Special Report

The Most Famous Celebrities From Small Towns

gageskidmore / Flickr

Heartland rocker John Mellencamp sang about the comforts and confines of growing up in a small town (he hails from Seymour, Indiana, population 21,569). Celebrities from small communities might recognize themselves in his lyrics. They might be from Small Town, USA, but that didn’t prevent these stars from thinking big. (These are the best American small towns for the arts.)

To determine the most famous American celebrities born in small towns, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on fame, based on metrics drawn from Wikipedia pages, from the June 2022 paper “A cross-verified database of notable people, 3500BC-2018AD.” published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Data.  

Of the 50 celebrities on the list, 36 are actors and eight are singers. The remainder are a film director, a comedian, a martial arts expert, a former NBA star, a writer, and an Olympic champion turned reality-show performer. They come from places like Canandaigua, New York; Meadville, Pennsylvania; Kalispell, Montana; Duncan, Oklahoma; and Tappahannock, Virginia.

Eight of the celebrities hail from small towns in New York, the state represented the most on the list. Texas and Pennsylvania each boast five, and Oklahoma, New Jersey, and Minnesota have three apiece.

While our list is evenly divided between men and women, eight of the top 10 celebrities are female. Based on the number of pageviews, Taylor Swift tops the list with 8.1 million, well ahead of actors Jennifer Connelly and Jennifer Lawrence. However, Swift is not the top person on our list; that distinction goes to another pop princess.

Here is a list of the most famous American celebrities born in small towns.

Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

50. Kristen Wiig
> Visibility score: 34.4
> Birthplace: Canandaigua, New York
> Population, 2021: 10,563
> Birth year: 1973

 

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

49. Lionel Richie
> Visibility score: 34.5
> Birthplace: Tuskegee, Alabama
> Population, 2021: 9,125
> Birth year: 1949

 

Source: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

48. John Malkovich
> Visibility score: 34.7
> Birthplace: Christopher, Illinois
> Population, 2021: 2,459
> Birth year: 1953

Source: Vincent Laforet / Getty Images

47. Larry Bird
> Visibility score: 34.7
> Birthplace: West Baden Springs, Indiana
> Population, 2021: 485
> Birth year: 1956

 

46. Jason Momoa
> Visibility score: 34.7
> Birthplace: Nanakuli, Hawaii
> Population, 2021: 12,587
> Birth year: 1979

 

Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

45. John Carpenter
> Visibility score: 34.7
> Birthplace: Carthage, New York
> Population, 2021: 3,398
> Birth year: 1948

 

44. Dan Brown
> Visibility score: 34.8
> Birthplace: Exeter, New Hampshire
> Population, 2021: 9,908
> Birth year: 1964

 

Source: David Livingston / Getty Images

43. Jeff Goldblum
> Visibility score: 34.8
> Birthplace: West Homestead, Pennsylvania
> Population, 2021: 1,826
> Birth year: 1952

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

42. Carrie Underwood
> Visibility score: 34.8
> Birthplace: Checotah, Oklahoma
> Population, 2021: 3,034
> Birth year: 1983

 

Source: Michael Buckner / Staff / Getty Images

41. Matthew Perry
> Visibility score: 34.9
> Birthplace: Williamstown, Massachusetts
> Population, 2021: 4,565
> Birth year: 1969

 

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

40. Viola Davis
> Visibility score: 34.9
> Birthplace: St. Matthews, South Carolina
> Population, 2021: 2,038
> Birth year: 1965

 

Source: Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images

39. Ron Howard
> Visibility score: 34.9
> Birthplace: Duncan, Oklahoma
> Population, 2021: 22,664
> Birth year: 1954

 

Source: John Phillips / Getty Images

38. Frances McDormand
> Visibility score: 34.9
> Birthplace: Gibson City, Illinois
> Population, 2021: 3,593
> Birth year: 1957

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

37. Michael Keaton
> Visibility score: 35.0
> Birthplace: Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
> Population, 2021: 5,539
> Birth year: 1951

