What do heavyweight boxer Joe Frazier, soul singer James Brown, and noted abstract artist Jasper Johns have in common? Believe it or not, they’re all from South Carolina! Who are the other famous South Carolinians you should know?
Famous South Carolinians
When most people think of South Carolina, they think of the weather or the beach, but there’s a lot more to learn about the Palmetto State. For example, South Carolina has given a lot of big personalities to the world. Let’s meet a few famous South Carolinians.
- Eartha Kitt, famed actress and musician. You might know Kitt from her turn as Catwoman in the 1960s Batman TV show. Off of the small screen, Kitt found massive success in Hollywood as a singer and actress. She was beloved for her incredible cabaret performances.
- Mary Louise Parker, stage and screen actress. Parker majored in drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She has charmed audiences with roles in Fried Green Tomatoes and Boys on The Side, but she is most famous for playing Nancy Botwin in the hit HBO dramedy Weeds.
- Andie MacDowell, Golden-Globe winning actress. MacDowell is perhaps one of the most famous actresses born in South Carolina. Although she excels in dramatic roles, she has become a mainstay of the romantic comedy genre. You can catch her work in comedy classics like Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
- Stephen Colbert, television actor and comedian. One of Charleston’s most famous sons, Colbert first found fame as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He is currently the host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He is also a popular voice actor.
- Joe Frazier, world-famous boxer. An accomplished heavyweight athlete, Frazier won the gold at the 1964 Olympics and was the Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1970 to 1973. However, most people remember him because of his infamous feud with Muhammad Ali.
- “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, outfielder for the Chicago White Sox. His .356 batting average is the third highest in American baseball history. Unfortunately, because of his association with the Black Sox World Series cheating scandal, his career was cut short.
- Althea Gibson, tennis player and professional golfer. As a Black female athlete, Gibson broke multiple barriers by winning an international tennis championship in 1956. She appears in both the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
- James Brown, world-famous soul singer. It’s difficult to think of a musician from South Carolina that had a larger impact on music and popular culture. He certainly lived up to his nicknames as “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” and “The Godfather of Soul.” His hits include “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.”
- Dizzy Gillespie, acclaimed jazz musician. One of the most well-known jazz trumpeters of the bebop era, Gillespie is still regarded as one of the fathers of Afro-Cuban jazz.
- Darius Rucker, Americana singer and songwriter. You probably know Rucker as the singer from the 90s alternative band Hootie and the Blowfish. However, he’s recently restarted his career as a singer/songwriter in the country genre and has scored multiple hits on the Nashville charts.
Other Notable Personalities
- Jasper Johns, abstract impressionist. Johns was noted for his playful approach to iconography and was a pioneer in the art-pop movement of the 50s and 60s.
- Dorothy Alison, acclaimed writer. Alison’s career includes award-winning poetry collections, fiction, and essay collections. She is best known for her novels about life in South Carolina.
- Mary McLeod Bethune, politician and advocate. The daughter of enslaved people, Bethune rose to prominence as one of the most important figures of the civil rights movement. She served as a tireless advocate for the education and advancement of Black people and women.
These are just a handful of the colorful and fascinating famous figures in South Carolina’s history. Impress your friends and family with these fun facts at your next barbeque!
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