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25 Famous Mississippians: How Many Do You Know?

1Elvis Presley was born on Jan. 8, 1935, in Tupelo. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll began his music career in 1954 at Sun Records in Memphis, which was quickly followed by his first single Heartbreak Hotel in January of 1956 and his first on-screen acting role hit theaters later that year in November with Love Me Tender.


2Britney Spears was born Dec. 2, 1981, in McComb and was cast in Mickey Mouse Club in December of 1992. Seven years later, …Baby One More Time hit the Billboard charts in January of 1999. Spears won her first and only Grammy in 2005 for Best Dance Recording with “Toxic, and she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 21.

3William Faulkner was born on Sept. 25, 1897, in New Albany. He won two Pulitzer Prize awards for fiction with A Fable in 1954 and The Reivers in 1962. One of his most popular novels, The Sound and the Fury is No. 6 on the list of 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The fictional Yoknapatawpha County that appears in a number of his books is based on Lafayette County and Oxford where he lived most of his life.
4Oprah Winfrey was born on Jan. 29, 1954, in Kosciusko. Winfrey is best known for The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated show of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. She is the only black billionaire in the United States and has a net worth of more than $2.9 billion. Before her talk show, Winfrey had a big break played Sofia in Spielberg’s The Color Purple, nominated for Academy Award for net worth of more than $2.9 billion. Before her talk show, Winfrey had a big break played Sofia in Spielberg’s The Color Purple, nominated for Academy Award for best-supporting actress for the role.
5Eudora Welty was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson. Another famous Mississippi author, Welty won the Pulitzer Price in 1973 for The Optimist’s Daughter. Her house in Jackson has been designated a national historic landmark and is open to the public as a museum. Welty was also the first living author to have works published by the Library of America.

6Archie Manning was born May 19, 1949, in Drew. Manning was the Ole Miss starting quarterback in 1969 and 1970, ending his career with 5,576 yards of total offense and a school-record 56 touchdowns. Manning’s No. 18 jersey is the only one Ole Miss has ever retired, and he threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns during the first national primetime broadcast of a college football game against Alabama in 1969. He was drafted No. 2 overall in 1971 by New Orleans Saints, where he played until 1982. He retired from the NFL in 1984 and raised three sons — Cooper, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton and New York Giants quarterback Eli.
7Jimmy Buffett was born on Dec. 25, 1946, in Pascagoula. Buffett began his musical career in Nashville but was geared more toward island escapism than country music. His most popular song Margaritaville is the anthem of his “Parrotheads.” Aside from his career in music, Buffett is also a best-selling writer and involved in two restaurant chains named after his songs: Margaritaville Café and Cheeseburger in Paradise.
8Robin René Roberts was born Nov. 23, 1960, in Tuskegee, Alabama, and raised in Pass Christian. Roberts was the salutatorian at Pass Christian High in 1979. She was one of the first female sportscasters on ESPN, reporting from 1990 to 2005 when she became co-anchor of Good Morning America.

9Brett Favre was born Oct. 10, 1969, in Gulfport. Favre was the starting quarterback for the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles for his entire college career and was drafted No. 33 overall in 1991 by the Atlanta Falcons. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 70,000 yards, 500 touchdowns, 6,000 completions and 10,000 pass attempts. Favre led his teams to eight division championships, five NFC championships and two Super Bowl appearances with one Super Bowl ring.
10Muddy Waters was born April 4, 1913, in Issaquena County. The Mississippi Delta blues musician is also known as the father of modern Chicago blues. Muddy won six Grammys from 1971 to 1979, and he has four songs in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll: Rollin’ Stone, Hoochie Coochie Man, Mannish Boy and Got My Mojo Working.

11James Earl Jones was born on Jan. 17, 1931, in Arkabutla. Jones has won Tony Awards, Golden Globes, and Emmys for his multiple roles on stage and screen. He is the only actor to win two Emmys in one year, one for best actor and the other for best-supporting actor. He is also well-known for voice acting, including his legendary roles as Mufasa in The Lion King and Darth Vader in Star Wars.

