrass, died in Frankfort.
Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-1865) –16th U.S. President, 1861-65. He successfully led his country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War preserving the Union and ending slavery. Born in Hardin County, died in Washington, D.C.
Adlai E. Stevenson I (October 23, 1835-1914) – U.S. Vice-President under Grover Cleveland, 1893-97. Born in Christian County, died in Chicago, Illinois.
Zachary Taylor* (November 24, 1784-1850) – 12th U.S. President, 1849-1850. During his youth he lived on the frontier in Louisville, born in Barbourville, Virginia, died in Washington D.C.
Frederick Moore Vinson (January 22, 1890-1953) – U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, 1946-53. Born in Louisa, died in Washington, D.C.
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Conrad Bachmann (November 26, 1932-) Bachmann began his acting career over forty years ago with his appearance in the Dobie Gillis series. Since then he has gone on to do hundreds of episodics, over four hundred commercials, twenty features, and numerous stage productions. Conrad has also founded the Louisville Film Arts Institute (LFAI) in Louisville which produces the Louisville International Festival of Film (LIFF).
Ned Beatty (May 17, 1936-) – Beatty has appeared in more than 100 films, best-remembered for his role in “Deliverance” in 1972. Born in Louisville.
Foster Brooks (May 11, 1912-2001) – Actor and comedian most famous for his portrayal of a lovable drunken man. Perry Como discovered Brooks in 1969, appeared regularly on “The Dean Martin Show.” Born in Louisville, died in Encino, California.
Laura Bell Bundy (April 10, 1981-) – Actress and singer who has performed in a number of Broadway roles, both starring and supporting, as well as in television and film. Born in Lexington.
John Carpenter* (January 16, 1948-) – Film director, screenwriter, producer, editor, composer, and actor. His name is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction. Born in Carthage, New York, family moved to Bowling Green in 1953 when John was around 5 years old.
Steven Curtis Chapman (November 21, 1962-) – Contemporary Christian musician, advocate for adoption and many charities. Born in Paducah.
George Clooney (May 6, 1961-) – Actor, director, producer and screenwriter. Clooney has balanced his performances in big-budget blockbusters with work as a producer and director, as well as social, liberal and political activism. The United Nations named Clooney a “Messenger of Peace” in 2008. Born in Lexington, grew up in Augusta.
Rosemary Clooney (May 23, 1928-2002) – Singer and actress. She came to prominence in the early 1950s, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Starred with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in the movie “White Christmas.” Born in Maysville, died in Beverly Hills, California.
John Conlee (August 11, 1946-) – Country music singer spanning from 1978 through late 1987. Born in Versailles.
William Conrad (September 27, 1920-1994) – Film, television director, actor and narrator in radio, film, and television known for his baritone voice. Fighter pilot in World War II. Born in Louisville, died in Los Angeles, California.
J.D. Crowe (August 27, 1937-) – Banjo player and bluegrass band leader. Crowe’s New South band is widely considered one of the most influential bluegrass groups since the 1970s. Born in Lexington.
Billy Ray Cyrus (August 25, 1961-) – Grammy Award-nominated American country music singer, songwriter and actor. Best selling debut album of all time for a solo male artist, father of Miley Cyrus. Born in Flatwoods.
Kassie DePaiva (born March 21, 1961-) is an American soap opera actress and singer. She was credited prior to 1996 as Kassie Wesley. She was born Katherine Virginia Wesley in Morganfield, Kentucky. DePaiva is married to fellow One Life to Live actor James DePaiva. The two have one son, James Quentin DePaiva (b. May 12, 1997).
Jackie DeShannon (August 21, 1944-) – Born Sharon Lee Meyers. Singer-songwriter with a string of hit song credits from the 1960s onwards. One of the first female singer-songwriters of the rock ‘n’ roll period. Born in Hazel.
Johnny Depp (June 9, 1963-) – Actor and musician known for his portrayals of offbeat, eccentric characters such as Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series. Born in Owensboro.
Irene Dunne (December 20, 1898-1990) – Film actress and singer of the 1930s and 1940s. Dunne was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Born in Louisville, died in Los Angeles, California.
