USA Famous People of Georgia

Georgia Biographies

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Conrad Aiken - Conrad Potter Aiken (August 5, 1889 – August 17, 1973) was an American novelist and poet, whose work includes poetry, short stories, novels, and an autobiography

Aiken was born in Savannah, Georgia. When Aiken was eleven years of age, his physician father killed his mother, then himself. According to his own writings, Aiken found the bodies of his parents. He was raised by his great-great-aunt in Massachusetts. Aiken was educated at private schools and at Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, then at Harvard University where he edited the Advocate with T. S. Eliot who became a lifelong friend and associate.

Aiken's earliest poetry was written partly under the influence of a beloved teacher, the philosopher George Santayana. This relation shaped Aiken as a poet who was deeply musical in his approach and, at the same time, philosophical in seeking answers to his own problems and the problems of the modern world. • Conrad Aiken Books

James Bowie soldier, Burke County James "Jim" Bowie (April 10, 1796 – March 6, 1836), a 19th-century American pioneer and soldier, played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution, culminating in his death at the Battle of the Alamo. Countless stories of him as a fighter and frontiersman, both real and fictitious, have made him a legendary figure in Texas history and a folk hero of American culture.

Born in Kentucky, Bowie spent most of his life in Louisiana, where he was raised and later worked as a land speculator. His rise to fame began in 1827 on reports of the Sandbar Fight. What began as a duel between two other men deteriorated into a melee in which Bowie, having been shot and stabbed, killed the sheriff of Rapides Parish with a large knife. This, and other stories of Bowie's prowess with the knife, led to the widespread popularity of the Bowie knife. • James Bowie Books

James Brown (1933 - ) Singer, often called "the Godfather of Soul;" raised in Augusta. Sullivan examines James Brown’s role in saving Boston from the fires and riots that swept the U.S. after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Booked into Boston Garden the night of April 5, 1968, Brown agreed to put the show on live local TV to give would-be rioters reason to stay home. Garden management wanted to cancel, doubtless to avoid rioting in the Garden, but Brown and Boston’s first black city councillor interceded with Mayor Kevin White to prevent cancellation. Sullivan goes further in crediting Brown for keeping the peace than others have, and so doing, he also examines the Godfather of Soul’s life and career in the context of the Civil Rights movement. By 1968, Brown had become “Soul Brother Number One,” and his presence was “a major event, a ritual.” At the same time, the cultural gulf between races was was so wide that the mayor at first “thought the headliner in question was Jim Brown”—the NFL running back. A good record of a pivotal event and a serviceable Brown bio, to boot. • James Brown Website • James Brown Discography • James Brown Books
Jim Brown actor, athlete, St. Simons Island - James Nathaniel "Jim" Brown (born February 17, 1936) is an American former professional football player who has also made his mark as an actor and social activist. He is best known for his exceptional and record-setting nine-year career as a running back for the NFL Cleveland Browns from 1957 to 1965. In 2002, he was named by The Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever.

James Nathaniel Brown was born to Theresa (a housekeeper) and Swinton Brown (a professional boxer).

At Manhasset High School, Brown earned 13 letters playing football, lacrosse, baseball, basketball and running track.

"Mr. Brown credits his self-reliance to having grown up on St. Simons's island, an all-black community off the coast of Georgia where he was raised by his grandmother and where racism did not affect him directly. At the age of 8 he moved to Manhasset, N.Y., where his mother worked as a domestic. It was at Manhasset High School that he became a football star and athletic legend" He averaged a then-Long Island record 38 points per game for his basketball team. His career island scoring mark was later broken by future Boston Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski of Bridgehampton. • Jim Brown Books • Jim Brown Movies

Erskine Caldwell writer, Moreland Erskine Preston Caldwell (December 17, 1903, Coweta County, Georgia – April 11, 1987) was an American author.

Caldwell was born in a house in the woods outside Moreland, Georgia, the son of a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. His early childhood was spent moving from state to state across the South, as his father found a position in one church after another.

