Illinois is home to several U.S. presidents, including Lincoln, Reagan and Obama, but don’t forget about these influential individuals who also call the Land of Lincoln home!
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois, Hemingway went on to publish literary classics like The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Hemingway is known for his unique writing technique, known as iceberg theory or theory of omission, which has helped make him one of the most famous writers of the 20th century.
Walt Disney (1901-1966)
Although Disney is a household name, did you know that Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago? He moved to California with his brother in the early 1920s where he later created Mickey Mouse, furthered the development of animated film and opened Disneyland. Disney has received more than 950 honors around the world and has won more Academy Awards than any other person.
Betty White (1922-present)
White was born in Oak Park, Illinois, but her family moved to California when she was an infant. She is known for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland. White is recognized as the first woman to produce a sitcom and is the only woman to have received an Emmy in all performing comedic categories.
Jacqueline "Jackie" Joyner-Kersee (1962-present)
Named after Jackie Kennedy, Joyner-Kersee is a retired American athlete that is ranked as one of the all-time greatest athletes in women’s heptathlon and long jump. She was born in East St. Louis, Illinois (right across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, Missouri). Joyner-Kersee qualified for the finals in the long jump at the 1980 Olympic Trials when she was in high school. She has won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals, and since retiring, she has joined the Board of Directors for USA Track & Field (USATF) and participates in many philanthropic efforts.
Jennifer Hudson (1981-present)
Hudson was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1981, and began singing and performing in her church choir at the age of seven. Despite placing seventh on the third season of American Idol, she has become a well-known singer and actress. She won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress in Dreamgirls and has received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.