FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Ever wonder where some of your favorite actors and actresses came from? Here are some of the more famous Hoosiers who took on Hollywood.
Jenna Fischer – Fort Wayne, IN
This famous actress most known for her role as Pam Beesly on the sitcom The Office was born in Fort Wayne. Since her role in NBC’s sitcom, Fischer has gone on to star in films such as Blades of Glory (2007), Hall Pass (2011), and The Giant Mechanical Man (2012), a film directed by her husband. She has also appeared in various television series, her most recent being Splitting Up Together which ended its run in 2019.
Shelley Long – Fort Wayne, IN
While Long is most known for her character Diane Chambers in Cheers (1982), she actually made her TV debut writing, producing, and co-hosting a popular Chicago magazine program called “Sorting It Out” in 1975. She made her start in Fort Wayne, where she stayed all the way to her college years. Long attended Northwestern studying drama, later dropping out to focus on a dual acting and modeling career. She received many accolades throughout her career from Emmys to Golden Globes. Her latest work was her recurring role on Modern Family (2009) as DeDe Pritchett, the ex-wife, and mother of some of the shows making cast members.
Carole Lombard – Fort Wayne, IN
Lombard, whose birth name was Jane Alice Peters, became a household name after her involvement in To Be or Not To Be (1942), My Man Godfrey (1936), and Nothin Sacred (1937). Lombard received an Oscar nomination for My Man Godfrey, later becoming one of the highest-paid women in the business earning $35,000 a week. Lombard tragically died in a plane crash before the release of her final movie which went on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.
Florence Henderson – Dale, IN
Henderson began her career in theater, appearing on Broadway and starring in the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, Fanny, Wish You Were Here, and more. She is most known for her role as Carol Brady in the series The Brady Bunch (1969- 1974) which went on to have multiple spinoff movies and TV shows. Henderson was the first woman to guest host The Tonight Show in its gap between hosts and also worked with The Today Show as the “The Today Girl,” a young girl who reported light news and weather. Henderson worked up until her death staying involved in the acting community.
Anne Baxter – Michigan City, IN
Grandaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright, Baxter started her career starring in a New York City production of ‘Seen but Not Heard,’ where she earned rave reviews. Baxter’s acting career took off at 17, with some of her more notable work being All About Eve (1950), The Ten Commandments (1956), and The Razor’s Edge (1946), in which she won an Academy Award for her role. Baxter died from a stroke that caused her to be hospitalized on life support but was heavily involved in her craft.
Adam Driver – Mishawaka, IN
Most notable for his role as Kylo Ren in Disney’s Star Wars franchise, Driver got his start in Mishawaka on the stage of his high school theatre. Driver enlisted into the Marines after the events of 9/11, later being discharged as a result of injury halting his deployment. Driver studied at the University of Indianapolis before continuing his drama career at Julliard School in New York City. Driver kickstarted his career on Broadway going on to star in HBO’s Girls (2012). His latest projects, House of Gucci (2021) and Marriage Story (2019) brought in rave reviews for the actor, becoming regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation.
Dean Norris – South Bend, IN
Most well-known for his role as DEA agent Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad (2008), Norris made his start in South Bend. He later went on to attend Harvard University for interdisciplinary studies while participating in a theatrical society. He went on to participate in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Total Recall (1990), and Remember (2015), which are some of his more notable roles.
Dylan Minnette – Evansville, IN
Getting his start taking on guest star roles on infamous shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, Scandal, and more, Minnette made his main character debut in Goosebumps (2015). Minnette was made most infamous for his role as Clay Jensen in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why (2017), later taking time to focus on his band Wallows coming back into the spotlight in 2022 in the fifth installment of Scream.
Greg Kinnear – Logansport, IN
Kinnear got his big break as the original host of Talk Soup, in which he won a Daytime Emmy. Kinnear earned his degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is best known for his roles on the big screen You’ve Got Mail, Little Miss Sunshine, Baby Mama, Invincible, and The Last Song.
Steve McQueen – Beech Grove, IN
McQueen got his start in The Blob (1958) a sci-fi film that focuses on two teens trying to stop a gelatinous alien life form from taking over their city. He went on to star in his most notable films, The Great Escape (1963), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Papillion (1973), and Bullitt (1968). In 1980, McQueen lost his life to terminal cancer after searching extensively for treatment to prolong his life.
Scatman Crothers – Terre Haute, IN
Scatman Crothers, originally Benjamin Sherman Crothers, was born in Terre Haute and started his career as a jazz artist being featured in local clubs. Made most famous by his role as Dick Halloran in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Crothers was featured in films of various genres. Some of his other most infamous roles feature him in The Aristocats (1970), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983). Crothers died from lung cancer in 1986 but his legacy lives on through his work in film and music.
Richard Bernard “Red” Skelton – Vinncennes, IN
Red Skeleton gained fame on the vaudeville circuit after his father, a former circus clown, died before his birth. This caused him to have to help support his family from an early age, starting as a newspaper boy. Best known for his comedic chops in radio and television, Bernard started the “Red Skeleton Hour” in 1951 later becoming “The Red Skeleton Show”, which lasted until 1971. He later participated in over 30 movies, some of the most famous being Du Barry Was a Lady (1943), Whistling in the Dark (1941), and Whitling in Brooklyn (1943). Skeleton is infamously known for receiving the Emmy and attempting to give it to co-star Lucille Ball.
James Dean – Marion, IN
Born in Marion, Dean had a rough childhood, having to be raised by his sister due to his mother’s early death. He knew early on his love for acting but took on pre-law, attending a school in California. After realizing he was not cut out for pre-law, Dean transferred to the University of California Los Angles to pursue acting. He became most known for his roles in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956), and East of Eden (1955). Dean tragically passed in a car crash in 1955 while preparing for a race.