My list of prominent, famous, notable, or just plain notorious people
born or raised in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA.
- Alain LeRoy Locke, philosopher/educator. The first African-American Rhodes scholar and a titan of the
Harlem Renaissance. Central High grad.
- Amber Rose, proudly bisexual model/actor. She "grew up on Broad and Ellsworth!" in South Philly. Definitively identifies as African-American
in the 2014 documentary "Light Girls".
- Billie Holiday, legendary blues/jazz singer.
- Boyz II Men, recording artists. One of the most successful recording acts of all time, their first hit was called 'MotownPhilly'.
- C. Delores Tucker, Civil rights activist. Best known for her stance against rap music in the 1990's.
- Charli Baltimore, rapper/recording artist.
- Chubbie Checker, 60's recording artist (The Twist).
- Dawn Staley, WNBA star.
- Ed Bradley, TV reporter and journalist (60 Minutes).
- Eve, rapper/recording artist.
- Gary Dourdan, actor ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "A Different World").
Grew up in West Philly and Willingboro, NJ.
- Georgie Woods, Philadelphia radio broadcast legend.
- Grover Washington Jr., Grammy-winning jazz saxophonist.
- Guion "Guy" Bluford, NASA Astronaut. First African-American in space. Attended Overbrook High.
- Holly Robinson Peete (21 Jump Street, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Jacksons: An American Dream). Married to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Rodney Peete.
- Ja'net DuBois, actor (Willona on "Good Times"), singer of The Jeffersons theme 'Movin' on Up'.
- Jeff "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes (Music producer, Jill Scott, Floetry)
- Jeremiah A. Wright Jr, pastor and activist. Central High grad (1959).
- Jill Scott, Grammy-winning recording artist.
- Joe Frazier, boxer/entrpreneur, former heavyweight champion of the world.
- John Coltrane, legendary jazz saxophonist.
- Judith Jamison, ballet dancer and choreographer. Recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.
- Kenny Gamble, legendary soul music producer. Co-inventor of "The Sound of Philadelphia".
- Kevin Eubanks, jazz musician, Germantown High grad (unconfirmed). Sidekick to Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.
- Kevin Hart, comedian/actor. George Washington High grad, he also attended Temple for a few years.
- Kindred the Family Soul, recording artists.
- Kobe Bryant, basketball star. Born in Philly, raised in 'burbs except for 8-9 years in Italy.
- Lee Daniels, Hollywood producer and director ("Empire", "The Butler", "Precious", "Monster's Ball").
- Leon Sullivan, pastor and world-renowned civil rights activist.
- Leslie Odom Jr., 2016 Tony Award winner as Aaron Burr in "Hamilton". Born in New York but grew up in
Philly. A graduate of J.R. Masterman.
- Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, 90's recording artist. Born in Philly, raised around the world as an army brat.
- Lola Falana, actor, musical performer. Though born in Camden, NJ, she was "all of 14 years old dancing in the Philadelphia nightclubs for ten bucks a show" and she attended Germantown High (dropping out just before graduation), so I assume she spent most of her adolescence in Philly.
- Malcolm Poindexter, legendary Philadelphia newspaper and broadcast journalist.
- Marc Lamont Hill, political commentator, professor, activist, and author. A proud graduate of my high school
Carver Engineering & Science.
- Marian Anderson, legendary opera singer.
- Mathew St. Patrick, actor (Six Feet Under). (photos)
- Matt Robinson (Gordon on Sesame Street, producer of The Cosby Show, father of Holly Robinson Peete).
- Musiq (Soulchild), recording artist.
- Patti Labelle, legendary Grammy-winning recording artist and actor.
- Paul Robeson, legendary actor and activist.
- Pearl Bailey, legendary actor/singer.
- Phyllis Hyman, 70's/80's recording artist.
- Rasheed Wallace, baskeball star. Simon Gratz grad.
- Richard Allen, minister, activist and abolitionist. Founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.
- Sherman Hemsley, actor (George Jefferson, Deacon Frye on "Amen").