Later, he attended, but did not graduate from, Erskine College. He was athletic, played football, stood six feet tall, and has been described by one of his publishers to have an unusually kind face and otherwise angelic appearance. His political sympathies lay with blue collar workers, and as he went from job to job in his younger days, drew on his experiences with common workers to write books that extolled the simple life of those less fortunate than he was. Later in life, he gave seminars on low income tenant-sharecroppers in the American South.

His first and second published works were Bastard (1929) and Poor Fool (1930) but the works for which he is most famous are his novels Tobacco Road (1932) and God's Little Acre (1933). • Erskine Caldwell Books

Jimmy Carter (1924 - ) James E. Carter 39th president of the United States; born in Plains. Growing up in the 1990s, I was never familiar with President Carter or his specific policies. This book gives a very thorough and honest review of the major policy issues confronting President Carter in the late 1970s. If you think his presidency was a failure, you should at least take time to read about why he acted the way he did. He explains the seemingly endless energy debate in great detail and also what led him to give his infamous "crisis of confidence" speech. He gives a practically minute-by-minute account of the hostage crisis and how he worked (successfully) to win their release without nuclear weaponry or massive bloodshed. His coverage of the 1980 election was somewhat superficial so I suggest those interested in that election look elsewhere. If you are a die-hard Republican intent on bashing President Carter, this book is not for you, but if you are sincerely interested in knowing more about the Carter administration, then by all means buy it. Carter does try to justify his actions, but what presidential memoir doesn't? This is a great book that some of the other reviewers seem not to have read. • Jimmy Carter Books
Ray Charles Robinson Albany (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), known by his stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He brought a soulful sound to country music and pop standards through his Modern Sounds recordings, as well as a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes called the "definitive version of the song, an American anthem — a classic, just as the man who sang it." He also appeared in the 1980 hit movie, The Blues Brothers. Frank Sinatra called him "the only true genius in the business".

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of "The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and voted him number two on their November 2008 list of "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time Charles was the son of Aretha Williams, a share cropper, and Bailey Robinson, a railroad repair man, mechanic and handyman.[6] Williams was very religious and the family attended the New Shiloh Baptist Church. When Ray was an infant the family moved from his native Albany, Georgia to the poor black community of Jellyroll on the western side of Greenville, Florida. In his early years, Charles showed a curiosity for mechanical things and he often watched the neighborhood men working on their cars and farm machinery. His musical curiosity was sparked at Mr. Wiley Pit's Red Wing Cafe when Pit played boogie woogie on an old upright piano. Pit would care for George, Ray's younger brother, to take the burden off Williams. Tragically, George drowned in Williams' wash tub at age four. • Ray Charles Website • Ray Charles Discography • Ray Charles Books

Lucius D. Clay banker, general, Marietta General Lucius Dubignon Clay (April 23, 1897 – April 16, 1978) was an American officer and military governor of the United States Army known for his administration of Germany immediately after World War II. Clay was deputy to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945; deputy military governor, Germany (U.S.) 1946; commander in chief, U.S. Forces in Europe and military governor of the U.S. Zone, Germany, 1947–49. He retired in 1949. Clay is considered the "father" of the Berlin Airlift (1948–1949)

Clay was born in Marietta, Georgia, the sixth and last child of Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1897 to 1910, but contrary to popular belief, this branch of the Clay family is not at all closely related to the famous statesman Henry Clay. Lucius Clay graduated from West Point in 1918 and held various civil and military engineering posts during the 1920s and 1930s, including teaching at West Point, directing the construction of dams and civilian airports, and by 1942 rising to the position of the youngest brigadier general in the Army. All the while he acquired a reputation for bringing order and operational efficiency out of chaos, and for being an exceptionally hard and disciplined worker, going long hours and refusing to even stop to eat during his workdays. • Lucius D. Clay Books

