From the Amazing Royal Crowns to Eddie Zack, Rhode Islanders flavor the world!

We'll claim 'em as one of our own if they 1) were born in Rhode Island, 2) spent a significant portion of their lives in Rhode Island, or 3) made or enhanced their reputations in Rhode Island. Beyond that, we have our own obscure and arbitrary criteria that embraces murderers, embezzlers, and rogues as much as doctors, philanthropists, and heroes.

Want more notables? Check out the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, Redwood Library's Newport Notables, or Wikipedia's List of People from Rhode Island.

Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich

b. November 6, 1841, Foster
d. April 16, 1915, New York, New York

Republican U.S. Senator from Rhode Island (1881-1911) who earned the honorary title "General Manager of the Nation" for substantial contributions to national tariff and monetary policies during his tenure.

Inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1972.

Amazing Royal Crowns aka Amazing Crowns

formed early 1990s, Providence
disbanded fall 2001

A locally-famous punkabilly outfit.

American Burying Beetle aka Nicrophorus americanus

Although it once ranged from Nova Scotia to Florida, the American Burying Beetle's last native population east of the Mississippi is now found only on Block Island. The inch-long insect was added to the Endangered Species list in 1989, and in the early 1990s a successful program to breed and reintroduce the beetles to selected habitats was initiated at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Harry Anderson

b. October 14, 1952, Newport

Magician turned actor (Night Court, Dave's World).

Billy Andrade

b. January 25, 1964, Bristol

Professional golfer with four PGA Tour wins. Co-founder, with fellow Rhode Island golfer Brad Faxon, of the Andrade-Faxon Charities for Children.

David Lawrence Angell

b. April 10, 1946, Barrington
d. September 11, 2001, New York City

Angell penned scripts for Archie Bunker's Place and Cheers and, with his producing partners, created shows like Wings and Frasier. Together the team won twenty-four Emmy Awards from a total of thirty-seven nominations. David Angell and his wife, Lynn, died when their Los Angeles-bound plane was flown into the north tower of the World Trade Center.


b. December 23, 1937, New York, New York

A popular children's author (Something Upstairs, Finding Providence), Avi lived in Providence from 1987 to 1997.

Natalie Babbitt

b. July 28, 1932, Dayton, Ohio

Babbitt is an author and illustrator of children's books, most notably Tuck Everlasting (1975), which has twice been made into a movie. She and her husband, Sam, live just off Benefit Street in Providence.

Rocco Baldelli aka The Woonsocket Rocket

September 25, 1981, Woonsocket

Baldelli was an outfielder and designated hitter for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Boston Red Sox from 2001 to 2010, when medical problems forced his early retirement.

Baldelli was inducted into the Rhode Island Italian-American Hall of Fame in 2004.

Robert Duane Ballard

b. June 30, 1942, Wichita, Kansas

A Ph.D. in marine geology and geophysics from the University of Rhode Island (1974), a 2004 appointment as professor of oceanography, and current tenure as director of the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography at URI's Graduate School of Oceanography is enough to claim the discoverer of the Titanic and PT-109 as one of our own.

Sullivan Ballou

b. circa 1829, in "the outlands of Providence" (Cumberland)
d. July 29, 1861, Manassas, Virginia, of a wound from a cannonball

Ballou was a major in the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers during the Civil War. He is perhaps best known today for his moving battlefield letters to his wife, Sarah, used to good effect in Ken Burns' documentary, The Civil War.

George Bancroft

b. October 3, 1800, Worcester, Massachusetts
d. January 17, 1891, Washington, D.C.

Historian (The History of the United States (1834–'74)) and statesman (United States Secretary of the Navy, 1845-'46; United States Minister to the United Kingdom, 1846-'49). In the later years of his life he summered at Rose Cliff, forerunner of the current Rosecliff mansion, in Newport. The property was named for the American Beauty roses that Bancroft was fond of cultivating. Bancroft was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1984.

Joseph Banigan

b. June 7, 1839, County Monaghan, Ireland
d. July 29, 1898, Providence

Irish-born businessman and industrialist, co-founder of the U.S. Rubber Company and its president from 1893 to 1896, and a prime benefactor of Rhode Island's Catholic churches. Inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2005.

Edward Mitchell Bannister

b. November 1828, St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada
d. January, 9, 1901, Providence, of a heart attack

Black painter of mostly pastoral subjects who in 1870 moved to Providence, where he was one of the founders of the Providence Art Club and served on the board of the Rhode Island School of Design. Largely forgotten after his death, his legacy was resurrected during the civil rights movement of the 1970s.

Bannister was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1976.

Elizabeth Lyon Beisel

b. August 18, 1992

Olympic swimmer from Saunderstown who took home silver in the 400-meter individual medley, and bronze in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Robert "Bob" Howard Bennett

b. August 9, 1919, Providence
d. December 13, 1974

Olympian. Graduated from Brown University in 1948, and the same year won a bronze medal in the hammer throw at the London Olympics.

Bennett was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968.

Thomas William Bicknell

b. September 6, 1834, Barrington
d. 1925

Educator, historian, author (most notably of the five-volume The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (1920).

Bicknell was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2010.

Nadia Alexandra Bjorlin

b. August 2, 1980, Newport

Actress; plays Chloe Lane on Days of Our Lives.

Reverend William Blackstone

b. March 5, 1595, Durham County, England
d. 1675

Blackstone was the first European settler in what is now Boston, and later, he became Rhode Island's first settler as well.

Claus Cecil Borberg aka Claus von Bulow

b. August 11, 1926, Copenhagen, Denmark

Claus is one of the world's most famous and cultured accused murderers. He was tried in 1982 for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny, and found guilty. A second trial in 1985 came to the opposite conclusion. Claus lived at Clarendon Court in Newport from around 1970 to 1987, when he returned to Europe.

William Borek aka Wesoly Bolek

b. July 19, 1941, Woonsocket
d. May 13, 2006, Hollywood, California, after a long battle with cancer

Rhode Island's "Polka Clown" formed the Wesoly Bolek band in 1958 and toured the United States, Canada, and Poland for the next five decades. During that time the band recorded ten albums of full-tilt polka music. Borek was inducted into the International Polka Hall of Fame in 2008.

Augustus Osborn Bourn

b. October 1, 1834, Providence
d. January 28, 1925, Bristol

Pioneer in the manufacture of rubber goods and founder of the National Rubber Company in Bristol, state senator, governor (1885–1887), and U.S. consul general to Italy (1889–1893). Inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2005.

