Evansville-Area Residents Who Have ‘Made it Big’ – Ryan’s List
Years ago, my wife and I were at the Hard Rock restaurant in Orlando, FL and while waiting for a table, we ordered a drink at the bar. The bartender did his job and asked for ID. However when he saw our Indiana driver’s licenses, he asked, “Did you guys ride your tractors down here?” Since we were in Florida, I wanted to reply with, “Are you here legally?” But I didn’t, I bit my tongue and drank my beer.
Being an Evansville resident since the day I was born (West Side! Represent!), I know the stigma placed on us by the rest of the nation based solely on our location on Earth (which we obviously have no control over). They automatically assume that we do nothing but ride tractors, eat corn, and play basketball here in the Hoosier state. But we know better don’t we? As a matter of fact, a number of Evansville born individuals have gone on to “make it big” in the world of entertainment and sports. Check out the list of some of the more notable Evansville-born celebrities and feel free to suggest people I may have left off in the comment box below.
“Donnie Baseball” was born and raised in Evansville and still owns a house on the north side to this day. A star baseball player at Memorial High School, Don never went to college, instead he went straight to baseball when the Yankee’s drafted him in the 19th round of the 1979 MLB draft. After spending a few years in the Yankee’s farm system, he made is major league debut with the team in 1983. He would end up playing for the Yankee’s his entire career where he earned a few Gold Glove awards and was named American League MVP in 1985. He retired in 1995 and now serves as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers which unfortunately has not turned out to be a dream gig considering the team’s recent financial woes.
Technically a New Yorker by birth, Michael and his family moved to Newburgh, IN when he was very young. He is a Castle High School graduate, a fact he subtly referenced in the film Sorority Boys during a scene in which he wears a shirt with the word “Knights” across the chest. After graduating from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Michael moved to Los Angeles where he starred in such films as Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil along with Urban Legend. He’s also lent his voice talents to such animated series as Batman Beyond, The Justice League, and Teen Titans. His most notable role of course came playing Lex Luthor in the TV series Smallville which recently wrapped up a successful 10 year run.
According to her bio on imdb.com, this gorgeous, Evansville-born, Bosse High School graduate hasn’t appeared on any screen since her role as Charlotte in the TV movie Relative Stranger on the Hallmark Channel in 2009. Her most notable and longest lasting role took place during her 3-year run on NBC’s E.R. when she played Dr. Cleo Finch from 1999-2002. She’s also appeared in the films, New Jack City, Ali with Will Smith, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
Named Playboy Magazine’s Miss May 2008, A.J. is an Evansville native where she appeared in local TV commercials at the age of 8 for her family’s business, the former Putt-Putt Golf & Games that once inhabited the corner of Stockwell and Green River Roads. After graduating from USI where she made the Dean’s List, A.J. moved to California where she worked as a dental assistant while pursuing her modeling career. Before being named Miss May 2008, she appeared in special newsstand editions of Playboy entitled “Hot Housewives” and “Sexy 100″ in 2007. She currently splits her time between Evansville and California.
Jeff is a North High School and IU graduate who has been a professional golfer on the PGA Tour since 2007. Although he has yet to actually win a PGA Tour event, 2011 has been his best year to date with a 3rd place finish at the AT&T National, a 6th place finish at The Honda Classic, and an 8th place finish at the annual Bryron Nelson Classic. Jeff was a member of the 2010 Ryder Cup team.
Although you’d never be able to pick Evansville native Matt Williams out of a lineup, but this Reitz High School graduate has made his mark in Hollywood over the years as the creator and executive producer of the hit TV shows, Roseanne and Home Improvement. As you may or may not know, many of the photos used to transition from scene to scene in the show are actual locations in Evansville. The house used to reference where the fictional TV family lived is on Runnymeade Ave near U of E and the bar referred to in the show as “the Lobo” is located on Louisiana St. a few blocks north of 1st Ave.
Matt also produced and directed 2000’s Where the Heart Is starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd and served as producer on the Mel Gibson / Helen Hunt rom-com What Women Want.