 

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

36. Casey Affleck
> Visibility score: 35.0
> Birthplace: Falmouth, Massachusetts
> Population, 2021: 3,895
> Birth year: 1975

 

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

35. Sarah Jessica Parker
> Visibility score: 35.1
> Birthplace: Nelsonville, Ohio
> Population, 2021: 4,319
> Birth year: 1965

 

Source: Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

34. Glenn Close
> Visibility score: 35.1
> Birthplace: Greenwich, Connecticut
> Population, 2021: 13,978
> Birth year: 1947

 

Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

33. Jessica Biel
> Visibility score: 35.2
> Birthplace: Ely, Minnesota
> Population, 2021: 3,280
> Birth year: 1982

32. Brock Lesnar
> Visibility score: 35.2
> Birthplace: Webster, South Dakota
> Population, 2021: 1,772
> Birth year: 1977

 

Source: Brandon Bell / Getty Images News via Getty Images

31. Willie Nelson
> Visibility score: 35.2
> Birthplace: Abbott, Texas
> Population, 2021: 300
> Birth year: 1933

 

Source: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

30. Peter Dinklage
> Visibility score: 35.2
> Birthplace: Morristown, New Jersey
> Population, 2021: 20,003
> Birth year: 1969

 

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

29. Jason Bateman
> Visibility score: 35.2
> Birthplace: Rye, New York
> Population, 2021: 16,459
> Birth year: 1969

 

Source: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

28. Donald Glover
> Visibility score: 35.3
> Birthplace: Edwards AFB, California
> Population, 2021: 2,721
> Birth year: 1983

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

27. Tommy Lee Jones
> Visibility score: 35.3
> Birthplace: San Saba, Texas
> Population, 2021: 3,121
> Birth year: 1946

 

Source: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

26. Emma Roberts
> Visibility score: 35.3
> Birthplace: Rhinebeck, New York
> Population, 2021: 2,684
> Birth year: 1991

 

Source: Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic, Inc via Getty Images

25. Renée Zellweger
> Visibility score: 35.3
> Birthplace: Katy, Texas
> Population, 2021: 21,926
> Birth year: 1969

 

Source: Jemal Countess / Getty Images

24. Jennifer Connelly
> Visibility score: 35.4
> Birthplace: Cairo, New York
> Population, 2021: 1,195
> Birth year: 1970

 

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

23. Sharon Stone
> Visibility score: 35.4
> Birthplace: Meadville, Pennsylvania
> Population, 2021: 12,999
> Birth year: 1958

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

22. Caitlyn Jenner
> Visibility score: 35.5
> Birthplace: Mount Kisco, New York
> Population, 2021: 10,904
> Birth year: 1949

 

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

21. Channing Tatum
> Visibility score: 35.5
> Birthplace: Cullman, Alabama
> Population, 2021: 17,892
> Birth year: 1980

 

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

20. Jessica Lange
> Visibility score: 35.5
> Birthplace: Cloquet, Minnesota
> Population, 2021: 12,563
> Birth year: 1949

 

Source: Presley Ann / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

19. Dakota Fanning
> Visibility score: 35.5
> Birthplace: Conyers, Georgia
> Population, 2021: 17,101
> Birth year: 1994

 

Source: Adam Pretty / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

18. Michelle Williams
> Visibility score: 35.6
> Birthplace: Kalispell, Montana
> Population, 2021: 24,260
> Birth year: 1980

Source: Jason Kempin / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

17. Jamie Foxx
> Visibility score: 35.6
> Birthplace: Terrell, Texas
> Population, 2021: 17,083
> Birth year: 1967

 

Source: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

16. Pink (Alecia Beth Moore)
> Visibility score: 35.7
> Birthplace: Doylestown, Pennsylvania
> Population, 2021: 8,275
> Birth year: 1979

 

Source: Rich Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

15. Kristen Bell
> Visibility score: 35.7
> Birthplace: Huntington Woods, Michigan
> Population, 2021: 6,382
> Birth year: 1980