E. Doris Brennan married name E. Doris Weir

b. circa 1920
d. unknown

According to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, Brennan "held twenty national or world records in swimming during the late 1930s and early 1940s. She was named to the U.S. Olympic Team in 1940 [the first all-female Olympic swim team], but the Games, scheduled to be held in London, were canceled because of the outbreak of World War II." She was a native of Providence.

Brennan was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968, and was a charter member of the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame in 1981.

Walter Leslie Brian aka Salty Brine

b. August 8, 1918, Boston, Massachusetts
d. November 2, 2004, Narragansett

For over half a century, Brine was a cheerful and comforting presence on local radio and television. He helmed WPRO's morning show from 1942 to 1993 and was the popular host of Channel 12's children's show, Salty's Shack, from 1958 to 1968.

Marilyn Ann Briggs aka Marilyn Chambers

b. April 22, 1952, Providence
d. April 12, 2009, Canyon Country, California

One-time Ivory Snow girl and star of such classics of adult cimena as Behind the Green Door and Insatiable. One of her last films was a mainstream independent production called Solitaire that was shot in Rhode Island. In 2004 she was a vice-presidential candidate for the Personal Choice Party.

Ellison Myers "Tarzan" Brown aka Deerfoot

b. 1914, Westerly
d. August 23, 1975, run over by a van in the parking lot of the Wreck Bar, Misquamicut, Westerly

Narragansett marathoner; two-time winner of the Boston Marathon (1936 and 1939), participant in the 1936 Olympics. The Boston Marathon's "Heartbreak Hill" is named for an incident in which Brown left a competitor in the dust.

Brown was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968.

Michael Buonanno

Had his balls waxed on A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, then got sent back home to Warwick. Eliminated in episode 5, which aired November 6, 2007.

Burke Family Singers

formed 1959, Peacedale, South Kingstown

Between 1959 and 1972, this twelve-member family performed in every state in the union and every province in Canada.

Robert "Bob" Sherwin Burnett

b. February 7, 1940, Providence
d. December 7, 2011, East Providence, of brain cancer

Burnett was second tenor with the 1960s folk group The Highwaymen. Their biggest hit was "Michael," a version of "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," which went to number one in 1961.

Ambrose Everett Burnside

b. May 23,1824, Liberty, Indiana (moved to Rhode Island c. 1852)
d. September 13, 1881, Bristol

Civil War general, Rhode Island governor (1866-1869), United States senator (1875-1881); it is from his bushy side-whiskers that we get the word "sideburns".

Ruth Ann Buzzi

b. July 24, 1936, Westerly

Actress (That Girl, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, The Lost Saucer, You Can't Do That on Television) and vocal personality (Pound Puppies, Cro). A park bench in Wilcox Park in Westerly is dedicated to her in homage to her bag lady character from Laugh In. Buzzi was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1971.

John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band

formed 1972, Narragansett

The band reached the height of their popularity in 1983 with the release of the movie Eddie and the Cruisers, to which they contributed several Bruce Springsteen sound-alike tunes, including "On the Dark Side" and "Tender Years." They're still touring as of 2012. John Cafferty is the cousin of Danny Smith, executive producer and head writer for Family Guy.

Jon Campbell

b. March 4, 1951, Providence

Multi-instrumentalist Campbell is a prolific composer of humorous and poignant songs about life on the ocean and in the Ocean State. Tunes include "The Palatine" (covered prominently by the band Pendragon), "The Providence Waltz," "Frederick's of Galilee," "Federal Hillbillies", "Roomful of Quahogs," and "One Clam Cake." He has been recognized as a Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Folk Artist since 1982.

Robert Capron

b. July 9, 1998, Providence

Scituate resident Capron has appeared as Rowley Jefferson in two Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies (with a third in the works as of 2011), and also had a bit part in Hachiko: A Dog's Story.

Francis Nunzio Carlone aka Frankie Carle

b. March 25, 1903, Providence
d. March 7, 2001, Yuma, Arizona

Big band orchestra leader whose career spanned an astonishing seven decades. He performed from the age of thirteen (when he played with his uncle's orchestra for one dollar a day), right up until the 1980s. He is best known for the tune "Sunrise Serenade." Carle was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968.

Wendy Carlos aka Walter Carlos

b. November 14, 1939, Pawtucket

Composer who popularized the synthesizer with her albums Switched-On Bach (1968), The Well-Tempered Synthesizer (1969), and the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange (1972). Following gender reassignment surgery in 1972 she continued her career with soundtracks for The Shining (1980) and Tron (1982) and a comedic version of Peter and the Wolf with "Weird" Al Yankovic (1988).

JoAnne Carner neé JoAnne "The Great Gundy" Gunderson

b. April 4, 1939, Kirkland, Washington

Professional golfer with an impressive forty-three LPGA Tour wins between 1969 and 1985, as well as numerous other tournament victories, awards, and honors garnered during her long career. Carner's Rhode Island bona fides date from six years that she and her husband, Don, spent in the state, during which time they owned and operated the Firefly Golf Course in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Carner was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1969, and into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1982.

Senator John Hubbard Chafee

b. October 22, 1922, Providence
d. October 24, 1999, of heart failure

Rhode Island governor, 1969-1969; United States senator from 1976-1999. Much beloved by his constituents, politicians can't name enough places after this guy.

Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci, Jr.

b. April 30, 1941, Providence

Longtime Providence Mayor, tireless (self-) promoter and wielder of fireplace logs.

Natalia Cigliuti

b. September 6, 1978, New York, New York

Actress married to Robert Rizzo of North Providence's Rizzo Ford, she moved to Lincoln around 2004. She played Anita Santos Warner on All My Children from 2004-2006, and Collette Centrella on the ill-fated CBS show Waterfront.

Charles Claverie aka Charles Rocket

b. August 24, 1949, Bangor, Maine
d. October 7, 2005, Canterbury, Connecticut, an apparent suicide

RISD alumnus Rocket was a leading light in the early-1970s Providence arts and performance scene and later worked as a news reporter at WPRI Channel 12. He is perhaps best remembered for being fired from the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1981 for using a popular vulgarity that begins with "f."

George Michael Cohan

b. July 3, 1878, Providence
d. November 5, 1942, New York, New York, of cancer

Theatrical director, singer, playwright (Seven Keys to Baldpate, The Song and Dance Man), and composer ("Give My Regards to Broadway", "Over There", "You're a Grand Old Flag", "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy"). A plaque marks the spot where the house in which he was born once stood on the upper end of Wickenden Street.

