Thursday, July 07, 2016

Know Your City - Famous St. Louisans

St. Louis has produced a long list of influential figures. From artists to athletes to entrepreneurs, the fruits of The Gateway City have impacted the world over. The following selection have been divided into two groups - those born here and those we have adopted and are listed alphabetically. 


Maya Angelou

  • Maya Angelou (Marguerite Johnson) was born in St. Louis in 1928. 
  • She wrote and published many autobiographies, essays, poems, plays, movies, and television shows. 
  • She is best known for her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. 
  • Angelou has received countless awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. 
  • She was very active in politics and was a leader of the Civil Rights movement. 
  • In 2010 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Yogi Berra

  • Lawrence “Yogi” Berra was born in St. Louis in 1925. 
  • He was a professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach. 
  • Berra was an 18 time All-Star and 10 time World Series champion. 
  • An icon of the New York Yankees. 
  • Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. 

Chuck Berry

  • Chuck Berry was born in St. Louis in 1926. 
  • A pioneer of rock and roll, Berry made history with his upbeat rhythm and blues style played with an electric guitar and amplification. 
  • “Maybellene”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, and “Johnny B. Goode” are just a few of his many hits. 
  • Berry was inducted in the first class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. 

William Burroughs

  • William Burroughs was born in St. Louis in 1914. 
  • He wrote many influential novels, short stories, and essays, including his most famous work, “Naked Lunch”. 
  • Burroughs was a founding architect of the Beat Generation and a major force in the 1960s counterculture. 
  • Burroughs is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and a literary genius. 

Gussie Busch

  • August  Anheuser “Gussie” Busch Jr. was born in St. Louis in 1899.
  • He was the third generation of Busch men to run the Anheuser-Busch brewery and built it into the largest brewery in the world by 1957.
  • He pioneered the use of the iconic Clydesdale horses now associated with the brand.
  • He bought the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953 and saved them for the city.

Miles Davis

  • Miles Davis was born in Alton, IL in 1926.
  • He is among the most important and influential jazz musicians of all time.
  • 1959’s “Kind of Blue” is one of the most important albums ever recorded.
  • He is immortalized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Hollywood Walk of Fame, and by being bestowed with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

T.S. Eliot

  • Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis in 1888.
  • He is considered one of the most important poets of the 20th century, with pieces such as “The Waste Land” and “Four Quartets” counted among the most widely-read in history.
  • He was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
 John Goodman

  • John Goodman was born in 1952 in Affton, MO.
  • He is known for his work on the television sitcom “Roseanne”, as well as his voice work in Pixar’s “Monster Inc.” franchise.
  • He has had supporting roles in many major motion pictures, including “Argo” and “The Artist”.
  • Goodman has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
 Jackie Joyner-Kersee

  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee was born in East St. Louis, IL in 1962.
  • In four different Olympic Games, she won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic Medals in the women’s hepathlon and long jump.
  • She broke and stills holds Olympic Records in her events.
  • Sports Illustrated named her the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.
 Vincent Price

  • Vincent Price Jr. was born in St. Louis in 1911.
  • He graduated from Yale and worked in Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater.
  • He is best known for his work in horror films, including “House on Haunted Hill”, “The Fly”, and a series of movies based on Edgar Alan Poe stories.

 Mike Shannon

  •  Mike Shannon was born in St. Louis in 1939.
  • Raised in the city, his father was a police officer.
  • Began playing for the Cardinals in 1962, after graduating from University of Missouri.
  • 2x World Series champion.
  • Playing career cut short from kidney disease.
  • Has announced Cardinals games since 1972. 55 years total with the organization.
  • Owned and operated a restaurant of his namesake downtown until 2015.

Lou Brock

  • Lou Brock was born in El Dorado, AR in 1939.
  • He was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964.
  • Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
  • 2x World Series Champion, 6x All Star.
  • Retains #2 in all time stolen base record to this day.
  • Brock has remained in St. Louis as a businessman and minister.
 Jack Buck

  • Jack Buck was born in Holyoke, MA in 1924.
  • Began broadcasting for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954.
  • Famous for the expression “That’s a winner!”
  • Provided radio coverage for 18 Super Bowls and 11 World Series.
  • Inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Pro Football Hall of Fame, and National Radio Hall of Fame
  • Remained in St. Louis until his death in 2002.
Joe Buck

  • Joe Buck was born in St. Petersburg, FL in 1969 during the Cardinals’ spring training.
  • Raised in St. Louis, grew up at Busch Stadium II.
  • Began broadcasting for the Cardinals in 1991.
  • In 1994, at age 25, he became the youngest NFL broadcaster ever.
  • Owned a restaurant downtown of his namesake until 2015. 
Scott Joplin

  • Scott Joplin was born in Northeast Texas in 1868.
  • Moved to St. Louis in 1901, already as an accomplished composer and musician.
  • Named “The King of Ragtime”.
  • Famous works include “Maple Leaf Rag” and  “The Entertainer”.
  • Awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to American music.
Stan Musial

  • Stan “The Man” Musial was born in Donora, PA in 1920.
  • He joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1941 and played for the team for 22 years.
  • A first ballot-inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cardinals Hall of Fame
  • He won three World Series, was a 24x All-Star, and broke countless records.
  • Awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

  • Cornell Haynes Jr. was born in Austin, TX in 1974.
  • Rose to fame in the hip-hop group “St. Lunatics” in the early 90s.
  • His debut solo album, “Country Grammar”, hit #1 on the Billboard 200 and has sold nearly 9 million copies to date.
  • He has won multiple Grammy Awards, starred in films, and started two clothing lines.
 Randy Orton

  • Randal Orton was born in Knoxville, TN in 1980.
  • He grew up in the St. Louis area and keeps a residence in St. Charles.
  • He is a 12-time World Champion in the WWE, as well as a Royal Rumble winner and a Wrestlemania main eventer.
  • His father and grandfather were both professional wrestlers.
 Red Schoendienst

  • Albert Schoendienst was born in Germantown, IL in 1923.
  • He played for the Cardinals for 19 years (‘45-’63) and then managed them for 11 years (‘65-’76).
  • Inducted to Baseball Hall of Fame in ‘89.
  • Remains with the Cardinals today as a special assistant coach.
 Dred Scott

  • Dred Scott was born in Southampton County, VA circa 1799.
  • Unsuccessfully sued for his freedom at The Old Courthouse in St. Louis in Dred Scott vs Sanford case, 1857.
  • Supreme Court decided against Scott.
  • The decision was pivotal in leading to the Civil War and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. 

The Collinsville Library's "Know Your City: St. Louis History Club" meets monthly to discuss various aspects of St. Louis culture and history. The next meeting, "Life on the River", is scheduled for 6pm on Wednesday, August 3rd.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Program Coordinator