USA Famous People of Mississippi

Mississippi Biographies

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Red Barber (February 17, 1908 ? October 22, 1992) sportscaster, Columbus His voice was instantly recognizable. Red Barber's languid drawl was so familiar to baseball fans of the '30s through the '60s that it seemed like he'd single-handedly invented the art of play-by-play announcing. The truth is, he pretty much did: the old redhead sitting up in what he called his catbird seat, telling stories as integral to the game as the sound of horsehide on leather. His autobiography is, in a sense, the story of American sportscasting, but it is also much more than that; it is also a story of triumph over prejudice, and integrity over comfort. A son of the Old South, Barber grew up in a racist world, and took that world with him when he moved north to Brooklyn, and he experienced first-hand its head-on collision with what would be the new world of integrated baseball. Barber was the Dodgers broadcaster when Branch Rickey decided he would smash the color line; Barber was one of the first he informed of his plans. • Red Barber Books
Lance Bass (born May 4, 1979) singer, Laurel Lance Bass is the ultimate multi-hyphenate: singer-actor-producer-writer-entrepreneur-philanthropist. As a member of *NSYNC, Lance won a number of honors, including a People's Choice Award, an American Music Award, an MTV Video Music Award, a Kids' Choice Award, and a host of Grammy nominations. Lance was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, making him the youngest person ever to receive this honor. He is currently Youth Spokesperson for World Space Week and remains active in various charitable organizations, including the Lance Bass Foundation, created to meet the health and educational needs of children. Lance lives in Los Angeles. • Lance Bass Books
Theodore Bilbo (October 13, 1877 ? August 21, 1947) public official, Poplarville Who knew there was more to Mississppi Senator Theodore Bilbo then his racist tract "Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization"? In what would certainly give liberals fits, this book proves that Bilbo was much more then a southern racist. He was, in fact, one of the biggest supporters of FDR's New Deal in the entire country. Even when the rest of the southern Senators turned on FDR, Bilbo stayed loyal. Bilbo supported every piece of New Deal legislation except one. Not bad for a "hater". While the book is sparse in personal detail, it makes up for it with extremely detailed accounts of the political battles Bilbo fought. He chased Huey Long out of Mississippi politics and held his own against hostile forces within his own sphere of influence. It helps to know something about 1930's politics before you read this book. Can you tell I liked it? • Theodore Bilbo Books
Jimmy Buffett (1946 - ) Singer, songwriter; born in Pascagoula. 

Tales from Margaritaville (stories) and Where Is Joe Merchant? (a mystery) secured songwriter Jimmy Buffett's niche reputation as an affable, poetic beach bum. A Pirate Looks at Fifty, a travel-diary-cum-autobiography, features Buffett behind the wheel of his Grumman Albatross seaplane, safely piloting family and friends through a three-week trip around South and Central America and the Caribbean. He blends gentle scenic narration with rambling, unplugged life stories meant to convey that he's made peace with the whole aging process.

For Buffett, turning 50 "can be a ball of snakes that conjures up immediate thoughts of mortality and accountability. (`What have I done with my life?') Or, it can be a great excuse to reward yourself for just getting there. (`He who dies with the most toys wins.') I instinctively chose door number two." On this tack, Buffett plans an opulent, laid-back trip for his brood and goes into so many details about his favorite possessions (three pages on knapsacks!) that the cheerful vagabond in flip-flops is nearly eclipsed by the rich, domesticated businessman/dad he's become. In addition, stinging losses and limitations--his dad's Alzheimer's disease, his own terrifying solo plane crash in 1996--creep into his cozy yarns. Sailing and soaring over Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific seas, Buffett looks at 50 and sees a very good life. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. • Jimmy Buffett Books • Jimmy Buffett Discography

Craig Claiborne (1920-09-04 - September 4 September 4, 1920 ? January 22, 2000) columnist, restaurant critic, Sunflower Born in Sunflower, Mississippi, and raised on the region's storied cuisine in the kitchen of his mother's boarding house, Claiborne served in the US Navy during World War II and the Korean conflict and after deciding that his true passion lay in cooking, used his G.I. Bill scholarship to attend the prestigious École Hôtelière in Lausanne, Switzerland. Returning from Europe, he worked his way up in the food publishing business in New York as a contributor to Gourmet (magazine), a food products publicist and finally food editor of the New York Times in 1957. Claiborne was the first man to supervise the food page at a major American newspaper and is credited with broadening the Times' coverage of new restaurants and innovative chefs. A typical food section of a newspaper in the 50's was largely targeted to a female readership and limited to columns on entertaining and cooking for the upscale homemaker. Claiborne brought his expert knowledge of cuisine and own passion for food to the pages, transforming it into an important cultural and social bellwether for New York and the nation at large. • Craig Claiborne Books
Bo Diddley (1928 - ) Guitarist; born in McComb.