Nicholas "Coach" Colasanto

b. January 19, 1924
d. February 12, 1985, Studio City, California

Actor (Family Plot, Raging Bull, Cheers), director (S.W.A.T. , Starsky and Hutch, ChiPs, Logan's Run).

Combustible Edison

formed 1994, Providence

Alterna-lounge pop band. No hits to speak of, but they did appear on Late Night with David Letterman on December 23, 1994.

Bill Conti

b. April 13, 1942, Providence

Prolific composer of music for film (Rocky, For Your Eyes Only, The Right Stuff) and television (Dallas, Falcon Crest, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous).

George Henry Corliss

b. June 2, 1817, Easton, New York
d. February 21, 1888, Providence

Corliss was a mechanical engineer who invented the Corliss Steam Engine, a machine that was superior to other steam engines of the time, in 1849. His Centennial Engine supplied all the power used in Machinery Hall at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Corliss was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1973 and the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.

Michael Corrente

b. April 6, 1959, Pawtucket

Director, producer, screenwriter, and playwright. Many of his projects, including Federal Hill, American Buffalo, and Outside Providence, have been filmed in Rhode Island.

The Cowsills

formed 1966, Newport
disbanded 1971

The Cowsills were the original family pop band upon which the Partridge Family was based. They had a string of minor hits in the late 1960s/early 1970s ("The Rain, the Park and Other Things", "Indian Lake", "Hair").

Mother Barbara Cowsill, who joined the band in 1967, died January 31, 1985, in Tempe, Arizona, of emphysema. She was 56.

Bassist Barry Cowsill was reported missing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans in late August 2005. His body was recovered from the Chartres Street Wharf on December 28, 2005, and identified through dental records on January 3. Drowning was subsequently determined to have been the cause of death. He was 51.

William Cowsill, lead singer, died on February 17, 2006, in Calgary, Canada. He had been suffering from emphysema, osteoporosis, Cushing's syndrome, and other ailments. He was 58.

Prudence Crandall

b. September 3, 1803, Hope Valley, Hopkinton
d. January 28, 1890, Elk Falls, Kansas

In 1995, designated Connecticut's official State Heroine for her early (1833-'34) attempts to educate young African-American women in Canterbury, Connecticut.

Olivia Culpo

b. May 8, 1992, Cranston

A 2010 graduate of St. Mary Academy Bay View, Culpo was crowned Miss USA in 2012, the first Miss USA from Rhode Island in the sixty-year history of the pageant.

Viola Davis

b. August 11, 1965, Saint Matthews, South Carolina

An actress equally at home on stage (Intimate Apparel), screen (Doubt), or television (Century City), Davis grew up in Central Falls and graduated from Rhode Island College. In 2009 she was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Doubt.

John Francis Dearden

b. October 15, 1907, Valley Falls, Cumberland
d. August 1, 1988, Detroit, Michigan

Dearden was the seventh bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1950), archbishop of Detroit, Michigan (1958), and a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church (1969).

Victor DeCosta aka Paladin

b. 1909, New Bedford, Massachusetts
d. January 28, 1993, Providence

DeCosta grew up in the Fox Point neighborhood of Providence and lived for the last thirty years of his life in North Scituate. His black-clad persona, motto, and nickname were allegedly appropriated by CBS for a television show, Have Gun—Will Travel (1957-1963). He went to court three times for damages or monetary compensation, and won each time, only to have all of the verdicts thrown out on appeal.

Paul DelVecchio aka Pauly D

b. July 5, 1980, Providence

DJ and reality TV star (Jersey Shore, The Pauly D Project). Pauly D is a 1998 graduate of Johnston High School.

Marcel Desaulniers

b. 1945, Woonsocket

Executive chef and co-owner of the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia; author of Death by Chocolate: The Last Word on a Consuming Passion.

Vin Di Bona

b. 1944

Cranston native and producer of such deathless gems of television greatness as Battle of the Network Stars (I through IV), America's Funniest Home Videos, and America's Funniest Pets. He no longer lives year-round in Rhode Island, but summers in Newport.

Governor Edward DiPrete

b. July 8, 1934

Rhode Island governor 1985-1991. Served a year in prison after pleading guilty to eighteen counts of corruption.

Tanya Donelly

b. July 16, 1966, Newport

Singer/guitarist with rock groups Throwing Muses, Breeders, and Belly

Thomas Wilson Dorr

b. November 5, 1805, Providence
d. December 27, 1854, Providence

Elected the "Peoples' Governor" under the Peoples' Convention of 1842.

Charles Henry Dow

b. November 6, 1851, Sterling, Connecticut
d. December 4, 1902, Brooklyn, New York

Between 1875 and 1880 Dow worked as an editor for the Providence Star, a reporter for the Providence Evening Press, and a business writer for the Providence Journal. He later co-founded the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones and Company, and invented the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Dow was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2006.

Sarah Elizabeth Doyle

b. 1830
d. December 21, 1922

Doyle was the sister of Providence Mayor Thomas Doyle. She was a leader in the women's suffrage movement and a co-founder of both the Rhode Island School of Design and Pembroke College of Brown University. She was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2005.

Doris Duke

b. November 22, 1912, New York, New York
d. October 28, 1993, Beverly Hills, California

Tobacco heiress dubbed "the richest girl in the world." Lived at Rough Point during spring, summer, and fall months, and founded the Newport Restoration Foundation in 1968 to preserve historic Newport properties and neighborhoods.

Nelson Ackerman Eddy

b. June 29, 1901, 96 Hartford Avenue, Providence
d. March 6, 1967, Miami, Florida, of a stroke

Operatically-trained singer and actor who starred and sang opposite Jeanette McDonald in a successful series of MGM operettas (Naughty Marietta, I Married an Angel) in the 1930s and '40s. His best-known tunes are probably "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" and "Indian Love Call." Interest in Eddy has grown in recent years, fueled by rumors that he and Jeannette MacDonald carried on a decades-long illicit affair.

William Ellery

b. December 22, 1727, Newport
d. February 15, 1820, while reading Tully's Offices in Latin

Rhode Island delegate to the Continental Congress of 1776 (replacing Samuel Ward who had died of smallpox), and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Shepard Fairey

b. February 15, 1970, Charleston, South Carolina

Graphic artist. Fairey created the Andre the Giant has a Posse conceptual street art while a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989, littering Providence with thousands of stickers and, in one memorable stunt, replacing Buddy Cianci's face with that of Andre the Giant on a huge campaign billboard. Fairey most recently created a series of iconic portraits in support of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

Eileen Farrell

b. February 13, 1920, Willimantic, Connecticut
d. March 23, 2002, Park Ridge, New Jersey

Opera and pop soprano. According to Wikipedia "she always publicly and affectionately called [Woonsocket] her home town," having moved there in her teens. Among other accomplishments she performed five seasons at the Metropolitan Opera and released four albums of pop and jazz tunes. She was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1967, and the Woonsocket Hall of Fame in 1985.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly

b. 1957 and 1958, Cumberland

Filmmakers responsible for such pinnacles of good taste as Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary, Outside Providence, and Me, Myself and Irene).