- Stanley Clarke, jazz bassist.
- Tammi Terrell, 60's recording artist (Ain't No Mountain High Enough, You're All I Need to Get By, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing).
- Teddy Pendergrass, 70's/80's recording artist.
- The Roots (including Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson), Grammy-winning recording artists.
- Vikter Duplaix, recording artist and producer.
- Will Smith, actor/producer and Grammy-winning rapper/recording artist.
- Willi Smith, fashion designer, cofounder of the WilliWear company. Called "the most successful black designer in fashion history." Graduated from Mastbaum Technical High School.
- William "Bill" Cosby, actor/comedian.
- Wilt Chamberlain, basketball legend, Overbrook High grad. Once scored 100 points during a high school game.
- Yazz The Greatest (Bryshere Y. Gray), actor/rapper (Hakeem Lyon on "Empire"). Overbrook High grad.
Other Notable Philadelphians
- Adam F. Goldberg, producer of TV show "The Goldbergs". Grew up in Jenkintown, graduated from Penn Charter.
- Alexander Courage, composer (original Star Trek TV theme).
- The Barrymores (John, Lionel, and Ethel), legendary acting family.
- Ben Bova, science fiction author and editor. South Philly High and Temple U grad, credits the Franklin Institute Planetarium with sparking his interest in the stars.
- Blythe Danner, actor ("Meet the Parents", "The Prince of Tides", "1776") and
mother of Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Bob Saget, comedian/actor (Full House, America's Funniest Home Videos).
- Bobby Darrin, 60's recording artist.
- Bobby Rydell, 60's recording artist.
- Bradley Cooper, Academy Award nominated actor. Grew up in Jenkintown and Rydal.
- Brian De Palma, influential film director and screenwriter ("Scarface", "Mission: Impossible",
"Carrie", "Dressed to Kill", "The Bonfire of the Vanities"). Friends Central grad.
- Bruce Davison, actor (X-Men, Longtime Companion, The Lathe of Heaven).
- Cheri Oteri, comedian/actor (Saturday Night Live). Raised in Upper Darby.
- Chris Matthews, television host and journalist (MSNBC).
- Chuck Barris, TV personality (The Gong Show).
- Danny Bonaduce, actor (the Partridge Family). Born in Broomall, moved to Hollywood when he was 4, see this interview.
- Daryl Hall & John Oates, recording artists, most successful singing duo of all time.
- David Boreanaz, actor (Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Son of local ABC channel 6's Dave Roberts, he was raised in Philly from age 9 to adulthood.
- David Brenner, comedian.
- Eddie Fisher, actor, father of Joely Fisher (mother Connie Stevens) and Carrie Fisher (mother Debbie Reynolds). Famous boinker of Elizabeth Taylor.
- Fabian, 60's recording artist.
- Frankie Avalon, 60's recording artist.
- Gloria Allred, celebrity lawyer, U-Penn grad.
- Imogene Coca, legendary comedian/actor ("Your Show of Shows").
- Irvin Kershner, director ("The Empire Stikes Back", "Never Say Never Again", "Robocop 2").
- Jack Klugman, actor (The Odd Couple, Quincy).
- Jacqueline Susann, author ("Valley of the Dolls"), "swingin' 60's" icon.
- James Darren, recording artist & actor (Star Trek: Deep Space 9).
- Jamie Kennedy, actor/comedian. From the 'burbs (Upper Darby).
- Jim Croce, 70's recording artist.
- Jim McKay, sports commentator (the voice of the Wide World of Sports).
- Joan Jett, 80's recording artist (I Love Rock & Roll). Born in Philly, her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 12 years old.
- Joey Lawrence, actor (Blossom) & recording artist. Abington Friends grad.
- John de Lancie, actor ("Q" on Star Trek: TNG/DS9/VOY)
- Kat Dennings, actor ("Thor", "2 Broke Girls", "The 40 Year-Old Virgin"). Born
and raised in Bryn Mawr.
- Katherine "Kate" Moennig, actor (Shane on "The L Word") and cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow (they share a grandmother). She
went to the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, the same Main Line all-girls prep school as tennis player Lisa Raymond.
