Special Report

Small Towns Where the Most Famous People Are From

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

We think of Americans who’ve played prominent roles in the areas of culture, sports, education, or leadership as coming from the nation’s biggest cities, but they’ve also emerged from America’s small towns.

To determine the small towns where the most famous people are from, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on birthplace and Wikipedia pageview activity (as a measure of celebrity) for 2022. Cities, towns, villages, boroughs, and Census-designated places with fewer than 25,000 residents were ranked based on the number of famous or noteworthy people who were born there. The universe of famous people and their birthplaces came from the June 2022 paper “A cross-verified database of famous people, 3500BC-2018AD,” published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Data.  

For many of these famous people, the values and stability of a small town helped forge their identity and contributed to their impetus to succeed. For others, their small town was a place to escape from, especially if they were poor or lived in an abusive household. They attended the local schools, played sports, appeared in school musicals or plays, and got their first jobs in town. And they dreamed of stardom or success. (These are the best American small towns for the arts.)

As our list indicates, an extraordinary number of famous people came from small towns all over the United States, though most hailed from small towns east of the Mississippi River. New York has eight towns on the list, followed by Pennsylvania (six), Mississippi (five), and Illinois (four). 

The towns on this list are small, and some might be obscure, but there are small towns famous in their own right for various reasons, such as West Point, New York; Greenwich, Connecticut; Tuskegee, Alabama; and Laguna Beach, California. 

The small town that has produced the most famous people over the years occupies a place in Revolutionary War history – and George Washington actually slept there. (Today, these are the homes of the world’s richest celebrities.)

Methodology

To determine the small towns where the most famous people are from, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on birthplace and Wikipedia pageview activity (as a measure of celebrity) for 2022. Cities, towns, villages, boroughs, and Census-designated places with fewer than 25,000 residents were ranked based on the number of famous or noteworthy people who were born there. In cases where two places boasted the same number of people worthy of consideration, the one with the smaller total population (and thus the higher per capita rate of famous folk) was rated higher.

The universe of famous people and their birthplaces came from the June 2022 paper “A cross-verified database of Famous people, 3500BC-2018AD,” published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Data. Birthplace coordinates were matched to place-level geographies using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Only places with at least two famous people with an average of 500 Wikipedia pageviews or more per day in 2022 and at least 1 million aggregate Wikipedia pageviews in 2022 among all famous people born there were considered. Population figures are from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey and are five-year data.

Here is a list of small towns where famous people were born.

50. Kinston, North Carolina

  • Population: 19,888
  • Famous people: 39
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.6 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Jaime Pressly, Brandon Ingram, Jerry Stackhouse, Reggie Bullock, Cedric Maxwell

49. Mount Clemens, Michigan

  • Population: 15,735
  • Famous people: 40
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.6 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Dean Cain, Paul Feig, Rich Froning Jr., Misty Lee

48. Lockport, New York

  • Population: 20,876
  • Famous people: 41
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.1 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Timothy McVeigh, Joyce Carol Oates, Kim Alexis, Geoffrey Deuel, Sean Kugler

47. Cusseta-Chattahoochee County, Georgia

  • Population: 9,533
  • Famous people: 41
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.1 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: James Carville, Laura Jane Grace, Clayton Fountain, Phil Gramm, Linda Powell

46. Marblehead, Massachusetts

  • Population: 20,397
  • Famous people: 42
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.9 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Jessica Pressler, Rob Delaney, Elbridge Gerry, Loyd Grossman, Susan Estrich

45. Highland Park, Michigan

  • Population: 9,304
  • Famous people: 42
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Tim Meadows, Butch Hartman, Bill Haley, Steve Smith, John Conyers

44. Thomasville, Georgia

  • Famous people: 43
  • Population: 18,844
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.3 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Joanne Woodward, Charlie Ward, Dina Titus, Henry Ossian Flipper, Marcus Stroud

43. Aliquippa, Pennsylvania

  • Population: 9,237
  • Famous people: 43
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.3 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Pete Maravich, Darrelle Revis, Gust Avrakotos, Press Maravich, Kenny Easterday

42. Columbus, Mississippi

  • Population: 23,858
  • Famous people: 44
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.4 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Tennessee Williams, Andrew Wood, Leslie Frazier, Henry Armstrong, Red Barber