Marie Rose "The Little Rose" Ferron

b. May 24, 1902, Quebec, Canada
d. May 11, 1936, 271 Providence Street, Woonsocket

Deeply religious from a very young age, and afflicted with polio, Rose bore the stigmata (spontaneous wounds on the hands and forehead, like those of Jesus Christ on the cross) during her long illness. It was claimed that she had the ability to take on the pain of others, and in the later part of her life many people traveled to her bedside to be healed.

Samuel Simms Foss

b. 1821, Massachusetts
d. August 6, 1879, Woonsocket

Publisher of the Woonsocket Patriot and one of the founding members of the Associated Press. Buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Woonsocket.

Peter Frechette

b. October 3, 1956, Warwick

Actor (Peter Montefiore in thirtysomething is perhaps his best known television role). Raised in Coventry, attended La Salle Academy and URI.

Ferdinand Wachenheimer Friendly aka Fred Friendly

b. October 30, 1915, Providence
d. March 3, 1998, New York, New York

Broadcast producer and journalist at Providence radio station WEAN from 1937 to 1941. Later moved to NBC radio and CBS television, where he collaborated with Edward R. Murrow. Was president of CBS News from 1964 to 1966. Inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1968, and the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame in 2007.

Paul Geremia

b. 1944

Blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter with ten albums to his name. He was "born in the Providence River Delta" and spent much of his youth in Johnston. During a career spanning more than forty years, he has also worked with some of the great blues legends, including Howlin' Wolf and Pink Anderson.

Katharine Ryan Gibbs

b. January 10, 1863, Galena, Illinois
d. March 1934

Gibbs founded the Katharine Gibbs School in the Caesar Misch Building on Westminster Street in Providence in 1911. Initially founded to train secretaries, the school now offers courses ranging from information technology to visual communications and web design at a number of campuses.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

b. July 3, 1860, Hartford, Connecticut
d. August 17, 1935, California, a suicide by overdose of chloroform

Gilman was a prolific feminist writer who grew up in Providence. Her most famous short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," is based on her experience with depression after the birth of her first child.

William W. Gilman aka Billy Gilman

b. May 24, 1988, Westerly

This Hope Valley native was the youngest person ever nominated for a Grammy, for his debut album One Voice; it was released one week before his twelfth birthday, in 2000.

John Gordon

b. c.1816, Ireland
d. February 14, 1845, Providence, by hanging

The last person to suffer capital punishment in Rhode Island, Gordon's conviction on shaky evidence led directly to the abolition of the state's death penalty seven years later. In 2011 he was posthumously pardoned for his alleged crime (the murder of Cranston mill owner Amasa Sprague on December 31, 1843) by Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Jabez Gorham

b. February 18, 1792, Providence
d. 1869

Jeweler and silversmith.

Joseph Nelson Goucher aka Eddie Dowling

b. December 9, 1889, Woonsocket
d. February 18, 1976, Smithfield

Writer, composer, actor, stage producer (Paint Your Wagon, Hope's the Thing, Honeymoon Lane). Part of Route 146A in North Smithfield is named for him.

Captain Robert W. Gray

b. May 10, 1755, Tiverton
d. circa 1806, at sea, possibly of yellow fever

Gray was the first American to sail around the world under the flag of the United States. He named the Columbia River, into which his vessel, the Columbia Rediviva, was the first to sail.

Spalding Gray

b. June 5, 1941, Barrington
d. January 10, 2004, Staten Island Ferry, New York, New York, a probable suicide

Monologuist and actor (The Killing Fields, Swimming to Cambodia, Our Town, Monster in a Box, Gray's Anatomy, Bliss). Gray's monologues, which essentially amounted to very public therapy, delved unflinchingly into such topics as his mother's suicide, his struggles with writer's block, his mental and physical health, and his search for spirituality.

Major-General Nathanael Greene

b. August 7, 1742, Potowomut (Warwick)
d. June 19, 1786, Mulberry Grove, Georgia, of sunstroke

General in the American Revolutionary Army; as a Revolutionary War-era military leader, considered second only to Washington.

Catherine Littlefield Greene-Miller

b. February 17, 1755, Block Island
d. September 2, 1814, Cumberland Island, Georgia

Wife of American Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene. Legend has it that she gave Eli Whitney advice on how to correct a design flaw in his cotton gin, the teeth of which would get clogged with cotton fibers. According to the April 1972 issue of American Heritage magazine, "it is said that Mrs. Greene remarked, 'Why Eli, you need a brush,' and flicked the lint from the teeth with her hairbrush."

Robert Leo Hackett aka Bobby Hackett

b. January 31, 1915, Providence
d. June 7, 1976, Chatham, Massachusetts, of a heart attack

Jazz trumpeter; he performed the spotlight solo on "String of Pearls" in MGM's The Glenn Miller Story and he was the only other performer mentioned by name on Jackie Gleason's first album.

David Hartman

b. May 19, 1935, Pawtucket

Actor (The Virginian, Lucas Tanner), TV newscaster (Good Morning America).

Elizabeth Filarksi Hasselbeck

b. May 28, 1977, Cranston

Contestant on Survivor 2: The Australian Outback, host of The Look for Less (2002-2004) on the Style Network, co-host of ABC's The View (2003-present).

Richard H. Hatch, Jr.

b. April 8, 1961, Newport

Original Survivor villain and winner, corporate trainer. In May 2006 he was sentenced to fifty-one months in prison for failure to pay taxes on his million dollar prize.

Ara David Heditsian aka David Hedison

b. May 20, 1928, Providence

Actor (The Fly, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Another World).

John W. Higgins

b. Providence
d. 2004, Maryland

1936 Olympic bronze medal winner in the breast stroke competition; set ten world and twenty-one United States swimming records. Inducted into the Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame in 1981.

Stephen Hopkins

b. March 7, 1707, Providence
d. July 13, 1785, Providence

Ten-time Rhode Island governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Commodore Esek Hopkins

b. August 26, 1718, Scituate
d. February 26, 1802, Providence

The only man other than a U.S. President to hold the title of Commander-in Chief; the first Commodore of the Continental Navy, 1775-78; he's also recognized as the first to raise the American flag on foreign soil, at New Providence in the Bahamas in 1776.

