USA Famous People of North Carolina

North Carolina Biographies

A-J • K-Z
Susan B. Anthony (1820 - 1906) One of the leaders in the fight for women’s right to vote; lived in Rochester. In this life of Anthony, Barry has produced a scholarly but very readable biography of the great women's rights activist. She explores the interaction of her subject's family background, education, Quaker upbringing, and early teaching career with the temperance movement to produce a woman who in her 20s chose striving for social justice over marriage as a vocation. Barry delineates Anthony's friendships with other reformers, her involvement in the abolitionist movement, and her stance during the splits and scandals of the first feminist era. Recommended.Christine M. Hill, Free Lib. of Philadelphia • Susan B. Anthony Books
Caleb Bradham (1867 - 1934) Pharmacist from New Bern, North Carolina, created the first Pepsi-Cola for dyspepsia, or indigestion.  In 1902 Bradham began bottling the soft drink in the back room of his drugstore. (May 27, 1867 – February 19, 1934) invented the soft drink Pepsi-Cola. He was a pharmacist, born in Chinquapin, Duplin County, North Carolina, May 27, 1867. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine. On December 24, 1902, the Pepsi-Cola Company was incorporated in North Carolina, with Bradham as the president, and on June 16, 1903 the first Pepsi-Cola trademark was registered. Also in 1903, he moved his Pepsi-Cola production out of his drug store and into a rented building nearby. In 1905, Bradham began selling Pepsi-Cola in six-ounce bottles (up until this time he sold Pepsi-Cola as a syrup only), and awarded two franchises to North Carolina bottlers. • Caleb Bradham Books
Braxton Bragg soldier, Warrenton Bragg served in the Second Seminole War in Florida and took part in the occupation of Texas. He won promotions for bravery and distinguished conduct in the Mexican-American War, including a brevet promotion to captain for Battle of Fort Brown (May 1846), to major for the Battle of Monterrey (September 1846), and to lieutenant colonel for the Battle of Buena Vista (February 1847). Bragg was also promoted to captain within the regular army in June 1846.[2] His conduct in Mexico had gained the respect of his commander, Gen. Zachary Taylor; also, he had rescued the troops of Colonel Jefferson Davis, earning the latter's friendship. • Braxton Bragg Books
David McClure Brinkley (July 10, 1920 – June 11, 2003) TV newscaster, Wilmington Brinkley gives the reader a lot of insight on how it was like to be one of the first people in broadcast journalism and he fills the book with rich anecdotes and humorous incidents that he got to cover. One such incident is that when he was covering the opening of Cape Canavaral in Florida the town of Cocca Beach grew so fast that a hotel owner expanded a hotel without even bothering to check to see if the additional land belonged to him. The actual owner of the land did not complain until the construction was finished and then he claimed the hotel to himself. Although Brinkley tries to go into a chronological order sometimes he skips back and forth between different time periods and this can be very confusing. As far as his content is concerned he includes a lot about various topics from the political conventions to the foreign policy issues that affected this nation (Vietnam and post World War II Europe). However the civil rights movement was a major part of the 1950's and 60's and since he is from the South I would have expected that he would have devoted an entire chapter to covering this tumultuous time in American history. Overall this book is worth reading. • David McClure Brinkley Books
Robert Carlyle Byrd (born November 20, 1917) is the senior United States Senator from West Virginia, and a member and former Senate Leader of the Democratic Party. Byrd has been a Senator since January 3, 1959 and is the longest-serving member in the Senate's history;  he has been the Dean of the Senate since 2003. He is also the oldest current member of the United States Congress, and is the first person to serve uninterrupted for half a century as a U.S. senator.

Byrd is President pro tempore of the United States Senate, a position that puts him third in the line of presidential succession, behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He also held this post previously from 1989 to 1995, briefly in January 2001, and from June 2001 to January 2003. In this role, Sen. Byrd signs bills passed by Congress before they are sent to the president to be signed into law or vetoed. • Robert Carlyle Byrd Books

John Coltrane (1926-1967) - Tenor and soprano saxophonist, bandleader, and composer; Born in Hamlet.

 I have probably read nearly every biography on John Coltrane that is available in the hope of finding writing that is worthy of the scope of this jazz master's genius. Most of the reading I've done has been fairly disappointing...more like glorified fanzine articles rather than serious discussions of the man and his music. Eberhard Jost in his book Free Jazz does do some pretty in-depth analysis of the music of Coltrane, but almost all other books focus more on gossip and life details and leave the musical analysis to vague lofty sounding phrases that have very little meaning on a real level.