Ty Cobb (1886 - 1961) Baseball player in the Hall of Fame; born in Banks City. Not long before his death, Ty Cobb, as complex and haunted a human being as ever stepped onto a diamond, tapped a young writer named Al Stump to collaborate with him on his autobiography. The result, My Life in Baseball: The True Record, never came close to reaching first base; with Cobb (holder of the game's highest lifetime batting average and lowest lifetime reputation) calling the signals, it was an antiseptic whitewash, as false as its titular claim would have you believe otherwise. Hidden between the lines was the living hell that Cobb--reclusive, bitter, ravaged with cancer, in great pain, and shunned by the baseball community--put Stump through to make sure his demon-filled story was properly sanitized. • Ty Cobb Books
Charles Coburn movie and TV actor, Macon - Charles Douville Coburn (June 19, 1877 – August 30, 1961) was an American film and theater actor. Coburn was born in Savannah, Georgia, the son of Scots-Irish Americans Emma Louise Sprigman and Moses Douville Coburn. He started out doing odd jobs at the local theater, handing out programs, ushering, or being the doorman. By the age of 17 or 18, he was the theater manager. He later moved on to acting and made his debut on Broadway in 1901. Coburn formed an acting company with Ivah Wills in 1905. They married in 1906. In addition to managing the company, the couple performed frequently on Broadway.

After his wife's death in 1937, Coburn relocated to Los Angeles, California and began acting in films. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a retired millionaire playing Cupid in The More the Merrier in 1943. He was also nominated for The Devil and Miss Jones in 1941 and The Green Years in 1946. Other notable film credits include Of Human Hearts (1938), The Lady Eve (1941), Kings Row (1942), The Constant Nymph (1943), Heaven Can Wait (1943), Wilson (1944), Impact (1949), The Paradine Case (1947), Everybody Does It (1950), Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and John Paul Jones (1959). He usually played comedic parts, but Kings Row and Wilson were dramatic parts, showing his versatility. For his contributions to motion pictures, Coburn has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6240 Hollywood Boulevard. • Charles Coburn Books • Charles Coburn Movies

Ossie Davis actor, writer, Cogdell (December 18, 1917 – February 4, 2005) was an American film actor, director, poet, playwright, writer, and social activist.

Davis was born Raiford Chatman Davis in Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia. The name Ossie came from a county clerk who misheard his mother's pronunciation of his initials "R.C." when he was born. Following the wishes of his parents, he attended Howard University but dropped out in 1939 to fulfill his acting career in New York; he later attended Columbia University School of General Studies. His acting career, which spanned seven decades, began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem. He made his film debut in 1950 in the Sidney Poitier film No Way Out. He voiced Anansi the spider on the PBS series Sesame Street in its animation segments. • Ossie Davis Books • Ossie Davis Movies

James Dickey poet, Atlanta James Lafayette Dickey (2 February 1923 – 19 January 1997) was an American poet and novelist. He was appointed the eighteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1966.

Dickey was born to lawyer, Eugene Dickey, and Maibelle Swift in Atlanta, Georgia where he attended North Fulton High School in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood. In 1942 he enrolled at Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina and played on the football team as a tailback. After one semester, he left school to enlist in the Army Air Corps. Dickey served in the U.S. Army night fighter squadrons during the Second World War, and in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. Between the wars he attended Vanderbilt University, graduating with degrees in English and philosophy, as well as minoring in astronomy. He also taught at the University of Florida. • James Dickey Books

Melvyn Douglas actor, Macon Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg (April 5, 1901 – August 4, 1981), better known as Melvyn Douglas, was an American actor.

Douglas developed his acting skills with stock companies in Sioux City, Iowa; Evansville, Indiana; Madison, Wisconsin, and Detroit, Michigan. He had a long theatre, film and television career as a lead player, stretching from his 1930 Broadway role in Tonight or Never (opposite his future wife, Helen Gahagan) until just before his death. He was the hero in the 1932 horror film The Vampire Bat and the sophisticated leading man in 1935's She Married Her Boss. He played opposite Joan Crawford in several films, most notably A Woman's Face (1941), and with Greta Garbo in three films: As You Desire Me (1932), Ninotchka (1939) and Garbo's final film Two-Faced Woman (1941).

