AALL 2021 was originally planned as an in-person meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. However, after careful consideration of the continued COVID-19 pandemic and related government restrictions, AALL transitioned the 2021 AALL Annual Meeting & Conference from an in-person event to an online virtual experience, which will take place July 19-23, 2021. Although we won’t be together in Cleveland, AALL’s Local Arrangements Committee has put together a wonderful guide that highlights the history, culture, and even some facts about this exciting city.
Everyone knows that Cleveland is the Rock ‘n’ Roll capital of the world. But did you also know it is home to the A Christmas Story House? The first stop light? Life Savers? There is so much more to Cleveland than rock and roll. Let us take you on a stroll through the city’s history.
At the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland was established in 1796 by General Moses Cleaveland. Many folktales exist about how the word Cuyahoga, the name of the river and the county in which Cleveland is located, came to be. It is possibly the Mohawk word, Cayagaga, for “crooked river.” Maybe it is a Senaca word, Gayohageh, for “jawbone.” We’ll never know for sure, but our river, along with Lake Erie, the Erie Canal, and the railways, is vital to the city. After the Civil War, Cleveland became a major manufacturing city. By the early twentieth century, Cleveland was the sixth largest city in the United States. Major automotive companies, including Peerless, People’s, Jordan, Chandler, Winton, White, Gaeth, and Baker, along with Standard Oil, all made their homes in Cleveland. So much industry, unfortunately, led to heavy pollution of Cleveland’s beloved river. This pollution caused the river to catch fire thirteen times. However, city and county government, along with the EPA, cleaned up the river, and in 2021, it was named River of the Year by the conservation association, American Rivers.
INVENTIONS AND OTHER FIRSTS
Charles Brush lit up Cleveland’s Public Square with his invention, the arc lamp, in 1879. As a result, Public Square became the first outdoor public space fully illuminated by electricity. The city then became known as the City of Light. The first electric stop light in the world was installed on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland on August 5, 1914, by African American inventor Garret Morgan. Morgan also invented a safety hood in 1912 which evolved into the gas masks worn during World War I. The first full-body X-ray took place in Cleveland. Dayton Miller was a professor of mathematics and physics at Case School of Applied Science when he created his own machine and tested it on himself.
Cleveland was the first city in the country with free mail delivery. Joseph Briggs created the system and was then instrumental in establishing his system across the country. The Arcade, located in downtown Cleveland, was the first indoor shopping mall. Opened in 1890, it was financed by some of Cleveland’s most prominent citizens, including John D. Rockefeller. Still operational, it was the city’s first building to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When completed in 1930, the Terminal Tower was the second-tallest building in the world.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the first municipal airport in the country, boasts non-stop flights to more than 35 destinations. The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) provides 30-minute train rides from the airport into downtown Cleveland. While the RTA train was the first public transportation train to pick up and drop off passengers inside the airport, the airport was the first in the U.S. with an air traffic control tower and airfield lighting.
Clarence Crane, a chocolatier from Cleveland, introduced the peppermint Life Saver in 1892 when sales of his chocolates began to slow. He sold the Life Saver business in 1913 for $2,900. He never received any further financial gains from Life Savers once the new owners quit using him as the supplier of the product in 1915.
Today, we follow our stars on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets. But from 1870 until 1929, some of the wealthiest people in the country lived on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, also known as Millionaire’s Row. Two hundred fifty mansions stretched four miles along the avenue. Owners included Charles Brush, Samuel Mather, and John D. Rockefeller. Today only four exist.
Cleveland is also the birthplace of Superman. Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel created the superhero in 1933. The two friends met in high school. They sold their comic to DC in 1938 for $130. Originally, they received no royalties. But after a successful lawsuit in 1975, they each received $20,000 annually for the remainder of their lives. Today, fans can tour Jerry Siegel’s house. The site of Joe Shuster’s house is decorated with metal panels containing reproduction images of the first Superman comic.
Golf has been around for centuries, but in 1899, a worker at BF Goodrich, Bertan Work, and Coburn Haskell, a local golfer, patented their new golf ball. The new ball was made of rubber strips wrapped around a rubber core. It replaced the earliest golf balls, which were made of leather pouches stuffed with feathers, as well as later ones that were made of hardened tree juices. The Work and Haskell ball is still in use today.
Not only did local DJ Alan Freed coin the term “rock and roll,” but he also hosted the first rock and roll concert—the Moondog Coronation Ball—on March 21, 1952. Held in the Cleveland Arena, the crowds exceeded the venue’s capacity, and the event was shut down early due to riots. Also thanks to Mr. Freed, Cleveland is home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1983, a movie about a boy and his wish to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas swept the country. A Christmas Story, starring Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, plays on a non-stop loop during the holiday season. So many iconic images come from the movie: Flick’s tongue frozen to the flagpole, the leg lamp, Randy’s snowsuit, and of course the BB gun. Not only was the entire movie filmed in Cleveland, but the Parker house is now a museum and gift shop. Additionally, the Bumpus house next door is available for overnight stays.
Cleveland might be known as a steel town and the home of rock and roll, but sports rule this city. The Cleveland Indians originated in 1869 as the Forest Citys and played for the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. The NA folded in 1872, but seven years later, the team re-formed as the Cleveland Blues as part of the newly established National League. The league required each team to be named after a color. The Blues later merged with the St. Louis Maroon in 1885. Then in 1887, the Cleveland Spiders joined the American Association. The Spiders played at League Park and were led by Ohio native and ace pitcher Cy Young. The Spiders were disbanded in 1899.
In 1894, the Grand Rapids Rustlers were founded in Michigan. In 1900, the team moved to Cleveland and was renamed the Cleveland Lake Shores. Then the following year, they were renamed the Cleveland Bluebirds. That same year, the American League declared itself a Major League. Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit were the four charter teams to remain in their original cities. Bluebirds was shortened to Blues again and then changed to the Broncos in 1902. In 1903, after star second baseman Napoleon Lajoie was traded to Cleveland, they were renamed the Napoleons, or Naps for short. In 1915, Lajoie left the team and the team was renamed the Cleveland Indians after Louis Sockalexis, a Native American player on the team.
A new stadium was built in 1931. From the 1932-1995 seasons, Indians baseball was played at Cleveland Stadium, also known as Municipal Stadium and Lakefront Stadium. While the movie Major League (starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Wesley Snipes, and Rene Russo) was not filmed in Cleveland Stadium, the stadium is the fictional location for the film. The stadium was destroyed in 1996, and much of it was submerged into Lake Erie and turned into an artificial reef.
Jacobs Field opened in 1994 as the new home of the Indians. Renamed in 2008 as Progressive Field, Clevelanders still refer to it as The Jake. The field has been home to the 1997 and 2019 MLB All-Star Game. It has also hosted three World Series Games: 1995, 1997, and 2016. From June 12, 1995, until April 4, 2001, the field sold out 455 straight games. That is an MLB record, and the franchise retired the number 455 in honor of the fans.