John Christian Hopkins aka Standing Bear

b. July 6, 1960, Westerly

Hopkins is a journalist, novelist, and poet. In 2003 he became the first Native American journalist to win awards in four different writing categories in the same year from the Native American Journalists Association. He is the author of the historical novels Carlomagno and Nacogdoches.

Julia Ward Howe

b. May 27, 1819, New York, New York
d. October 17, 1910, Newport

Abolitionist, women's rights advocate, and poet; she wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in 1862.

Ruth Carol Hussey

b. October 30, 1914, Providence
d. April 18, 2005, from complications of an appendectomy

Actress (Northwest Passage, The Philadelphia Story, The Uninvited, The Great Gatsby) who grew up on Ontario Street in the Elmwood neighborhood of Providence. In 1940 she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Philadelphia Story.

Ann Marbury Hutchinson

b. 1591, Alfred, England
d. August 1643, Pelham Bay (East Chester), New York, in an Indian attack

Midwife and preacher. She was tried in Boston in 1637 on the charge of heresy for challenging Puritan teachings, and subsequently banished from the colony. In 1638 she was among the founders of the Rhode Island town of Pocasset (Portsmouth).

Thomas H. Ince

b. November 6, 1882, Newport
d. November 19, 1924, Beverly Hills, California, under mysterious circumstances

Actor, director, producer.

Richard Jenkins

b. May 4, 1947, DeKalb, Illinois

Jenkins was a member of the Trinity Rep acting company from 1970 to 1984 and served a four-year term as the company's artistic director. A casting favorite of the Farrelly Brothers, Jenkins was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his performance in the 2007 film The Visitor. Despite his success he says he has no plans to move someplace glitzier, preferring instead to remain in the same suburban Cumberland house he's shared with his choreographer wife, Sharon, since the early 1970s.

G.I. Joe

b. 1963, Pawtucket

Championed by Don Levine, Director of Development at Hasbro, G.I. Joe was a revolutionary idea for the time—a doll for boys. In the years since his introduction, Joe has become an American icon on par with Barbie, selling over 400 million units, and appearing in cartoons, in movies, and on lunchboxes. G.I. Joe was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame on November 12, 2004.

Charles Van Dell Johnson aka Van Johnson

b. August 25, 1916, Newport
d. December 12, 2008, Nyack, New York

Actor (Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Battleground, The Caine Mutiny, Brigadoon, The Purple Rose of Cairo). Johnson grew up at 16 Ayrault Street in Newport and graduated from Rogers High School. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1969.

Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones aka The Black Patti

b. January 5, 1869, Portsmouth, Virginia
d. June 24, 1933, Providence

Jones was a world-famous opera singer in the 1890s, but the color of her skin prevented her from reaching her true potential, and she was often relegated to singing arias in minstrel shows. A critic dubbed her "the Black Patti" after Adelina Patti, the foremost opera diva of the day.

Claudia Jordan

b. April 12, 1973, Providence

This former Miss Rhode Island USA is a model on The Price is Right.

Kilgore aka Kilgore Smudge aka Stain aka Smudge aka Regicide

formed 1991, Providence
disbanded 2000

Heavy metal band formed at La Salle Academy in Providence. Gained national exposure as Kilgore while part of the 1998 Ozzfest tour.

Tracy King

b. 1964
d. February 20, 2003, in the Station fire

Canoe-balancer extraordinaire; he was a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman.

Galway Kinnell

b. February 1, 1927, Providence
d. October 28, 2014, of leukemia, Sheffield, Vermont

Poet (Body Rags, Mortal Acts-Mortal Words, The Book of Nightmares, When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone, Imperfect Thirst); 1983 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; served as State Poet of Vermont from 1989-1993.

Clement Walter Labine

b. August 6, 1925, Lincoln
d. March 2, 2007, Vero Beach, Florida, of complications following brain surgery

French Canadian All-Star relief pitcher in 1956 and 1957; threw two of baseball's most significant shutouts in his role as a part-time starter and pitched for two Dodgers World Series championship teams in the 1950s.

Margaret Ladd

b. November 8, 1942, Providence

Ladd, who grew up on Ontario Street in Providence, played Emma Channing on Falcon Crest from 1981 to 1989.

Napoleon Lajoie

b. September 5, 1874, Woonsocket
d. February 7, 1959, Daytona Beach, Florida

Possibly the greatest second baseman in history; inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

Art Lake

b. 1925, Winthrop, Massachusetts
d. November 22, 2009, Greenville, Smithfield

No other Rhode Island media personality can beat Art Lake's longevity. He began his broadcasting career on April 6, 1944, with a morning show called Breakfast Tray on WJAR radio, but he was better known as Channel 10's meteorologist (1963-2003).

James Langevin

b. April 22, 1964, Providence

The first quadriplegic elected to the United States Congress.

Irving Raskin Levine

b. August 26, 1922, Pawtucket
d. March 27, 2009, Washington, D.C., of complications from prostate cancer

Former Providence Journal reporter; correspondent with NBC News for forty years; author (Main Street, U.S.S.R.; Travel Guide to Russia; The New Worker in Soviet Russia; Main Street, Italy); and lecturer.

Idawalley Zoradia Lewis aka Ida Lewis

b. February 25, 1842, Newport
d. October 24, 1911, Lime Rock lighthouse, Newport

Keeper of Newport's Lime Rock Lighthouse and America's most celebrated female lighthouse keeper. She is credited with saving eighteen lives during her career.

Joshua Lipton

b. 1986

On October 11, 2006, Joshua Lipton, then a Bryant University student, was speeding to get some cigarettes and struck two cars, leaving a young Lincoln woman hospitalized for three months and with permanent injuries. Two hours after the crash, Lipton had a blood alcohol content of .156, about twice the legal limit. He was set free on bail.

Two weeks later, Lipton was photographed at a Halloween party wearing a striped shirt and an orange jumpsuit labeled "jail bird." He was also sticking out his tongue, but that may have been a result of the can of Red Bull clutched in his hand.

This photograph was posted to Facebook. There it was noticed by the driver of the other car that had been hit, who passed it along to the injured woman, who passed it to the state prosecutor. He then displayed the photo at Lipton's sentencing with the caption "Remorseful?" Lipton was sentenced to ten years, with two to serve, one count of DUI-serious bodily injury resulting, and one count of driving to endanger with serious bodily injury resulting.