Don & Phil Everly - Don Everly, (February 1, 1937-), Phil Everly (January 19, 1939-) – Brothers and top-selling country influenced rock and roll performers. Don Everly was born in Brownie, Muhlenberg County. Phil was born in Chicago, Illinois.
Heather R. French (December 29, 1974-) - Miss America 1999-2000, she has received numerous awards for her work with veterans. Born in Augusta.
Rebecca Gayheart (August 12, 1971-) - Television and film actress. Born in Hazard.
Crystal Gayle (January 9, 1951-) - Born Brenda Gail Webb. Country Singer best known for a series of country-pop crossover hits in the late 1970s and 1980s. 18 #1 hits. Born in Paintsville.
Haven Gillespie (February 6, 1888-1975) – Composer and lyricist. Wrote Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. Born in Covington, and died in Covington.
D.W. Griffith (January 22, 1875-1948) – Premier pioneer Academy Award-winning American film director. Born in La Grange, died in Hollywood, California.
Tom T. Hall (May 25, 1936-) – Country balladeer, songwriter, and country singer. He has written 11 #1 hit songs, with 26 that reached Top 10. Grammy award winner in 1973. Born in Olive Hill.
Lionel Hampton (April 20, 1908-2002) – Jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history. Born in Louisville, died in New York City. Jazz Hall of Fame, 1984.
Larnell Harris (July 6, 1948-) – Gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist. Five Grammy awards and 18 Dove awards. Born in Danville. Kentucky Headhunters - Grammy Award-winning American country rock band. Band has won three Country Music Association awards and an Academy of Country Music award. Band origin is Metcalfe County.
Grandpa Louis Marshall Jones (October 20, 1913-1998) – Banjo player and “old time” country and gospel music singer. Cast member of the TV show Hee Haw. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, 1978. Born in Niagra, died in Nashville, Tennessee.
Ashley Judd (April 19, 1968-) - Actress, known for playing a number of strong women characters in films. Daughter of country music star Naomi Judd. Born in Granada Hills, California, mostly raised in Kentucky.
Naomi Judd (January 11, 1946-) As country music’s most famous mother/daughter team, The Judds scored twenty top-10 hits and fifteen #1s. The duo won 5 Grammy Awards. Other ventures are TV, movies and author of several self-help books. Born in Ashland.
Wynonna Judd (May 301964-) – Born Christian Claire Ciminella. Country music singer. Daughter Wynonna and mother Naomi rose to fame in the 1980s group “The Judds.” Wynonna began a solo career in 1991. Born in Ashland.
Lily May Ledford (March 17, 1917-1985) – Folk and country music pioneer. One of the original Coon Creek Girls. Born in the Red River Gorge area of Powell County, died in Lexington.
Brian Littrell (February 20, 1975-) Singer-songwriter; a member of the Backstreet Boys. He is also a contemporary Christian recording artist. Born in Lexington.
Patty Loveless (January 4, 1957-) – Born Patricia Lee Ramey. Country music singer. She is the 65th member of the Grand Ole Opry. Born in Pikeville.
Loretta Lynn (April 14,1935-) – Born Loretta Webb. Country music singer-songwriter, she was one of the leading country vocalists and songwriters during the 1960s and 1970s. The movie “Coal Miners Daughter” is based on her life story. Born in Butcher Hollow.
Lee Majors* (April 23, 1939) - AKA Harvey Lee Yeary. Actor, best known for several high profile roles on television in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Born in Wyandotte, Michigan, moved to Kentucky when he was a year old. Graduated from Eastern Kentucky University.
My Morning Jacket - Grammy-nominated rock band. The band formed in Louisville, in 1998.
William Smith "Bill" Monroe (September 13, 1911-1996) – Musician, singer, mandolin, and banjo aficionado. Career spanned 60 years. Referred to as “The Father of Bluegrass.” Born in Rosine, and buried there.
John Michael Montgomery (January 20, 1965-) – Country music artist, songwriter and rhythm guitarist. Born in Danville, raised and lived in Garrard County.