The Cleveland Browns were established on June 4, 1944, as part of the All-American Football Conference. The AAFC folded in 1949, but three of its teams—the Browns, the 49ers, and the Colts—joined the NFL. The Browns won NFL championships in 1950, 1954, 1955, and 1964.
In 1995, owner Art Modell (he who must not be named to Clevelanders) announced he was moving the team to Baltimore. After many legal battles, Modell was able to move the team, but the Browns’ name stayed in Cleveland. During their entire run from 1945 until 1995, the Browns played all their home games at Cleveland Stadium. In 1999, Al Lerner bought the Browns and brought them home to their new stadium, FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Cleveland Cavaliers began as an expansion team in 1970, playing in the Cleveland Arena (yes, the same arena to host the very first rock and roll concert). The Richfield Coliseum was their venue from 1974 until 1994. In 1994, they moved into Gund Arena, named after team owner Gordon Gund. In the 2003 NBA draft, the Cavs selected hometown hero LeBron James. Then Dan Gilbert bought the team in 2005 and renamed the arena Quicken Loans Arena. LeBron James left in 2010, only to return in 2014. On June 19, 2016, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love broke the city’s championship drought dating back to 1964, by coming back from a 1-3 game deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors for the NBA Championship. In 2019, Dan Gilbert renamed the arena again to Rocket Mortgage Field House.
A short drive from downtown is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. More than ten million visitors come to the Hall of Fame each year. Canton, Ohio, is where the American Professional Football Association was founded, and the Canton Bulldogs were an early professional football team. These reasons, along with a successful campaign by the citizens of Canton in the 1960’s, led to the Hall of Fame being housed here.
Eight of the country’s 46 presidents have been from Ohio—more than any other state. From Cleveland, access to four of their homes and/or libraries is a pleasant day trip away.
Rutherford B. Hayes was president from 1877-1881. His home and library are located at Speigel Grove in Fremont, Ohio. Hayes’ library and museum were the first presidential library in the country. His son, Col. Webb C. Hayes, began plans on the library soon after Hayes’ death. Col. Hayes was a librarian for most of his life, retiring in Asheville, North Carolina.
The James A. Garfield Historical Site is maintained by the National Park Service. The 160-acre farm has been restored to how it looked in 1880 when Garfield campaigned from his front porch. The Garfield farm is in Mentor, Ohio. Garfield was only president for six months; however, his assassination and lingering illness led to many inventions, including air conditioning and the metal detector designed by Alexander Graham Bell. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard is one of the best presidential biographies that details the 80 days Garfield spent dying.
William McKinley was president from 1843-1901. He was born in Niles, Ohio, and died in Buffalo, New York, also by an assassin’s bullet. The William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum is in Canton, Ohio. Visiting the McKinley library and museum comes with an added bonus, as down the street in First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley’s family home is the National First Ladies’ Library.
Warren G. Harding was president from 1921 until his death in 1923. His home and memorial is in Marion, Ohio. A restoration project was recently completed. More than 5,000 original items are on display in the home.
Also, Cleveland was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. The city’s codename was Hope, and it served as one of the last stops before Canada. Today, several of the stops are still standing. The Unionville Tavern is the oldest tavern in Ohio and was a lodging spot for Harriet Beecher Stowe. The tavern is currently undergoing a major renovation.
Cleveland has a deep theatrical history. Playhouse Square consists of 11 performance spaces and is the largest performing arts center outside of New York City. Construction on the square began with five original venues (Allen Theater, Palace Theater, Hanna Theater, State Theater, and Ohio Theater) in the 1920’s. By 1969, all but the Hanna Theater were shuttered. But in the 1970’s, the largest theater restoration project in the country began. The restoration team raised more than $40 million. In July 1982, the Ohio Theater was the first to reopen, and by the end of the decade, State and Palace had also reopened. All five original venues have been completely restored, and six additional spaces have been added. Today, more than one million people visit Playhouse Square, bringing in $43 million every year. Cleveland also boasts the largest subscriber series outside of Broadway.
Severance Hall is home to the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. Founded in 1918, the orchestra performs throughout the year. They have traveled all over the world.
The Cleveland Museum of Art was founded in 1913 and has more than 61,000 works of art. It is renowned for its Asian and European art. The museum is also home to the Ingalls Library, one of the largest art libraries in the country.
The only National Park in Ohio is in Cleveland. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park contains 125 miles of hiking trails. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is located inside the park for various day trips. Visitors can lodge overnight in the park while they hike, kayak, ski, and toboggan.
Stop by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo any day of the year. The zoo dates back to 1882 and has several sections, including the Rain Forest, Australian Adventure, African Adventure, and Waterfowl Lake.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History just celebrated its 100th birthday in 2020. The museum houses more than four million specimens, including 900 monkey and ape skeletons, a tyrannosaurus skeleton, and 3,100 human skeletons.
The Great Lakes Science Center opened in 1996 and is home to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, one of only 11 NASA Visitor Centers in the country. A wind turbine was installed in front of the building in 2006 and provides 7 percent of the center’s power. A 300-foot solar panel was installed the following year, and it provides all the lighting for the center. An IMAX theater is also located inside the center, and the center maintains the steamship William G. Mather. The Mather is a 618-foot Great Lakes freighter.
The Cleveland Botanical Gardens encompasses 10 acres in downtown Cleveland. The garden is open all year long with activities for the whole family. As part of the gardens, Holden Arboretum is a great location outside of Cleveland for a walk year-round.
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium opened in 2012 in the renovated Powerhouse building, originally built to provide electricity to the city’s streetcars and railway. The aquarium is filled with aquatic life from the Great Lakes and other bodies of water throughout the world. Visitors can see a 230,000-gallon shark tank and an 11,000-gallon touch pool. Certified SCUBA divers can schedule dives into the shark tank.
The Children’s Museum of Cleveland opened in 1986 and contains seven permanent exhibits, including its hands-on Adventure City, Making Miniatures, and Theater. More than 100,000 visitors come to the museum each year.
The city has 34 total museums. They are all listed here with links to their individual websites.
Lake View Cemetery is the final resting place for some of our most famous citizens such as John D. Rockefeller, President Garfield, and Eliot Ness. Carl B. Stokes, the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city, is also buried here, along with Ray Chapman, shortstop for the Indians and the only Major League Baseball player to die from an injury received while playing in a game.
The West Side Market has been open in the Ohio City neighborhood for more than 100 years. Locally owned businesses hock their wares, including food, flowers, spices, and more. The market has been named one of 10 “Great Public Places in America” by the American Planning Association.
The coolest way to see the city is aboard The Goodtime III. The sightseeing cruise takes visitors on the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. Passengers will see great views of the city and all our unique bridges.
