Sunshine State

Get to Know Famous People from Florida

The Sunshine State has the fourth-largest economy in the United States, so it’s no surprise that a substantial number of famous people come from all over the state, from the Panhandle to the Keys. There are many celebrities you may not have known were from Florida, a powerhouse in entertainment, sports, business, and more. Below are some of the most famous Floridians:

Professional Basketball Player – Vince Carter

Vince Carter

Vincent Lamar Carter Jr., a former professional basketball player, leads off our list. He is currently an ESPN basketball analyst.

Additionally, Vince primarily played shooting guard and small forward, although he also played power forward later in his NBA career.

He received the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1999. Following that, at the 2000 NBA All-Star Weekend, the professional basketball player won the Slam Dunk Contest.

This professional basketball player won a gold medal for the United States in the Summer Olympics in 2000.

That same year, he was named Child Advocate of the Year at such a young age by the Children’s Home Society.

Gloria Estefan

Gloria Estefan

Havana-born Gloria Estefan moved to Miami following the Cuban revolution and quickly became a fixture on the local music scene. Essentially, she found success in South Florida.

Thereafter, she met a member of the Miami Latin Boys in a church group after studying at the University of Miami and working as a translator at Miami International Airport. She quickly joined the band, renaming it Miami Sound Machine. The band went on to sell millions of songs of both Latin and pop music, with “Conga” flinging them to international success in 1985.

Faye Dunaway

Faye Dunaway

Faye Dunaway, who was born in Bascom, in the Florida panhandle, has earned numerous honors during her more than a 50-year acting career. She began her career on Broadway, but her breakthrough performance was as the titular Bonnie Parker in “Bonnie and Clyde,” followed by roles in “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Network,” among other noteworthy films.

Pat Boone

Pat Boone

Pat Boone has had a long and varied career in show business, the most renowned of which was as a pop singer in the 1950s. He sold over 45 million records and finished second only to Elvis in the charts. Boone was born in Jacksonville but spent much of his boyhood in Nashville, where his first concerts at Centennial Park launched his career. He went on to host “The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom,” a variety show.

Billy Beane

Billy Beane

Billy Beane is a former American professional baseball player who presently serves as the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the ‘Oakland Athletics,’ a professional baseball team in the United States. He is also a minority owner of the ‘Oakland Athletics,’ also known as the ‘A’s,’ a Major League Baseball (MLB) team that plays in the ‘American League West’ (AL West) division.

From 1984 through 1989, he was an outfielder for numerous American professional baseball player clubs, including the ‘New York Mets,’ the ‘Detroit Tigers,’ the ‘Oakland Athletics,’ and the ‘Minnesota Twins.’ He appeared in both the minor and major leagues.

When he was accepted into the ‘A’s as a scout in 1990, he began his new career in sports as an outfielder. Following a three-year career as a scout, he rose through the ranks of the ‘A’s, being appointed to the position of assistant general manager in 1993, general manager in 1997, and executive vice president in 2015.

Chris Nez

Chris Nez

Chris Nez is a tattoo artist and entrepreneur of Love Hat Tattoos on Miami Beach who previously ran Handcrafted Tattoo and Art Gallery in Fort Lauderdale. He was a graffiti artist until his first tattoo business apprenticeship as a teen. Nez became well-known after being featured on “Miami Ink,” and he has nearly 30 years of experience in the industry.

Carla Gugino

Carla Gugino

Carla Gugino, a successful film and television actress, was born in Sarasota and described her upbringing as “having two childhoods” between Florida and Paradise, California following her parents’ divorce. She appeared in shows including “The Wonder Years,” “Who’s the Boss?,” and the “Saved By the Bell” prequel “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” before making her feature debut in “Troop Beverly Hills.”

John Young

John Young

John Young served NASA for the longest time of any astronaut, flying six missions in over 40 years. He was born in San Francisco, but his family moved to Orlando when he was only a year old, so he spent his formative years there. He attended Georgia Tech for aeronautical engineering and served in the Navy during the Korean War.

Hank Locklin

Hank Locklin

Hank Locklin was born in McLellan, Florida, on February 15, 1918. He was an actor who appeared in “Vice” (2018), “A Perfect World” (1993), and “Young Ones” (1993), as well as a country music singer. Previously, he was married to Anita Crooks and Willa Jean Murphy. On 8 March, 2009, he died in Brewton, Alabama, USA.

