You’ve probably heard the names, but did you know the following celebrities are West Virginia born and/or raised? From classics like the Addams Family to game show hosts and Hollywood stars, you’ll find West Virginians in the cast. Highlighted below are just a few of West Virginia’s celebrities.
Ted Cassidy, famous for his role of Lurch Addams in The Addams Family series, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but grew up in Philippi, West Virginia in Barbour County. He was a gifted student and a freshman at Philip Barbour High School by the age of 11. At age eleven he was also already 6’1” tall! Cassidy eventually grew to be 6’9”. He attended West Virginia Wesleyan and started out in radio. He moved to California to pursue a career in acting. Apart from Lurch Addams, Cassidy made many appearances including Star Trek and The Beverly Hillbillies.
Don Knotts was an actor and comedian born in 1924 in Morgantown, West Virginia. He started his entertainment career as a ventriloquist, performing at events around Morgantown. He enrolled at West Virginia University, but enlisted in the US Army, at the age of 19, when America was brought into World War II. He served in the Special Services Branch where he entertained troops. It was during his time in the Army that he transitioned from ventriloquism to straight comedy. He returned to school after the war and graduated with a degree in theater. He then moved to New York and broke into show business. His roles include regular appearances on The Steve Allen Show and The Tonight Show with host Jack Paar. However, he is perhaps most well-known for his role as Deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. For that role Knotts was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor five time between 1961 to 1967. He won each time. He moved into movies and signed a five-year contract with Universal Pictures. In 2005, Knotts was the voice of Mayor Turkey Lurkey in Disney’s Chicken Little. It was one of his last films before he passed away in 2006 at the age of 81.
Steve Harvey – Comedian
Steve Harvey, the host of the television show Family Feud and former host of The Steve Harvey Show, is from Welch, West Virginia. He is a comedian, television presenter, broadcaster and author. Harvey is a six-time Daytime Emmy Award winner and a fourteen-time NAACP Image Award winner. He is also a West Virginia University alumnus.
Jennifer Garner was born in Texas but raised in Charleston, West Virginia. Her role in the television series Alias as CIA Agent Sydney Bristow launched her into stardom. One of her character’s call signs was “Mountaineer” in reference to the West Virginia University Mountaineers. The list of her appearances on television and film is long, including Pearl Harbor, 13 Going on 30, The Odd Life of Timothy Green and Love, Simon. For her role in Alias, Garner received four consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in the Drama Series and four consecutive Golden Globe nominations, winning once. She has been nominated three times for the Screen Actors Guild Award and won once. In 2007, Garner was named the West Virginian of the Year by the Charleston Gazette. In 2018, she was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Apart from acting, Garner is a co-founder of an organic baby food line. She is a member of the group which will launch the National Women’s Soccer League franchise in Los Angeles and will be a part owner of the franchise.
Interested in reading about other well-known West Virginians? Check out next week’s blog on some of West Virginia’s famous athletes!