Monae, Sudeikis, Rudd and Stonestreet among big names with ties to KC
If Kansas City took a giant class picture of all the celebrities who have hailed from here — including those who have passed on to the great movie studio in the sky — here are some of the faces you would see.
Front row: Ed Asner. Don Cheadle. Jean Harlow. Chris Cooper. Dianne Wiest. Charlie Parker. “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn. All born in Kansas City.
Second row: Rob Riggle. Walt Disney. Joan Crawford. Walter Cronkite. All spent their formative years in Kansas City.
Third row: Melissa Etheridge from nearby Leavenworth, Kan., Amelia Earhart from Atchison, Kan. Eminem from St. Joseph. Born close enough to KC to be claimed as locals.
Here are five more of our most high-profile homegrown stars:
Janelle Monae: The Grammy winner was born in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, where she spent the early years of her life. She counts Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” as one of her musical influences. Monae honed that beautiful voice singing in church, like many in her family. And though she left Kansas City to pursue her passion for performing, she has not forgotten where she came from, she says often in interviews.
Jason Sudeikis: Why do we see so many paparazzi pics of the actor and former “Saturday Night Live” star wearing a “KC” ballcap? Because even though he wasn’t born here, Sudeikis grew up in Overland Park and loudly, proudly considers the Sunflower State home. He often wore University of Kansas gear on “SNL” and is spotted frequently at KU basketball games with his fiancee, actress Olivia Wilde. The couple recently welcomed a son, Otis.
Eric Stonestreet: The “Modern Family” star was born in Kansas City, Kan., where as a boy he dreamed of becoming a clown. The clown character he created named Fizbo has made three appearances on the ABC hit comedy series. Stonestreet graduated from Piper High and Kansas State University and, like Sudeikis, gives public shout-outs to his college alma mater and home state.
Kate Spade: The fashion and style icon was born in Kansas City, where she graduated from St. Teresa’s Academy, an all-girl Catholic high school. She met her husband, Andy Spade, while working for Mademoiselle magazine in New York City, where she discovered the niche in the purse market that would become her calling card. She visits Kansas City several times a year, when all she wants to do is eat barbecue, she has said.
Paul Rudd: He was born a Jersey boy, but Rudd and his family moved to Overland Park when he was young because of his father’s airline job at TWA. He was student body president at Shawnee Mission West high school and went to KU. He and Sudeikis and Rob Riggle, who also grew up in Overland Park, bring their star friends to town every summer for the Big Slick Celebrity Weekend to raise money for Children’s Mercy Hospital. This year it’s June 20.
| Lisa Gutierrez, The Kansas City Star
Hamm tops the list in St. Louis, but don’t forget John Goodman and Cedric the Entertainer
Any discussion of stars who called St. Louis home could start and finish with the “Mad Men” leading man, who actually taught drama at his old St. Louis high school before hitting it big in Hollywood.
But why stop? St. Louisans are all over TV and movie screens, giving interviews in which they talk up their love of the Cardinals and fondness for local pizza.
From A (rapper Akon and poet Maya Angelou) to W (actress Shelley Winters and novelist Tennessee Williams), St. Louisans have distinguished themselves in the arts and entertainment.
Dozens of them are honored on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, which runs several blocks in the Delmar Loop. Look down and you’ll see stars representing sports figures, politicians and activists as well as authors, actors and musicians: There’s Nelly, and a few steps later, Stan Musial.
The list goes on. Kevin Kline, Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, David Giuntoli of NBC’s “Grimm”, Linda Blair and Kate Capshaw.
Here’s a closer look at five more.
John Goodman: Dan Conner on “Roseanne” and now a busy movie actor, Goodman was born and grew up in south St. Louis County and never quite left; he co-owns a St. Louis restaurant and visits family and friends here often.
Jenna Fischer: Before she was Pam on “The Office,” Fischer was an actual office temp, but acting was her passion from the time she was 6, when her mother, a teacher, led an acting workshop at her school in west St. Louis County. On “The Office,” Fischer found friendly hometown faces. Both Phyllis Smith (Phyllis) and Ellie Kemper (Erin) are St. Louis natives, and the three once competed in a gooey butter cake cook-off on set.
Andy Cohen: The Bravo host shows his love of St. Louis nightly on “Watch What Happens Live!” The Gateway Arch is always in the background, as are pieces of Cardinals memorabilia.
Cedric the Entertainer: He was Cedric Antonio Kyles when he graduated from Berkeley High School in north St. Louis County; the name change came after he gave up selling insurance and became a full-time comedian. Cedric, the latest host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (he announced his departure a few weeks ago) likes to get a haircut and shave at his old barber shop whenever he’s in St. Louis. He has built some of those memories into his TV Land show “The Soul Man.”
Scott Bakula: After skipping through time on “Quantum Leap,” Bakula became the captain on “Star Trek: Enterprise” and came down to Earth in the critically acclaimed “Men of a Certain Age” on TNT. His parents and siblings are in St. Louis.
| Gail Pennington, St. Louis Post-Dispatch