 

Source: Mark Sagliocco / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

14. Alec Baldwin
> Visibility score: 35.7
> Birthplace: Amityville, New York
> Population, 2021: 9,542
> Birth year: 1958

 

Source: Jerry Markland / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

13. Chuck Norris
> Visibility score: 35.8
> Birthplace: Ryan, Oklahoma
> Population, 2021: 765
> Birth year: 1940

Source: Steve Granitz / WireImage via Getty Images

12. Matthew McConaughey
> Visibility score: 36.0
> Birthplace: Uvalde, Texas
> Population, 2021: 15,374
> Birth year: 1969

 

Source: Jason Merritt/TERM / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

11. Chris Brown
> Visibility score: 36.1
> Birthplace: Tappahannock, Virginia
> Population, 2021: 1,945
> Birth year: 1989

 

Source: Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

10. Kirsten Dunst
> Visibility score: 36.1
> Birthplace: Point Pleasant, New Jersey
> Population, 2021: 18,839
> Birth year: 1982

 

Source: Ian Gavan / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

9. Dolly Parton
> Visibility score: 36.2
> Birthplace: Pittman Center, Tennessee
> Population, 2021: 654
> Birth year: 1946

 

Source: Steve Jennings / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

8. Oprah Winfrey
> Visibility score: 36.2
> Birthplace: Kosciusko, Mississippi
> Population, 2021: 7,128
> Birth year: 1954

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

7. Chris Pratt
> Visibility score: 36.5
> Birthplace: Virginia, Minnesota
> Population, 2021: 8,444
> Birth year: 1979

 

Source: Allen Berezovsky / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

6. Jack Nicholson
> Visibility score: 36.8
> Birthplace: Neptune City, New Jersey
> Population, 2021: 4,637
> Birth year: 1937

 

Source: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

5. Jennifer Lawrence
> Visibility score: 37.7
> Birthplace: Indian Hills, Kentucky
> Population, 2021: 2,878
> Birth year: 1990

 

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

4. Mariah Carey
> Visibility score: 37.8
> Birthplace: Huntington, New York
> Population, 2021: 19,397
> Birth year: 1970

 

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

3. Meryl Streep
> Visibility score: 38.0
> Birthplace: Summit, New Jersey
> Population, 2021: 22,598
> Birth year: 1949

Source: Amy Sussman / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

2. Taylor Swift
> Visibility score: 38.1
> Birthplace: West Reading, Pennsylvania
> Population, 2021: 4,496
> Birth year: 1989

 

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

1. Britney Spears
> Visibility score: 38.2
> Birthplace: McComb, Mississippi
> Population, 2021: 12,400
> Birth year: 1981

Methodology

To determine the most famous celebrities from small towns, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on fame from the June 2022 paper “A cross-verified database of notable people, 3500BC-2018AD,” published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Data. Celebrities born in cities, towns, villages, and Census-designated places with fewer than 25,000 residents were ranked based on a visibility index composed of five factors: the number of different editions of an individual’s Wikipedia page; the length in words of an individual’s WIkipedia page; the average number of pageviews for an individual’s Wikipedia page from 2015 to 2018; the number of standard biographical data points (birth date, gender, and domain of influence) included in an individual’s Wikipedia page; and the number of external links on an individual’s Wikipedia page. Only living celebrities in cultural or sports-related domains of influence were considered. Birthplace data was matched to Census place geographies using shapefile boundary definitions for 2022. Data on population is from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey and is five-year data.

Sponsored: Attention Savvy Investors: Speak to 3 Financial Experts – FREE

Ever wanted an extra set of eyes on an investment you’re considering? Now you can speak with up to 3 financial experts in your area for FREE. By simply
clicking here
you can begin to match with financial professionals who can help guide you through the financial decisions you’re making. And the best part? The first conversation with them is free.


Click here
to match with up to 3 financial pros who would be excited to help you make financial decisions.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.