USA Famous People of Indiana

Indiana Biographies

A-L • M-W
George Ade  (February 9, 1866 – May 16, 1944) was an American writer, newspaper columnist, and playwright.

Ade was born in Kentland, Indiana, one of seven children raised by John and Adaline (Bush) Ade. While attending Purdue University, he became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He also met and started a lifelong friendship with fellow cartoonist and Sigma Chi brother John T. McCutcheon and worked as a reporter for the Lafayette Call. He graduated in 1887.

In 1890 Ade joined the Chicago Morning News, which later became the Chicago Record, where McCutcheon was working. He wrote the column, Stories of the Streets and of the Town. In the column, which McCutcheon illustrated, George Ade illustrated Chicago-life. It featured characters like Artie, an office boy; Doc Horne, a gentlemanly liar; and Pink Marsh, a black shoeshine boy. Ade's well-known "fables in slang" also made their first appearance in this popular column.

Ade's literary reputation rests upon his achievements as a great humorist of American character during an important era in American history • George Ade Books

Anne Baxter (1923 - 1985) Famous actress; born in Michigan City.

In a long and successful career on stage, screen, radio, and television, Academy Award-winning actress Anne Baxter was best known for her roles in the film classics The Razor's Edge (1946) and All about Eve (1950). This bio-bibliography describes her life and career in a biography and chronology, and details her achievements in the different production media, providing full credits, synopses, and review sources for the films and plays. An extensive bibliography notes focused and passing treatment of Baxter in a wide variety of books and periodicals. • Anne Baxter Books • Anne Baxter Movies

Larry Bird (1956 - ) Basketball Hall of Famer who led the Boston Celtics to three NBA championships (1981, 1984, 1986); born in West Baden

The heart and soul of a champion: his life, his career, his game. To understand basketball, you have to understand Larry Bird. Arguably the greatest all-around player the game has ever known, he led the Boston Celtics from the basement to three world championships, collecting three NBA Most Valuable Player awards along the way. Yet, despite these massive accomplishments, Bird has rarely talked to the press, and much about the man has remained a mystery. Now in Drive, the long-silent superstar sets the record straight, revealed a side of himself-and of basketball-you've never see before. Inside, you'll learn Bird's most private feelings about: The momentous decision to transfer from Bobby Knight's Indiana University to Indiana State. The heartbreak of his father's suicide and his own failed marriage. The single-minded discipline that tumed a small-town hero into a national superstar. The Boston Garden and the legendary Celtic charm. The Isiah Thomas controversy and the fierce Celtic-Laker rivalry. The great players of the NBA: including Magic Johnson, Dominique Wilkins, and Michael Jordan, and much more. here is the book that puts a basketball legend-and his game-on the line. And scores! • Larry Bird Books

Bill Blass (1922 - ) Fashion designer; born in Fort Wayne. A homegrown, internationally renowned women's apparel designer, Blass died this past June at 79. This loving overview, based on an Indiana University Art Museum exhibition, showcases decades' worth of Blass's work in 227 illustrations (190 in full color). Graceful lines, unexpected fabrics, sophisticated ensembles and witty approaches to women's wear are all captured in wide-angle and close-up shots: an abstract floral, painted velvet balmacaan (a jacket that is long enough to be an above-the-knee skirt) looks as fresh today as in 1994, as does a white, double-faced, wool gabardine coat with printed twig motif from 1967 featured on the book's cover. Besides the beauty of the designs, the book itself makes quite an impression: the contemporary shots are perfectly lined up and reproduced; the text is nonintrusive, smoothly fonted and spaced; and period shots of Jacqueline Kennedy, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Reagan and others lend moments of delightful surprise. The foreword by Blass and two brief essays on his contributions to the development of a U.S. postwar style are followed by 200 pages of glorious fashion photography and sketches, interspersed with quotations from the designer and other notable taste makers-a fitting tribute. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. • Bill Blass Books
Hoagy Carmichael songwriter, Bloomington Hoagland Howard "Hoagy" Carmichael (November 22, 1899 – December 27, 1981) was an American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. He is best known for writing "Stardust" (1927), "Georgia On My Mind," and "Heart and Soul", three of the most-recorded American songs of all time.

