North Carolina March 12, 2015
30 Awesome Famous People You Had No Idea Were From North Carolina
North Carolina’s got a lot. Including, a lot of famous people and public figures born right here in the good ol’ Tarheel state. Here are thirty famous people from North Carolina who forever made their mark in the spotlight.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
30. Richard Petty
nicknamed "The King" is a record setting Daytona 500 and NASCAR winner born in Level Cross.
29. Nina Simone is a famous singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist born in Tryon.
28. Virginia Dare was the first child born to English parents in America. FIRST. CHILD. BORN.
27. Oscar winner Julianne Moore was born in Fayetteville.
26. Either you love him or your hate him, but NC native Edward Snowden is an extremely important figure in modern day politics and information secrecy.
25. Chart topping Eric Church used his Granite Falls roots as inspiration for his famous album "Carolina."
24. Speaking of singers, Chapel Hill born Clay Aiken placed 2nd on American Idol and later went on to sell 3mil. copies of his debut album. He even ran for congress!
23. Best known as first lady to President James Madison, the vivacious Dolley Madison set standards of what a 'first lady' should be and saved many important White House documents when it caught fire.
22. Rather it's Mount Airy, or Mayberry, TV star and producer Andy Griffith relayed NC nostalgia, and beauty, for the whole country to see with The Andy Griffith Show.
21. NBA basketball player Chris Paul got his basketball roots playing at West Forsyth High School in Clemmons and later went on to play for Wake Forest.
20. Incase you haven't noticed, a lot of talented musicians come from NC. One of those being Ben Folds. Born in Winston-Salem, Ben Folds is best known for being lead singer of the famous alt-rock band Ben Folds Five.
19. Gold medal winning Olympic boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard, was born in Rocky Mount.
18. Before becoming a famous TV evangelist and preaching to over 215 mil. viewers in over 185 countries, Billy Graham was born and raised on a dairy farm in Charlotte.
17. 'Small Town Girl' Kelli Pickler was born in Albermarle and got her start on American Idol. Kelli paved her own way to stardom with her chart topping singles.
16. As a pioneer of the bebop style, drummer Max Roach used his fame to educate, influence, and advocate for civil rights. He was born in New Bern and later went on to be named Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2007.
15. Grammy winner Roberta Flack kills us all softly with her amazing music that got its soulful roots from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and her birthplace, Black Mountain.
14. Just like NC breeds talented musicians, it also breeds strong, independent women like Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute, Brown paved the way for equal education opportunities starting in her home state of NC.
13. Baseball hall-of-famer James 'Catfish' Hunter learned to play baseball on his families farm near Hertford. Despite his superstardom, Catfish Hunter is known for always keeping his humble NC ways.
12. Speaking of sports, Charlotte native Charles Sifford was a championship golfer who helped desegregate the PGA.
11. Noted by William Faulkner as 'having the best talent of their generation' Asheville born Thomas Wolfe was a major American novelist of the early 20th century.
10. Another famous thinker and author is William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry. Born in Greensboro, his outstanding short stories left a mark on the literary world. Today, 'The O. Henry Prize' is one of the most prestigious awards given to short stories.
9. Born in Wilkesboro, Zach Galifanakis took all his small town quirks first to NC State and later to Hollywood where he quickly became a favored comedian and actor.
8. Hollywood starlet Ava Gardner got her start in Smithfield. She is known as one of the best actresses of her generation.
7. Eight time grammy nominee, singer-songwriter Tori Amos was born in Newton.
6. Inventor of coca cola's number one rival, Pepsi, Caleb Bradham was born in Chinquapin, attended UNC, and later went on to mix pepsin and cola and voila, Pepsi-Cola was born.
5. North Carolinians go further than just Hollywood, they also go to SPACE, like Elizabethtown born astronaut Curtis 'Curt' Brown.
4. Speaking of space, Charlotte native Charlie Brown is one of twelve people to ever walk on the moon.
3. America can thank Cleveland County born Earl Scruggs and the "Foggy Mountain Boys" who helped introduce bluegrass music into pop culture through TV. His three-finger banjo-pickin style is a defining characteristic of bluegrass.
2. Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States was born 'somewhere' between the NC and SC border in Western, NC. He is known for his strong defense in the rights of the American people.
1. Known as the 'The Intimidator' Kannapolis native Dale Earnhardt Sr. remains, to this day, one of the most popular and loved drivers in NASCAR history.
Honorable Mention-Maya Angelou, James Taylor and Michael Jordan. While these people were not ‘born’ in NC their legacy is felt and known throughout the state.
Who are your favorite famous people from North Carolina? Tell us below in the comments!