Well-Known Persons from Illinois history.

  • Lila Acheson-Wallace, Co-Founder of Reader’s Digest, grew up and graduated from high school in Lewistown, IL
  • Joan Allen (actress)
  • Nick Anderson, former Illini basketball player, now a pro with Orlando Magic
  • John B. Anderson (presidential candidate)
  • Richard Anderson, Nobel laureate, is an Urbana University High School alumnus
  • Barbara Bain, “Mission Impossible,” TV show star, was homecoming queen at UIUC
  • John Bardeen, co-inventor of the transistor and won two Nobel prizes (no one else has ever done this), was a faculty member at UIUC
  • Charlie Birger
  • Anna Bixby who discovered the cure for the milksick
  • Bonnie Blair. Speed skater. Born on March 18, 1964, in Cornwall, N.Y. She moved with her parents to Champaign, Ill., when she was 2 and began skating. In 1988 Blair won the gold medal in the 500 meters at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alta., and a bronze in the 1,000 meters. She won two gold medals at the 1992 games in Albertville, France, and two at the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway, becoming the first American woman to win five gold medals in the Winter Olympics.
  • Jacques-Timothee Boucher, Sieur de Montbrun, or Timothy Demonbreu – One of our earliest lieutenant governors was named to the position by George Rogers Clark following the American Revolution. The man is honored in Nashville with a statue and a street named after him, but he went there after resigning his post of Lieutenant governor in 1793. This Frenchman was the grandson of Pierre Boucher who was the first Canadian Frenchman to be named to nobility and our Lieutenant Governor carried the title of Sieur de Montbreun. Timothy was instrumental in organizing the French at Ft. Kaskaskia to drive out the British during the revolution. It has also been rumored that he introduced Lewis & Clark to their French guide who also came from Boucherville, Canada, Demunbreun’s hometown and the town named after his family.
  • Bruce Boxleitner, actor, is from Mt. Prospect, IL
  • Marlon Brando, actor, is from Evanston, IL
  • Dee Brown, former Illini basketball player, now a pro with Utah Jazz
  • Dick Butkus played football for UIUC
  • Al Capone
  • John Chancellor, late NBC newsman and commentator, attended UIUC
  • Hillary Clinton, ex-first lady, is from Maine Township, Cook County, IL
  • Brian Cook, former Illini basketball player, now a pro with Los Angeles Lakers
  • Richard Daley, father and son, both mayors of Chicago
  • Wyatt Earp – born in Monmouth; many of his relatives are buried at Pioneer Cemetery
  • Roger Ebert, film critic, is from Urbana, IL
  • Dan Fogelberg, 70’s rocker, attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • George Frampton, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is from Urbana, IL
  • Dale Gardner, astronaut, graduated from UIUC
  • Jennie Garth, Kelly Taylor in “Beverly Hills 90210,” is from Sadorus, IL
  • Jeff George is a former Illini quarterback
  • Kendall Gill, former Illini basketball player, now in the NBA
  • Benny Goodman (1909-86). Orchestra leader, clarinetist. Born on May 30, 1909, in Chicago, Ill. He founded the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1934 and presented the first jazz concert at New York’s Carnegie hall in 1938. When he hired vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and pianist Teddy Wilson, Goodman became the first major white bandleader to join black and white musicians together. He was known as the King of Swing in the big-band era of the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Red Grange played football for UIUC
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • HAL, the computer in “2001: A Spacy Odyssey,” was born in Urbana, IL
  • Gene Hackman, actor, is from Danville, IL
  • Derek Harper, former Illini basketball player, now with New York Knicks
  • Patricia Robert Harris (1924-85). Public official. Born on May 31, 1924, in Mattoon, Ill. In 1965 she was appointed ambassador to Luxembourg. She became the first African American woman to hold a cabinet position when she was appointed secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1977. She served as secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1979 to 1981.
