Famous People of Alaska - A Few Names May Surprise You
Famous People of Alaska
Article by Cecil SandersHere’s a list of famous people who were born, spent a significant amount of time, or now live in Alaska. A few of the names may surprise you.
President Reagan and Senator Goldwater awarding General Doolittle | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Jimmy Doolittle | Photo: Hill Air Force Base Jimmy Doolittle (December 14, 1896 – September 27, 1993): A WWII hero and Medal of Honor recipient, Doolittle grew up in Nome. The Doolittle Raiders, led by Jimmy Doolittle, bombed Japan by direct order of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a daring mission as a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The men volunteering for this one way mission were to bail out over China, since the bombers couldn’t carry enough fuel to return the long distance back to the aircraft carriers at sea.
Wyatt Earp, years before heading north to Nome. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Nome in 1900. Earp's bar "Dexter Saloon" on left. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Wyatt Earp (March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929): Lawman, gunman and one of the most famous frontiersmen of the west, Earp built Dexter’s Saloon in Nome, served on Nome’s first city council, and also served 12 days as town Marshall in Wrangell. Earp was the last surviving participant in the famous gunfight at O.K. Corral.
Artist Bob Ross | Photo: www.togetherweserved.com Bob Ross in Air Force | Photo: www.togetherweserved.com Bob Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995): This world famous oil painter served as first sergeant of the U.S. Air Force Clinic at Eielson Air Force Base, southeast of Fairbanks. Bob Ross gained fame in the art world with his instructional painting shows and later built a large retail business selling paints and supplies.
Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Larry Sanger (July 16, 1968 - ): American Internet project developer, and co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry grew up in Anchorage. He later quit Wikipedia and became publicly critical of its accuracy.
Walter Harper, first to climb Denali. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Walter Harper (1893 – October 25, 1918): Harper was an Alaska native and the first man to step foot on the summit of Denali in the first recorded ascent on June 7, 1913. Harper married Frances Wells and soon after both perished when aboard the passenger ship Princess Sofia when it was caught in a snowstorm, hit a reef, and sunk, killing all 343 passengers and crew members onboard.
A young Jewel Kilcher performing. | Photo: NPR Jewel Kilcher in recording studio. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Flickr Jewel Kilcher (May 23, 1974 - ): Kilcher, a singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, actress, author, and poet, grew up in Homer. In her career she has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. She was born in Utah, but the Kilcher family has deep roots in Alaska as her grandfather, Yule Kilcher, was a delegate to the Alaska Constitutional convention and a state senator. Jewel comes from the Kilcher family that has gained fame in the T.V. reality series, Alaska: The Last Frontier.
Csonka for the touchdown against the Vikings. | Photo: larrysconka.com Larry Csonka (December 25, 1946 - ): Hall of Fame running back, Csonka carried the Miami Dolphins to victory in Super Bowl VII and VIII. Csonka hosted “North to Alaska” a fishing and hunting show that aired from 1998 to 2013, and currently resides in Wasilla.
Schilling speaking to troops at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Curt Schilling (November 14, 1966 - ): Born in Anchorage, Schilling is one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball history with a record of 11-2, and has won 85% of the postseason games he’s started. It is widely believed in the sports world that Schilling won himself into the Hall of Fame, and talked himself out of it. Schilling contends his endorsement of Trump has cost him the support he needed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Schilling is a three-time World Series champion.
Sydney Laurence photographed in 1914. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Famous painting of Denali by Sydney Laurence. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Sydney Laurence (1865–1940): Laurence came to Alaska in 1903 and lived in Tyonek and the surrounding area, and soon focused his life primarily around painting. Within ten years he was considered one of the most prominent Alaska artists and through his art style, helped define Alaska as the Last Frontier.
President Truman awarding Archie Van Winkle the Medal of Honor. | Photo: NY Daily New War Hero Archie Van Winkle | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Archie Van Winkle (March 17, 1925–May 22, 1986): Born in Juneau, Van Winkle served in the Marine Corps in three wars: in the WWII campaigns of the Solomon Islands, the Phillippines and the landing of Emirau; the Korean War campaign of the Battle of Inchon (where he was injured and for his heroism in battle awarded the Medal of Honor); and the Vietnam War campaign of the Battle of Khe Sanh. Other awards he received were the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Stars, Air Medal and three Purple Hearts. After serving a long, decorated military career, Van Winkle returned to Alaska and lived on a boat in Bar Harbor near Ketchikan. He died there in 1986.
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Great list, still more to add: Mark Shlareth, Carlos Boozer, Lincoln Brewster, and of course Mario Chalmers.
Gary Paulsen award winning youth author of required reading like “Hatchet”, “Dogsong”, “Woodsong”, “Winterroom”, etc
Yes! Mark is great analyst!.
Good one! Thanks for the feedback Richard.
Col. Norman Vaughn
Member of Admiral Byrds first South Pole expedition.
Has a mt named after him at S.pole
Mark shlareth? The NFL anylist thatvused to play for the broncos
Scotty Gomez for sure! I was getting ready to post his name when I saw you already had.
Scotty Gomez for sure! I getting ready to post his name until I saw already had.
Good choice! We weren’t going necessarily for a “Top 10” but more of a wide gamut of interesting people. Scotty is definitely a top 10 for Alaska born. He is an amazing talent and human being.
Mark Schlereth 3 super bowl wins, service high grad
I’d think Scott Gomez might be on this list. Born and raised in Anchorage, NHL Rookie of the year honors and a couple Stanley Cups should qualify him.
That is really neat. Thank you for sharing with us Cissy! More details, if obtainable, would really make for such a great story.
We almost did Carlos. He did after all receive a bronze medal in the Olympics for Team USA!
Thanks for the comment. We were just picking out names who folks may not have been aware of it. Who would you suggest if we were to do something like this again?
You forgot Carlos boozer!
A truly enjoyable, and sometimes surprising, group of Alaskans and “almost” Alaskans. Who knew Nome was such a big city in 1900. I have a story about a visitor to your great state, not famous but probably should be. My late husband’s brother served in WWII on Omaha Beach. By the time he discharged from the Army, he was suffering from shell shock, now known as PTSD. He never talked about the war and couldn’t be around people much so he did what he needed to do to get his head clear. He bought a motorcycle. I have no idea what kind but this was in the mid-40’s so I’m sure a motorcycle aficionado out there can guess. He put on his leather jacket and boots and strapped on his leather helmet and took off from Central Florida heading for Alaska. I never heard what town he reached before coming back but he did make it to Alaska. He still suffered from PTSD but was much improved. Unfortunately all his family is gone so I have no way of getting details. I think he must have been a really great man. I only met him once in 20 years.
Note: caption for Wyatt Earp’s bar… it’s on the left (your other right ;)
A lot of transits on this list.