41. Maysville, Kentucky

  • Population: 8,851
  • Famous people: 44
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Rosemary Clooney, Nick Clooney, Betty Clooney, Albert Sidney Johnston, Darius Miller

40. Ottawa, Illinois

  • Population: 18,719
  • Famous people: 45
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Terrence Malick, Bob McGrath, Scotty Bowers, Johnston McCulley, Tim Finchem

39. Pascagoula, Mississippi

  • Population: 22,001
  • Famous people: 46
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.3 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Jimmy Buffett, Melvin Booker, Sarah Thomas, Jennifer Palmieri, Konnor Pilkington

38. Glen Ridge, New Jersey

  • Population: 7,764
  • Famous people: 46
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Buzz Aldrin, Henry Selick, Kacy Catanzaro, Cindy Sherman, Jon Brion

37. Laguna Beach, California

  • Population: 23,121
  • Famous people: 48
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.9 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Lauren Conrad, Graham Phillips, Lo Bosworth, Colt Brennan, Don Ed Hardy

36. West Point, New York

  • Population: 6,386
  • Famous people: 48
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Gore Vidal, David Eisenhower, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Anne Eisenhower, Tony Hale

35. Hibbing, Minnesota

  • Population: 16,224
  • Famous people: 49
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.5 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Roger Maris, Kevin McHale, Vincent Bugliosi, Chi Chi LaRue, Bethany McLean

34. Freeport, Illinois

  • Population: 24,087
  • Famous people: 49
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Calista Flockhart, Gerald McClellan, Ravi Patel, Louella Parsons, Ken Behring

33. McComb, Mississippi

  • Population: 12,400
  • Famous people: 49
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 8.7 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Britney Spears, Brandy Norwood, Jamie Lynn Spears, Ray J (William Ray Norwood, Jr.), Bo Diddley (Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel)

32. Mount Kisco, New York

  • Population: 10,904
  • Famous people: 50
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 6.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Caitlyn Jenner, Laura Branigan, John Schneider, Gavin MacLeod, Ann Blyth

31. Mililani Mauka, Hawaii

  • Population: 21,657
  • Famous people: 51
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.1 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Travis Browne, Janel Parrish, Caitlin Doughty, Leilani Jones, Sunny Garcia

30. Red Bank, New Jersey

  • Population: 12,825
  • Famous people: 51
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.3 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Kevin Smith, Natalie Schafer, William James “Count” Basie, Abigail Spanberger, Billy Van Zandt

29. Tuskegee, Alabama

  • Population: 9,125
  • Famous people: 52
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 4.1 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Rosa Parks, Lionel Richie, Robin Roberts, Ajiona Alexus, Tom Joyner

28. Manhasset, New York

  • Population: 8,093
  • Famous people: 52
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 3.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Billy Crudup, Chris Jericho, Summer Rae, Sean Spicer, Patrick McEnroe

27. Laurel, Mississippi

  • Population: 17,375
  • Number of famous people: 53
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.7 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Marsha Blackburn, Lance Bass, Ray Walston, Leontyne Price

26. Clarksdale, Mississippi

  • Population: 15,124
  • Number of famous people: 53
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.5 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Sam Cooke, Ike Turner, John Lee Hooker, Terrence Metcalf, Raymond Hill

25. Clarksburg, West Virginia

  • Population: 16,085
  • Number of famous people: 54
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Stonewall Jackson (Confederate general), Jimbo Fisher, John W. Davis, Sherilyn Wolter, Hugh Aynesworth

24. Ashland, Kentucky

  • Population: 21,695
  • Number of famous people: 55
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 6.1 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Naomi Judd, Trace Cyrus, Keith Whitley, Lynndie England, Gina Haspel

23. Exeter, New Hampshire

  • Population: 9,908
  • Number of famous people: 55
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.4 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Dan Brown, John Irving, Matty Cardarople, Victoria Arlen, Lewis Cass

22. Burlington, Iowa

  • Population: 24,160
  • Number of famous people: 57
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 3.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Kurt Warner, William Frawley, Robert Noyce, Aldo Leopold, Bart Howard

21. Winchester, Massachusetts

  • Population: 22,875
  • Number of famous people: 58
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.3 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Richard Phillips, Jon Favreau, Bobbi Gibb, Brad Whitford, Glen Doherty

