As a Minnesotan, I’m very proud of my home state. We’re attractive, have great food, awesome cities, and we live in one of the healthiest states in America (with perhaps one of the unhealthiest state fairs). Some might even say we’re the best state.
Plus, Minnesota has raised some very famous people.
From Nobel Prize winners to famous actors, keep reading to see the most famous people who were born and raised in the Land of 10,000 lakes.
Singer and songwriter Prince
Born Prince Rogers Nelson in June of 1958 in Minneapolis, Prince came from a family of musicians in Minnesota. He grew up writing music (he wrote his first song when he was 7, as the story goes) and attended Minneapolis Central High School, where he started his first band, Grand Central, which played at venues in the Minneapolis area.
Prince created a demo at a Minneapolis studio in 1976 and received a recording contract from a Minneapolis businessman when he was 17. That move garnered him a lot of attention from top record companies like Warner Brothers and was the start of his dazzling career.
He is now one of the most iconic musicians of all time, and still has a home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald
Born Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald in September of 1896 in Saint Paul, he grew up in Minnesota (for the most part — he also spent some of his early life in Syracuse, New York) and attended St. Paul Academy before moving to the Newman School in New Jersey and eventually on to Princeton.
After dropping out of Princeton, serving in the army, and being rejected by publishers, Fitzgerald quit his advertising job in New York City and moved back to Saint Paul to finish his first novel, “This Side of Paradise.”
He is now known as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His novels — especially his later work “The Great Gatsby” — remain classics to this day. Read more about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life here.
Actor Josh Hartnett
Joshua Hartnett was born in July of 1978 in Saint Paul. He graduated from South High School in Minneapolis before leaving to attend SUNY Purchase in New York and later to pursue acting in California.
He moved back to Minnesota in 2002 after growing fed up with Hollywood. In addition to taking on more indie projects, he became involved with Minnesota politics, joining Barack Obama in his Minnesota Campaign in 2012.
Hartnett is most famous for his roles in “Black Hawk Down,” “The Virgin Suicides,” and “Pearl Harbour.” He is currently starring in the TV series “Penny Dreadful” and his Saint Paul home is on the market.
Actress and singer Judy Garland
Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in June of 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Her Vaudevillian parents had her start working in show businesses straight away — she started out at only 2 years old as a member of the performing group the Gumm Sisters with her two older sisters.
The family moved to California for the girls to study acting and gain notoriety. Garland’s talent garnered attention from top studios, and she signed a deal with MGM at the age of 13.
Judy Garland had five marriages during her lifetime and three children, including her daughter Liza Minelli. She was plagued by drug and health problems throughout her career, but is still remembered for her early roles in “The Wizard of Oz” and “Meet Me in St. Louis.” You can read more about Garland’s life here.
“Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Shulz
Regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists in American history, Charles Monroe Shulz was the creator of the comic strip “Peanuts.”
He was born in Minneapolis in November of 1922 and grew up in Saint Paul where he was one of the youngest in his class at Central High School.
After graduating, Shulz entered the army and served in WWII before returning to Saint Paul and finally selling his first cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post. His career took off from there.
At its height, “Peanuts” was published in over 2,600 papers in 75 countries and in 21 languages. You can read more about Charles Shulz and his incredible career here.
Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in May of 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, the man who later became known as Bob Dylan grew up in Minnesota. Dylan and his family lived in Duluth until he was six and then they moved to Hibbing, Minnesota, to live among a small Jewish community on Mesabi Range. He attended Hibbing High School and formed a few bands before graduating and moving to Minneapolis.
Dylan enrolled at the University of Minnesota, but became invested in folk music and began performing full time at venues in Dinkytown (a neighbourhood in Minneapolis). He eventually dropped out of college after his first year and began calling himself Bob Dylan.
He moved to New York and the rest is history. Dylan remains most famous for his early songs including “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin'” that were a part of the ’60s protest movement. Dylan continues to perform, tour, and write new music and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012.
Actor Seann William Scott
Born in Cottage Grove, MN, in October of 1976, Seann William Scott grew up the youngest of seven kids. He graduated from Park High School in Cottage Grove in 1995 and then moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter to work in Hollywood after becoming inspired while working at the local movie theatre and seeing all the movies he wanted for free.
He is most famous for his role as Steve Stifler in the “American Pie” series, but has also starred in “All My Children, “Role Models,” “The Dukes of Hazard,” and has done voice work for the “Ice Age” series.
Novelist and playwright Sinclair Lewis
Sinclair Lewis was born in February of 1885 in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. He spent his early childhood mostly reading since he found it hard to make friends or get the girls — he even tried to run away from home when he was 13, according to his biographer Mark Schorer.
He left Minnesota when he was 17 to spend a year at Oberlin Academy (a preparatory school for Oberlin College) before moving on to Yale University and the East Coast.
Sinclair Lewis is now one of the most acclaimed American novelists and is famous for being the first US writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature for his book “Dodsworth.” He wrote many books, plays, and short stories during his lifetime, including “Main Street” and “Babbitt.” You can read more about him in “Sinclair Lewis: An American Life.”
Former professional wrestler, actor, and former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura was born James George Janos in July of 1951 in Minneapolis, where he was raised. After graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1969, he enlisted in the United States Navy and was a part of the Underwater Demolition Team (which eventually became a part of the SEALs).
After his career in the Navy and a brief stint with a bike gang, he attended North Hennepin Community College and began weightlifting and wrestling. He created the stage name Jesse “The Body” Ventura and was a charismatic “heel” throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
After his career in wrestling and a brief stint in Hollywood, Ventura turned his attention to politics. He ran for Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in 1990 and got the job. In 1998, he ran for Governor of Minnesota as a nominee for the Reform Party and narrowly won, defeating the major party candidates and serving until 2003.
Ventura has also made national headlines recently for successfully suing the estate of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle for defamation. The now-deceased Kyle described a story of beating up a former Navy SEAL in his book for saying that American soldiers deserved to lose a few men during the Iraq war — in later interviews, he claimed the SEAL was Ventura, which Ventura adamantly denied. You can read more about the lawsuit here.
Author and radio personality Garrison Keillor
Gary Edward “Garrison” Keillor was born in Anoka, MN, to a family of six children. He attended Anoka High School and went on to study at the University of Minnesota where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English in 1966.
While at the U of M, Keillor worked at a student-operated radio station and went on to establish a professional radio career. His most famous radio show was “A Prairie Home Companion,” a variety show recorded in front of a live audience on Minnesota Public Radio.
Keillor still hosts radio programs — including the latest reboot of “A Prairie Home Companion” despite continuously threatening to retire — and writes frequently for newspapers and online publication. He also opened a bookstore that is located on Snelling Avenue across from Macalester College in Saint Paul.
Keillor still lives in Minnesota with his third wife and their daughter.
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