Since then, Lipton's fifteen minutes of infamy have been following their expected trajectory with mentions on Dr. Phil ("Busted Online"), PC World ("12 photos that should never have been posted online"), and newspapers and blogs all over the world.

Carl Jurgen Detlef Looff aka Charles I.D. Looff

b. May 24, 1852, Bramstedt, Schleswig Holstein, Denmark
d. July 1, 1918, Long Beach, California

A designer and builder of amusement parks and rides throughout America (including East Providence's Crescent Park), and a renowned carver of carousels, Looff lived or worked in Riverside from around 1894 to 1910. Looff was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2005.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft

b. August 20, 1890, Providence
d. March 15, 1937, Providence, from cancer of the intestine

Writer of classic horror fiction ("The Shunned House," The Case of Charles Dexter Ward).

Rear Admiral Stephen Bleecker Luce

b. March 25, 1827, Albany, New York
d. July 28, 1917, Newport

Luce, a career naval officer, was the founder and first president of the Naval War College in Newport (1884-1886). As such, he was a major influence on the development of professional education and training in the Navy. Luce was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2005.

Eric Lutes

b. August 19, 1962, Charlestown

Actor, whose most visible role to date was that of Del Cassidy on the sitcom Caroline in the City. He was also Frasier's gay boss, Tom Duran, on two episodes of Frasier, and has played the Olsen twins' father in two separate television productions. He attended Chariho Regional High School and the University of Rhode Island.

George Luz, Sr.

b. June 17, 1921, Fall River, Massachusetts
d. October 15, 1998, crushed by an industrial laundry machine

Luz, a paratrooper in World War II, was portrayed by actor Rick Gomez in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. During the war he took part in the Invasion of Normandy, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. He grew up in West Warwick, returned there after the war, and lived there until his death, aged 77. He is buried in the Rhode Island Veteran's Cemetery in Exeter.

David Macaulay

b. December 12, 1946, England

Writer and illustrator whose books (Cathedral, City, Pyramid, Castle, Mill, The Way Things Work, Unbuilding) help make the intricacies of physics and architecture more accessible to the general public.

George Macready

b. August 29, 1909, Providence
d. July 2, 1973, Los Angeles, California, of emphysema

A Brown graduate, Macready appeared in fifteen plays on Broadway between 1926 and 1958, and had more than 130 film and television roles between 1942 and 1971. He specialized in playing the heavy—Bellon Mundson in Gilda (1946) or French general Paul Mireau in Paths of Glory (1957), for example.

Jeffrey Mailhot

b. November 9, 1970

Rhode Island is not known for its serial killers; Mailhot is one of the few. He strangled and dismembered at least three women in Woonsocket between 2003 and 2004. He is currently serving two life terms, plus ten years, at the ACI in Cranston and will be eligible for parole in 2048.

Peter Manfredo, Jr. aka The Pride of Providence

b. November 26, 1980, Pawtucket

Manfredo, a super middleweight/middleweight boxer, came to national attention in the 2005 reality show The Contender. Despite being eliminated early, Manfredo was brought back when another contestant came down with chicken pox, a circumstance that allowed Manfredo to fight his way to the final two. In the series finale, staged at Las Vegas' Caesar's Palace, Manfredo started strong but ultimately lost the top spot to Sergio "The Latin Snake" Mora.

On May 22, 1010, Manfredo beat Angel "Toro" Hernandez in a ten-round decision to earn the International Boxing Organization (IBO) World Title, becoming the third Rhode Islander to do so. Harold "Chubby" Gomes was the first in 1959 and Vinny Pazienza was the second in 1987.

John A. Manzi aka Andy Jackson aka The Big Ange

b. 1942
d. July 18, 2010, Providence, of cancer

Flamboyant radio disc jockey from the 1960s to the '90s, most notably at WPRO, but also at WJAR (now WHJJ), WKRI (now WLKW), WALE, and WICE.

Maxwell Mays aka Harry Maxwell Mays

b. August 13, 1918, Providence
d. November 16, 2009, Greene, Coventry

Painter known for his painstakingly accurate depictions of historical Rhode Island scenes, many of which have graced the cover of Yankee magazine. A 1941 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1977.

Charles McCarthy aka Cormac McCarthy

b. July 20, 1933, Providence

Writer and playwright. He won the Pulitzer Prize (and a place on Oprah's Book Club list) for his novel The Road in 2007.

As of 2007 four of his novels were made or are scheduled to be made into movies: Blood Meridian, The Road, No Country for Old Men, and All the Pretty Horses.

Ron McLarty

b. April 26, 1947, Providence

McLarty had little luck finding a publisher for his writing endeavors until Stephen King chanced to hear an audiobook of McLarty's The Memory of Running (2004). Once King praised the work as "the best book you can't read," McLarty's name as an author was made. Not that he didn't have anything to fall back on; McLarty has acted small parts and supporting roles in movies and on TV since the late 1970s. He has also acted in and written numerous plays and narrated over one hundred audiobooks. McLarty grew up at 211 Brightridge Avenue in East Providence and attended Brightridge Avenue School (now the Perry-McStay Funeral Home), Central Junior High School (now Taunton Plaza, an old age home), East Providence High School, and Rhode Island College. He moved away from Rhode Island in 1969 and now resides in New York City, but, as he told a hometown crowd in 2007, "East Providence has informed everything I do."

John Joseph McLaughlin

b. March 29, 1927

This former Jesuit priest (1960-1975), failed candidate for United States Senate (1970), and former speechwriter for Presidents Nixon and Ford is the host and moderator of The McLaughlin Group on PBS. Prior to becoming a fixture on the national political scene, McLaughlin grew up in the Edgewood and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods of Providence, attended Blessed Sacrament Elementary School and LaSalle Academy, and worked as a money-runner at Narragansett Park racetrack and as a stock boy at Shepard's department store. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2005.

Caroline McWilliams

b. April 4, 1945, Seattle, Washington
d. February 11, 2010, Los Angeles, California, from complications of multiple myeloma

Actress (The Guiding Light, Soap, Benson, Mermaids, Beverly Hill 90210, Judging Amy); she grew up in Barrington.

Richard Merkin

b. 1938, Brooklyn, New York
d. September 5, 2009, New York, New York

Merkin was an artist, teacher, and writer who taught painting at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1963 to 2005, but you might know him better as the guy with the hat and mustache in the center of the back row on the front cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

Debra Messing

b. August 15, 1968, Brooklyn, New York

A native of East Greenwich (she moved there at age three), this former Rhode Island Junior Miss is making a name for herself on television (Will and Grace—for which she won an Emmy) and in the movies (The Wedding Date).

