Famous People From Kentucky – Living and Dead
Artists & Architects
John James Audubon* (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 (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 (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. (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 (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* (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 (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. (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 (1858-1958) – Impressionistic landscape artist, portraitist. Born in Louisville, died in New Orleans.
Enid Yandell (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.
Authors & Journalists
James Lane Allen (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 (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 (1934-) – Poet/novelist/environmentalist. Prolific author of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. Born in Henry County.
William Wells Brown (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 (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 (1877-1945) – Psychic counselor/author. Born near Hopkinsville, died in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Thomas D. Clark* (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 C. Clark (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.
Nick Clooney (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 (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 (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. (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* (1909-1979) – A Kentucky author who lived near Knifley, in Adair County. Born in Altus, Arkansas, died in Knifley.
A.B. Guthrie, Jr.* ( 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 (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 (1863-1931) – 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 (1955-) – American writer of poems, short stories, and essays. Born in Annapolis, Maryland and grew up near Carlisle.
Bobbie Ann Mason (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 (1932-) An American novelist, essayist, and professor. Born in Brooksville.
Thomas Merton* (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.
J. T. Cotton Noe (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 (1947-) – Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, two of her famous screenplays are “The Secret Garden,” and “The Color Purple.” Born in Louisville.
Theodore O’Hara (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 (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 (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 (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 (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* (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 (1907-1984) – Author/educator/poet laureate of Kentucky. Born and raised in Greenup County, buried in Plum Grove Cemetery in Greenup County.
Allen Tate (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 (1937- 2005) – Journalist, author, noted for Gonzo journalism and the literary movement, New Journalism. Born in Louisville, died in Woody Creek, Colorado.
Helen Thomas (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 (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.
Explorers, Pioneers & Frontiersmen
Judge Roy Bean (1825-1903) – Infamous “hanging judge” of Langtry, Texas. Born in Mason County, died at Langtry.
Daniel Boone* (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 (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.
Kit Carson (1809-1868) – Indian agent, trapper, scout. Born in Madison County, died at Fort Lyon, Colorado.
George Rogers Clark* (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.
Floyd Collins (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* (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* (1715-1794) – Led the first documented expedition through the Cumberland, Gap, 1750. Born in Walkerton, Virginia, died in Castle Hill, Albemarle, County Virginia.
Military & Social Leaders
Daniel Carter Beard* (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 (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 (1919-1944) – WAC who was the first black officer to command a white unit. Born in Lawrenceburg, buried in Lawrenceburg.
Mary Desha (1850-1911) – Co-founded the Daughters of the American Revolution. Born in Lexington, and buried in the Lexington Cemetery.
John “Casey” Jones* (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 (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* (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 (1846-1911) – Temperance crusader known as “the lady with a hatchet.” Born in Garrard County, died in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Colonel Harland Sanders* (1890-1980) – Kentucky Fried Chicken founder. Born in Henryville, Indiana, died in Louisville, buried at Cave Hill Cemetery, in Louisville.
John Thomas Scopes (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 R. Sousley, PFC (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 (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. (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.
Music and Movies
Ned Beatty (1936-) – Beatty has appeared in more than 100 films, best-remembered for his role in “Deliverance” in 1972. Born in Louisville.
Foster Brooks (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 (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* (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 (1962-) – Contemporary Christian musician, advocate for adoption and many charities. Born in Paducah.
George Clooney (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 (1928-) – 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 (1946-) – Country music singer spanning from 1978 through late 1987. Born in Versailles.
William Conrad (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 (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 (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.
Miley Cyrus-Female Singer and actress, born in flatwoods
Jackie DeShannon (1944-) – 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 (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 (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, (1939-), Phil Everly (1937-) – 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 (1974-) – Miss America 1999-2000, she has received numerous awards for her work with veterans. Born in Augusta.
Rebecca Gayheart (1971-) – Television and film actress. Born in Hazard.
Crystal Gayle (1951) – 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 (1888-1975) – Composer and lyricist. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. Born in Covington, and died in Covington.
D.W. Griffith (1875-1948) – Premier pioneer Academy Award-winning American film director. Born in La Grange, died in Hollywood, California.
Tom T. Hall (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 (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 (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.
Hilltoppers (1929 -) – Jimmy Sacca, (1931-) – Donald McGuire, (1930–1987) – Seymour Spiegelman, 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.
