USA Famous People of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Biographies

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Douglas MacArthur (1880 - 1964) Well-known WWII and Korean war general; lived in Milwaukee.• Douglas MacArthur Books
Fredric March actor, Racine (August 31, 1897 – April 14, 1975) was an American stage and film actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and in 1946 for The Best Years of Our Lives.

March was born Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel in Racine, Wisconsin, the son of Cora Brown (nιe Marcher), a schoolteacher, and John F. Bickel, a devout Presbyterian Church elder who worked in the wholesale hardware business. March attended the Winslow Elementary School (established in 1855), Racine High School, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi. He began a career as a banker, but an emergency appendectomy caused him to reevaluate his life, and in 1920 he began working as an extra in movies made in New York City, using a shortened form of his mother's maiden name, Marcher. He appeared on Broadway in 1926, and by the end of the decade signed a film contract with Paramount Pictures. • Fredric March Books • Fredric March Movies

Jackie Mason comedian, Sheboygan (born June 9, 1936) is an American stand-up comedian. Born Yacov Moshe Maza in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, he grew up in New York City on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Mason graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College of New York. At age 25, he was ordained a rabbi (as his three brothers and father had been) in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Three years later he resigned to become a comedian.

Mason had several one-man comedy stage shows over the years. His first Broadway show was called The World According to Me, which was well-received. Later, he had a show at the John Golden Theatre, called Politically Incorrect, which ran into copyright problems because it was performed at the same time that Bill Maher's TV show Politically Incorrect was on the air. Bill Maher brought a lawsuit against Mason's production, which was dismissed as 'frivolous.' To this day, Mason is able to use this show title, and it is one of his most successful road productions. Between these shows, Mason played the lead in a short-lived television show called Chicken Soup alongside Lynn Redgrave. • Jackie Mason Books • Jackie Mason Movies & TV

Golda Meir (1898 - 1978) Israel’s first woman prime minister; raised in Milwaukee. • Golda Meir Books
Pat O'Brien actor, Milwaukee (November 11, 1899–October 15, 1983), born William Joseph Patrick O'Brien, was an American film actor with more than one hundred screen credits.

O'Brien was born to an Irish-American Catholic family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served as an altar boy at Gesu Church while growing up near 13th and Clybourn streets. O'Brien attended Marquette Academy with fellow actor Spencer Tracy, and later attended Marquette University. Reportedly he also served with Jack Benny at Great Lakes Naval Station during World War I.

O'Brien appeared with James Cagney in nine feature films, including Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and Cagney's last film, Ragtime (1981). He began appearing in movies (many times playing Irish cops or priests) in the 1930s, starting with the role of ace reporter Hildy Johnson in the original version of The Front Page in 1931. He appeared in the highly successful 1946 suspense film, Crack-Up and played the lead in The Personality Kid. • Pat O'Brien Books • Pat O'Brien Movies

Georgia O'Keeffe painter, Sun Prairie • Georgia O'Keeffe Books
Les Paul musician, Waukesha Lester William Polsfuss (June 9, 1915 – August 12, 2009) — known as Les Paul — was an American jazz and country guitarist, songwriter and inventor. He was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which "made the sound of rock and roll possible". He is credited with many recording innovations, including overdubbing (also known as sound on sound), delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects, and multitrack recording.

His innovative talents extended into his playing style, including licks, trills, chording sequences, fretting techniques and timing, which set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired many of the guitarists of the present day. He recorded with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s and they sold millions of records.

Among his many honors, Paul is one of a handful of artists with a permanent, stand-alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is prominently named by the music museum on its website as an "architect" and a "key inductee" along with Sam Phillips and Alan Freed. • Les Paul Books • Les Paul Movies & DVD's • Les Paul Discography

Amy Pietz actress, Oak Creek (born March 6, 1969) is an American film and television actress. Pietz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the adopted daughter of Nancy, a nurse, and Arnold Pietz, a truck driver. She trained throughout her childhood in ballet and prepared to go professional, but then eventually decided professional ballet wasn't in the cards for her (she found out how much money she'd make) and shifted her focus elsewhere. She attended The Milwaukee High School of the Arts and graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Pietz played the role of Annie Spadaro in the NBC sitcom Caroline in the City, which aired from 1995 to 1999. She was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for the role in 1999. She also starred as Charlie (the sister of Rodney's wife Trina) in the short-lived ABC sitcom Rodney, which debuted in 2004. She has made guest appearances on Ally McBeal, Burn Notice, The Drew Carey Show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Closer.

