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Copyright © 2009 by Open Horizons and John Kremer
Last modified: 11/25/08

Hot Times, Cool Places

Iowa Vacation Basic Facts

Famous Iowans

These are just a few of the famous people who were either born in Iowa or spent some important time in Iowa.

Patrick Acton, featured in Ripley's Believe or Not for his matchstick marvels models

Julie Adams, actress

Bess Streeter Aldrich, author

Steve Allen, comedian and Tonight Show host

Fran Allison, actress, Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Don Ameche, actor

Fred Angell, created the first franchise restaurant: Maid Rite

Adrian Constantine (Cap) Anson, the greatest baseball player of the 19th century

Dave Armbruster, inventor of the butterfly stroke in swimming

Tom Arnold, actor and comedian

John Vincent Atanasoff, Co-inventor of the digital computer

Jack Bailey, game show host

Bil Baird, puppeteer

Willie Beamon, football player

Bix Beiderbecke, jazz musician

Jim Belilove, founder, Creative Edge

Ralph Bellamy, actor

Bryan Berg, world record-breaking card stacker

Sarah Bernhardt, actress

Clifford Berry, co-inventor of the digital computer

Ladell Betts, football player

Black Hawk, Indian chief

Earl Blakesley Jr., screenwriter

Stacey Blitsch, roller derby star

Amelia Jenks Bloomer, women's rights activist. Bloomers were named after her.

Tommy Bolin, singer

Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and father of the Green Revolution

Matt Bowen, football player

Laura Flynn Boyle, actress

Neville Brand, actor

Norman Breyfogle, comics illustrator

Melanie Brown, author

Bill Bryson, writer

David Butler, founder, Vintage Power Wagons

Ellis Parker Butler, author of Pigs Is Pigs, 30 other books, and 2,000 short stories

Veronica Butler, author and doctor

Michael Cain, artist and co-author of Transcendental Meditation

Donald L. Campbell, inventor

MacDonald Carey, actor

Wallace Hume Carothers, inventor

Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show host

George Washington Carver, scientist and inventor. He was the first black man to serve on the faculty of the Iowa Agriculture College.

Walter Cassel, opera singer

Carrie Chapman Catt, suffragist leader

Virginia Christine, actress (Mrs. Olson)

Dallas Clark, football player

Lephe Wells Coates, Created the word “blizzard” after reading a story about a man named Mr. Blizzard who had a bad temper.

William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, frontier scout and wild west showman

Stephen Collins, actor, Seventh Heaven

Chester Conklin, comic actor

Oll Coomes, dime novel author

Gary Cooper, actor

Roger Craig, football player

Janet Dailey, romance novelist

Bill Daily, actor

Sue Danielson, radio personality

Jay Norwood Darling, cartoonist

Troy Davis, star running back of Iowa State. In 1996, he ran his total yards gained for two seasons to 3,970 yards, the most in consecutive seasons in Division 1-A football.

Lee DeForest, inventor

Denise Denniston, author, The TM Book

Father Paul Dobberstein, created the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa

John Douillard, founder, Invincible Athletics Institute

August and Frederick Duesenberg, car builders

Diane Dumas, the Gadget Goddess

Anton Dvorak, composer (spent a summer in Spillsville, Iowa)

Tim Dwight, football player

Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, Western heroes

Mamie Doud Eisenhower, first lady, wife of president Dwight David Eisenhower

James Ellison, actor

Julie Englander, radio personality

Simon Estes, opera singer

Everly Brothers, singing group

John Fagan, scientific researcher

Sharon Farrell, actress

Terry Farrell, actress

Bob Feller, baseball pitcher

Edna Ferber, author

Henry Field, entrepreneur

Bud Fowler, the first African-American to play professional baseball. He played for the Keokuk, Iowa Western League Keokuks baseball team in 1885.

Diane Frank, poet and novelist

William Frawley, actor

John Froelich, inventor of first gasoline engine tractor

Haydon Fry, football coach

Charles Fulton, U.S. senator

Dan Gable, wrestler and wrestling coach; Olympic gold medal winner. As a coach, his wrestling teams at Iowa won 22 straight Big Ten titles and 15 NCAA team titles.

Robert Gallery, football player

George H. Gallup, pollster

Annabeth Gish, actress

Susan Glaspell, writer and playwright

Frank Gotch, World heavyweight wrestling champion

Fred Grandy, actor (Love Boat) and congressman

William Grant, in 1885, this doctor performed the first appendectomy in the world on Mary Gartside.