Obviously a trip to Cleveland would not be complete without a day at one of our beaches. Edgewater Park, Euclid Beach, Headlands Beach, and Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park are among the best. As the shallowest of the Great Lakes, Erie warms up sooner than the others. In the summer, the lake is perfect for swimming, kayaking, fishing, or boating.
Two locations a little farther from downtown are also worth a visit. The wineries of Ashtabula County are some of the best in the country. The glacier melt left the perfect soil in which to grow excellent grapes. After the first freeze of the year, the wineries harvest the remaining grapes and produce their famous ice wine. In the opposite direction are the Islands of Lake Erie. Put-in-Bay and Kelly’s Island are great family getaways.
Catherine Bach (1954) – Actress; born in Cleveland. She is known for playing Daisy Duke in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard and Margo Dutton in African Skies. In 2012, she joined the cast of the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless as Anita Lawson.
Jim Backus (1913-1989) – TV and film actor; Cleveland native. Voice of TV’s Mr. Magoo. Played James Dean’s dad in the film Rebel Without a Cause and Thurston Howell III on TV’s Gilligan’s Island.
Kaye Ballard (1925-present) – Actress, singer, and comedian; born in Cleveland. Co-star of TV’s The Mothers-in-Law and had a regular role on The Doris Day Show.
Halle Berry (1966-present) – Model and actress; Cleveland native. The first African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Monster’s Ball. Portrayed sexy Bond Girl Jinx in Die Another Day and Storm in the X-Men movies.
Yvette Nicole Brown (1971-present) – Actress and comedian; East Cleveland native. Starred in the TV show Community. Previously appeared on Malcolm in the Middle and That’s So Raven. Appeared in both Dreamgirls and (500) Days of Summer.
Bill Cobbs (1934-present) – Actor; the Cleveland native is one of the most prolific actors of all time. His long list of films includes The Bodyguard, Demolition Man, The Color of Money, Trading Places and New Jack City.
Franklin Cover (1928-2006) Actor; born in Cleveland. Best known for starring in the sitcom The Jeffersons. His character, Tom Willis, was half of one of the first interracial marriages to be seen on primetime television. He graduated from John Marshall High School in 1947, from Denison University in 1951, and he received his MA in Theater in 1954 and MFA in Theater in 1955, both from Case Western Reserve University.
Wes Craven (1939-2015) – Screenwriter, producer, and actor; Cleveland native. Best known as the director of the slasher-movie series A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. He won an International Fantasy Film Award for best film for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and a best-director trophy for Scream at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) -Actress and singer; Cleveland native. First African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Carmen Jones, co-starring Harry Belafonte.
Ruby Dee (1922-2014) – Actress, poet, playwright, and activist. This Cleveland native is known for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun. Nominated for best supporting actress in American Gangster. She has won Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk and Screen Actors Guild awards. She also received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Medal of Arts.
Joe Eszterhas (1944-present) – Screenwriter; spent most of his childhood in Cleveland. Wrote for The Plain Dealer before going to Rolling Stone magazine. Involved with 16 films grossing $1 billion, including Basic Instinct, Jade, Jagged Edge and Showgirls. He recently had a high-profile feud with Mel Gibson over an aborted film project about the biblical Maccabees.
Antwone Fisher (1959-present) – Director, screenwriter, author, and producer; Cleveland native. His autobiographical book, Finding Fish, was a New York Times best seller. He also wrote the film Antwone Fisher, starring Denzel Washington.
Margaret Hamilton (1902-1985) – Actress; Cleveland native, raised in Shaker Heights. Known for her portrayal of Almira Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz and for her work in television commercials as spokeswoman Cora for Maxwell House coffee.
Tom Hanks (1956-present) – Actor, producer, writer, and director. He began his acting career in Cleveland with (what was then) Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. He won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award in 1978 for The Two Gentlemen of Verona. He is a two-time Oscar winner for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.
Patricia Heaton (1958-present) – Film producer and Emmy Award-winning actress for her starring role in Everybody Loves Raymond. She is a Bay Village native, and also starred in TV’s The Middle.
Hal Holbrook (1925-2021) – Television and film actor; Emmy Award winner. This Cleveland native developed his celebrated one-man show on Mark Twain as an honors student project at Denison University. Portrayed Deep Throat in All the President’s Men and had a regular role on the TV show Evening Shade.
Terrence Howard (1969-present) – Actor; grew up in Cleveland. Made a name for himself in movies such as Mr. Holland’s Opus and Dead Presidents. Became a big star with turns in Crash, The Best Man and Iron Man. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in Hustle & Flow. Currently stars on Fox’s hit drama Empire.
Teri Garr (1944-present) – Actress and dancer; Lakewood native. Appeared in the films Young Frankenstein and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Tootsie. For a long time, she was a favorite guest of David Letterman purely for her humor. Her career also includes TV shows and stage productions, including playing Phoebe’s birth mother on Friends.
Lillian Gish (1893-1993) – Actress and silent-film star; grew up in Massillon. The First Lady of American Cinema was a favorite of D.W. Griffith’s, starring in his Birth of a Nation.
Joel Grey (1932-present) – Actor; Cleveland native. Performed as a child at the Cleveland Play House. Earned an Oscar for the nonspeaking role of the MC in Cabaret. Originated the role of the Wizard on Broadway in the hit musical Wicked.
Kathryn Hahn (1974-present) – TV and film actress; grew up in Cleveland Heights. Had roles on TV’s Parks and Recreation and Crossing Jordan and in films Bad Moms, Revolutionary Road, Step Brothers, Our Idiot Brother and Wanderlust. She also stars on the award-winning Amazon streaming series Transparent.
Anne Heche (1969-present) – Actress and director; Aurora native. Appeared in films Donnie Brasco, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Wag the Dog, and Six Days Seven Nights.
Jim Jarmusch (1953-present) – Independent filmmaker; Cuyahoga Falls native. His films include Permanent Vacation, Stranger Than Paradise, Coffee and Cigarettes, and Broken Flowers.
Carol Kane (1952-present) TV and film actress; Cleveland native. Appeared in Annie Hall, Hester Street, and as Andy Kaufman’s wife on TV’s Taxi.
John Kenley (1906-2009) – Vaudeville and burlesque performer. He was in show business for 80 years, beginning as a teenager in Cleveland and later as a Midwestern theater impresario with the Kenley Players in Akron and Warren. Kenley pioneered the use of television and movie stars in summer stock productions. He also was the first producer to promote desegregation of theatre audiences.
John Lithgow (1945-present) TVand film actor. He spent his teenage years in Akron and Lakewood. Had a starring role on television’s 3rd Rock From the Sun and appeared in the films The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. As a teenager, Lithgow lived at Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall with his family for two years while his father, Arthur, served as the estate’s first executive director.