On September 10, 2007, Pietz returned to the Milwaukee High School of the Arts, her alma mater, to show the audience scenes from her TV series, Aliens in America, which premiered several weeks later, on October 1. • Amy Pietz Books • Amy Pietz Movies & TV

Charlotte Rae actress, Milwaukee (born April 22, 1926) is an American character actress, singer and dancer, who in her six decades of television is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Edna Garrett in the sitcoms Diff'rent Strokes and The Facts of Life (in which she starred from 1978 to 1986). She received a Best Actress Emmy Nomination in a Comedy in 1982. She also appeared in two Facts of Life television movies: The Facts of Life Goes to Paris in 1982 and The Facts of Life Reunion in 2001. She also provided the voice of Nanny in the cartoon 101 Dalmatians: The Series.

Rae was born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Russian Jewish immigrants Esther (nιe Ottenstein), who was a childhood friend of Golda Meir, and Meyer Lubotsky, a retail tire business owner. She had two sisters (Miriam, a pianist, writer, and composer, and Beverly, an opera singer), and graduated from Shorewood High School in 1944. For the first ten years of her life, Rae's family lived in Milwaukee, after which they moved to Shorewood, Wisconsin. In a 2002 interview, Charlotte said she was interested in acting as a little girl. She did a lot of radio work and was with the Wauwatosa Children's Theatre. At 16, she was an apprentice with the Port Players, a professional theater company that came for the summer to Milwaukee, with several established actors such as Morton DaCosta, who was the director of the Music Man on Broadway. She said that she had great teachers at her high school, which also had a beautiful campus. Rae attended but did not complete her studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. • Charlotte Rae Books • Charlotte Rae Movies

William H. Rehnquist jurist, Milwaukee • William H. Rehnquist Books
Charles and John Ringling circus entrepreneurs, Baraboo  • Charles and John Ringling Books
Gena Rowlands actress, Cambria (born June 19, 1930) is an American actress of film, stage and television. She collaborated with her actor-director husband John Cassavetes on ten films.

Born as Virginia Cathryn Rowlands in Madison, Wisconsin, Rowlands was raised in Cambria. Her father, Edwin Myrwyn Rowlands, was a banker and a state legislator, and her mother, Mary Allen (nιe Neal), was a painter and housewife originally from Arkansas. The family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1939 when Edwin was appointed to a position in the United States Department of Agriculture; moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1942 when he was appointed as branch manager of the Office of Price Administration[5]; and later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Gena attended the University of Wisconsin from 1947 to 1950,[6] where she was a popular student already renowned for her beauty. She left for New York City to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. • Gena Rowlands Books • Gena Rowlands Movies

Tom Snyder  born in Milwaukee. Thomas James "Tom" Snyder (May 12, 1936 – July 29, 2007) was an American television personality, news anchor and radio personality best known for his late night talk shows The Tomorrow Show, on the NBC television network in the 1970s and 1980s, and The Late Late Show, on the CBS Television Network in the 1990s.

Snyder was also the pioneer anchor of the primetime NBC News Update, in the 1970s and early 1980s, which was a one-minute capsule of news updates in primetime.

Snyder was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His parents, Frank and Marie, gave him a Roman Catholic upbringing; he attended St. Agnes Elementary School, and then graduated from Jesuit-run Marquette University High School. He also attended Marquette University, after which he had originally planned to study medicine and become a doctor. • Tom Snyder Books • Tom Snyder Movies & TV

Spencer Tracy actor, Milwaukee Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American theatrical and film actor, who appeared in 74 films from 1930 to 1967. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy 9th among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor in all.

Tracy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the second son of John Edward Tracy, an Irish American Catholic truck salesman, and Caroline Brown, a Protestant turned Christian Scientist. Tracy's paternal grandparents, John Tracy and Mary Guhin, were born in Ireland. His mother's ancestry dates back to Thomas Stebbins, who immigrated from England in the late 1630s. Tracy attended six high schools, starting with Wauwatosa High School in 1915 and St. John's Cathedral School for boys in Milwaukee the following year. The Tracy family then moved to Kansas City, where Spencer was enrolled at St. Mary's College, Kansas, a boarding school in St. Marys, Kansas 30 miles west of Topeka, Kansas, then transferred to Rockhurst, a Jesuit academy in Kansas City, Missouri. John Tracy's job in Kansas City did not work out, and the family returned to Milwaukee six months after their departure. Spencer was enrolled at Marquette Academy, another Jesuit school, where he met fellow actor Pat O'Brien. The two young men left school in spring 1917 to enlist in the Navy after the American entry into World War I, but Tracy remained in Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia throughout the war. • Spencer Tracy Books • Spencer Tracy Movies

Bob Uecker baseball player, Milwaukee • Bob Uecker Books
Thorstein Veblen economist, Cato Township • Thorstein Veblen Books
Greta Van Susteren (born June 11, 1954) is an American journalist and television personality on the Fox News Channel, where she hosts On The Record with Greta Van Susteren. A former criminal defense and civil trial lawyer, she appeared as a legal commentator on CNN co-hosting Burden of Proof with Roger Cossack from 1994 to 2002, playing defense attorney to Cossack's prosecutor. Van Susteren, former criminal defense attorney and host of On the Record on Fox, offers her opinions on a variety of controversial issues and celebrity-driven topics, including her switch to Fox from CNN and her eye tuck.

