USA Famous People of Virginia

Virginia Biographies

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Richard Arlen (September 1, 1900 – March 28, 1976) actor, Charlottesville Born Cornelius Richard Van Mattimore in Charlottesville, Virginia, he served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War I. At war's end, he went to Los Angeles where he found work as an unskilled laborer. By a stroke of pure luck, he was given an opportunity to act, appearing at first in silent films before making the transition to talkies. He took time out from his Hollywood career to teach as a United States Army Air Forces flight instructor in World War II.

Arlen is best known for his role as a pilot in the Academy Award-winning Wings (1927) with Clara Bow, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, and his future first wife Jobyna Ralston. • Richard Arlen Books • Richard Arlen Movies

Arthur Ashe (July 5, 1943 – February 6, 1993) Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.  was a professional tennis player, born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. During his career, he won three Grand Slam titles, putting him among the best ever from the U.S. Ashe, an African American, is also remembered for his efforts to further social causes.

“Success is a journey, not an outcome. The doing is often more important than the outcome. Sharing Arthur Ashes words and the way he conducted his life is a better model for students than they see in many contemporary tennis pros, whose short tempers and bad manners are often highlighted in the media. Ashes protests against injustice and apartheid and his efforts to raise awareness of AIDS demonstrate his humanitarianism....• Arthur Ashe Books

Pearl Mae Bailey singer, Newport News (March 29, 1918 – August 17, 1990) was an American actress and singer. After appearing in vaudeville, she made her Broadway debut in St. Louis Woman in 1946. She won a Tony Award for the title role in the all-black production of Hello, Dolly! in 1968. In 1986, she won a Daytime Emmy award for her performance as a fairy godmother in the ABC Afterschool Special, Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale. Drawing on her rich and varied life of 70 years, the author has arranged these recollections and reflections in three sections. The first is designed to encourage older people to pursue their dreams, as she did in her 60s as a Georgetown University student; next she examines the deterioration of today's American family; the third section evokes memorable moments and people encountered in her many occupations from entertainer to delegate to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Buoyed by humor, compassion and a strong faith, Bailey's breezy narrative is studded with her own poetry and letters. Her rendition of "Takes Two to Tango" hit the top ten in 1952. • Pearl Mae Bailey Books • Pearl Mae Bailey Films • Pearl Bailey Discography
Russell Baker (born August 14, 1925) columnist, Loudoun City Russell Wayne Baker  is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer known for his satirical commentary and self-critical prose, as well as for his autobiography, In addition to his regular column and numerous books,

Baker has also edited the anthologies The Norton Book of Light Verse (1986) and Russell Baker's Book of American Humor (1993). In 1993, he became the regular host of the PBS television series, Masterpiece Theatre. Baker is a regular contributor to national periodicals such as The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Saturday Evening Post, and McCalls. • Russell Baker Books

Warren Beatty (born March 30, 1937) Director, actor, producer, writer; born in Richmond. Henry Warren Beatty (pronounced /ˈbeɪti/, BAY-tee ,  is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and director. Beatty was born Henry Warren Beaty in Richmond, Virginia's, Bellevue neighborhood.

His mother, Kathlyn Corinne (nιe MacLean), was a Nova Scotia–born drama teacher, and his father, Ira Owens Beaty, was a professor of psychology, a public school administrator, and a real estate agent. Beatty's grandparents were also teachers. The family was Baptist. His father moved the family from Richmond to Norfolk, Virginia, and then to Arlington, Virginia, where he became a middle school principal. The family also lived in Waverly, Virginia, in the 1930s. Beatty's sister, three years his senior, is the multi-award winning actress and writer Shirley MacLaine. • Warren Beatty Books • Warren Beatty Movies

George Bingham (March 20, 1811 – July 7, 1879) painter, Augusta City George Caleb Bingham – 19th century American painter of the American West. The majority of Bingham's paintings and virtually all of his drawings are held in American museums, with the largest selection of paintings at the St. Louis Museum of Art. No museums outside of the United States hold any works by Bingham. Other than portraits, his available paintings are rare and are seldom found at galleries or at auction.