Burgess Meredith (1907-1997) – Stage, film and TV actor; Cleveland native. Played the Penguin to Adam West’s TV Batman. One of his best-known later film roles was as Rocky Balboa’s crotchety trainer in the first three Rocky films.
Martin Mull (1943-present) – TV, film actor, and musician; grew up in North Ridgeville. Known for playing a multitude of characters, including the twins Barth and Garth Gimble on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and as Col. Mustard in the film Clue.
Paul Newman (1925-2008) – Actor, director, screen legend, race-car driver, humanitarian; Shaker Heights native. Nominated nine times for Academy Awards, winning for The Color of Money as well as two honorary Oscars. He had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including Cool Hand Luke, Exodus, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting.
Ed O’Neill (1946-present) – Actor; Youngstown native. Known for his portrayal of Al Bundy on Married With Children and as Jay Pritchett on Modern Family.
Robert Patrick (1958-present) – TV and film actor; spent his childhood in Bay Village. Known for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Walk the Line, The Last Action Hero and as a regular on TV’s The X-Files and The Unit.
Monica Potter (1971-present) -TV and film actress; Cleveland native. Appeared in the films Con Air, Patch Adams, and Along Came a Spider. Had a role on Boston Legal and stared in NBC’s Parenthood.
Marge Redmond (1924-2020) – Actress and singer; born in Cleveland and raised in Lakewood. Best known as Sister Jacqueline in The Flying Nun, which aired on ABC from 1967-1970. She was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Sister Jacqueline during the 1967-1968 season. She made guest appearances on television programs Ben Casey, Perry Mason, Mrs. McCardle in Matlock, The Munsters, Barnaby Jones, Family, Quincy, M.E., The Cosby Show, The Sandy Duncan Show, Ryan’s Hope, The Donna Reed Show, The Rockford Files, Murphy Brown, The Twilight Zone, The Practice, and others.
Jack Riley (1935-2016) – Actor; Cleveland native. Played Mr. Carlin on The Bob Newhart Show. His many cartoon voices include Stu Pickles on Rugrats.
Alan Ruck (1956-present) Actor; born in Cleveland, raised in Parma. Has appeared in numerous television shows and movies. He is known for his character roles in films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Speed, and Twister. He is part of the main cast of Fox’s Exorcist adaptation.
Anthony and Joe Russo (1971-present) – TV and film directors/producers; Cleveland native. Won an Emmy as co-directors of the pilot for Arrested Development. Movies include Welcome to Collinwood, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and You, Me And Dupree. TV shows include Community and Happy Endings. In recent years they’ve become blockbuster directors for Marvel/Disney with the Avengers franchise.
Lew Wasserman (1913-2002) – Talent agent and studio executive; Cleveland native. Sometimes credited with creating and breaking the studio system. Ran the Music Corporation of America, managing such talent as the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis comedy team, Bette Davis, and Ronald Reagan.
Fred Willard (1939-present) – TV and film actor; Shaker Heights native. He is a Second City troupe alum, and had feature roles in the films Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and This is Spinal Tap. He received three Emmy nominations for a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond.
Debra Winger (1955-present) – Actress and Academy Award winner; Cleveland Heights native. Her films include Urban Cowboy, Rachel Getting Married, Terms of Endearment, and An Officer and a Gentleman.
Sean Young (1959-present) – Actress; raised in Shaker Heights. Best known for her performances in the films Stripes (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Dune (1984), No Way Out (1987), Wall Street (1987), Cousins (1989), Fatal Instinct (1993), and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994). Graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Mark Bloch (1956) Conceptual artist, mail artist, performance artist, visual artist, archivist and writer whose work combines visuals and text as well as performance and media to explore ideas of long-distance communication. He was raised in Cleveland and Akron.
Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) – Photographer and documentary photographer. Best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry under the Soviet’s five-year plan, first American female war photojournalist, and had one of her photographs on the cover of the first issue of Life magazine. She transferred colleges several times, attending the University of Michigan, Purdue, and Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Bourke-White ultimately graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1927. A year later, she moved from Ithaca, New York to Cleveland where she started a commercial photography studio and began concentrating on architectural and industrial photography.
Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) – Painter and visionary artist, known for his passionate watercolors of nature scenes and townscapes. The largest collection of Burchfield’s paintings, archives, and journals are in the collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo. His paintings are in the collections of more than 109 museums in the U.S. and have been the subject of exhibitions at institutions. Burchfield was born in Ashtabula, Ohio; lived in Salem, Ohio; and graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1916.
Gary G. Dumm (1947-) Comic book artist; Cleveland native. Known particularly for his work illustrating the comics of Harvey Pekar. From 1976 until Pekar’s 2010 death, he worked on Pekar’s autobiographical comic series, American Splendor, much of the time as an inker, embellishing the pencils of Greg Budgett and Joe Zabel, although he also illustrated some stories on his own.
Michelangelo Lovelace (1960-2021) – Artist and painter; Cleveland native. One of Cleveland’s most important artists over the past 35 years, and one of the nation’s leading African American artists. “His paintings are visual documentations of life in many of America’s inner cities as they depict a realistic look living in a community where anything can happen at any time and where life can often be fast, poor, and short. His goal was to express the despair caused by the chasm between the promise and the reality of urban life in America for poor blacks and awaken the minds of people in our society.” His work has been shown at numerous galleries and museums in Ohio, New York, and Maryland. His painting “My Home Town” 1998 is in the Cleveland Museum of Art, a gift of the painter in 2015.
Joe Oros (1916-2012) – Born in Cleveland, Oros was an automobile stylist for Ford Motor Company over a period of 21 years—known as the Chief Designer of the team at Ford that styled the original Mustang, and for his contributions to the 1955 Ford Thunderbird. Oros was also an artist, sculptor, painter, and industrial designer, having designed appliances and other products. Oros graduated at the top of his class from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1939—having studied under Viktor Schreckengost.
Viktor Schreckengost (1906-2008) – Industrial designer, artist, and sculptor; resided in Cleveland Heights. Graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1929. The Cleveland Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of his work in 2000. At age 100, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Bill Watterson (1958-present) – Reclusive creator of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. Grew up in Chagrin Falls, now lives in Cleveland Heights. Two-time winner of the Reuben Award as a cartoonist, eight-time winner of the Harvey Award for best syndicated cartoon strip.
Archibald Willard (1836-1918) was an American painter who was born and raised in Bedford, Ohio. Willard painted The Spirit of ’76 about 1875 (aka Yankee Doodle) in Wellington, Ohio, after he saw a holiday parade pass through the town square.
Tony Abbott (1952) – Author of children’s books; born in Cleveland. His most popular work is the book series The Secrets of Droon, which includes over 40 books. He has sold over 12 million copies of his books and they have been translated into several other languages, including Italian, Spanish, Korean, French, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, and Russian.