I first discovered the Great Music of Bo Diddley Years ago, But only Recently has he usurped Chuck Berry, (Who I still love!)As My Classic Rock'n'Roll Idol. His Music, Wit, & Style Should speak to Everyone! Of course, after getting all the great tunes, There was a search for a good Biography. George White's Book from the Mid nineties is the Only one! Culled from extensive interviews, many with Bo himself, tells the story of the man. I would have given it 5 stars, but it was a little strange for Bo's story to be told in the first person, but that it is not an Autobiography. Takes a little getting used to. Great Pics & a Clear discography included. Hopefully the Man himself is hard at work on his own story, perhaps working again with Mr. White. I'll be on the Look out For it!  • Bo Diddley Books • Bo Diddley Discography

Brett Farve (born October 10, 1969) football, Kiln

No other contemporary athlete has been as admired among peers and beloved among fans as Brett Favre. From his arrival in Green Bay in 1992 to his retirement in 2008, the Packers' strong-armed, free-spirited quarterback thrilled NFL fans with his exemplary talent and passionate style, and inspired them with his courage in confronting personal challenges. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's tribute to Favre is the definitive account of a remarkable career, collecting the best stories and photographs from the pages of SI to chronicle Favre's rise from humble coach's son in tiny Kiln, Miss., to premier passer of his generation and th personification of the American sports ideal. • Brett Farve Books

William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897 - 1962), , New Albany. Author, famous for works such as The Sound in the Fury and Go Down, Moses; born in New Albany.

"Richard Gray's study of Faulkner is biographically and historically informative in the most appropriate way; it is also critically sophisticated, lucid, and continuously accessible. Avoiding the usual biographical reductionism which subsumes a writer's work to its psychological or sociological context, Gray traces the inter-relationships between the man, the time, the place, and the writing, with exemplary and illuminating tact and insight. Frankly, I do not see how it could be better done; and, to anyone embarking on any kind of study of Faulkner, this is the first book I would recommend." Professor Tony Tanner, University of Cambridge • William Cuthbert Faulkner Books

Shelby Foote historian, Greenville Born into Mississippi Delta gentry in 1916, Foote has engaged in a lifelong struggle with the realities behind his persona, the classic image of the southern gentleman. His polished civil graces mask a conflict deep within. Foote's beloved South is a changing region, and even progressive change, of which Foote approves, can be unsettling. In letters and interviews, and in his writings, he often waxes nostalgic as he grapples to recover the grace of an earlier time, particularly the era of the Civil War. Indeed, Chapman reveals that the whole of Foote's novels and historical narratives serves as a refuge from deeply ambiguous feelings. As Foote has struggled to understand the radical shifts brought to his native land by modernization and the region's integration into the nation, his personal history has been clouded by ideological conflict. • Shelby Foote Books
Richard Ford author, Jackson - Richard Ford (born February 16, 1944) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land, and the short story collection Rock Springs, which contains several widely anthologized stories.

Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi, the only son of Parker Carrol Ford, a traveling salesman for Faultless Starch, a Kansas City company. When Ford was eight years old, his father had a major heart attack, and thereafter Ford spent as much time with his grandfather, a former prizefighter and hotel owner in Little Rock, Arkansas, as he did with his parents in Mississippi. Ford¢s father died of a second heart attack in 1960.• Richard Ford Books

Jim Henson (September 24, 1936 ? May 16, 1990), puppeteer, Greenville

At the time of his death in 1990, Jim Henson had created some of the world's most beloved characters, invigorated the d{?}emod{?}e art of puppeteering, and achieved in TV and films critical and commercial success unheard of since the heyday of Walt Disney. This oversize, colorful volume, sure to delight Henson's many fans, traces his career from local TV in the mid-1950s through the triumphs of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, his leap into movies (The Muppet Movie, The Dark Crystal, etc.), and late projects like Fraggle Rock. The book also covers Henson's little-known forays into experimental film and the contributions of his Creature Shop puppetmakers to non-Henson movies. The authorized nature of this project gave Finch access to fascinating archival materials, such as behind-the-scenes photos. Unfortunately, it also results in an annoying lack of critical detachment and a one-dimensional portrait of Henson. Even so, Finch convincingly portrays Henson's visionary dedication to the craft of puppetry. The continuing popularity of Kermit, Big Bird, and Henson's other creations ensures that this showcase of them will be in demand for many years to come. Gordon Flagg • Jim Henson Books • Jim Henson Films