Alec Wilder, in his study of the American popular song, concluded that Hoagy Carmichael was the "most talented, inventive, sophisticated and jazz-oriented" of the hundreds of writers composing pop songs in the first half of the 20th century

Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Carmichael was the only son of Howard Clyde Carmichael and Lida Robison. He was named Hoagland after a circus troupe "The Hoaglands" who stayed at the Carmichael house during his mother's pregnancy. Howard was a horse-drawn taxi driver and electrician, and Lida a versatile pianist who played accompaniment at silent movies and for parties. The family moved frequently, as Howard sought better employment for his growing family. At six, Carmichael started to sing and play the piano, absorbing easily his mother's keyboard skills. By high school, the piano was the focus of his after-school life, and for inspiration he would listen to ragtime pianists Hank Wells and Hube Hanna • Hoagy Carmichael Books • Hoagy Carmichael Discography

Jim Davis (1945 - ) Creator of Garfield; born in Marion. Prior to creating Garfield, Davis worked for a local advertising agency and in 1969 began assisting Tom Ryan's comic strip, Tumbleweeds. He then created a comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, that ran for five years in The Pendleton Times, an Indiana newspaper. Davis tried to sell it to a national comic strip syndicate, but an editor told him, "Your art is good, your gags are great, but bugs — nobody can relate to bugs!" On June 19, 1978, Garfield started syndication in 41 newspapers. Things were going well until the Chicago Sun-Times cancelled the strip, prompting an outcry from 1300 readers. Garfield was reinstated and the strip quickly became the fastest selling comic strip in the world. Today it is syndicated in 2400 newspapers and is read by approximately 200 million readers each day. • Jim Davis Books
James Dean (1931 - 1955) Famous actor for movies like Rebel Without a Cause; born in MarionFive decades after the death of James Dean, he is still revered as a distant myth and remains an enigma to a generation that hardly knows him. Yet it is this generation that has made him the most idolized actor of all time. While his film career lasted only sixteen months, it produced three cinematic greats: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. John Howlett conducted extensive research and interviews with actors and directors who knew Dean, to produce a revealing portrait of a complex and tragic man — the perfect embodiment of an eternal struggle who was an inspiration to several generations of rebels without a cause. His anguish was exquisitely genuine on and off the screen, and his moments of joy are rare and precious. Here is James Dean from all sides: his talent for interpreting and expressing his role as an actor, his rebellious nature, his personal frankness, his ever-probing curiosity, his tenacious struggle for success, and his sadness and sensitivity. Includes color photos. • James Dean Books • James Dean Movies
Eugene V. Debs Socialist leader, Terre Haute - Eugene Victor Debs (November 5, 1855 – October 20, 1926) was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), as well as candidate for President of the United States as a member of the Social Democratic Party in 1900, and later as a member of the Socialist Party of America in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. Through his presidential candidacies as well as his work with labor movements, Debs would eventually become one of the best-known socialists in the United States.

In the early part of his political career, Debs was a member of the Democratic Party of the United States. It was during this time that he was elected as a member of the Indiana General Assembly, marking the beginning of his career as a politician. After working with several smaller unions, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, Debs was instrumental in the founding of the American Railway Union, the nation's first industrial union. As a member of the ARU, Debs was involved and later imprisoned for his part in the famed Pullman Strike, when workers struck the Pullman Palace Car Company over a pay cut. The effects of the strike resulted in President Grover Cleveland calling members of the United States Army into Chicago, Illinois, which led to Debs' arrest and imprisonment. • Eugene V. Debs Books

Theodore Dreiser - Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (August 27, 1871 – December 28, 1945) was an American novelist and journalist. He pioneered the naturalist school and is known for portraying characters whose value lies not in their moral code, but in their persistence against all obstacles, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency.

Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, to Sarah and John Paul Dreiser, a strict Catholic family. John Paul Dreiser was a German immigrant and Sarah was from the Mennonite farming community near Dayton, Ohio; she was disowned for marrying John and converting to Roman Catholicism. Theodore was the twelfth of thirteen children (the ninth of the ten surviving). The popular songwriter Paul Dresser (1859–1906) was his older brother.