12Conway Twitty was born Sept. 1, 1933, in Friars Point. Twitty, who was born Harold Jenkins, held the record for the most No. 1 singles with 40 chart-topping hits until it was broken by George Strait in 2006. Though he was not a member of the Grand Ole Opry, he was inducted into the Country Music and Rockabilly Halls of Fame.

13Tammy Wynette was born May 5, 1942, in Itawamba County. She is known as First Lady of Country Music and her most popular song Stand By Your Man is still played today. Wynette charted 23 No. 1 songs and is credited with having a defined the role of women in country music during the 1970s along with Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.

14B.B. King was born Sept. 16, 1925, in Berclair. The King of Blues is ranked No. 17 on Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time and still performs 100 shows per year with Lucille, his most beloved guitar. He is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time as one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” along with Albert King and Freddie King.

15Eric Roberts was born April 18, 1956, in Biloxi, the brother of Julia Roberts, who was born in Georgia. Roberts received Golden Globe nominations for his early starring roles in King of the Gypsies in 1978 and Star 80 in 1983. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1985 for his role as the escaped convict Buck in the film Runaway Train; the award went to Don Ameche in Cocoon. In 1987, he won the Theatre World Award for his Broadway debut performance in Burn This.
16Rick Ross was born Jan. 28, 1976, in Coahoma County. The American rapper was the first artist signed to Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Ciroc Entertainment label. In 2009, Ross founded the record label Maybach Music Group where he released four studio albums.


17Lance Bass was born May 4, 1979, in Laurel. Bass was one of the five ’90s heartthrobs making up *NSYNC, who won the hearts of millions of teenage girls. The group was nominated for eight Grammy awards across their three albums.


18Faith Hill was born Sept. 21, 1967, as Audrey Faith Perry in Ridgeland. The American country pop singer and occasional actress is one of the most successful country artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million records worldwide. Hill is married to country singer Tim McGraw, with whom she has recorded several successful duets.

19John Lee Hooker was born Aug. 22, 1979, in Coahoma County. The Blues musician developed his own driving-rhythm boogie style, distinct from the 1930s–1940s piano-derived boogie-woogie style. Some of his best-known songs include Boogie Chillen’, Crawling King Snake, Dimples, Boom Boom and One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.

20Brandy Norwood was born on Feb. 11, 1979, in McComb. Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy Award, three American Music Awards, and seven Billboard Music Awards.


21Ike Turner was born Nov. 5, 1931, in Clarkdale. Turner began playing piano and guitar when he was eight, forming his group, the Kings of Rhythm, as a teenager. His first recording, Rocket 88 in 1951 is considered a contender for “first rock and roll song.” Relocating to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1954, he built the Kings into one of the most renowned acts on the local club circuit. There he met singer Anna Mae Bullock, whom he renamed Tina Turner, forming The Ike & Tina Turner Revue, which over the course of the sixties became a soul/rock crossover success.
22LeAnn Rimes was born on August 28, 1982, in Jackson. Margaret LeAnn Rimes Cibrian rose to stardom at 13 following the release of Blue, becoming the youngest country music star since Tanya Tucker in 1972.


23Sam Cooke was born on Jan. 22, 1931, in Clarksdale. Cooke had 30 U.S. top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964, plus three more posthumously. Major hits like You Send Me, A Change Is Gonna Come, Cupid, Chain Gang, Wonderful World and Twistin’ the Night Away are some of his most popular songs. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his career as a singer and composer.
24Jerry Rice was born Oct. 13, 1962, in Starkville, and grew up in Crawford. He played his college ball at Mississippi Valley State University from 1981 to 1984, where he became a standout wide receiver and earned the nickname “World.” Rice was drafted No. 16 overall in 1985 to the San Francisco 49ers.

25Gerald McRaney was born Aug. 19, 1947, in Collins. The Ole Miss alum is best known as one of the stars of the television shows Simon & Simon, Major Dad, and Promised Land. He was a series regular for the first season of Jericho, and the final season of Deadwood.

This story was first published to HottyToddy.com in September 2014.

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