Faith Hill (1967 - ) Famous singer; grew up in Star. In 1995,

People magazine put Faith Hill on its list of "50 Most Beautiful People." It took her ten years after high school to accomplish this. It took several more years before she was a household name. But looking back on her accomplishments, Faith remembers how she thought she could easily make a name for herself in Nashville. When she arrived right out of high school, she dreamed of singing at the Grand Ole Opry and being whisked around the country on her own music tour immediately. After many years of hard work, she now knows what it takes to make a career in the music business. A woman who values her family first and loves her career second has never faltered with her rise to fame. Amidst the confusion and hoopla, Faith Hill can change her baby's diaper one moment, sing on stage the next, and calls the shots for her own career. • Faith Hill Books • Faith Hill Discography

Barry Hannah author, Clinton (born April 23, 1942) is an American novelist and short story writer.Hannah was born in Meridian, Mississippi and raised in Clinton Mississippi. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mississippi College in 1964. He spent the next three years at the University of Arkansas, where he earned a Master of Arts in 1966 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1967. Hannah's first novel, the grotesque coming-of-age tale Geronimo Rex (1972), won the William Faulkner Prize and was nominated for the National Book Award. Nightwatchmen (1973), his second novel, was a difficult book, and it is his only work never reissued in paperback. Hannah returned to form, however, with the short-story collection Airships (1978), which today is considered a classic. Most of the stories in the volume were first published in Esquire magazine by its fiction editor at the time, • Barry Hannah Books
Elizabeth Lee Hazen (1885 - 1975) Inventor, developed the world's first useful antifungal antibiotic, nystatin. • Elizabeth Lee Hazen Books
Beth Henley playwright, actress, Jackson - Elizabeth Becker "Beth" Henley (born May 8, 1952, Jackson, Mississippi) is an American dramatist and actress. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1981 for her play, Crimes of the Heart (1978).

Her most famous play, Crimes of the Heart, was her first produced professionally. It opened at the Actors Theatre of Louisville and then moved to New York produced by Manhattan Theatre Club. Crimes of the Heart won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the award for Best American Play of 1981 from the New York Drama Critics' Circle. The play also earned Henley a Tony Award nomination, and her screenplay for the film version of Crimes of the Heart was nominated for an Oscar as Best Adapted Screenplay.

Henley adapted her play, The Miss Firecracker Contest, into a 1989 film starring Holly Hunter entitled Miss Firecracker. Henley continues to write plays and screenplays from her adopted home in California. She is an alumna of Southern Methodist University. Her latest play, Ridiculous Fraud, was produced at the McCarter Theatre in 2006.

In Spring 2010, her play Family Week will be performed at MCC Theater. The production will feature Rosemarie DeWitt and Sarah Jones. It will be directed by Jonathan Demme. • Beth Henley Books •

James Earl Jones (1931 - ) Entertainer, possesses one of the most instantly recognizable voices in entertainment history; born in Arkabutla. Celebrated actor Jones, writing with Niven ( Carl Sandburg: A Biography ), has produced a compelling memoir. Raised by his hardworking grandfather and storytelling grandmother, six-year-old James began to stutter when the family moved from Mississippi, where he was born in 1931, to Michigan. Virtually mute for the next eight years, he recaptured speech by reciting poetry and prose.

Jones reconnected with his estranged actor father during his journeyman years in Manhattan theater; in the 1950s he blossomed in the "democracy of the frontier" that was off-Broadway. He offers lively and nuanced reflections on his great and sometimes controversial parts, which include, on stage, Paul Robeson, and on film: the title role in Othello , Lennie in Of Mice and Men , Jack Jefferson in The Great White Hope and Troy Maxson in Fences. While Jones concentrates more on his professional than on his personal life, he also discusses his complicated multiracial heritage and his two marriages. He ends with tender thoughts about the almost spiritual richness of life on his New York farm and the joy he takes in his young son. As his career and his memoirs verify, Jones's lifelong struggle with language has produced some lasting words. • James Earl Jones Books • James Earl Jones Movies

B. B. King (1925 - ) Guitarist, often called the King of the Blues; born in Indianola.

This book traces the life of the dedicated and talented blues musician, from his birth in the Mississippi Delta in 1925 to the present. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. King was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, a small town near Indianola, Mississippi. His parents were Alfred King and Nora Ella King. While singing in a local gospel group, at the age of twelve Riley bought his first guitar for $15.00.

In 1943 King left Indianola, Mississippi, and got a job as a tractor driver. King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1946 searching for his cousin, Bukka White, an early inspiration, and who took him in for the next ten months. However, after a few months of hardship he left, going back to Mississippi. There he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit and returned to Memphis two years later. Initially he worked at the local R&B radio station WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, where he gained the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", later shortened to "B.B." It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. "Once I'd heard him for the first time, I knew I'd have to have an electric guitar myself. Had to have one, short of stealing!", he said. • B. B. King Books • B. B. King Discography

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