Charles Grassley, U.S. senator

Fred Gratzon, entrepreneur, the ultimate lazy man, author

Edna Griffin, civil rights leader

John Hagelin, physicist and Natural Law Party presidential candidate

Jon D. Hair, monumental sculptor and official sculptor of the U.S. Olympic team

James Norman Hall, novelist

Scott Halpin, in 1973, this 19-year-old played drums at a Who concert in San Francisco, California after Keith Moon became sick and Roger Daltry asked the audience, “Is there a drummer in the house?” Scott answered the call.

Ricko Hamm, drummer for The Green Giants

Van Hardin, radio personality

Tom Harkin, U.S. senator

Alphonso Harper, founder, Harper Brush Works

Jennifer Read Hawthorne, author, Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul and others

Tim Hawthorne, founder, Hawthorne Direct, one of the first TV infomercial producers

Merle Hay, war hero

Jeffrey Hedquist, founder, Hedquist Productions and radio advertising talent

Doug Henning, magician

David Anthony Higgins,  actor

Ellis Hobbs, football player

Marjorie Holmes, inspirational writer

Herbert Hoover, 31st president of the United States

Lou Hoover, first lady

Howard Hughes, Sr., inventor

Mary Beth Hurt, actress

John Irving, novelist

Bruce Jenner, Olympic decathlete

Zach Johnson, golfer

Nate Kaeding, football player

Mohamad Khan, gardener and radio personality

Harry Kalas, hall of fame baseball announcer

MacKinlay Kantor, novelist and screenwriter whose work includes Civil War novels and the movie classic The Best Years of Our Lives

Earl Kaplan, founder of Books Are Fun

Alex Karras, football player and actor

Frank Keenan, actor

Corita Kent, artist

Karl King, bandmaster

Nile Kinnick, football player

W.P. Kinsella, novelist, Field of Dreams

James T. Kirk, captain of the Starship Enterprise (TV and movie character)

Carl Klaus, founding director, University of Iowa nonfiction writing program

Carol Zurer Kline, author, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul

Larry Kline, author, Chicken Soup for the Military Soul

Ted Kooser, poet laureate

Paul Krause, football player

John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, Celebrate Today, and The Biology of Business; founder and member of the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame; maintainer of this web site; self-promoter

Ashton Kutcher, actor, That ’70s Show and movies

Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer), advice columnist

Lola Lane, actress

Priscilla Lane, actress

Harry Langdon, silent movie actor

Rustin Larsen, poet

Shannon Larson, filmmaker

Frank Lawery, gunfighter

Tony Lawlor, architect and author

Cloris Leachman, actress

Willie Leacox, drummer for the rock group America

William D. Leahy, fleet admiral

Laura Leighton, actress

Aldo Leopold, environmentalist

Meridel LeSueur, writer

John L. Lewis, labor leader

Randy Lewis, wrestler

E. F. Lindquist, educational testing; inventor of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills

Lynne Lorenzen, in 1987, this high schooler broke the all-time girls high school scoring record in basketball (6,250 points). By the time she graduated, Lynne had scored 6,736 points.

William Louden, inventor

Joanna Lund, best-selling cookbook author and member of the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame

Duffy Lyon, sculptor

Jock Mahoney, actor and stuntman (Tarzan)

Arabella Mansfield, first woman lawyer in the U.S.

Stuart Margolin, director

Lester Martin, direct mail advertising innovator

Jerry Mathers, actor, Leave It to Beaver

John Matuszek, football player

Elsa Maxwell, writer

Elmer and Frederick Maytag, manufacturers; founders of the Maytag Company

C.W. McCall, country singer, Convoy

Bobbi McCaughey, in 1997, she gave birth to seven babies in Des Moines, Iowa. It was the first time seven babies survived birth.