Allen Covert from West Palm Beach

Allen Covert

Allen Covert is a comedian, actor, producer, and writer best known for his role in the 2006 comedy film ‘Grandma’s Boy.’ He has worked on a number of films with fellow actor and best friend Adam Sandler, including ‘The Wedding Singer,’ ‘Happy Gilmore,’ ’50 First Dates,’ ‘Strange Wilderness,’ and ‘Anger Management,’ to name a few.

Covert, who was born in West Palm Beach County to a Jewish father and a Southern Baptist mother, attended New York University, where Sandler was a classmate.

He is also a co-founder of Cherry Tree Books, a publishing company that publishes eBooks for children. Covert has always been appreciated for his film and television work as a multitalented artist. Several young actors admire his natural acting ability and capacity to portray a wide range of characters. He has four children with his wife, Kathryn Ashley Hagstrom.

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson

The actress, who was born in Tampa, is a well-known entertainer. Paulson grew up in both Tampa and New York and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. This led to roles in “American Gothic” and “What Women Want” before receiving a Golden Globe nomination for “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”

Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen, a Plantation native, is a well-known author who has written over 20 murder thrillers. His novels have a lighthearted tone and are heavily based on his observations of political corruption in Florida throughout the years. Hiaasen was a long-running Miami Herald columnist before he started writing novels, and he got his start at the University of Florida writing for The Independent Florida Alligator.

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes has had a busy cinematic career both in front of and behind the camera, as well as nearly four decades of martial arts practice. Snipes was born in Orlando and attended high school there, but grew up in The Bronx. He’s best known for his work on “New Jack City” and the “Blade” trilogy, as well as a multi-million dollar run-in with the IRS that ended with time in prison.

Amanda Bearse from Winter Park

Amanda Bearse

Amanda Bearse, best known for her role as Marcy D’Arcy on “Married…with Children,” has had a fascinating career on both sides of the camera. Bearse, who is from Winter Park in Orange County, began her career with a stint on “All My Children” and various B-movies before landing her breakthrough role. Bearse is another well-known LGBTQ figure who came out at shows height.

Tom Petty

Tom Petty

Tom Petty was a revered and multi-talented musician and actor who founded Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Petty was one of the best-selling musicians of all time, thanks to his solo work, singles with The Heartbreakers, and supergroup Traveling Wilburys.

Rita Rudner

Rita Rudner

Rita Rudner, a comedian and actress from Miami, is a trailblazer for women in stand-up comedy. She moved from Florida to New York to be a Broadway dancer before switching to comedy after noticing how few women were in the business. Rudner made her television debut on David Letterman and has ventured into screenwriting.

David Levy

David Levy

Senator YULEE, David Levy, was born in the West Indies in 1811 and died in New York City on October 10, 1886. His father, named Levy, was of Hebrew ancestry. When he was young, he relocated his son to Virginia, where he got the fundamentals of classical education.

In 1824, he moved to Florida to study law and produce crops. He was chosen as a delegate to Congress from that territory and served from the 31st of March 1841 to the 3rd of March 1845, under the name David Levy, but later changed it to David Levy Yulee, as which he was afterward known.

Furthermore, David served as a delegate to the state constitutional convention and was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate from Florida. He was the first Jewish senator in United States history.

Brittany Snow

Brittany Snow

Brittany Snow rose to notoriety as Susan “Daisy” Lemay on the “Guiding Light” soap opera around the turn of the millennium. Her modeling and acting career, however, began as a child model for the now-defunct Miami-based department store brand Burdines. Snow went on to star in “Nip/Tuck,” “John Tucker Must Die,” and “Pitch Perfect,” as well as voice Naminé in “Kingdom Hearts II.”

Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely

Sara Blakely is a successful entrepreneur and billionaire who has faced several hardships. She grew up in Clearwater and attended Florida State University, intending to follow in her parent’s footsteps and become an attorney. However, after a job selling business machines, she got tired of the hot Florida weather and was compelled to wear pantyhose to work, even though she enjoyed the way she looked in them. This inspired her to start Spanx, which grew into a hosiery empire.

Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns, born Leati Joseph Anoa’i in Pensacola, is a WWE wrestler contracted to the SmackDown brand. A former Georgia Tech college football player, he went on to become a professional football player with the Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Edmonton Eskimos before resigning from football and joining the Florida Championship Wrestling.

XXXTentacion

XXXTentacion

Born Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy in Plantation, Florida, but better known by his stage name XXXTentacion, the rapper had a tragically short career and life but left a tremendous impact in hip hop and lo-fi. Onfroy pioneered the development of a music career on SoundCloud, where he began releasing tunes after his release from juvie in 2013.