Metacomet aka King Philip

b. circa 1638, Massachusetts
d. August 12, 1676, Mount Hope, at the hand of John Alderman

Leader of the Wampanoag tribe and instigator of King Philip's War.

Shanna Lynn Moakler

b. March 28, 1975, Providence

Former Miss Teen Rhode Island (1992) and Miss USA (1995), now a model, reality TV celebrity (Meet the Barkers (2005)), and actress. Was Playboy Playmate of the Month in December 2001 and once allegedly punched Paris Hilton in the jaw. Moakler grew up in Barrington and attended Barrington High School.

Joseph Mollicone

b. circa 1944

Mollicone didn't become a household name until he took a few bucks from the business he was president of. But the business happened to be the Heritage and Loan Investment Company, and the few bucks was actually $12 million. In 1991 Mollicone's unauthorized withdrawal and subsequent disappearance led to the collapse of Rhode Island's entire privately insured credit union network, and left thousands of depositors up crap creek. Once caught, Mollicone was convicted in 1993 on twenty-six counts of embezzlement, conspiracy, and violation of banking laws, sentenced to forty years in prison, ordered to pay the stolen money back to the state, and hit with an additional $420,000 fine. He was paroled in July 2002.

Edwin O'Connor

b. July 29, 1918, Providence
d. 1968, Boston, Massachusetts, of a stroke

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Edge of Sadness (1961) and The Last Hurrah (1956).

Jeffrey Osborne

b. March 9, 1948, Providence

Singer with the funk and soul group LTD ("Love Ballad"); and solo ("On the Wings of Love," "Only Human").

Oscar the Cat

b. 2005

Oscar came to Steere House, a Providence nursing and rehabilitation center for older adults, as a kitten. It was soon noticed that he seemed to have an uncanny ability to detect those patients who were close to death, offering comfort and companionship in their final hours. This phenomenon was the subject of a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine article by Dr. David Dosa, later expanded into the 2010 bestseller Making the Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift from an Ordinary Cat.

Ousamequin ("Yellow Feather") aka Massasoit

b. circa 1590, Pokanoket (near present-day Bristol)
d. 1661

Ousamequin was a leader of the Wampanoag Indian tribe. In 1621 he signed a peace treaty with the Pilgrims that was unbroken during his lifetime.

Dominick George "Don" Pardo

b. February 12, 1918, Westfield, Massachusetts
d. August 18, 2014, Tucson, Arizona

Iconic announcer (Jeopardy!, Saturday Night Live) who spend part of his childhood, and began his broadcasting career, in Providence. His first job was with WJAR-AM, from 1938 to 1944. Pardo was inducted into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame in 2009.

Joseph Vincent Paterno aka JoePa

b. December 21, 1926, Brooklyn, New York
d. January 22, 2012, State College, Pennsylvania, of lung cancer

Paterno was a 1950 graduate of Brown University, where he was a quarterback and cornerback for the Brown Bears. Following college he served as assistant coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions from 1950 to 1966, at which time he took over head coach duties for the next forty-six years. During that time he was the winningest NCAA Division I coach in history with 409 wins. But in November 2011 the Penn State child sex abuse scandal broke. Opinions were mixed as to whether Paterno had fulfilled his obligation to report what he knew at the time the crime took place, and school officials decided it would be better to terminate his employment, rather than allow him to retire after finishing out the season. He died only a few months later. In the aftermath of the scandal, 111 Nittany Lions wins (earned between 1998 and 2011) were stripped from the record as part of NCAA sanctions, dropping Paterno from number one winningest NCAA Division I coach to number twelve.

Paterno was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1974.

Vinnie "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza

b. December 16, 1962, Cranston

Five-time super-middleweight world championship boxer. He retired from boxing after winning his fiftieth fight on March 27, 2004.

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

b. August 20, 1785, South Kingstown
d. August 23, 1819, off the coast of Trinidad, of yellow fever

Naval hero in the War of 1812; he said, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours." Inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1965.


Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry

b. April 10, 1794, South Kingstown
d. March 4, 1858, New York, New York

He opened Japanese ports to world trade in 1854.

Mr. Potato Head

b. 1952, Pawtucket

This classic Hasbro product was the first toy to be advertised on national television. The amiable spud had a supporting role in the Pixar animated movies, Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999), and in 1999 he was chosen as Rhode Island's "Ambassador of Fun," with forty-eight different six-foot-tall fiberglass replicas placed throughout the state.

Sloop Providence

built 1976

The Providence is a replica of Rhode Island's first naval vessel. She has appeared in two sequels to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean (as both a Turkish merchant vessel and the HMS Perseverance, a British man-of-war), and in a PBS documentary on Benedict Arnold. Based out of her namesake city, the Providence is Rhode Island's official flagship and, when not appearing on film, a floating classroom.

Anthony Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn

b. April 21, 1915, Chihuahua, Mexico
d. June 3, 2001, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, of pneumonia and respiratory failure

This Oscar-winning actor (Viva Zapata, Lust for Life) made Bristol his home for the last six years of his life.

Brigadier General Elisha Hunt Rhodes

b. March 21, 1842, Pawtuxet Village, Cranston
d. January 14, 1917

Rhodes participated in every Civil War campaign with the Army of the Potomac from Bull Run (July 1861) to Appomattox (April 1865). He is perhaps best known today for his Civil War diary, used to great effect in Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War.

Roomful of Blues

formed 1967, Westerly

The venerable Roomful of Blues is perhaps the best-known and most beloved blues band that you've never heard of. Six of their albums have made the top 15 on the Blue Charts, and at least three of the projects they've worked on have been nominated for Grammies. Well into their fourth decade, the band continues to please local audiences with their encyclopedic musical expertise.

Tony Russo

Warwick resident Russo is another of our local prodigies. Simply put, he remembers dates. Off the top of his head, he can tell you what day of the week any date in history fell on. He can also calculate the number of days between any two dates (eg: "James Woods was born 161 days before Gary Ley, the Channel 10 weather man.").

Frank Santos aka The R-rated Hypnotist

b. 1949
d. September 21, 2009, Cumberland, in his sleep

Santos began performing his popular act at the former Periwinkles comedy club in the Arcade in the 1980s and took it all over the country, hypnotizing ordinary people into believing that their tongues were stuck to their lower lips, that their arms could not be bent, that feathers were tickling their butt cracks, and that their sexual organs had expanded to ridiculous proportions or were missing altogether.