James Meade, author, computer books

Cornelia Meigs, writer

E.T. Meredith, magazine publisher

Jan Mickelson, radio personality

Glenn Miller, big band leader and musician of the Swing Era

Samuel F. Miller, justice, U.S. Supreme Court

Robert Millikan, physicist

Jay Mitchell, radio entrepreneur

Clark Mollenhoff, journalist

Michelle Monaghan, actress

Bevan Morris, president, Maharishi University of Management

Greg Morris, actor, Mission Impossible TV series

Kate Mulgrew, actress

Conrad Nagel, actor

Brenda Narducci, founder of Chappell Studio

Christian Nelson, patented the first ice cream bar, the Eskimo Pie, in 1919

Harriet Nelson, actress

Nick Nolte, actor

Alan Nourse, writer and physician

Robert Noyce, inventor of the microchip

Chuck Offenburger, columnist

Chris Offutt, novelist

Radar O'Reilly, TV character

David Orme-Johnson, scientific researcher

Daniel Palmer, inventor of chiropractic medicine

Harriet Parsons, movie producer

Louella Parsons, gossip columnist

Christian Petersen, sculptor

John Pierce, scientist

Ed Podalak, football player and radio commentator

Nathan M. Pusey, educator and author

Herbert Quick, author

David Rabe, playwright

Frances Rafferty, actress

Ronald Reagan, actor and U.S. president

Harry Reasoner, TV commentator

Donna Reed, Academy Award-winning actress and star of It’s a Wonderful Life

George Reeves, actor (Superman)

Jerry Reno, radio personality

Ringling Brothers, circus entrepreneurs

Lawrence "Sul" Ross, Texas governor

Brandon Routh, actor

Halston Frowick Roy (Roy Halston)— fashion designer

Lillian Russell, singer and actress

Wiley Rutledge, justice, U.S. Supreme Court

Bob Sanders, football player

Vern Schield, designer of the Bantam dragline crane

Jean Seberg, actress

Wilhelm Schneider, inventor of the merry-go-round

Robert Schuller, Hour of Power minister, founder of the Crystal Cathedral

Eric Shaffer, founder, Human Factors International

Jessie Field Shambaugh, schoolteacher who founded the 4-H clubs

Marci Shimoff, author, Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul and others

Loren Shriver, astronaut

Hugh Sidey, journalist

Slipknot, rock band

Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of A Thousand Acres

Jeffrey Smith, author,

Dick Sparrow, master horseman

Tracie Spencer, singer

Tom Sparks, vintage car collector

Mary Helen Stefaniak, author

Wallace Stegner, author

Brad Steiger, novelist

Phil Strong, novelist, State Fair

Alvin Straight, made the Great Mower Odyssey, basis for The Straight Story movie

Ruth Suckow, author

Sullivan brothers, war heroes

Billy Sunday, baseball player and evangelist

Michael Talbott, actor

Kent Taylor, actor

Geb Thomas, engineer who worked on analyzing data from the Mars Rover project

Sada Thompson, actress

Tom Thumb, circus performer

Tiny Tim, singer (Tip Toe Through the Tulips)

Clyde Tolson, FBI agent

Forrest Tucker, actor

Emlen Tunnell, football player

Mark Twain, novelist and humorist

James A. Van Allen, astrophysicist, Van Allen Belt named after him

Abigail Van Buren (Lederer), advice columnist

Mona Van Duyn, Pulitzer Prize winning author

Nellie Verne Walker, sculptor

Tom Vilsack, Iowa governor

Henry Wallace, founder of Wallaces Farmer

Henry A. Wallace, vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred International

Henry C. Wallace, U.S. secretary of agriculture

Marcia Wallace, actress (Bob Newhart Show)

Robert Keith Wallace, president, Maharishi International University

Seneca Wallace, football player

Robert Waller, novelist, Bridges of Madison County

War Eagle, Indian chief

Kurt Warner, football quarterback

Tionne Watkins, singer (T-Boz of TLC)

John Wayne, Oscar-winning actor, one of the best cowboy actors

Joe Weaver, founder of First Impressions

Warren Wechsler, business books author and founder of Total Selling

Joseph Wilcots, cinematographer

Gene Wilder, actor

Laura Ingalls Wilder, writer

Andy Williams, singer (Moon River)

Roger Williams, pianist

Tennessee Williams, playwright

Dave Williamson, poet, sculptor, speaker, and author

Meredith Willson , composer of the Broadway musical The Music Man

James A. Wilson, U.S. secretary of agriculture

James F. Wilson, U.S. senator

Elijah Wood, actor, the Lord of the Rings trilogy

Grant Wood, painter; painted American Gothic and many other famous paintings

Hank Worden, actor

Wilbur and Orville Wright, inventors of the airplane

Larry Zack, artist

John Kremer, Travel Guide

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