  • Luther Head, former Illini basketball player, now a pro with Houston
  • Hugh Hefner, Playboy king, worked at The Daily Illini while a student at UIUC
  • Charlton Heston (born 1924). Actor. Born on Oct. 4, 1924, in Evanston, Ill. After appearing on Broadway and on television in the 1940s. Heston moved to Hollywood in 1950. During his career he played leading roles in more than 60 motion pictures. Heston was best known for his roles in ‘The Ten Commandments’ (1956) and ‘Ben-Hur’ (1959). He won an Academy award for his role as Ben-Hur. Other films include ‘The Planet of the Ames’ (1967), ‘Number One’ (1969), ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ (1965), and ‘Earthquake’ (1974).
  • Artie Johnson, former “Laugh-in” star, attended UIUC
  • Eddie Johnson, former Illini basketball player, now in the NBA
  • Alison Krauss from Urbana-Champaign, IL, multiple Grammy winner
  • Edwin Krebs, winner of the 1992 Nobel prize for medicine, is from Urbana, IL
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, a native of Springfield
  • David Mamet (born 1947). Playwright. Born on Nov. 30, 1947, in Flossmoor, Ill. In 1973 Mamet founded the St. Nicholas Players theater company. He gained local popularity with his plays, including ‘Sexual Perversity in Chicago’. In 1984 he won a Pulitzer prize for ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’. Other plays include ‘The Water Engine’ and ‘Oleanna’. He published a book of essays, ‘Writing in Restaurants’, in 1986.
  • Fred Marx from Urbana-Champaign, IL who co-produced the awarding-winning film, “Hoop Dreams”
  • Edgar Lee Masters, Poet, author of “Spoon River Anthology”
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastriantonio, actress (“Robin Hood”, “The Abyss”), studied music at UIUC
  • Joseph Medill McCormick (1877-1925). Journalist, senator. Born on May 16, 1877, in Chicago, Ill. After graduating from Yale in 1900, he returned to Chicago to work for the Chicago Tribune, of which his maternal grandfather was once chief owner and editor. By 1908 he was managing all departments of the newspaper and had also become involved in politics. In 1918 he was elected senator after leaving control of the Tribune to his brother. He served as a senator until his death in 1925.
  • Asa Mercer from Princeton, IL and founder of the University of Washington (was also in the “mail order bride” business bringing women to the mining camps of Seattle)
  • Linda Metheny, champion Olympic gymnast, is from Tuscola, IL
  • David Lee Murphy
  • Steve Nagel, astronaut, grew up and graduated from high school in Canton, IL; graduated from UIUC
  • Rick Nielsen and other members of Cheap Trick (band)
  • Ray Nitschke played football for UIUC
  • Ken Norman, former Illini basketball player, now in the NBA
  • Ken Norton, world boxing champion from Jacksonville, who defeated Mohammed Ali. He graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1961 and learned to box in the Marine Corp. In Jacksonville he was responsible for the high school track “Norton Rule,” which limited an athelete to 3 events, after he entered 8 and came in first in all of them.
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Bob Richards, Olympic pole vaulter, grew up in Champaign, IL
  • Alan Ruck, co-star of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” was an acting student at UIUC
  • Carl Sandburg, poet and author
  • Allan Sherman, singer of the 60’s smash “Hellow Mudda, Hello Fadda,” was kicked out of UIUC
  • Paul Simon
  • David Ogden Stiers, Major Charles Emerson Winchester, III in “M*A*S*H,” is from Urbana, IL
  • Susan St. James (actress, McMillan and Wife)
  • Yvonne Suhor, Pony-Express riding cowgirl in “The Young Riders,” is from Champaign, IL
  • Joe Tanner, astronaut, from Danville and graduated from UIUC
  • Nancy Thies, Olympic gymnast, now sports commentator, is from Urbana, IL
  • James Tobin, Nobel laureate, is an Urbana University High School alumnus
  • Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, comedians and actors, are from Danville, IL
  • Charles Rudolph Walgreen (1873-1939). Drugstore-chain founder. Born on Oct. 9, 1873, near Galesburg, Ill. A registered pharmacist. Walgreen organized C.R. Walgreen and Company in 1909. In 1916 the name was changed to Walgreen Company. Walgreen has been called the father of the modern drugstore. He retired as president of the company in 1934 and was succeeded by his son, Charles Rudolph, Jr. The company was the largest chain of drugstores in the United States.
  • Darren Williams, former Illini basketball player, now a pro with Utah Jazz

See also the following web site — Illinois Famous People