Ashley Judd (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 (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 (1964-) – 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.
Grandpa Louis Marshall Jones (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.
Lily May Ledford (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 (1975-) Singer-songwriter; a member of the Backstreet Boys. He is also a contemporary Christian recording artist. Born in Lexington.
Patty Loveless (1957-) – Country music singer. She is the 65th member of the Grand Ole Opry. Born in Pikeville.
Loretta Lynn (1935-) – 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* (1939) – 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.
Bill Monroe (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 (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 (1926-) Award winning actress of stage and screen. Born in Packard, Whitley County.
Joan Osborne (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* (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.
Pee Wee Reese (1918-1999) – Professional baseball player. National Baseball Hall of Fame, 1984. Born in Ekron, died in Louisville.
Boots Randolph (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 (1971-) – American singer and former member of the Backstreet Boys, model, actor, and composer. Born in Lexington.
Jeanie Ritchie (1922-) – American folk singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player. Born in Viper, Perry County.
Ricky Skaggs (1954-) – Grammy-winning country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. Born in Lawrence County.
Kevin Skinner (1974) – American country music singer who was the winner of the fourth season of America’s Got Talent. Born in Mayfield.
Mary Travers (1936-) – Member of folk group Peter, Paul and Mary. Born in Louisville.
Merle Travis (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.
Billy Vaughn (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.
Keith Whitley (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.
Oddie McWinders – (1887-1933) He was an amazing banjoist and best known for song “Bound To Ride” which has become a bluegrass standard. He occasionally played with Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music. (included thanks to Phyllis Bowman)
Dwight Yoakum (1956-) – American singer-songwriter and actor, most famous for his country music. Born in Pikeville.
Alben W. Barkley (1877-1956) – U.S. Vice President under Harry Truman, 1949-53. Born in Graves County, died in Lexington.
John Cabell Breckinridge (1872-1920) – U.S. Vice President under James Buchanan, 1857-61. Born and died in Lexington.
Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1916-39. Born in Louisville, died in Washington, D.C.
A. B. “Happy” Chandler (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 (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* (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 ( 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 (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 (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 (1833-1911) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1877-1911. Born in Boyle County, died in Washington D.C.
Richard M. Johnson (1780-1850) – U.S. Vice-President under Martin Van Buren, 1837-41. Born in Beargrass, died in Frankfort.
Abraham Lincoln (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 (1835-1914) – U.S. Vice-President under Grover Cleveland, 1893-97. Born in Christian County, died in Chicago, Illinois.
Zachary Taylor* (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 (1890-1953) – U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, 1946-53. Born in Louisa, died in Washington, D.C.
Scientists, Inventors & Physicians
Ephraim McDowell* (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 (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 (1866-1945) – Nobel Prize winner in medicine for genetic research, 1933. American geneticist and embryologist. Born in Lexington, died in Pasadena, California.
Matthew B. 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 A. Sharp (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 (1860-1928) – Successfully demonstrated wireless voice transmission radio, 1892. Born in Murray, died in Almo, Kentucky.
John T. Thompson (1860-1940) – United States Army officer, inventor of the Thompson Machine Gun (tommy gun). Born in Newport, died in Great Neck, New York.
Muhammad Ali (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 (1938-) – Retired American jockey. Inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1996. Born in Nicholasville.
Jim Bunning (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 (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 (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 (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 (1935-) Professional football player. Heisman Trophy winner in 1956 as the year’s outstanding college football player in the United States. Born in Louisville.
Tamara McKinney (1962 -) – Alpine ski racer. World Cup champion in 1983. Born in Lexington.
Mary Meagher (1964-) – Olympic swimming champion and former World Record holder. Born in Louisville.
Isaac Burns Murphy (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.
Adolph Rupp* (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 (1913-1998) – American Thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame trainer. Born in Stanton, Kentucky, died in Miami Lakes, Florida.
Danny Sullivan (1950-) – Professional race car driver. Winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1985. Born in Louisville.
Wes Unseld (1946-) – American former basketball player who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. Born in Louisville.
Darrell Waltrip (1947-) – Three-time former NASCAR Winston Cup champion. 1989 Daytona 500 winner. Born in Owensboro.
Michael Waltrip (1963-) – Professional race car driver. Three-time NASCAR champion. (now retired). Born in Owensboro.
Filed under: Facts of Kentucky
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