Tom Batiuk (1947-present) – Comic-strip creator. He was a native of Akron, and attended Kent State University as an art major; he currently resides in Medina. Created the Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean comic strips, illustrated by Chuck Ayers of Akron.
Brian Michael Bendis (1967-present) – Comic book writer and artist; University Heights native. Award-winning writer whose work has been turned into TV shows and movies. He is currently one of Marvel’s top comic book writers, having led storylines for Spider-Man, Avengers, Jessica Jones, and others.
Hart Crane (1899-1932) – Poet; Cleveland native. Most famous for his book-length work The Bridge, about the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Committed suicide by throwing himself off a ship in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rita Dove (1952-present) – Poet, author, and professor; Akron native. Won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her Thomas and Beulah collection about her maternal grandparents. She was a U.S. poet laureate from 1993 to 1995.
Harlan Ellison (1934-present) – Award-winning writer of speculative fiction; Cleveland native. Published more than 1,700 works, including short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, and a range of criticism.
Langston Hughes (1902-1967) – Poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist. Attended high school in Cleveland, where he began to write his first short stories, poetry, and dramatic plays. Wrote his first piece of jazz poetry, When Sue Wears Red, while still in high school.
Toni Morrison (1931-2019) – Novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor; Lorain native. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Andre Alice Norton (1912-2005) – Writer of science fiction and fantasy, who also wrote works of historical fiction and contemporary fiction. A Cleveland native, she wrote primarily under the pen name Andre Norton, but also under Andrew North and Allen Weston. She was the first woman to be Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy, to be SFWA Grand Master, and to be inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) – Underground comic writer; Cleveland native. Best known for his autobiographical American Splendor series, which became a 2003 movie starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar.
Terry Pluto (1955-present) is an American sportswriter, newspaper columnist, and author of twenty-seven books. A Cleveland native, he primarily writes columns for The Plain Dealer, and formerly for the Akron Beacon Journal about Cleveland, Ohio sports and religion.
James Ford Rhodes (1848-1927), Industrialist and historian born in Cleveland, Ohio. After earning a fortune in the iron, coal, and steel industries by 1885, he retired from business. He devoted his life to historical research and publishing an eight-volume history of the United States beginning in 1850. His work, History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 (1918), won the second-ever Pulitzer Prize for History that year.
Les Roberts (1937-present) – TV and mystery writer; Cleveland Heights resident. Currently lives in Stow. First producer and head writer of The Hollywood Squares. Also wrote for The Lucy Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His Milan Jacovich mystery series is set in Cleveland.
Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) and Joe Shuster (1914-1992) – The co-creators of Superman met at Cleveland’s Glenville High School; both were children of Jewish immigrants. They went on to create the most successful superhero of all time.
Vanessa Bayer (1981-present) – Actress and comedian; Orange, Ohio native. Bayer was a cast member on Saturday Night Live until 2017 and has starred in such films as Trainwreck and Office Christmas Party.
Andy Borowitz (1958-present) – Comedian, best-selling author, and satirist; Shaker Heights native. Created the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Has written for The New Yorker magazine since 1998. Created the Borowitz Report in 2001. Considered one of the funniest people in America.
Drew Carey (1958-present) – Comedian and actor. The Cleveland native was the star of The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004), which was set in Cleveland, and has hosted the game show The Price Is Right since 2007.
Tim Conway (1933-present) – Comedian and actor; Born in Willoughby and raised in Chagrin Falls. Worked with Ernie “Ghoulardi” Anderson on the morning show Ernie’s Place. He was regular on The Carol Burnett Show and McHale’s Navy. He was also the Voice of Barnacle Boy in SpongeBob SquarePants, and appeared in The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Shaggy D.A.
Bob Hope (1903-2003) – Actor and comedian; grew up in Cleveland. Worked in vaudeville, radio, television, and film. Appeared in highly successful comedies, including seven Road movies with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Hosted the Academy Awards and performed for U.S. troops during 57 overseas tours.
Don Novello (1943-present) – Actor, singer, writer, and comedian; Lorain native. Best known as Father Guido Sarducci on Saturday Night Live.
Molly Shannon (1964-present) – Actress; Shaker Heights native. TV character actress who appeared on Saturday Night Live and had recurring roles on Will & Grace, Glee and The Middle.
INVENTORS/INDUSTRIALISTS AND ONE ASTRONAUT
Chef Boyardee (1897-1985) – After leaving his position as head chef at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Ettore Boiardi opened a restaurant called Il Giardino d’Italia in 1924 at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. The idea for Chef Boyardee came about when restaurant customers began asking Boiardi for his spaghetti sauce, which he began to distribute in milk bottles. Four years later, in 1928, Boiardi opened a factory and moved production to Milton, Pennsylvania, where he could grow his own tomatoes and mushrooms.
Joseph W. Briggs (1813-1872)- Began the nation’s first free home mail delivery system in Cleveland in 1863. He was later called to Washington to implement his system across America. (Whether the idea for free home delivery originated with Briggs is disputed but he is credited with being the first free home delivery letter carrier in Cleveland.)
Charles F. Brush – (1849-1929) was an American engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. A Euclid native, Brush is attributed to be the first to design arc electric lights to be installed in a public square. By 1881, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Montreal, Buffalo, San Francisco, Cleveland, and other cities had Brush arc light systems, producing public light well into the 20th century. In 1884, Brush built a mansion on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland that showcased many of his inventions. In 1888, he powered the mansion with the world’s first automatically operated wind turbine generator which charged the home’s 12 batteries. It was the first home in Cleveland to have electricity. Brush is also attributed with designing the first electric streetcar.
Herbert Henry Dow (1866-1930)- A Canadian-born American chemical industrialist, best known as the founder of the American multinational conglomerate Dow Chemical. He was a graduate of Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a prolific inventor of chemical processes, compounds, and products, and was a successful businessman.
Thomas Edison (1847-1931) – Inventor and businessman who has been described as America’s greatest inventor. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inventions, which include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and early versions of the electric light bulb. Edison was born in Milan, Ohio and lived there until he was seven when his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan.
Coburn Haskell (1868-1922) – Invented the modern day golf ball with a rubber core and dimples in 1899. While not born in Cleveland, he resided here from 1892 until his death.
James Hoge ( ) – Designed the first electric traffic signal in the world. It was installed at the corner of Euclid Ave and East 105th St. in 1914 (right near the campus of what is now Case Western Reserve University). Hoge was a Cleveland native. (See also Who Invented the Traffic Light?)
John W. Lambert (1860-1952) – While Detroit is widely considered by many to be the heart of the American car industry, most don’t realize that the very first gas-powered automobile was manufactured by Ohio City’s own John W. Lambert, making Cleveland the first true home of the car.
Dayton Miller (1866-1941) – A physicist at the Case School of Applied Science at Cleveland’s Case Western University, Miller was the first to invent a full-body scanning machine in 1896, the technology driving everything from MRIs to CAT scans today.