So Lewis Porter's book is a breath of fresh air, not just in writing about Coltrane, but also in jazz scholarship in general. Porter's is the first jazz biography I've read that is a really musicological biography and worthy to stand up to the biographies written about classical music figures. • John Coltrane Books • John Coltrane Discography

Howard William Cosell (born Howard William Cohen; March 25, 1918 - April 23, 1995) was an American sports journalist. Cosell was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to Nellie and Isidore Cohen, who was an accountant. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York. His parents had wanted him to become a lawyer. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from New York University, where he was a member of Pi Lambda Phi. He then went to the New York University School of Law where he earned his JD, and was a member of the NYU Law Review. After writing the book I Never Played the Game, which chronicled his disenchantment with fellow commentators on Monday Night Football, among other things, he was taken off scheduled announcing duties for the 1985 World Series (Tim McCarver subsequently took his spot alongside Al Michaels and Jim Palmer) and was released by ABC television shortly thereafter. In I Never Played the Game , Cosell coined the word "jockocracy" to describe how athletes were given announcing jobs that they had not earned. • Howard William Cosell Books
Elizabeth Hanford Dole (1936 - ) Secretary of Transportation (1983 - 87) and Labor (1989 - 90) and president of the American Red Cross (1990 - ); born in Salisbury. As a politician, what you say and how you say it is almost as important as what you do. Political careers are made based not only on substantive achievements, but also on style, presentation, speeches, and debates. Dole's is no exception. After a career in government service spanning six presidents, from Lyndon B. Johnson to George H. W. Bush, she became widely recognized as a leading Republican politician in her own right after her 1996 speech at the GOP convention. In 1999 she spent six months campaigning for president before dropping out of the race due to a lack of adequate funds, and in 2002 she was elected U.S. Senator from North Carolina. In this biography of Dole, the authors show how she has been able to advance the causes she cares about, as well as her political career, through her consummate skills as a public speaker. • Elizabeth Hanford Dole Books
James B. Duke (December 23, 1856 – October 10, 1925) industrialist, Durham. James B. Duke, or Buck as his family called him, took over the family’s tobacco manufacturing business after his father retired. He also played a key role in the establishment and then management of the British-American Tobacco Company in and after 1901-1902. From the standpoint of business history alone, this was a pioneering and colorful venture. Duke also ventured into Canadian hydroelectricity, a highly creative and bold move that dramatically revealed his entrepreneurial panache and genius.

In this fascinating biography, Durden presents the life of a man who was not only a business genius, but also an avid horticulturist. He spent several million dollars on transforming a large portion of the Duke family farm in New Jersey into a magnificently landscaped park, one of the late Gilded Age’s most magnificent country estates. This is also the biography of a most creative entrepreneurial capitalist, one who, after a lifetime of big business successes, finally turned his talent towards investing in a unique plan for perpetual philanthropy in the Carolinas. • James B. Duke Books

Donna Fargo (born Yvonne Vaughan, November 10, 1945, Mount Airy, North Carolina) country music, Donna Fargo is perhaps best known as "The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.," referring to the Grammy Award-winning song she wrote and recorded. That song and her self-penned follow-up hit, "Funny Face," established her as the first female country music artist with back-to-back million-selling number-one singles. Prior to achieving superstardom and becoming one of the most prolific songwriters in Nashville, Donna was a high-school English teacher. She has always had an intense love for the English language, and with her writings Donna taps into that "sensitive place from where feelings come, as they are born and sculptured in the private confines of the heart." It is her hope that those who read and share her words will become connected in a more meaningful way.• Donna Fargo Books .• Donna Fargo Discography
Roberta Flack (born February 10, 1937) singer, Black Mountain American singer, songwriter and musician who is notable for jazz, soul, R&B and folk music. Flack is best known for singles such as "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Killing Me Softly with His Song", and "Feel Like Makin' Love", as well as "Where Is the Love" and "The Closer I Get to You", two of her many duets with Donny Hathaway. "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" won the 1973 Grammy Record of the Year and "Killing Me Softly with His Song" won the same award at the Grammy Awards of 1974. She and U2 are the only artists to win the award in back-to-back years. Flack was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and was raised in Arlington, Virginia. She first discovered the work of African American musical artists when she heard Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke sing in a predominantly African-American Baptist church.

