St. Louis Born Celebrities - Who Knew?


How well do you know the famous people born in St. Louis? Are you an authority on St. Louis Celebrities? Let’s see how many you know and be honest! PS. We’re not even go to mention the easy ones like Chuck Berry, John Goodman, Chingy, Kevin Kline and adopted St. Louis son Nelly - so put on your thinking caps!

One that might surprise you, and if you’ve ever seen The Poseidon Adventure (1972), then we know you love her – Shelley Winters! Born Shirley Schrift, Shelley was the daughter of Rose Winter a singer with the Muny, and Jonas Schrift, a designer of men's clothing. Her parents were Jewish and third cousins! Her father had emigrated from Austria and her mother was born in St. Louis to Austrian immigrants. Later when Shelley won her Oscar for The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), she donated it to the Anne Frank museum. Another fun fact: Shelley was roommates with Marilyn Monroe when they were both starting out in Hollywood. She taught Marilyn how to “act” pretty by tilting her head back, keeping her eyes lowered and her mouth partly opened. Who knew that?

Maybe you’re very smart, but did you know Marilyn vos Savant was born in St. Louis in 1946. You surely recognize her from her Sunday column in Parade Magazine where she solves puzzles and answers questions on various subjects. She is also an author, lecturer, and playwright. Amazing Fun Fact: She is listed as having the highest recorded IQ in the Guinness Book of Records.

Actress Linda Blair of The Exorcist was also born in St. Louis in 1959. Ironically the exorcism of a 14 year old boy with the pseudonym Roland Doe was performed in St. Louis and became the basis of the 1971 novel The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty and the 1973 film adaptation.  As the story goes, one night in 1949, back when Verhagen Hall at St. Louis University was a residence for Jesuits, a priest heard a diabolical laugh that froze his blood. Where did it happen exactly? That evening, the young Jesuit sat in his small room directly across from the old rectory at the back of St. Francis Xavier (College) Church. The old priests' house - which has since been razed and replaced with a newer building - was nestled between the creaky, wood-and-brick splendor of DuBourg Hall and its nearby 19th-century cousin, Verhagen, now home to the university's theological studies department.

Another famous St. Louis son with a penchant for the occult was William S. Burroughs II, one of the primary figures of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author and artist. Burroughs was born in the dead of winter 1914 in the master bedroom of his family's well-appointed home in the Central West End. The Burroughs manor, designed and built by Burroughs' father, Mortimer, is still there — a three-story brick home on stately Pershing Avenue. It was during his childhood that Burroughs developed a lifelong interest in magic and the occult. In his work he would describe how he saw an apparition of a green reindeer in the woods as a child, which he identified as a totem animal, as well as a vision of ghostly grey figures at play in his bedroom. He and Linda Blair could have had quite the chat if their paths had crossed.

Speaking of important people of their generation, Dick Gregory, the civil rights activist, comedian, social critic, writer, and actor is also St. Louis born. He attended Sumner High School, which was the first high school for African-American students west of the Mississippi. During the turbulent 1960s, Gregory became a pioneer in stand-up comedy and is credited with becoming the first black comedian to successfully cross over to white audiences, appearing on television and putting out comedy record albums.

Another famous St. Louis writer was T.S. Eliot. We know you’ve read his work, but did you know the Eliots were a Boston Brahmin family with roots in England and New England.  T.S. Eliot's paternal grandfather, William Greenleaf Eliot, moved to St. Louis to establish a Unitarian Christian church. His father, Henry Ware Eliot (1843–1919), was a successful businessman, president and treasurer of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company. His mother, Charlotte Champe Stearns (1843–1929), wrote poetry and was a social worker, a new profession in the early 20th century. Eliot was the last of six surviving children; his parents were both 44 years old when he was born. Eliot was actually born at 2635 Locust Street.

What about the famous Betty Grable? She was born in 1916 in St. Louis. An actress, pin-up girl, dancer, and singer, she starred in 42 movies from the 1930s through the 1940s and grossed more than 100 million dollars. In addition to the $100 million, she earned 12 consecutive years of the top 10 box office stars, setting a record.

Did you know famed baseball announcer Harry Caray was born and grew up in St. Louis? Born Harry Christopher Carabina to an Italian father and Romanian mother, Caray was 14 when his mother, Daisy Argint, died from complications due to pneumonia. Caray did not have much recollection of his father, who went off to fight in the First World War. Caray went to live with his uncle John Argint and Aunt Doxie at 1909 LaSalle Avenue. Caray attended high school at Webster Groves High School.

Speaking of sports, we’re sure you’ve heard this story, but it’s too good not to repeat. Joe Garagiola grew up on Elizabeth Avenue on The Hill, just across the street from Yogi Berra, his childhood friend and competitor, who was nine months older. As teenagers in the early 1940s, almost all pro scouts rated Garagiola as the better baseball prospect, although Berra had a Hall of Fame career, and Garagiola was a journeyman. About growing up living across from Berra, Garagiola often quipped, "Not only was I not the best catcher in the Major Leagues, I wasn't even the best catcher on my street!"

Did you know Andy Cohen was born in St. Louis and graduated from Clayton High School in 1986? This St. Louis celebrity served as Executive Producer on Emmy-winning reality cooking competition television show, Top Chef. He is an executive producer of the Real Housewives franchise, host of Watch What Happens Live on Bravo, host of Andy Cohen Live on SiriusXM, and hosted the television dating show, Love Connection

While Cedric Antonio Kyles (Cedric the Entertainer) was born in Jefferson City, he was raised in Caruthersville, but after junior high school he moved to Berkeley. He is a graduate of Berkeley High School in St. Louis's northern suburbs. Not-so-fun fact: While Cedric attended Berkeley High, he developed a severe rash on the top of his head, causing him him to wear a hat for most of his career. In 2005, Cedric told CNN he no longer cares about his rash and is proud of it. And we are proud of this adopted St. Louis celebrity!

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19 Mar 2019

By Ethan