Josh Gad

Josh Gad

Josh Gad was born and raised in Hollywood and attended Nova Southeastern University in Davie before transferring to Carnegie Mellon and earning a BFA in acting. Prior to playing Elder Cunningham on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon,” he played a news director on the sitcom “Back to You” and was a correspondent on “The Daily Show.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

Noted author and scholar Zora Neale Hurston’s most salient work is “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” but the influential anthropologist wrote over 50 other stories, essays, plays, and dabbled in film.

Hurston was born in Alabama, but as a child, she relocated to Eatonville in Orange County. The town was the scene for most of her work and an annual Zora! festival is held in her honor in Eatonville.

Her most well-known novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” was released in 1937. Zora’s fictional writing addressed current concerns in the black community.

Other Hurston short stories focused on the African-American experience and racial division. They’ve appeared in anthologies like The New Negro and Fire!

“Mules and Men” (1935) was a popular anthology, as were her first three novels: “Jonah’s Gourd Vine “(1934), “Their Eyes Were Watching God” (1937), and “Moses, Man of the Mountain” (1938).

Delta Burke

Delta Burke

Delta Burke, an Orlando native, and former Miss Florida pageant winner, began her career on the set of “Bozo the Clown,” which ABC filmed in Orlando in the mid-1970s. She appeared in a few more CBS series before landing her breakthrough role as Suzanne Sugarbaker in “Designing Women.” Burke went on to create and appear in additional sitcoms after the show was canceled.

Carrot Top

Carrot Top

Carrot Top began stand-up comedy while attending Florida Atlantic University, which led to him becoming a continuity announcer for Cartoon Network before obtaining other roles in series such as “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” and his own performances that include a range of props.

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande

The Boca Raton-born multi-platinum singer and actress is best known for pioneering music streaming and making the most of a massive social media following. Grande began her career as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon comedy “Victorious” and its spin-off series “Sam & Cat,” but it was shooting versions of Adele, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and other singers and uploading them to YouTube that propelled her music career to new heights.

Maya Rudolph

Maya Rudolph

Maya Rudolph is an actress, pop singer, and comedian who has had a long and varied career. Gainesville native had an early introduction to music as the daughter of musicians, with 80s R&B diva Teena Marie as her godmother. She began her entertainment career as a rotating member of former Weezer bassist’s alternative band The Rentals.

Ashley Greene

Ashley Greene

Ashley Greene, a native of Jacksonville, gained a household figure among “Twilight” fans for her portrayal of Alice Cullen in all five cinematic adaptations. Greene maintains contact with her previous co-stars and has acted in “A Warrior’s Heart” with Kellan Lutz, who portrayed Emmett in the “Twilight films,” as well as “Summer’s Blood” and “The Apparition.”

Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry

Many people connect Debbie “Blondie” Harry with the punk and new wave scenes in New York and London, although she was originally born Angela Tremble in Miami before moving to New Jersey with her adoptive parents. While Harry reconstituted Blondie as a group in the late 1990s, she became a tremendously successful solo artist, and “Rapture” is widely regarded as the first rap song to top the American charts.

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier, a prolific veteran actor, and diplomat is most recognized for his work in the late 1960s films “To Sir”, With Love” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” though his career covers several decades. The actor is of Bahamian origin and was born in Miami because of its proximity to the Bahamas and his family, though he went to New York as a teenager.

Mimi Rogers

Mimi Rogers

Sharon in “The Rapture” was Mimi Rogers’ most famous part. Before entering the entertainment industry after splitting with her first husband and moving to Los Angeles, the actress and professional poker player worked as a social worker and substance misuse counselor.

T-Pain

T-Pain

Tallahassee-born T-Pain is a Grammy-winning rapper, platinum record producer, and the founder of Nappy Boy Entertainment. He is most recognized for pioneering the use of autotune in his songs. T-Pain has worked with several rap and hip-hop superstars, including Lil Wayne, Akon, Rick Ross, and others, and his 2007 album “Epiphany” was a US chart hit.

Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne

Bella Thorne began acting as a youngster to help support her family when her father died. Her breakthrough role was in HBO’s “Big Love,” as well as the Disney Channel sitcom “Shake It Up,” in which the character CeCe Jones is an aspiring dancer despite her dyslexia, mirroring Thorne’s own experiences with the illness.