George Caleb Bingham is one of the major American genre painters of the 19th century. Nicknamed "The Missouri Artist," he left behind a vivid panorama of his state and its people which incorporated such social traumas as the Civil War and Reconstruction. While Bingham is now most famous for his riverboat paintings, he was also an active participant in Missouri politics throughout his life, holding public office for 30 years. Rash demonstrates that Bingham's political thought and activity deeply informed his art. Resting on the premise that one must understand the political thinking and context behind the works before attempting to appreciate them, Rash's study examines Bingham's major paintings in the light of his stance on issues such as slavery reform, Union causes, and civil liberties. • George Bingham Books

Admiral Richard E. Byrd (October 25, 1888 – March 11, 1957) Explorer and first man to fly over North and South poles; born in Winchester. Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr., USN was a pioneering American polar explorer, aviator and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

He was a descendant of one of the First Families of Virginia. His ancestors included planter John Rolfe and his wife Pocahontas, William Byrd II of Westover Plantation, who established Richmond, and Robert "King" Carter, a colonial governor. He was the brother of Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd, a dominant figure in Virginia Democratic Party between the 1920s and 1960s.By the time he died, he had amassed twenty-two citations and special commendations, nine of which were for bravery and two for extraordinary heroism in saving the lives of others. In addition, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Congressional Life Saving Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Navy Cross, and had three ticker-tape parades. He preferred to dwell on the substance of his global adventures, and the stories of those that had gone awry as lessons learned. • Admiral Richard E. Byrd Books

Willa Cather author, Winchester • Willa Cather Books
Roy Clark - Country music artist; born in Meherrin.Roy Linwood Clark (born April 15, 1933) is a versatile American country music musician and performer. He is best known for hosting Hee Haw, a nationally televised country variety show, from 1969–1992. Clark has been an iconic figure in country music, both as a musician and as a popularizer of the genre. He is an entertainer most of all, with an amiable personality and a telegenic presence.

During the 1970s, Clark frequently guest-hosted for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and enjoyed a 30-million viewership for Hee Haw. Clark is highly regarded as both a guitarist and banjo player, and is also skilled in classical guitar as well as playing several other instruments. While he has had hit songs as a pop vocalist (e.g., "Yesterday, When I Was Young" and "Thank God And Greyhound"), his instrumental skill has had an enormous effect on succeeding generations of both bluegrass and country musicians. He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and The Country Music Hall of Fame. • Roy Clark Books • Roy Clark Films • Roy Clark Discography

William Clark explorer, Caroline City • William Clark Books
Henry Clay statesman, Hanover City • Henry Clay Books
Joseph Cotten actor, Petersburg (May 15, 1905 – February 6, 1994) was an American actor of stage and film. He is best remembered for his association with Orson Welles, which led to appearances in Journey into Fear, which Cotten wrote, Citizen Kane, The Third Man, and The Magnificent Ambersons.

Cotten first achieved prominence on Broadway, starring in the original productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair. He became a recognizable Hollywood star in his own right with films such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Portrait of Jennie (1948).

Cotten was born in Petersburg, Virginia, the son of Sallie Bartlett (nιe Wilson) and Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., who was an assistant postmaster. Cotten worked as an advertising agent after attending the Washington, D.C., Hickman School of Speech and Expression, where he studied acting. His work as a theatre critic inspired him to become more involved in theatre productions, first in Virginia, and later in New York. Cotten made his Broadway debut in 1930, and soon befriended up-and-coming actor/director/producer Orson Welles. In 1937, he joined Welles' Mercury Theatre Company, starring in productions of Julius Caesar and Shoemaker's Holiday. • Joseph Cotten Books • Joseph Cotten Movies

Ella Fitzgerald  Jazz singer; born in Newport News. Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as "Lady Ella", and the "First Lady of Song", was an American jazz vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves, she was noted for her purity of tone, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

She is widely considered one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook.  Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 13 Grammy Awards, and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia, the child of a common-law marriage between William and Temperance "Tempie" Fitzgerald. The pair separated soon after her birth and she and her mother moved to Yonkers, New York, with Tempie's boyfriend, Joseph Da Silva. Fitzgerald's half-sister, Frances Da Silva, was born in 1923. As a child, Fitzgerald was placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum in Riverdale, the Bronx. • Ella Fitzgerald Books • Ella Fitzgerald Films • Ella Fitzgerald Discography

 William Henry Harrison (1773 - 1841) Ninth president of the U.S.; born in Berkeley. • William Henry Harrison Books
Patrick Henry statesman, Hanover City • Patrick Henry Books
Sam Houston political leader, Rockbridge City • Sam Houston Books
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) - Thomas Jefferson Virginia (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806).

As a political philosopher, Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states' rights and a strictly limited federal government. Jefferson supported the separation of church and state[3] and was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786). He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the cofounder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for 25 years. Jefferson served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), first United States Secretary of State (1789–1793), and second Vice President (1797–1801). • Thomas Jefferson Books

Robert E. Lee Confederate general, Stratford • Robert E. Lee Books
Meriwether Lewis (1774 - 1809) and William Clark (1770 - 1838)  Led a famous expedition to the Pacific ocean; both born in Virginia.• Meriwether Lewis Books
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