Sure, everyone knows that Jimmy Fallon went to St. Rose, and that Rachael Ray grew up near Lake George. But as it happens, this area makes quite a few more cameo appearances in the story of American pop culture.
Here are a few celebs to help you maintain your Capital Region cred the next time your friends from other parts of the country start name dropping.
in no particular order...
Who: David Hyde Pierce
Relevance to popular culture: Actor, best known for his role as psychiatrist "Dr. Niles Crane" on the long running television show Frasier.
Regional ties: Was born and grew up in Saratoga Springs. Pierce and his 3 siblings each took home the prestigious Yaddo medal when the graduated from Saratoga High School.
Who: Ann B. Davis
Relevance to popular culture: Actress, best known for her role as housekeeper "Alice" on The Brady Bunch. She's the middle square in the shows opening credits.
Regional ties: She and her identical twin sister were born in Schenectady.
Who: Martha Quinn
Relevance to popular culture: One of MTV's original video jockeys ("VJs"). Way back when MTV actually played music videos.
Regional ties: Was born in Albany.
Who: Mike Tyson
Relevance to popular culture: Was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion in 1987, remains the youngest boxer to achieve that title. Controversial private-life, reputation for madness, has been known to take a bite out of ears.
Regional ties: His first professional match was in Albany, in March 1985. His first nationally televised match took place the following year at the Houston Field House in Troy.
Who: Andy Rooney
Relevance to popular culture: Radio and TV writer and humorist, has been featured on the program 60 Minutes for the last 30+ years. Has also authored several books.
Regional ties: Was born in Albany and graduated from Albany Academy For Boys
Who: The Horwitz brothers, aka Moe, Curly & Shemp Howard
Relevance to popular culture: Brothers Moe and Curly along with their friend Larry Fine were the original Three Stooges. When Curly died, he was replaced by brother Shemp.
Regional Ties: The family lived in Chatham during their vaudeville days. Moe even listed Chatham as his home town on his WW1 draft card. It was during this era that Curly shot himself in the foot while cleaning a riffle and was treated at St. Peter's Hospital (he had a slight limp the rest of his life, but developed an exaggerated walk on screen to disguise it).
Who: Nathan Lane
Relevance to popular culture: Tony and Emmy winning actor, perhaps best known for his Broadway role in The Producers and his movie role in The Birdcage.
Regional Ties: Nathan spent the summer of 1976 performing at Chatham's Mac-Haydn theater. Their lobby still displays photographs of their most famous alumni cast member, back when he was still an unknown actor.
Who: William Devane
Relevance to popular culture: Movie and Television actor. Seems to have a trend playing Government officials. He's played Secretary of Defense in 24, Secretary of State in The West Wing and President in Stargate SG-1
Regional Ties: Was born in Albany.
Who: Art Ginsburg aka "Mr. Food"
Relevance to popular culture: TV and radio chef whose 90-second spots are featured on local TV newscasts across the country every day. Has penned more than 50 cook books and is known for his trademark phrase "Ooh, it's so good!"
Regional ties: Born in Troy.
Who: Mickey Rourke
Relevance to popular culture: Actor-turned-boxer-turned-actor. Not surprisingly he's been nominated for (and has won) a bunch of things for his role in The Wrestler.
Regional Ties: Was born in Schenectady.
Who: Washington Irving
Relevance to popular culture: Author, sited as America's first internationally best-selling writer.
Regional ties: Lived in the Village of Kinderhook in 1809. Wrote the legendary short stories Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, both of which take place regionally. Is the reason why the high school in Valatie is named "Ichabod Crane".
Who: Charlayne Woodard
Relevance to popular culture: Movie, television and stage actress, one of those people you recognize but might not know her name. Some of the places you might have seen her include Taxi, Twister, A Different World, Roseanne, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Chicago Hope, The Crucible, Eye for an eye, Unbreakable, Law & Order SVU, Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, Medium
Regional ties: Was born in Albany and graduated from Albany High School
Who: Kirk Douglas
Relevance to popular culture: Oscar nominated actor. American Film Institute ranks him #17 on their list of the greatest male American screen legends of all time. He's also the father of actor Michael Douglas.
Regional ties: Was born and raised in Amsterdam, and attended St. Lawrence University in Canton N.Y.
Who: Jimmy Carter
Relevance to popular culture: 39th President of the United States, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner
Regional ties: Began graduate studies in nuclear physics at Schenectady's Union College for a few months in 1953. He had to leave after the death of his father in order to help run the family farm.
Who: Gregory Maguire
Relevance to popular culture: Author, most famous for his novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. This was turned into the Broadway musical Wicked.
Regional ties: Born in Albany and received his B.A. from the University at Albany.
Who: Kurt Vonnegut
Relevance to popular culture: Writer, authored several critically acclaimed and controversial novels including Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle
Regional ties: Once lived in Schenectady while doing public relations for G.E. Also, his older brother Bernard was an atmospheric scientist at the University at Albany and died at St. Peter's Hospital.
Who: Scott Valentine
Relevance to popular culture: Actor, best known for his character "Nick Moore" on 80s sitcom Family Ties
Regional ties: Born in Saratoga Springs and went to Saratoga High School.
Who: Maureen Stapleton
Relevance to popular culture: Oscar and other award-winning actress. Film career includes roles in Reds, Cocoon, Interiors and Bye Bye Birdie.
Regional ties: Born in Troy. Hudson Valley Community College in Troy named a theater after her in 1981.
Who: Samuel Wilson
Relevance to popular culture: Believed to be the inspiration for the character "Uncle Sam" which is a personification of the U.S. Government.
Regional ties: Was a meat-packer in Troy who supplied meat to the U.S. Army. Wilson is also buried in Troy.
Who: Herman Melville
Relevance to popular culture: Author, wrote the legendary novel Moby Dick among many others. Techno artist "Moby" claims to be his distant relative.
Regional ties: Lived in Albany and Lansingburgh during his teen years, where he first began writing.
Who: Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig
Relevance to popular culture: Baseball players, two of the most popular sports athletes in American History
Regional ties: Back in the 20s and 30s, The Yankees (including these two members) would often play in Menands against the The Albany Senators.
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