Garret Morgan (1877-1963) – African American inventor, businessman, and community leader. Moved to Cleveland in 1895 where he resided until his death. His most notable inventions were a three-position traffic signal and a smoke hood (a predecessor to the gas mask) notably used in a 1916 tunnel construction disaster rescue. Morgan also discovered and developed a chemical hair-processing and straightening solution.
Judith Resnik (1949-1986) – Electrical engineer, software engineer, biomedical engineer, pilot, and NASA astronaut. And Akron native, she was a graduate of Firestone High School. She died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger when it was destroyed during the launch of mission STS-51-L. Resnik was the second American woman in space and the fourth woman in space worldwide, logging 145 hours in orbit. She was the first Jewish woman of any nationality in space
John D. Rockefeller Sr. (1839-1937) was an American business magnate and philanthropist. His family moved to Cleveland in 1853. He is widely considered the wealthiest American of all time and the richest person in modern history. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870. He ran it until 1897, and remained its largest shareholder.
Henry Alden Sherwin (1842-1916) Industrialist; moved to Cleveland in 1860. One of the founders of the Sherwin-Williams Company in 1866. The company was named for both him and Edward Porter Williams.
Ray Solomonoff (1926-2009) Inventor of algorithmic probability, his General Theory of Inductive Inference, and was a founder of algorithmic information theory. A Cleveland native, he was an originator of the branch of artificial intelligence based on machine learning, prediction and probability. He circulated the first report on non-semantic machine learning in 1956.
James Murray Spangler (1848-1915) – In 1907, Spangler, a janitor from Canton, invented the first vacuum cleaner for home use. A relative of Spangler’s, W.H. Hoover, manufactured and sold Spangler’s invention throughout the world.
Amasa Stone Jr. (1818-1883) – Industrialist. Best remembered for having created a regional railroad empire centered in Ohio from 1860 to 1883. He gained fame in New England in the 1840s for building hundreds of bridges, most of them Howe truss bridges. After moving into railroad construction in 1848, Stone moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1850 where he lived until his death.
Vernon Stouffer (1901-1974) – Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and businessman; Cleveland native. Founder and president of the Stouffer Hotels Co., Stouffer Frozen Foods Co., and Stouffer Restaurants Co., which all operated under the umbrella of The Stouffer Corporation, established and incorporated on January 4, 1929 by Vernon and his father Abraham E. Stouffer. Stouffer is recognized as pioneering the frozen food and microwavable foods industry
Alexander Winton (1860-1932) – Bicycle, automobile, and diesel engine designer and inventor, as well as the early automobile racer. Born is Scotland, he emigrated to Cleveland in 1879. Alexander Winton’s Cleveland-based Winton Motor Carriage Company sold the first automobile in the United States in 1898. The buyer was Robert Allison of Pennsylvania.
Steven Adler (1965-present) – Musician; born in Cleveland. Before being booted for his excessive drug use, Adler played drums in Guns N’ Roses and participated in the band’s landmark debut album “Appetite for Destruction.”
Albert Ayler (1936-1970) – Jazz saxophonist, singer, and composer; Cleveland Heights native. Active in the 1960s; considered among the most primal of the free-jazz musicians.
Dan Auerbach (1979-present) – Guitarist and vocalist for the Grammy-winning blues rock band The Black Keys from Akron, Ohio.
Stiv Bators (1949-1990) – Singer and musician; Youngstown native. Punk-rock vocalist and guitarist with bands the Dead Boys and the Lords of the New Church. Appeared in films, including John Waters’ 1981 movie, Polyester.
Jim Brickman (1961-present) – Songwriter, pianist, and radio host. A Shaker Heights native, Brickman has earned two Grammy nominations for his albums “Peace” (2003) for Best Instrumental, and “Faith” (2009) for Best New Age Album.
Eric Carmen (1949-present) – Singer and songwriter; Cleveland native, raised in Lyndhurst. Scored hits as a member of the Raspberries and as a solo act with “All By Myself” and “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.”
Patrick Carney (1980-present) Drummer for the Grammy-winning rock band The Black Keys from Akron, Ohio.
Tracy Chapman (1964-present) – Singer and songwriter; Cleveland native. Grammy Award winner known for “Fast Car,” “Baby Can I Hold You,” “Crossroads,” “Give Me One Reason” and “Telling Stories.” Her music video emphasizing achievements in African American history is used in the Cleveland public schools.
Cheetah Chrome (1955-present) – Eugene Richard O’Connor, better known by his stage name Cheetah Chrome, is a Cleveland native who achieved fame as a guitarist for Rocket from the Tombs and the punk rock band Dead Boys.
David Allan Coe (1939-present) – Outlaw country singer, musician, and composer; Akron native. Wrote “Take This Job and Shove It,” covered famously by Johnny Paycheck. His own singles, “The Ride” and “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” reached the Top 10 on Billboard. Spent 20 years in an Ohio penitentiary. Claims he received encouragement to begin writing songs from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, with whom he had spent time in prison.
Anton Fier (1956-present) – Drummer, composer, and bandleader. Born in Cleveland, Fier was an early member of The Lounge Lizards and The Feelies. He was in The Lodge (with John Greaves), worked with Pere Ubu, was briefly in the Voidoids, and founded The Golden Palominos.
Mark Derek Foster (1984) – Singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the lead singer of the band Foster the People. He was raised in Macedonia.
Sonny Geraci (1946-2017) – Musician and singer, best known as lead singer of musical groups The Outsiders and Climax. He was a Cleveland native.
Neil Giraldo (1955-present) Musician, record producer, arranger, and songwriter. Best known as the musical partner of Pat Benatar for more than 40 years. He has also performed, written, and produced for artists including Rick Derringer, John Waite, Rick Springfield, and Kenny Loggins. Giraldo’s diverse work has sold over 45 million records and produced five Grammy Awards and an additional four Grammy nominations. Giraldo was born in Cleveland graduating from Parma Senior High School in Parma, Ohio. At the age of six, Giraldo received his first guitar as a gift from his parents
Macy Gray (1969-present) – Grammy-winning R&B singer/songwriter known for her raspy voice. A Canton native, her hit single “I Try” came from the platinum album “On How Life Is.” She has appeared in a number of films, including Training Day.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1929-2000) – Musician, singer, shock rocker; born in Cleveland. Played piano and guitar, recording “I Put a Spell on You” with grunts and screaming. Alan Freed coaxed him to appear onstage from a coffin, in a leopard skin and adorned with voodoo props. Early in his career, he opened for Fats Domino and the Rolling Stones.
Jerry Heller (1940-2016) was an American music manager and businessman; Cleveland native. He was best known for his controversial management of West Coast rap and gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A and Eazy-E. He rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, importing Elton John and Pink Floyd for their first major American tours, and representing Journey, Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, War, Eric Burdon, Crosby Stills & Nash, Ike & Tina Turner, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Otis Redding, the Who, REO Speedwagon, Black Sabbath, Humble Pie, Styx, the Grass Roots, and the Standells, among many others.