Nappy Roots – American alternative Southern rap quintet that originated in Bowling Green. Best known for its hit single “Po’ Folks”.
Patricia Neal (January 20, 1926-) Award winning actress of stage and screen. Born in Packard, Whitley County.
Joan Osborne (July 8, 1962-) – Singer-songwriter; best known for her song “One of Us,” and for her work with members of “The Grateful Dead.” Born in Anchorage, Kentucky.
Annie Potts* (October 28, 1952-) – Actress best known for playing the role of Janine Melnitz in the Ghostbusters and sitcom, Designing Women. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew up in Franklin.
Boots Randolph (June 3, 1927-2007) – Musician best known for his 1963 saxophone hit, “Yakety Sax.” Major part of the “Nashville Sound” for most of his career. Born in Paducah, died in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kevin Richardson (October 3, 1971-) – American singer and former member of the Backstreet Boys, model, actor, and composer. Born in Lexington.
Jeanie Ritchie (December 8, 1922-) – American folk singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player. Born in Viper, Perry County.
Ricky Skaggs (July 18, 1954-) – Grammy-winning country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. Born in Lawrence County.
Kevin Skinner (February 25, 1974) – American country music singer who was the winner of the fourth season of America’s Got Talent. Born in Mayfield.
Mary Travers (November 9, 1936-) – Member of folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. Born in Louisville.
Merle Travis (November 29, 1917-1983) – American country western singer. Inducted into the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame in 1970, and elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1977. Born in Rosewood, died in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Keith Whitley (July 1, 1954-1989) – American country music singer. Whitley’s career in mainstream country music lasted from 1984 till his death in 1989, but he continues to influence an entire generation of singers and songwriters. Born in Sandy Hook, died in Tennessee.
Dwight Yoakum (October 23, 1956-) – American singer-songwriter and actor, most famous for his country music. Born in Pikeville.
James Albert "Jim" Varney, Jr. (June 15, 1949 – 2000) was an American stand-up comedian, actor, musician, writer, voice artist, and comedian, best known for his role as Ernest P. Worrell, who was used in numerous television commercial campaigns and movies in the following years, giving Varney fame worldwide and playing Jed Clampett in the 1993 movie version of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Billy Vaughn (April 12, 1919-1991) – Singer, multi-instrumentalist, song writer, and orchestra leader. While at Western Kentucky University he was part of a vocal trio, “The Hilltoppers) He later became the most successful orchestra leader of all time. Born in Glasgow, died in Escondido, California.
Hilltoppers (1929 -) - Jimmy Sacca, (October 7, 1931-) - Donald McGuire, (July 9, 1930–1987) - Seymour Spiegelman (October 1, 1930 -), later added a pianist, Billy Vaughn, (1919 –1991) – Group started while attending Western Kentucky University and went on to become world famous. Donald McGuire was born in Hazard, Kentucky.
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Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942) – Boxing gold medalist in 1960. Retired three-time World Heavyweight Champion. First person to win the lineal heavyweight championship three times. Born in Louisville.
Don Brumfield (May 24, 1938-) – Retired American jockey. Inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1996. Born in Nicholasville.
Jim Bunning (October 23, 1931) – Baseball Hall of Fame, 1996. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a U.S. senator. Born in Southgate.
Steve Cauthen (May 1, 1960-) – American jockey. Youngest jockey to win the U.S Triple Crown. United States Racing Hall of Fame, 1994. Born in Covington.
A.B. "Happy" Chandler (July 14, 1898-1991) – The second Commissioner of Major League Baseball, and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Twice elected governor of Kentucky and a U.S. Senator. Born in Corydon, and died in Versailles.
Darrell Griffith (June 16, 1958-) - Led the University of Louisville Cardinals to the 1980 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. 1981 NBA Rookie of the Year. Born in Louisville.
Paul Hornung (December 23, 1935-) - Professional football player. Heisman Trophy winner in 1956 as the year’s outstanding college football player in the United States. Born in Louisville.
