Many public figures who have made huge splashes on the national scene in politics, art, music and movies hail from the land of 10,000 lakes. Throughout Minnesota’s rich history, an abundance of people have stood out as stars among us, including actors, musicians, politicians, entrepreneurs, cartoonists, radio stars, writers and pro-wrestlers.
Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958, and passed away on April 21, 2016. He was as an international recording star, musician and actor whose fame rose in the early 1980s with the release of "Purple Rain," which was filmed at Minneapolis' First Avenue. The “Minneapolis sound” was truly pioneered by Prince’s hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B and New Wave. It has influenced many other musicians.
Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth in 1941, and raised in Hibbing, Minn., attended a year at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, then dropped out, assumed the name Bob Dylan, and continues to perform today. Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016. A mural depicting Dylan in several stages of his career was painted by muralist Eduardo Kobra on a building on 5th Street near Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis in 2015.
Actor Jessica Lange, winner of an Academy Award and Tony Award, was born in Cloquet, Minn., and once owned a home in Stillwater, Minn., a suburb east of Saint Paul.
Joel and Ethan Coen, writers/directors/producers of such movies as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, A Serious Man, Burn After Reading and True Grit, grew up in the Minneapolis suburb St. Louis Park and filmed Fargo and A Serious Man in the area.
Josh Hartnett, the heart-throb movie star of films such as "The Black Dahlia" and "Pearl Harbor," grew up in Saint Paul and lived in Minneapolis for several years in the early 2000s.
Hailing from Minneapolis, Louis Perry "Louie" Anderson (March 24, 1953 – Jan. 21, 2022) was an American stand-up comedian. Anderson created the cartoon series "Life with Louie," won an Emmy Award for his role as Christine Baskets in the comedy series "Baskets," wrote three books, and was the initial host of the second revival of the game show "Family Feud," from 1999 to 2002.
Melissa Peterman, a product of the Brave New Workshop, wrapped a successful run on the TV show “Reba” in 2007. She’s also known for her memorable prostitute role in the movie "Fargo."
“Six Feet Under,” “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Parenthood” star Peter Krause, grew up in Alexandria, west of Minneapolis.
T.R. Knight, known to his fans as George O’Malley on the Emmy-winning “Grey’s Anatomy,” is a Stillwater, Minn., native. For many years, he was a member of the Guthrie Theater’s acting company.
Great Minnesota Authors
Charles Schulz, the cartoonist who drew “Peanuts” for nearly 50 years was born in Minneapolis and lived in Saint Paul through his young adulthood.
F. Scott Fitzgerald author of “The Great Gatsby,” is one of many literary geniuses to grow up in Saint Paul.
Garrison Keillor, the well-known humorist whose long-time, weekly radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” inspired Robert Altman’s last film of the same name, hails from Anoka, just north of Minneapolis.
Harry Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951) was an American novelist, short-story writer and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman is a prolific author, columnist and expert in Middle East affairs for the New York Times.
A New Breed of Politicians
Even before Arnold took over California, Minnesota began producing Hollywood stars-turned-politicians.
An Emmy Award–winning comedian, actor, author, screenwriter, political commentator, radio host and “Saturday Night Live” alumnus, former Senator Al Franken grew up in St. Louis Park, attending the same high school as the Coen brothers, and is a Minneapolis resident. Noted for his liberal social and political views, Franken won Minnesota’s United States Senate seat in 2008 and stepped down in 2018.
From feather boa in the wrestling ring to glasses and suits as governor of the state, Jesse “The Body” Ventura raised Minnesota’s profile by unexpectedly beating two high-profile candidates to become the state’s 38th governor.
OTHER FAMOUS MINNESOTA-BRED NAMES IN THE WORLD OF GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Alexander Ramsey, second Governor of Minnesota (1860-1863), U.S. Senator (1863-1875) and first territorial governor of Minnesota
Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States; serving from 1965-1969, he was the 38th vice president
Paul Wellstone, U.S. Senator for the state of Minnesota from 1991 until his death in 2002
Walter Mondale, Vice President of the United States; serving from 1977-1981, he was the 42nd vice president; U.S. Senator for the state of Minnesota (1964–1976); Democratic Party nominee for president in 1984
Warren Burger, Supreme Court Chief Justice; serving from 1969 to 1986, he was the 15th chief justice of the court
Other Well-Known Personalities Who Hail from Minnesota or Live Here Currently
Loni Anderson, Actress
Richard Dean Anderson, Actor
The Andrews Sisters, Vocal Group
James Arness, Actor
Jessica Biel, Actress
Nate Berkus, Interior Designer / Author / TV Personality
Surya Bonaly, Figure Skater & Coach
Kelly Carlson, Actress
Eddie Cochran, Musician
Mo Collins, Actress
Rachael Leigh Cook, Actress
James Denton, Actor
Judy Garland, Singer / Actress
J. Paul Getty, Businessman
Terry Gilliam, Screenwriter / Actor
Genevieve Gorder, Interior Designer / TV Host
Peter Graves, Actor
Maud Hart Lovelace, Author
Jeffrey Hatcher, Playwright / Screenwriter / Actor
John Hawkes, Actor
Garrett Hedlund, Actor / Model / Singer
Tippi Hedren, Actress / Model
Ernie Hudson, Actor / Playwright
Linda Kelsey, Actress
Kelly Lynch, Actress
John Madden, NFL Player / Coach / Sportscaster
Roger Maris, Baseball Player
E.G. Marshall, Actor
Eugene McCarthy, Politician, Poet
Frances McDormand, Actress
Noel Neill, Actress
Chan Poling, Musician (The Suburbs)
Chris Pratt, Actor
Marion Ross, Actress
Winona Ryder, Actress
Richard W. Sears (of Sears & Roebuck), Businessman
Jane Russell, Actress
Seann William Scott, Actor
Brian Setzer, Musician
Miriam Shor, Actress
Kevin Sorbo, Actor
LaVyrle Spencer, Author
Cheryl Tiegs, Model
Analeigh Tipton, Actress / Model / Figure Skater
Lea Thompson, Actress
Ann Tyler, Novelist
Vince Vaughn, Actor
Bobby Vee, Musician
Lindsay Vonn, Olympic Ski Racer
Steve Zahn, Actor