Chrissie Hynde (1951-) – Singer, songwriter, and musician; Akron native. Lead vocalist of the Pretenders; biggest hit was “Back on the Chain Gang.” Wrote the song “My City Was Gone” about the decline of her hometown.
James Ingram (1952-) – R&B singer and Akron native. Two-time Grammy winner, best known for collaborations with other artists. Scored a No. 1 Billboard hit in 1990 with the ballad “I Don’t Have the Heart.”
Sammy Kaye (1910-1987) – American bandleader and songwriter, whose tag line, “Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye,” became one of the most famous of the Big Band Era. The expression springs from his first hit single in 1937, “Swing and Sway” (U.S. #15). His signature tune was “Harbor Lights,” a number-one hit from late 1950. Kaye was born in Lakewood and graduated from Rocky River High School.
Machine Gun Kelly (Born Colson Baker, 1990-present) – Musician and actor. Growing up, Baker’s family moved all around the world before landing in Cleveland where Baker attended Shaker Heights High School. Kelly worked his way up the hip-hop charts after being signed to Bad Boy Records by Sean “Diddy” Combs. He’s recently taken up acting, appearing in films such as Nerve and Beyond the Lights and TV shows like Showtimes Roadies. His latest single “Bad Things” hit No.1 on the Top 40 charts.
Robert Lockwood Jr. (1915-2006) – Blues guitarist, also known as Robert Junior Lockwood. Moved to his wife’s hometown, Cleveland, in 1961. Shared a Grammy in 2004 for “Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen Live.” Recorded with Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Sunnyland Slim, and many others.
Eddie Levert (1942-) – Singer; Raised in Canton. Lead vocalist with the O’Jays. Father of Gerald and Sean. Received a BET lifetime achievement award in 2009.
Gerald Levert (1966-2006) – R&B singer; Cleveland native. Four platinum albums with LeVert trio. Died of an accidental overdose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs at age 40.
Sean Levert (1968-2008) – Singer/songwriter and actor; Cleveland native. Levert is best known as a member of the R&B vocal group LeVert. Died six days after being incarcerated in a Cuyahoga County Correctional facility.
Guy Lombardo (1902-1977) – Bandleader. A native of Canada, he moved the band to Cleveland in 1923 where his band took the name Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians and achieved national fame. Best known for his New Year’s Eve broadcasts for almost 50 years.
Henry Mancini (1924-1994) – Composer, conductor, and arranger; Cleveland native. Known for “Moon River,” the theme for The Pink Panther movies and the film score for The Days of Wine and Roses.
Marilyn Manson (1969-present) – Rock musician; born Brian Hugh Warner in Canton. Known for his controversial stage persona. Frontman of the eponymous band whose name juxtaposes two cultural icons—Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson.
Mark Mothersbaugh (1950-present) – Singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, author, and visual artist. An Akron native, Mothersbaugh came to prominence in the late 1970s as co-founder, lead singer, keyboardist of the new wave band Devo, whose “Whip It” was a Top 20 single in the U.S. in 1980 and which has since maintained a cult following. Mothersbaugh is one of the main composers of Devo’s music.
Jeffrey Nothing (Jeff Hatrix, born Jeffrey Lewis Hetrick, 1963-present) Singer/songwriter and musician. A Cleveland native, he is best known as the former clean vocalist for American alternative metal and industrial metal band Mushroomhead. His nickname comes from a scene in Blue Velvet.
Benjamin Orr (born Benjamin Orzechowski, 1947-2000) – Bassist, co-founder, and co-lead vocalist of the rock band the Cars. Born in Lakewood and raised in Parma, he sang lead vocals on several of their best-known songs, including “Just What I Needed,” “Let’s Go,” and “Drive.” He also scored a moderate solo. hit with “Stay the Night.” Orr was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Cars in 2018.
Steve Popovich (1942-2011) – Record producer. Moved to Cleveland in the late 1950s where he joined the R&B group the Twilighters. Most famous for launching the career of Meat Loaf. Also represented Bruce Springsteen, the Jacksons, Southside Johnny.
John Popper (1967-present) Musician; Chardon native. Fronts the rock band Blues Traveler, whose hits include “Run Around” and “Hook.” The former won a Grammy award.
Trent Reznor (1965-present) Singer/songwriter, composer, and record producer. Moved to Cleveland in 1984. Founded the industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails at Right Track Studios in Cleveland. Scored films such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl; won an Academy Award for best original score for “The Social Network.” Reznor is currently an executive with Apple Music.
Boz Scaggs (1944-present) Musician and singer; Canton native. Performed with the Steve Miller Band, then went out on his own, recording several platinum-selling albums, including 1976’s breakthrough, “Silk Degrees,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard.
Eric Singer (born Eric Doyle Mensinger, 1958-present) Hard rock and heavy metal drummer; Cleveland native. Best known as a member of Kiss, portraying The Catman originally played by Peter Criss. He has also performed with artists such as Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Lita Ford, Badlands, Brian May, and Gary Moore as well as his own band ESP. In his career, Singer has appeared on over 75 albums and 11 EPs.
Michael Stanley (Gee) (1948-2021) – Singer/songwriter; Cleveland native, Rocky River High School graduate. Founded the Michael Stanley Band. His first album featured contributions from Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Rick Derringer, and Joe Vitale. Afternoon-drive disc jockey for radio station WNCX FM/98.5 in Cleveland from 1990 until shortly before his death.
Rachel Sweet (1962-present) – Singer, actress, writer, and producer; Akron native. Had performed with Mickey Rooney and Bill Cosby by the time she was 12. She was a writer-producer for TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.
George Szell (1897-1970) – Conductor and composer. Came to Cleveland in 1946 and began a long and successful tenure as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, ending with his death. Known for recordings of the standard classical repertoire made in Cleveland and with other orchestras.
David Thomas (1953-present) – Singer/songwriter; Cleveland native. The one constant member of Pere Ubu. Among the band’s recordings are “Final Solution” and “30 Seconds Over Tokyo.”
Joe Vitale (1949-present) – Singer, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. Born in Canton, Ohio, Vitale started his professional music career with the Echoes, who signed with Warner and became the Chylds (1964–1968). He eventually enrolled at Kent State University and was attending during the May 4, 1970 shootings. His first national break came when Ted Nugent hired him to play drums in the Amboy Dukes in 1971. Vitale was invited by his former Kent State classmate Joe Walsh to join Barnstorm, a new band being formed by Walsh in Colorado. The band recorded two albums together and Vitale and Walsh began a longtime partnership, including co-writing “Rocky Mountain Way.” He recorded his first solo album, 1974’s Roller Coaster Weekend, with guitar solos contributed by Walsh, Rick Derringer and Phil Keaggy. He then joined the Stills-Young Band for the Long May You Run sessions and became part of the Crosby, Stills & Nash touring and recording band, beginning with the CSN album and continuing until 2009.