His first novel, Sister Carrie (1900), tells the story of a woman who flees her country life for the city (Chicago) and falls into a wayward life. It sold poorly, but it later acquired a considerable reputation. (It was made into a 1952 film by William Wyler, which starred Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones.) • Theodore Dreiser Books

Virgil Grissom  - Mitchell Virgil Ivan Grissom, more widely known as Gus Grissom, (April 3, 1926 – January 27, 1967) was one of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts and a United States Air Force pilot. He was the second American to fly in space. Grissom was killed along with fellow astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee during a training exercise and pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission at the Kennedy Space Center. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and, posthumously, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Grissom was born in Mitchell, Indiana. As a child he attended the local Church of Christ and became a lifelong member. He was a member of Boy Scout Troop 46. Grissom graduated from Mitchell High School in 1944. He married Betty Moore Grissom on July 6, 1945. They would have two children, Scott and Mark. Grissom was a master Mason and member of Mitchell Lodge 228.

In 1961, Grissom was pilot of Mercury-Redstone 4, popularly known as Liberty Bell 7, the second American (suborbital) spaceflight. After splashdown explosive bolts blew the hatch off unexpectedly and water flooded into the tiny capsule. Grissom exited through the open hatch and into the ocean but nearly drowned as water filled his flightsuit while a helicopter tried to lift and recover the spacecraft. The capsule became too heavy with water and sank. Grissom strongly asserted he had done nothing to blow the hatch and NASA officials eventually concluded that he was correct. Initiating the explosive egress system required hitting a metal trigger with the side of a closed fist. • Virgil Grissom Books

Alfred Bertram Guthrie author, Bedford Alfred Bertram Guthrie, Jr. (January 13, 1901 – April 26, 1991) was an American novelist, historian, and literary historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1950 for his The Way West. The author called himself "Bud" because he felt that Alfred Bertram "was a sissy name."

A. B. Guthrie, Jr. was born in Bedford, Indiana, and moved with his parents to Montana when he was six months old. His father was a graduate of Indiana University, his mother from an Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana. "My father came West to become the first principal of the first high school in the Montana territory," he said.

Nine Guthrie children were born, but most of them died as infants. A.B. was a sickly child and the Guthries moved their children to Ontario, California, for their health. Two months later their 13-year-old daughter died from a tick bite and the Guthries moved back to Montana. There, some months later, their youngest son also died. Only three of the nine children survived to adulthood.

A constant reader, Guthrie tried to write while in high school, "fiction pretty much, some essays, but I majored in journalism. My father had been a newspaper man for four years in this little town in Kentucky, and I guess he thought it was the way to become a writer," a point his son disputed because the crafts are so different. • Alfred Bertram Guthrie Books

Phil Harris actor, band leader, Linton Phil Harris (born Wonga Philip Harris) (June 24, 1904 – August 11, 1995) was an American singer, songwriter, jazz musician, actor and comedian. Though successful as an orchestra leader, Harris is remembered today for his recordings as a vocalist, his voice work in animation and as a pioneer in radio situation comedy, first with Jack Benny, and then in a series in which he co-starred with his second wife, singer-actress Alice Faye, for eight years.

Harris was born in Linton, Indiana, but actually grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and identified himself as a Southerner (his hallmark song was "That's What I Like About the South"). His upbringing accounted for both his trace of a Southern accent and, in later years, the self-deprecating Southern jokes of his radio character. The son of two circus performers, Harris' first work as a drummer came when his father, as tent bandleader, hired him to play with the circus band. Harris began his music career as a drummer in San Francisco, forming an orchestra with Carol Lofner in the latter 1920s and starting a long engagement at the St. Francis Hotel. The partnership ended by 1932, and Harris led and sang with his own band, now based in Los Angeles. Phil Harris also played drums in Henry Halstead Big Band Orchestra in the mid 1920s. • Phil Harris Books • Phil Harris Movies

Benjamin Harrison (1833 - 1901) 23rd President of the United States; lived in Indianapolis, where he practiced law. Calhoun dusts off an almost thoroughly forgotten chief executive, known primarily for serving between Cleveland's two terms, to disclose a harbinger of the modern, activist president. Although born in his grandfather's house--and Grandfather was William Henry Harrison, the president famed for dying one month after inauguration--Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) wasn't to the manor born. He had to establish himself as an attorney before marrying, and become a hardworking high earner before his political ambitions bore fruit. He lost more elections than he won before his 1888 presidential victory; even then, he lost the popular vote because of huge Democrat majorities in the South. He passed more legislation, spent more money, and did more hands-on diplomacy than had any previous president. His single great failure was his legislation ensuring the voting rights of southern blacks. Democrats successfully stalled the bill in the Fifty-first Congress, and after they regained Congress in 1890 and the White House in 1892, the issue was dead until the 1960s. One of the most revelatory entries in the American Presidents series. Ray Olson • Benjamin Harrison Books
John Milton Hay  (October 8, 1838 – July 1, 1905) was an American statesman, diplomat, author, journalist, and private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln.