- Kelly Monaco, model/actor ("General Hospital", "Baywatch"). Born in Philly; lived there until
her family moved to the Poconos in her early teens.
- Kevin Bacon, actor in everything.
- Kim Delaney, actor (NYPD Blue, Philly).
- Larry Fine, actor (Larry of the Three Stooges)
- Linda Fiorentino, actor (Men In Black, The Last Seduction). Born in Philly, raised in South Jersey.
- Lisa Raymond, professional tennis player. From the 'burbs (Wayne, Norristown) but strongly identifies as Philadelphian.
She went to the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, the same Main Line all-girls prep school as actor Kate Moenning.
- M. Night Shyamalan, director ("The Sixth Sense", "Signs"). Raised in the 'burbs.
- Margaret Mead, famous anthropologist.
- Mario Lanza, legendary opera singer.
- Matthew Lawrence, actor (Gimme a Break, Mrs. Doubtfire). Abington Friends grad.
- Michael Sembello, 70's/80's recording artist ("Maniac", guitarist on "Songs In the Key of Life").
- Nancy Walker, actor (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Murder By Death) and director (Can't Stop the Music).
- Noam Chomsky, famous linguist and social theorist. Philly born and bred!
- Norman Fell, actor (Mr. Roper on Three's Company).
- Paul F. Tompkins, comedian/actor ("Mr. Show with Bob and David", "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny").
From Mt. Airy, went to Bishop McDevitt HS and Temple. Has a well-known bit about working at Hats in the Belfry on South Street.
- Peter Boyle, actor (Everybody Loves Raymond).
- Pink aka Alecia Moore, recording artist. From the 'burbs.
- Princess Grace of Monaco (born Grace Kelly), actor (To Catch a Thief, Rear Window), famous royalty.
- Richard Gere, actor (Chicago, An Officer and a Gentleman), producer, activist.
- Richard Lester, director (A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Superman II).
- Rob McElhenney, creator, writer, producer and star of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". I'm not sure you
can get more Philly than this guy: "I grew up in South Philadelphia at Moyamensing and Dickinson... I went to high school at
St. Joe's Prep and hung out with kids from all different schools. I don't know if kids do this anymore, but we used to go to Lemon
Hill in Fairmount Park after school to hang." (interview)
- Robert Crumb, influential author/illustrator. Creator of Fritz the Cat. Grew up in Philly and Delaware. (His middle name is Dennis!)
- Robert Picardo, actor (The Doctor/EMH on Star Trek: Voyager). Penn Charter grad.
- Seth Green, actor ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "The Italian Job", the Austin Powers movies). Grew up in West Philly/Overbrook; his father taught me math in high school.
- Sidney Lumet, director (Wiz, Network, Dog Day Afternoon).
- Stan Getz, influential jazz musician
- Tara Lipinski, Olympic medalist in figure skating.
- Teller, magician/performer (of Penn & Teller). Central High grad.
- Thomas Eakins, influential painter/photographer/sculptor.
- Tina Fey, comedian/actor (Saturday Night Live). Born and raised in Upper Darby.
- Todd Rundgren, recording artist, guitarist/songwriter.
- W.C. Fields, legendary comedy actor.
Not from Philly, but much associated with the town:
- Benjamin Franklin (raised in Boston until he was a young adult, eventually he lived many more years in Philadelphia)
- Julius "Dr. J" Erving
- Leon Huff, legendary soul music producer. Co-inventor of "The Sound of Philadelphia" was born and raised in nearby Camden, NJ.
- Sun Ra, influential American jazz composer, electronic keyboardist, poet and philosopher. Spent the last 25 years of his life in Philly.
- Sylvester Stallone (Rocky is from South Philly, but not Sylvester)
- Walt Whitman (raised in New York, lived the second half of his life in Camden, NJ).
- None of the main stars of these Philly-set movies: "12 Monkeys", "Philadelphia", "Rocky", "The Sixth Sense", "Trading Places", "Witness"