Flack became the first African-American student teacher at an all-Caucasian school near Chevy Chase, Maryland. She graduated from Howard University at 19 and began graduate studies in music, but the sudden death of her father forced her to take a job teaching music and English for $2800 a year in Farmville, North Carolina. • Roberta Flack Books • Roberta Flack Discography

Ava Gardner (1922 - 1990) Became a Hollywood star and acted in more than 20 films by the age of 28; born in Smithfield. At the ripe old age of 32, having collected three ex-husbands-Mickey Rooney , Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra -Ava Gardner waxed introspective: "I still believe the most important thing in life is to be loved." Server's (Baby, I Don't Care) deliciously entertaining tome bursts with Hollywood dish and Oscar-worthy dialogue and is written in a crackling style that reads like great pulp. "Love became her terrible habit," he writes, "something hopeless to resist, impossible to get right." A Tobacco Road urchin turned "statue of Venus sprung to succulent life," Gardner ditched her secretarial aspirations and started at MGM in the early '40s as a contract actress earning $50 a week. She became an international star, drawing huge crowds on both sides of the Atlantic. But life wasn't always sweet for the gorgeous star of Show Boat and The Barefoot Contessa; her steamy affair and marriage to Sinatra ranks among the most notorious of Hollywood love stories. Gardner's career, hard drinking and screen-worthy love affairs are all chronicled in Server's page-turner prose, doing justice to one of cinema's most beautiful faces. • Ava Gardner Books • Ava Gardner Movies
Richard Gatling (September 12, 1818 – February 26, 1903) inventor, Hertford County Keller, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, analyzes the nexus between invention and culture in this incisive and instructive cultural history cum biography. Her subject is the iconic Gatling gun, the first successful machine gun, and its inventor, Richard Jordan Gatling, a 19th-century tinkerer and entrepreneur. A gifted amateur inventor, he registered his first patent—for a mechanical seed planter—in 1844 and had 43 lifetime patents. In 1862, with the Civil War raging, Gatling invented a six-barrel, rapid-firing (200 rounds per minute) gun based on his seed planter. Initially rejected by the Union army, the gun finally came into use in 1866 as a bully and enforcer against striking workers and in the Indian Wars; its legacy—the mechanization of death—didn't become fully apparent until the killing fields of WWI. A celebrity in the 19th century, Gatling was soon reviled for his terrible marvel and then consigned to obscurity. Keller rescues Gatling and anchors his remarkable life firmly in the landscape of 19th-century America: a time and place of egalitarian hope and infinite possibility. (June) • Richard Gatling Books
Billy Graham (born November 7, 1918), evangelist, Charlotte Every year a Billy Graham crusade comes to a stadium or a television station near you, the message unchangingly passionate, though the messenger is grayer than he once was. The Reverend Billy Graham is more than just another television evangelist; he is as much a part of this country's collective consciousness as F.D.R. or the Vietnam War. Whether you subscribe to Graham's brand of ecumenical evangelism or not, Just As I Am reveals the man behind the crusade to be forthright, deeply religious, and driven to spread the Word at all costs, even his relationships with his family. Graham is characteristically honest about his failings as a husband and father, admitting that he didn't recognize his own children at a family gathering. • Billy Graham Books
Kathryn Grayson singer, actress, Winston-Salem (born February 9, 1922) is an American actress and operatic soprano singer. Trained as an opera singer from the age of twelve, Grayson was contracted to MGM and established a career in films from the early 1940s. Most of her films were musicals and after several supporting roles, she was given lead roles in such films as Show Boat (1951) and Kiss Me Kate (1953). She was paired with Howard Keel and Mario Lanza in some of her films.

When movie musicals fell out of favor with film audiences, she progressed to theatre work, and appeared in several musicals, including the highly successful Camelot from 1962 until 1964. During the 1960s, she performed in several operas, including La bohème, Madama Butterfly, Orpheus in the Underworld and La traviata. • Kathryn Grayson Books • Kathryn Grayson Movies • Kathryn Grayson Discography