Hay was born in Salem, Indiana, of Scottish ancestry, the third son of Dr. Charles Hay and Helen Leonard from Middleboro, Massachusetts, who had come to Salem to live with her sister. He was raised in Warsaw, Illinois, and educated first at the private school of the Reverend Stephen Childs, an Episcopal clergyman. In 1851 John went to an academy at Pittsfield in Pike County, where he met an older student, John G. Nicolay, with whom he would later work as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln. In 1852 John Hay went to the college at Springfield, and in 1855 was sent to Brown University, where he joined Theta Delta Chi. At Brown, he developed an interest in poetry, and Hay became a part of Providence's literary circle which included Sarah Helen Whitman and Nora Perry. When he graduated, he was named Class Poet. He left Brown in 1858 before receiving his diploma and went home to Warsaw to study law with his uncle, Milton Hay • John Milton Hay Books

James R. Hoffa labor leader - James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa (born February 14, 1913 – disappeared July 30, 1975, declared legally dead in 1982) was an American trade unionist.

Hoffa served as the General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1958–1971, despite being incarcerated during the latter four years of his tenure. Hoffa, who had been convicted of jury tampering and attempted bribery in 1964, was imprisoned in 1967 after exhausting the appeal process. However, he did not officially resign the Teamsters' presidency until 1971. This was part of a pardon agreement with U.S. president Richard Nixon, in order to facilitate Hoffa's release from prison. Hoffa was last seen in 1975 outside a suburban Detroit restaurant called the Machus Red Fox.

Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana, on February 14, 1913. His paternal ancestors were "Pennsylvania Dutch" and Irish-American. Hoffa's father, John Cleveland Hoffa, a coal driller, died of lung disease in 1920. After his father's death, the family moved to Detroit, where Hoffa was raised and lived for most of the rest of his life.

The Hoffa family later had a summer property in Lake Orion, Michigan, a northern Detroit suburb. • James R. Hoffa Books

Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) Singer and songwriter famous for songs such as Thriller and Beat It; born in Gary. From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Justin Moyer Did the great flood of words unleashed in the 40 days and 40 nights since the passing of the King of Pop offer new insight into this legend, this plastic surgery disaster, this voice of a generation, this drug-addled man-child? Or was the eulogizing without point or purpose, a rehash of the same stale gossip and well-known stories just to fill airtime and column inches? Michael Jackson, dead at 50, demands a new vocabulary. If Greil Marcus can make Bob Dylan the standard-bearer of American myth in "Invisible Republic" and Nick Tosches can make Jerry Lee Lewis a Gothic antihero in his unforgettable "Hellfire," the rock bio can transcend mere reportage. What writer will now sit down, set aside armchair psychobabble and offer up a real Michael Jackson? Certainly not J. Randy Taraborrelli, who offers this quickly updated version of his 1991 biography as a stand-in for a fresh look at one of the 20th century's greatest entertainers. (The book was updated in 2003 and again in 2004.) A young R&B fanatic who blossomed into a serial celebrity biographer, Taraborrelli met MJ in 1970 when the Jackson 5 was still brushing the dust of Gary, Ind., from the lapels of its matching "lime green vest suits." • Michael Jackson Books • Michael Jackson Discography
Buck Jones actor, Vincennes Buck Jones (December 12, 1891 – November 30, 1942) was an American motion picture star of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, best known for his work starring in many popular western movies. In his early film appearances, he was billed as Charles Jones.

