Fame and Celebrity in Bloomington-Normal

December 12th, 2018 by

Bloomington CourthouseWe’ve all heard stories of Abraham Lincoln frequenting downtown Bloomington before his rise to fame (and before the original courthouse burned down), but would you believe that Bloomington-Normal has played host to quite a few celebrities and famous people over the years? Some, like award-winning author David Foster-Wallace, lived and worked in our community in their adult years, while others were born here. And some particularly important people have been laid to rest here as well.

Famous People from Bloomington and Normal

Perhaps the biggest ticket to fame from Bloomington-Normal comes from Illinois State University’s status as one of the better schools for drama and theatre; that reputation meant that a long list of actors spent quite some time in the twin cities, including:

  • Gary Cole (Office Space, The West Wing, Veep)
  • Sean Hayes (Will & Grace)
  • Jane Lynch (Glee, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind)
  • John Malkovich (Rounders, In the Line of Fire, Being John Malkovich)
  • Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne)
  • Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13)

Of course, we don’t just train actors and send them off to Hollywood. Other denizens of Bloomington-Normal who have brought a bit of fame to our community include

  • Clinton J. Davisson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937 for helping to discover the wave nature of matter.
  • Jon Bowermaster, a journalist, filmmaker, adventurer, and oceans expert.
  • Pokey LaFarge, an American roots and blues musician (who returns for a concert every once in a while).
  • Brock Stewart, the pitcher for the LA Dodgers, was born right here in Normal.
  • Adlai E. Stevenson I and Adlai E. Stevenson II were both born here and had storied careers in national and state politics.
  • John Wesley Powell was a soldier, geologist, explorer, and one-time professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, famous for leading the first government-sponsored passage through the Grand Canyon.

This is just a sampling of some of the folks who have made waves out in the world after spending some time in Bloomington-Normal. What bits of Blo-No trivia do you have? Did we miss your favorite Bloomington or Normal native? Let us know in the comments or chat us up about local trivia on your next test drive at Sam Leman Toyota Bloomington. When exploring Blo-No celebrity upbringings, visit the Normal Theater or take a break at one of our favorite restaurants!

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