Daniel (Dan) Paul Issel (October 25, 1948 -) - Member of Kentucky's all-time leading scorer with 2,138 points from 1967-1970. A member of the professional basketball Hall of Fame was one of the top scorers in professional basketball with 27,482 points during 15-year career. A consensus All-American as a collegian, Issel played a major role in Kentucky Colonels' 1975 ABA Championship and later became an NBA All-Star with the Denver Nuggets.
Tamara McKinney (October 16, 1962 -) - Alpine ski racer. World Cup champion in 1983. Born in Lexington.
Mary Meagher (October 27, 1964-) - Olympic swimming champion and former World Record holder. Born in Louisville.
Isaac Burns Murphy (April 16, 1861-1896) - United States Horse Racing Hall of Fame,1955. One of the greatest race riders in American history. Born in Frankfort and died in Lexington.
Pee Wee Reese (July 23, 1918-1999 -) - Professional baseball player. National Baseball Hall of Fame, 1984. Born in Ekron, died in Louisville.
Patrick James "Pat" Riley (March 20, 1945 -) - is an American professional basketball executive, and a retired coach and player in the NBA. Currently, he is team president of the Miami Heat. Widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, Riley has served as the head coach of five championship teams and an assistant coach to another. He most recently won the 2006 NBA Championship with the Miami Heat. Prior to his tenure in Miami, he served as head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks. He was named NBA Coach of the Year three times (1989–90, 1992–93 and 1996–97, as head coach of the Lakers, Knicks and Heat, respectively). He was head coach of the NBA All-Star Game teams nine times: eight of the Western team (1982, 1983, 1985–1990, all as head coach of the Lakers) and once of the Eastern team (1993, as head coach of the Knicks). In 1996 he was named one of 10 Greatest Coaches in the NBA history. As a player he played for the Los Angeles Lakers' championship team in 1972, bringing his personal total to seven NBA titles.
Adolph Rupp* (September 2, 1901-1977) – American college basketball coach. Enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of fame, 1969. Born outside Halstead, Kansas and died in Lexington.
Woody Stephens (September 1, 1913-1998) – American Thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame trainer. Born in Stanton, Kentucky, died in Miami Lakes, Florida.
Danny Sullivan (March 9, 1950-) – Professional race car driver. Winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1985. Born in Louisville.
John Constantine Unitas - (May 7, 1933–2002) known as Johnny Unitas or "Johnny U", and nicknamed "The Golden Arm", A product of the University of Louisville, Unitas became known as "Mr. Quarterback" during his legendary NFL career with the Baltimore Colts from 1956 through '72. During his career, the Colts won three NFL titles. At U of L, Unitas
passed for 2,912 yards and 27 touchdowns before graduating in 1955. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall ofFame in 1979. He was a record-setting quarterback, and the National Football League's most valuable player in 1959, 1964 and 1967. His record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games (between 1956–1960) remains unsurpassed as of 2011. He has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time
Wes Unseld (March 14, 1946-) – American former basketball player who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. Born in Louisville.
Darrell Waltrip (February 5, 1947-) – Three-time former NASCAR Winston Cup champion. 1989 Daytona 500 winner. 3-time runner-up (1979, 1983, 1986), winner of the 1989 Daytona 500 and 5-time winner of The Coca-Cola 600 (formerly the World 600), (1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989, a record for any driver). He posted a modern series record of 22 top five finishes in 1983, and 21 top five finishes in both 1981, and 1986. Waltrip is the winner of 84 Cup Series races, tied with Jeff Gordon for the most in the modern era of NASCAR, and tied with Gordon and Bobby Allison for third on the all-time list. He is winner of 59 Cup Series pole positions (second all-time), including 35 on short tracks and 8 on road courses (both all-time highs in the series). He has 271 top-five finishes, 390 top-ten finishes, and competed in 809 Cup Series races spanning 29 years (1972–2000). Born in Owensboro.
Michael Waltrip (April 30, 1963-) - is a semi-former professional race car driver, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, and a published author. He is the younger brother of three-time NASCAR champion and racing commentator Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500; having won the race in 2001 and 2003. He is also a commentator for SPEED TV's coverage of the Camping World Truck Series and is an analyst on the Showtime series Inside NASCAR. Born in Owensboro.
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