Although she is presumed to be a liberal, Van Susteren maintains that her sensibilities are solidly rooted in her Catholic midwestern background and defy easy categorization. She's as much influenced by the nearly 20 years she spent practicing law as by her fairly recent career as television anchor and talk-show host. She offers a behind-the-scenes look at news shows, including correspondence from viewers; the interviews "from hell"; and the stress and occasional absurdity of "getting the get," the most sought-after guest for a television show.

She defends using the controversial Mark Fuhrman as a frequent contributor on her show and recalls interviews and conversations with Henry Kissinger, O. J. Simpson, Ted Turner, and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Van Susteren turns her cogent analysis to the death penalty, cameras in the courtroom, corporate greed, the politics of patriotism, and tort reform. Whether or not readers agree with her positions, they will enjoy Van Susteren's candor and humor. Vanessa Bush • Greta Van Susteren Books

Orson Welles actor and producer, Kenosha - George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985), best known as Orson Welles was an American film director, writer, actor and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television, and radio. Welles was also an accomplished magician, starring in troop variety spectacles in the war years. Noted for his innovative dramatic productions as well as his distinctive voice and personality, Welles is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished dramatic artists of the 20th century. His first two films with RKO: Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, are widely considered two of the greatest films ever made. His other films, including Touch of Evil and Chimes at Midnight, are also considered masterpieces. He was also well-known for a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds which, performed in the style of a news broadcast, caused widespread panic when listeners thought that an actual extraterrestrial invasion was in progress.

In 2002 he was voted the greatest film director of all time in the British Film Institute's poll of Top Ten Directors.• Orson Welles Books • Orson Welles Movies & Films

Gene Wilder (1935 - ) Actor made famous in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; born in Milwaukee. (born Jerome Silberman; June 11, 1933) is an American stage and screen actor, director, screenwriter, and author.

Wilder began his career on stage, making his screen debut in the film Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. His first major role was as Leo Bloom in the 1968 film The Producers. This was the first in a series of prolific collaborations with writer/director Mel Brooks, including 1974's Young Frankenstein, the script of which garnered the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wilder is known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989), and Another You (1991). Wilder has directed and written several of his films, including The Woman in Red (1984).

His marriage to actress Gilda Radner, who died from ovarian cancer, led to his active involvement in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda's Club.

In more recent years, Wilder turned his attention to writing, producing a memoir in 2005, Kiss Me Like A Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, and the novels My French Whore (2007) and The Woman Who Wouldn't (2008). • Gene Wilder Books • Gene Wilder Movies

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867 - 1957) Author of the Little House books; born in Pepin. • Laura Ingalls Wilder Books
Thornton Wilder author, Madison • Thornton Wilder Books
Charles Winninger actor, Athen Charles Winninger (May 26, 1884 – January 27, 1969) was an American stage and film actor, most often cast in comedies or musicals, but equally at home in drama.

He began as a vaudeville actor. His most famous stage role was as Cap'n Andy Hawks in the original production of the Jerome Kern - Oscar Hammerstein II musical classic Show Boat in 1927, a role that he reprised - to great acclaim - in the 1932 stage revival and the 1936 film version of the show. He became so identified with the role, and with his "persona" as a riverboat captain, that he played several variations of the role, notably on the radio program Maxwell House Show Boat, which was clearly inspired by, but not actually based on, the Broadway musical.

After the 1936 "Show Boat", Winninger largely abandoned the stage and stayed on in Hollywood, becoming one of its most beloved and most often seen character actors • Charles Winninger Books • Charles Winninger Movies

Tom Wopat (born September 9, 1951) is an American actor and singer. He first achieved fame as Luke Duke in the long-running 1979 television series The Dukes of Hazzard, along with John Schneider. He also played Jeff, one of Cybill Shepherd's ex-husbands in the TV series Cybill. ) Played Luke Duke in the hit television series, "Dukes Of Hazard"; born on a small dairy farm in Lodi. Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and made his television debut in the daytime drama One Life to Live; however, he achieved television fame in the popular long-running television series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985).

He also embarked on a music career. He has recorded eight albums. Musically he switches between rock and roll and country music styles, though his last two albums have been of classic pop standards. The latter recording, Dissertation on the State of Bliss, is a collection of Harold Arlen songs. • Tom Wopat Books • Tom Wopat Movies & TV • Tom Wopat Discography

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 - 1959) America's most famous architect; born in Richland Center.  • Frank Lloyd Wright Books

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