Bob Vila

Bob Vila

Bob Vila was the original vanguard of TV handymen before the flood of reality TV series and HGTV offers about house flipping and renovations: the star and entrepreneur grew up in a house in Miami that his father created by hand. Vila studied journalism at the University of Florida before landing a job as a host on “This Old House.” The show lasted 10 years before being replaced with spokespeople and licensing arrangements with Sears and Home Shopping Network.

Amy Dumas

Amy Dumas

Amy Dumas is a professional wrestler better known by her ring name Lita, which was initially Angelica when she began wrestling in Mexico in the late 1990s. Dumas was born in Fort Lauderdale and began her wrestling career with the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre before going independent. After retiring from being a professional wrestler, the four-time WWE champion and Hall of Famer worked as a roadie for various bands before starting her own punk band, The Luchagors.

Janet Reno

Janet Reno

Former Attorney General Janet Reno was the first woman to hold this position, serving from 1993 to 2001 during President Bill Clinton’s presidency. Reno was born in Miami and worked for two law firms there before joining the state attorney’s office. Most people are unaware that Reno was also the first female state attorney in Florida. She was elected four times and served 15 years in Miami-Dade County.

Eva Mendes

Eva Mendes

Eva Mendes, a Miami native, began her career in horror B-movies that generally end up on Rifftrax before landing blockbuster roles in “Training Day” and “2 Fast 2 Furious.” The actress has also worked extensively as a spokesmodel for companies such as Revlon, Pantene, Thierry Mugler, and others.

Stephen Root

Stephen Root

Stephen Root, who was born in Sarasota, is best known for his roles as Milton mumbling about lighting the building on fire after getting his stapler back in “Office Space” and as good-hearted but unlucky Army barber Bill Dauterive on “King of the Hill.” Root’s character career spans three decades and includes legendary roles, and he began this road after graduating high school in Vero Beach with the University of Florida’s acting program.

Bob Ross

Bob Ross

Bob Vila isn’t the only Floridian with a long TV career: the late Bob Ross was from Daytona Beach, and his calm instructional show on PBS about painting joyful trees has dedicated admirers to this day. After his military duty, Ross developed a soft-spoken attitude and an aptitude for painting, and he became dedicated to teaching others the trade. Ross died in 1995, but his instructional films remain popular on Twitter and YouTube.

Pitbull

Pitbull

Pitbull’s real name is Armando Christian Pérez, although he is better known as Pitbull. He is a rapper and a singer.

His career began in 2000 when he began recording reggaeton, Latin hip-hop, and crunk music for several labels. M.I.A.M.I., his debut album, was released four years later.

After a few years, he relaunched and released Planet Pit, his first English-language album, in 2011. The single “Give Me Everything” from this album, featured Neyo, Nayer, and Afrojack.

Pitbull’s other hits are Timber ft. Kesha (2013. This song reached number one in 18 countries.

Laila Ali

Laila Ali

Laila Amaria Ali, Muhammad Ali’s eighth child, takes after her father. She is a former professional boxer and television personality. From 1999 until 2007, she had an active boxing career.

She began her boxing career at the age of 18 after seeing Christy Martin compete in a women’s boxing contest.

Laila made her first public choice to become a professional boxer during an interview with “Good Morning America.”

Her father, on the other hand, was not thrilled with her decision to become a boxer, characterizing it as a dangerous profession.

Laila Ali was unbeaten throughout her career and currently owns the WBC, WIBA, IWBF, and IBA female super middleweight belts, as well as the IWBF light heavyweight title.

Like her father, Laila is recognized as one of the finest female boxers of all time.

Jacqueline Cochran

Jacqueline Cochran

She was a race pilot who was a pioneer in aviation. Jacqueline was the first woman to breach the sound barrier and set other aviation records. During WWII, she led the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), an organization of over a thousand women who transported warplanes from factories to other places. She was born in the Florida Panhandle (near Tampa bay) and raised there.

Wayne Huizenga of Miami Beach

Wayne Huizenga

He was a wealthy businessman who co-founded AutoNation and Waste Management, as well as investments with the Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, and Miami Marlins. He lived in Fort Lauderdale for the majority of his life and was generous with his fortune through several charity contributions.

Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you find the most famous people from Florida! If you live in Florida, don’t underestimate your hometown, you might just be the next famous actor, singer, or professional football player.

Chris is a Midwest Transplant that has lived in South Florida since 1999. While he likes to remain active and is an avid sports enthusiast, he's become our go-to provider of reviews of any establishment serving food and booze!

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