The Senders

formed 1983

Long-lived and versatile Rhode Island bar band that mainly performs covers of Classic Rock, R&B, and Modern Rock tunes.

Danny Smith

Executive producer and head writer of Family Guy. Also wrote for Nurses, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Yes, Dear, and Head of the Class, and was for a time a local host of PM Magazine. Smith attended Smithfield High School and Rhode Island College, and is the cousin of John Cafferty and the brother of Steve Smith from Steve Smith and the Nakeds.

Colonel Sherwood C. "Woody" Spring

b. September 3, 1944, Hartford, Connecticut

Spring served as a mission specialist on the 23rd space shuttle mission, aboard Atlantis, which flew from November 26 through December 3, 1985. He grew up in the Eden Park section of Cranston and moved with his family to Harmony when he was thirteen.

Friedrich St. Florian Gartler

b. 1932, Graz, Austria

Providence-based architect St. Florian was unanimously selected from 400 entries to design the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Locally, he was Design Architect for the Providence Place Mall.

Gilbert Charles Stuart

b. December 3, 1755, North Kingstown
d. July 9, 1828, Boston, Massachusetts

Portrait-painter; most famous for his unfinished portrait of George Washington.

Mena Adrienne Suvari

b. February 9, 1979, Newport

Actress (American Pie, American Beauty, Loser).


formed 1964, New Bedford, Massachusetts

The Tavares brothers—Ralph, Butch, Tiny, Pooch, and Chubby—grew up in Fox Point in Providence. In the mid-seventies they scored twelve top-15 rhythm and blues hits in a row, including "Ain't No Woman Like the One I Got," "Free Ride" and "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel (Part 1)." Prior to their fame, they were once arrested for singing on a Providence street corner.

Elizabeth June Thornburg aka Betty Hutton

b. February 26, 1921, Battle Creek, Michigan
d. March 11, 2007, Palm Springs, California

Actress, singer, and dancer (The Fleet's In (1942), The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), Annie Get Your Gun (1950), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)) who made Rhode Island her home from 1974 to 1996. She earned a master's degree in liberal studies from Salve Regina University in 1986 and served for a time as the official greeter at the former Newport Jai Alai fronton.

Michael Townsend

b. circa 1971

Townsend is an artist who graduated from RISD in 1994. In 2007 he was banned for life from the Providence Place Mall after he and a handful of other artists were found to have created a fully furnished secret apartment within dead space in the mall's parking garage. He has since moved on to great success creating temporary large-scale murals using just painter's tape.

Steven Trotter

b. 1963

Bartender and dare-devil; he went over Niagara Falls in a barrel in 1985, then repeated the feat with a double-barrel and a female friend in 1995.

Mike Valerio

b. Providence

Award-winning writer, producer, director, and creative executive. Valerio graduated from Rhode Island College in 1980 and soon after worked a four-year stint as a producer for PM Magazine at WJAR-TV. From there he went on to work, in various capacities, for all four major television networks, as well as Disney, Warner Brothers, and Telepictures. He is perhaps best known for the independent black comedy Carlo's Wake (1999), which he co-wrote and directed.

Chris Van Allsburg

b. June 18, 1949, Grand Rapids, Michigan

RISD grad and Providence resident Van Allsburg is an author and illustrator of children's books, including The Garden of Abdul Gasazi, Jumanji, The Polar Express, and The Wretched Stone.

Erika Lynn Van Pelt

b. December 12, 1985, Providence

South Kingstown singer who placed tenth in the eleventh season of American Idol.

Meredith Vieira

b. December 30, 1953, East Providence

Former CBS News correspondent and anchor (1979-1993), co-host of ABC's The View (1997-2006) and NBC's Today show (2006-2011), and host of the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (2002—).

Wadsworth Mansion

Formed 1970, Providence
disbanded circa late 1972

A local bar-band that scored a number 7 hit with "Sweet Mary (I'm Coming Home)" in February 1971. Lead singer and guitarist Steve Jablecki died on April 14, 2005, in Pawtucket. A memorial to him in the form of an Eastern Red Bud tree can be found in the Bourne Playground, Rumford, East Providence.

William Edward White

b. October 1860, Milner, Georgia
d. March 29, 1937, Chicago, Illinois

Possibly the first black man (and only former slave) to play on a major league baseball team, White was a substitute first baseman for the Providence Grays in a game that took place June 21, 1879, when he was a student at Brown University. The Grays won that game, 5-3.

Sarah Helen Power Whitman

b. January 19, 1803, Providence
d. June 27, 1878, Providence

Poet who almost married Edgar Allan Poe; they courted at the Providence Athenaeum and she inspired Poe to write the poems "To Helen" and "Annabelle Lee."

Stephen Wilcox, Jr.

b. February 12, 1830, Westerly
d. November 27, 1893, Westerly

Co-inventor, with George H. Babcock, of the water tube steam boiler, deemed by Thomas Edison to be "the best boiler God has permitted man yet to make."

Jemima Wilkinson

b. November 29, 1752, Cumberland
d. July 1, 1819, near Penn Yan, New York

Religious leader; the first woman in America to found a religion, the Universal Friends.

Roger Williams

b. circa 1603, London, England
d. Spring 1683, Providence

Cleric, founder of the State of Rhode Island.

Michael Woodmansee

b. 1959

Sociopath who, in 1975, killed (and allegedly cannibalized) his five-year-old Peace Dale neighbor, Jason Foreman, just to see "what it would be like."

James Howard Woods

b. April 18, 1947, Vernal, Utah (but grew up in Warwick)

Actor (The Onion Field, Nixon, Killer: A Journal of Murder, Vampires, True Crime).

The Young Adults

formed mid-1970s, Providence
disbanded, early 1980s

Satirical rock band (sample song titles: "A Power Tool Is Not A Toy," "Do The Heimlich," "Let's Get Naked and Break Things"), featured in the 1992 film (It's A) Complex World. Core members re-united for a three-night stand at The Met in Pawtucket in May 2011.

Edward Zacharian aka Eddie Zack

b. March 5, 1922, Providence
d. January 9, 2002

Eddie Zack formed Eddie Zack and the Dude Ranchers with his brother Richard, known as Cousin Richie, in 1939. In 1952 Zack's band, redubbed the Hayloft Jamboree, was the first country music act to perform at Boston's Symphony Hall. For more than sixty years Zack and his bands performed all over southern New England and appeared on or hosted a number of local radio and television programs. In 1978 Zack founded the Rhode Island Country Music Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2003.

This article last edited March 3, 2015

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