Charles Frederick Gebhart was born on the outskirts of Vincennes, Indiana on December 12, 1891. (Some sources erroneously indicate December 4, 1889, but Jones's marriage license and his military records confirm the 1891 date.In 1907, Jones joined the US Army at age sixteen, after his mother signed a release form authorizing his enlistment. He was initially assigned to Troop G, 6th Cavalry Regiment. He served in combat and was wounded in the Philippine islands during the Moro Rebellion, deploying there in October 1907, returning to the U.S. in December 1909. He was discharged honorably that same year, at Fort McDowell, California. • Buck Jones Books • Buck Jones Movies

David Letterman (1947- ) Comedian late night talk show host; born in Indianapolis.Now you don't have to stay up late to spend time with David Letterman. In this riveting and revealing book, readers learn about the rise of one of the highest-paid performers in TV history; the story behind Letterman's record-breaking 3-year, $42 million contract with CBS; his encounters with famous guests; and much more. 12 pages of photos.

Letterman lived near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and enjoyed collecting model cars, including racers In 2000 he told an interviewer for Esquire that, while growing up, he admired his father's ability to tell jokes and be the life of the party. Harry Joseph Letterman survived a heart attack at age 36, when David was a young boy. The fear of losing his father was constantly with Letterman as he grew up. Harry Joseph Letterman died of a second heart attack at age 57.• David Letterman Books • David Letterman Films

Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals, Indianapolis (July 8, 1838 – June 6, 1898) was an American soldier, pharmaceutical chemist, industrialist, entrepreneur, and founder of the Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical corporation. Lilly enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War; he recruited a company of men to serve with him in an artillery battery, was later promoted to colonel, and was given command of a cavalry unit. He was captured near the end of the war and held as a prisoner of war until its conclusion. After the war, he attempted to run a plantation in Mississippi, but failed and returned to his pharmacy profession after the death of his wife. Lilly remarried and worked in several pharmacies with partners before opening his own business in 1876 with plans to manufacture drugs and market them wholesale to pharmacies.

His company was successful and he soon became wealthy after making numerous advances in medicinal drug manufacturing. Two of the early advances he pioneered were creating gelatin capsules to hold medicine and fruit flavoring for liquid medicines. Eli Lilly & Company was one of the first pharmaceutical firms of its kind; it staffed a dedicated research department and put in place numerous quality-assurance measures. • Eli Lilly Books

Carole Lombard actress, Fort Wayne (October 6, 1908 – January 16, 1942) was an American actress. She was particularly noted for her comedic roles in several classic films of the 1930s, most notably in the 1936 film My Man Godfrey. She is listed as one of the American Film Institute's greatest stars of all time and was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s, earning around US$500,000 per year (more than five times the salary of the US President). Lombard's career was cut short when she died at the age of 33 in the crash of TWA Flight 3.

Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her parents were Frederick C. Peters (1875-1935) and Elizabeth Knight (1877-1942). Her paternal grandfather, John Claus Peters, was the son of German immigrants, Claus Peters and Caroline Catherine Eberlin. Lombard was the youngest of three children, having two older brothers. She spent her early childhood in a sprawling, two-story house at 704 Rockhill Street in Fort Wayne, near the St. Mary's River. Her father had been injured during his early life and was left with constant headaches which caused him to burst out in paroxysms of anger which disturbed the family. Her parents divorced and her mother took the three children to Los Angeles in 1914, where Lombard attended Virgil Jr. High School and then Fairfax High School. She was elected "May Queen" in 1924. She quit school to pursue acting full-time, but graduated from Fairfax in 1927. Lombard was a second generation Bahá'í who formally enrolled in 1938. • Carole Lombard Books  • Carole Lombard Movies

Shelley Long actress, Fort Wayne Shelley Lee Long (born August 23, 1949) is an American actress.

Long was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana at 7:00 A.M. on Tuesday, August 23, 1949. The daughter of Evandine, a school teacher, and Leland Long, who worked in the rubber industry before becoming a teacher. She was active on her high school speech team, and in 1967 she won the National Forensic League National Championship in Original Oratory. She delivered a speech on the need for sex education in high school entitled "Sex Perversion Weed." After graduating from South Side High School in Fort Wayne, she studied drama at Northwestern University, but left before graduating to pursue a career in acting and modelling. Her first break as an actress occurred when she began doing commercials in the Chicago area for a furniture company called Homemakers. • Shelley Long Books • Shelley Long Movies

A-L • M-W