Andy Griffith (1926 - ) Actor made famous in television shows such as The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock; born in Mt. Airy. He's best known as Mayberry's Sheriff Andy Taylor and Atlanta lawyer Ben Matlock, but Andy Griffith's career includes stand-up, Broadway plays, films, and success as a recording artist. In his long-awaited autobiography Andy tells of growing up poor in North Carolina and of attending college to become a Moravian minister, as well as how he discovered comedy and eventually played in Broadway's No Time for Sergeants and starred in the movie A Face in the Crowd. Including stories from filming The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, Andy takes readers behind the scenes, sharing the good times and the bad: his joy-filled marriage to Cindi, struggles with his health, and his recent work in movies like Waitress and the award-winning video for Brad Paisley's "Waitin' on a Woman." Intimate, heartwarming, and characteristically humorous, Andy's story is sure to captivate readers and fill in a vital piece of missing Americana. • Andy Griffith Books • Andy Griffith Films • Andy Griffith Discography
Pleasant Hanes (1845-1925) Founder of the Hanes Corporation; born in Winston-Salem. Based in Winston-Salem, N.C., Hanesbrands Inc. (NYSE:HBI) is a global consumer goods company with more than a century of history and a portfolio of leading apparel essentials including T-shirts, bras, panties, men’s underwear, kids' underwear, socks, hosiery, casualwear and activewear. Some of their brands include: • Hanes® • Champion® • Playtex® • Bali® • L’eggs® • Just My Size® • Barely There® • Wonderbra®  • No books
Jesse Helms (October 18, 1921–July 4, 2008) politician, Monroe Chief of the Baltimore Sun's Washington bureau, Furgurson bases his revelatory biography on sound research into Senator Helms's background. The author talked to people who knew Helms in Monroe, N.C., where he was born in 1921 and grew up reportedly a real go-getter. Writing opinion columns geared to special interests was a step on the way to the Senate and his intransigent rightist position of phenomenal influence, according to Furgurson. He writes about Helms's stance on civil rights and other controversial matters, the strong support he receives from the Rev. Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and big business. There is much vital information in this book that should be read by liberals and conservatives alike, since Helms may become head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. • Jesse Helms Books
O. Henry writer, Greensboro was the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings. was the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings.

The O. Henry Award is a prestigious annual prize given to outstanding short stories, and named after Porter. Several schools around the country bear Porter's pseudonym. In 1952, a film featuring five stories, called O. Henry's Full House, was made. The episode garnering the most critical acclaim[citation needed] was "The Cop and the Anthem", starring Charles Laughton and Marilyn Monroe. The other stories are "The Clarion Call", "The Last Leaf", "The Ransom of Red Chief" (starring Fred Allen and Oscar Levant), and "The Gift of the Magi". • O. Henry Books

Andrew Jackson (1767 - 1845) Seventh President of the United States, was born in the Waxsaws area on the border of North and South Carolina. Newsweek editor and bestselling author Meacham (Franklin and Winston) offers a lively take on the seventh president's White House years. We get the Indian fighter and hero of New Orleans facing down South Carolina radicals' efforts to nullify federal laws they found unacceptable, speaking the words of democracy even if his banking and other policies strengthened local oligarchies, and doing nothing to protect southern Indians from their land-hungry white neighbors. For the first time, with Jackson, demagoguery became presidential, and his Democratic Party deepened its identification with Southern slavery. Relying on the huge mound of previous Jackson studies, Meacham can add little to this well-known story, save for the few tidbits he's unearthed in private collections rarely consulted before. What he does bring is a writer's flair and the ability to relate his story without the incrustations of ideology and position taking that often disfigure more scholarly studies of Jackson. Nevertheless, a gifted writer like Meacham might better turn his attention to tales less often told and subjects a bit tougher to enliven. 32 pages of b&w photos. (Nov. 11) • Andrew Jackson Books
Andrew Johnson (1808 - 1875) Started his career as a tailor's apprentice in Raleigh, North Carolina and rose to lead in the reuniting of the nation as the seventeenth President of the United States. Known for his Carl Schurz: A Biography (LJ 2/15/82), Trefousse delivers the first Johnson study in years, a definitive assessment of his career and presidency. Johnson's papers and other sources reveal his fatal idealization of the agrarian utopia, his fierce advocacy of strict Constitutional constructionism, and his imprudent insistence upon the Republican party's adoption of his views on race. Trefousse demonstrates that Johnson, because of his upbringing, was out of step with the great changes emerging at the end of the Civil War. His stubborn attachment to his increasingly archaic views was responsible for his political and military success, but also for his impeachment. A brilliant, compassionate portrait of a dynamic era of social change and national healing, and of the tragic failure of an American leader. Not to be missed. • Andrew Johnson Books
Michael Jordan (1963 - ) Basketball superstar who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles; grew up in Wilmington. “Porter traces basketball star Jordan's career, starting with his formative years and education, then detailing his accomplishments during his years with the Chicago Bulls, his transition into and out of the Birmingham Barons, and his disappointing years with the Washington Wizards. The book highlights his on-court accomplishments, but also examines his disagreements with coaches and management, and his role as an advertising figure. B&w photos, a timeline, and an annotated bibliography of print and nonprint sources are included. The length, format, and subject areas of the bibliographies in the series are designed to meet educators requirements for secondary school assignments.”–Reference & Research Book News • Michael Jordan Books
A-J • K-Z