20. Butler, Pennsylvania

  • Population: 13,452
  • Number of famous people: 60
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.6 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Bret Michaels, Barbara Feldon, Big John Studd (John William Minton), Paul Posluszny, Mike Kelly

19. Anniston, Alabama

  • Population: 21,455
  • Number of famous people: 61
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.5 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Michael Biehn, Nannie Doss, Jonathan Allen, Audrey Marie Hilley, Asa Earl Carter

18. Orangeburg, South Carolina

  • Population: 12,779
  • Number of famous people: 62
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.5 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Shawnee Smith, Manish Dayal, Shelton Benjamin, Jaime Harrison, Monique Coleman

17. Hinsdale, Illinois

  • Population: 17,148
  • Number of famous people: 64
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Chris Klein, Danielle Campbell, Nicholle Tom, John Lynch, Dizzy Reed

16. Pleasantville, New York

  • Population: 7,469
  • Number of famous people: 66
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 3.0 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Mandy Rose, Ashley Williams, Kyle Kulinski, Felicia Farr, Andy Daly

15. Mineola, New York

  • Population: 20,837
  • Number of famous people: 71
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 4.3 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Lenny Bruce, Kevin James, Joel Rifkin, Michael Burns, Emmy Clarke

14. Washington, Pennsylvania

  • Population: 13,322
  • Number of famous people: 77
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.4 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Paige Spara, Janet Woodcock, Eddie Jones, Joseph A. Walker

13. Newburyport, Massachusetts

  • Population: 18,282
  • Number of famous people: 82
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 3.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Leadership
  • Famous people: Joe Keery, Judith Hoag, William Lloyd Garrison, Adolphus Greely, Charles D. Baker

12. Decatur, Georgia

  • Population: 24,334
  • Number of famous people: 85
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Michael Stipe, Jan Hooks, Tone Bell, Kiera Hogan, Gale Harold

11. Steubenville, Ohio

  • Population: 18,122
  • Number of famous people: 86
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 3.6 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Dean Martin, Traci Lords (Nora Louise Kuzma), Rollie Fingers, Jimmy Snyder, Edwin Stanton

10. West Chester, Pennsylvania

  • Population: 18,592
  • Number of famous people: 88
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 6.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Bam Margera, Matisyahu (Matthew Paul Miller), Smedley Butler, Carl Nassib, Matthew McGrory

9. Huntington, New York

  • Population: 19,397
  • Number of famous people: 89
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 7.9 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Mariah Carey, Torrey DeVitto, LP (Laura Pergolizzi), Carey Lowell, Alicia Coppola

8. Kingston, New York

  • Population: 23,972
  • Number of famous people: 91
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.0 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Peter Bogdanovich, John Glover, Josh Green, Ross Partridge, Henry Paul

7. Summit, New Jersey

  • Population: 22,598
  • Number of famous people: 92
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Meryl Streep, Gerard Way, Sean Baker, Miles Austin, Desi Lydic

6. East St. Louis, Illinois

  • Population: 19,437
  • Number of famous people: 100
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 2.6 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Jimmy Connors, Shelley Winters, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Cuonzo Martin

5. Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

  • Population: 5,573
  • Number of famous people: 107
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.2 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Jayne Marie Mansfield, A.J. Croce, Margaretta Large “Happy” Rockefeller, Alex Ross Perry, Christopher Fitzgerald

4. Fairfax, Virginia

  • Population: 23,980
  • Number of famous people: 116
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 7.3 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Jason Sudeikis, Ariel Winter, Jimmy Workman, Shanelle Workman, Serena Deeb

3. Greenwich, Connecticut

  • Population: 13,978
  • Number of famous people: 119
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 5.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Glenn Close, Bijou Phillips, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Ross, Hope Hicks

2. Johnstown, Pennsylvania

  • Population: 18,647
  • Number of famous people: 130
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 1.7 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Sports
  • Famous people: Steve Ditko, Carroll Baker, Frank Solich, Jack Ham, Alex Azar

1. Morristown, New Jersey

  • Population: 20,003
  • Number of famous people: 142
  • Annual Wikipedia views for famous people: 5.8 million
  • Primary field of famous people: Culture
  • Famous people: Peter Dinklage, Linda Hunt, Fran Lebowitz, Steve Forbes, Joe Dante

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