During World War II, Douglas served first as a director of the Arts Council in the Office of Civilian Defense, and then in the United States Army. He returned to play more mature roles in The Sea of Grass and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. In 1959 he made his musical debut playing Captain Boyle in the ill-fated Marc Blitzstein musical Juno, based on Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock. • Melvyn Douglas Books • Melvyn Douglas Movies

Pete Drake musician/record producer, Augusta(8 October 1932 – 29 July 1988), born Roddis Franklin Drake, was a major Nashville, Tennessee-based record producer and pedal steel guitar player.

One of the most sought-after backup musicians of the 1960s, Drake played on such hits as Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden", Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors"' Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay"' and Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man". (Drake's work on this last tune is debatable, in that some sources claim Sonny Curtis to be the steel guitar player on that record.) • Pete Drake Books

Rebecca Latimer Felton, Decatur (June 10, 1835 – January 24, 1930) was a white supremacist American writer, teacher, reformer, and briefly a politician who became the first woman to serve in the United States Senate, filling an appointment on November 21, 1922, and serving until the next day. At 87 years old, 9 months and 22 days, she was also the oldest freshman senator to enter the Senate. As of 2009, she is also the only woman to have served as a Senator from Georgia.

Felton was a White supremacist, as were most White Americans during those times. She claimed, for instance, that the more money that Georgia spent on black education, the more crimes blacks committed. For the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition, she "proposed a southern exhibit 'illustrating the slave period,' with a cabin and 'real colored folks making mats, shuck collars, and baskets--a woman to spin and card cotton--and another to play banjo and show the actual life of [the] slave--not the Uncle Tom sort.'" She wanted to display "the ignorant contented darky--as distinguished from [Harriet Beecher] Stowe's monstrosities."

As with most White Americans then, she considered "young blacks" who sought equal treatment "half-civilized gorillas" and ascribed to them a "brutal lust" for white women. While seeking suffrage for women, she decried black suffrage, averring that it led directly to the rape of white women. • Rebecca Latimer Felton Books

Henry W. Grady (May 24, 1850 – December 23, 1889) was a journalist and orator who helped reintegrate the states of the former Confederacy into the Union after the American Civil War. As a teenager he witnessed probably the fiercest fighting of that war in his home state and lost his father to a Yankee bullet.

After his father's death he was raised by his mother in Athens, Georgia. He was educated in the classical tradition of a southern gentleman of the time at the University of Georgia (Bachelor of Arts in 1868) where he was a charter member of Eta Chapter of the Chi Phi Fraternity. In 1867, he became a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society, and later attended the University of Virginia to study law, but became especially interested in Greek and Anglo-Saxon languages, history, and literature, which led to a career in journalism.

Grady was a life-long devoted member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. He was a charter member of the Eta Chapter of Chi Phi at the University of Georgia. In 1882 he was elected as the first Grand Alpha (National President) from the south after the union of the Northern and Southern Orders of Chi Phi in 1874. • Henry W. Grady Books

Amy Grant singer, Augusta Amy Lee Grant (born November 25, 1960) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, media personality and occasional actress, best known for her Gospel and Contemporary Christian music.

Grant made her debut as a teenager, and gained fame in Contemporary Christian music during the 1980s with such hits as "Father's Eyes," "El Shaddai," and "Angels." During the late 1980s and 1990s she become one of the first gospel artists to cross over into mainstream pop, on the heels of her successful albums Unguarded and Heart in Motion, the latter of which included the number-one single "Baby Baby."

As of 2009, Grant remains the best-selling Contemporary Christian music singer, having sold over 30 million units worldwide. Grant has won six Grammy Awards, 25 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and had the first Christian album ever to go, "Platinum." Heart in Motion is her highest selling album, with over five million copies sold. She was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005. • Amy Grant Books • Amy Grant Discography

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