Michigan is a large state with a long history, and the list of famous native sons and daughters is a long one. It includes everyone from famous inventors to artists to politicians. Here are just a few that are household names around the country.
1. Francis Ford Coppola, the famous Hollywood director, was born in Detroit in 1939. He revolutionized the film industry with a new take on the gangster film genre when he directed The Godfather. He won an Academy Award for the film, now considered a classic. His sequel, The Godfather Part II, went on to earn Coppola three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
2. Michael Moore is a documentary director and political activist from Flint. He rose to fame with his 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which took a scathing look at President George W. Bush and his administration. It earned the highest grossing box office ever for a documentary. Moore is also the president and founder of the Traverse City Film Festival which takes place each summer in Northern Michigan.
3. Tim Allen was born in Detroit in 1953. He started out doing stand up comedy, then became a household name portraying the character of Tim the Toolman Taylor on the popular 1990s sitcom Home Improvement. He’s also had starring roles in both the Toy Story and The Santa Clause trilogies. Currently he’s the the title character in the sitcom Last Man Standing. He’s also the voice of Pure Michigan, the state’s tourism ad campaign. Allen still has a home in Michigan.
4. Both actress Kristen Bell and he her actor husband, Dax Shepard, were born in the Detroit area. She’s probably best known for her role as Princess Anna in the Disney blockbuster Frozen. She’s currently starring in the sitcom The Good Place with Ted Danson. Shepard first became known for working with Ashton Kutcher on the reality prank tv show Punk’d. Most recently he had a main role on the popular family drama Parenthood. This summer Bell and Shepard returned to their Michigan roots when they vacationed with their daughter in Grand Haven and stayed at a Lake Michigan beach cottage.
5. Jeff Daniels was not born in Michigan, but at a young age moved with his family to Chelsea where he grew up. He also attended college at both Central and Eastern Michigan Universities. His breakthrough role came when he starred in the Oscar-winning film Terms of Endearment with Debra Winger. He’s probably best known for his role alongside Jim Carrey in the buddy comedy Dumb and Dumber. Daniels still has a home in Chelsea where he founded The Purple Rose Theater. He also wrote and starred in the film Escanaba in Da Moonlight, a comedy about life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
6. Lily Tomlin was born in Detroit in 1939 where she got her start in comedy doing standup in clubs around The Motor City. After a few years on The Merv Griffin Show, she worked on Laugh-In where she created some of her most famous characters, such as Ernestine, the telephone operator with an attitude.
7. Kid Rock, whose legal name is Robert James Ritchie, is a singer/songwriter from Romeo known for his country/rock musical style. He’s sold 35 million albums worldwide, including his best-selling album, Devil Without a Cause, which sold 14 million copies alone. His music is influenced by his life growing up on an apple orchard in small town Michigan. Kid Rock’s music video, Born Free, was filmed at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
8. Gerald R. Ford, Michigan’s only U.S. president, was born and raised in Grand Rapids. Speaker of the House during the Watergate Scandal, he became the 38th President after both President Richard Nixon and his Vice President, Spiro Agnew, resigned from office. He sought reelection in 1976, but lost to Jimmy Carter.
9. Shortstop Derek Jeter was born in New Jersey, but moved to Kalamazoo with his parents at the age of four. He fell in love with baseball attending New York Yankee games while visiting his grandparents on the East Coast each summer. He went on to play baseball for Kalamazoo Central High School where he excelled. After graduation he was drafted by the Yankees and would go on to win five World Series with the team.
10. Legendary NBA basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson was born in Lansing where he started playing at an early age. He went on to play for Michigan State University. He led his team to the 1978-79 NCAA Championship where they beat Indiana State University. ISU was led by Larry Bird who would also become an NBA legend. Thousands tuned in to see the two college rivals duke it out at the championship. After college, Johnson joined the Los Angeles Lakers where he would go on to win five championship rings and continue his rivalry with Bird, who played for the Celtics.