Joe Walsh (1947-present) Rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Attended Kent State University in the mid-1960s and remained in Cleveland as a founding member of the James Gang until 1972. In a career spanning more than 50 years, he has been a member of three successful rock bands: James Gang, Eagles, and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. Walsh was also part of the New Zealand band Herbs. In the 1990s, he was a member of the short-lived supergroup The Best.
Scott Weiland (1967-2015) Singer and songwriter. His family moved to Bainbridge Township, Ohio, when he was five, where he later attended Kenston High School before moving back to California. During a career spanning three decades, Weiland was best known as the lead singer of the band Stone Temple Pilots from 1989 to 2002 and 2008 to 2013, making six records with them. He was also lead vocalist of supergroup Velvet Revolver from 2003 to 2008, recording two albums.
Bobby Womack (1944-2014) – Singer, songwriter, and musician; Cleveland native. The vocalist and guitar player backed up Sam Cooke before establishing a prolific writing and recording career of his own. His hits included “Across 110th Street,” “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” and “Lookin for Love” among others. Member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, class of 2009.
Frankie Yankovic (1915-1998) – Musician; raised in South Euclid. The self-taught accordionist was awarded the first-ever Grammy for a polka recording.
POLITICANS/PUBLIC OFFICALS/PUBLIC FIGURES (Highly Selective)
Moses Cleaveland (1754-1806) – Founder of the city of Cleveland, was born in Canterbury, Connecticut. In 1777, Cleaveland began service in the Revolutionary War in a Connecticut Continental Regiment, and graduated from Yale.
James A. Garfield (1831-1881) – Was the 20th President of the United States, was born in Orange Twp., Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to Abram and Eliza Ballou Garfield. Fatherless at age four, Garfield worked as a farmer, carpenter, and canal boatman.
John Hay (1838-1905) – Statesman and official whose career in government stretched over almost half a century. Beginning as a private secretary and assistant to Abraham Lincoln, Hay’s highest office was United States Secretary of State under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Hay was also an author and biographer, and wrote poetry and other literature throughout much of his life. Hay moved to Cleveland in 1874 to marry Clara Stone, daughter of Cleveland multimillionaire railroad and banking mogul Amasa Stone. Amasa Stone needed someone to watch over his investments, and wanted Hay to move to Cleveland to fill the post.
William McKinley (1843-1901) – Was the 25th President of the United States, serving from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. McKinley was president during the Spanish–American War of 1898, raised protective tariffs to boost American industry, and rejected the expansionary monetary policy of free silver, keeping the nation on the gold standard. McKinnley was born in Niles, Ohio and raised in Poland, Ohio.
Eliot Ness (1903-1957) – American Prohibition agent, famous for his efforts to bring down Al Capone and enforce Prohibition in Chicago, Illinois, and the leader of a famous team of law enforcement agents from Chicago, nicknamed The Untouchables. Served as Cleveland’s director of public safety from 1935-1942 after his time in Chicago.
Carl Stokes (1927-1996) – Elected in 1967 as mayor of Cleveland. The first African American mayor of a major U.S. City.
Lucy Stanton (Day Sessions) (1831-1910) was an American abolitionist and feminist figure, notable for being the first African American woman to complete a four-year course of study at a college or university. She completed a Ladies Literary Course from Oberlin College in 1850.
SPORTS FIGURES (Highly Selective)
Jim Brown (1936-present) – Football player, sports analyst, and actor. He was a fullback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 through 1965. Considered to be one of the greatest running backs of all time, as well as one of the greatest players in NFL history, Brown was a Pro Bowl invitee every season he was in the league, was recognized as the AP NFL Most Valuable Player three times, and won an NFL championship with the Browns in 1964. Brown pursued acting as a second career after retiring from the Cleveland Browns. He had roles in Rio Conchos, The Dirty Dozen, Ice Station Zebra and 100 Rifles (which included one of the first interracial love scenes, with Raquel Welch).
Paul Brown (1908-1991) – American football coach and executive in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL). Brown was both the co-founder and first coach of the Cleveland Browns, a team named after him, and later played a role in founding the Cincinnati Bengals.
Larry Doby (1923-2003) – Baseball player in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball who was the second black player to break baseball’s color barrier and the first black player in the American League. In July 1947—three months after Jackie Robinson made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers—Doby broke the MLB color barrier in the American League when he signed a contract to play with Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians. Doby was the first player to go directly to the majors from the Negro leagues. A seven-time All-Star center fielder, Doby and teammate Satchel Paige were the first African-American players to win a World Series championship when the Indians took the crown in 1948.
Bob Feller (1918-2010) – Baseball pitcher who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians. Feller pitched from 1936 to 1941 and from 1945 to 1956, interrupted by a four-year engagement in the United States Navy. In a career spanning 570 games, Feller pitched 3,827 innings and posted a win–loss record of 266–162, with 279 complete games, 44 shutouts, and a 3.25 earned run average (ERA).
Otto Graham (1921-2003) – American football player. Quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL). Graham is regarded by critics as one of the most dominant players of his era, having taken the Browns to league championship games every year between 1946 and 1955, making ten championship appearances, and winning seven of them. With Graham at quarterback, the Browns posted a record of 57 wins, 13 losses, and one tie, including a 9–3 win–loss record in the playoffs. He holds the NFL record for career average yards gained per pass attempt, with 8.63.
John Heisman (1869-1936) – Innovative college football coach for whom the Heisman Trophy is named, was born in Cleveland, to Michael and Sarah Heisman, but his family moved to Titusville, Pennsylvania during the 1870s. Served as the head football coach at Oberlin College, Buchtel College (now known as the University of Akron), Auburn University, Clemson University, Georgia Tech, the University of Pennsylvania, Washington & Jefferson College, and Rice University, compiling a career college football record of 186–70–18.
LeBron James (1984-present) – Athlete, actor, TV producer, and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, he is widely considered one of the greatest NBA players in history, James is frequently compared to Michael Jordan in debates over the greatest basketball player of all time. Playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers, James is the only player in NBA history to have won NBA championships with three franchises as Finals MVP.
Don King (1931-present) Boxing promoter, born and raised in Cleveland, known for his involvement in historic boxing matchups. He has been a controversial figure, partly due to a manslaughter conviction and civil cases against him.
Nap Lajoie (1874-1959) – Baseball second baseman and player-manager. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Athletics (twice), and Cleveland Naps between 1896 and 1916. He managed the Naps from 1905 through 1909. Lajoie led the AL in batting average five times in his career and four times recorded the highest number of hits. During several of those years with the Naps he and Ty Cobb dominated AL hitting categories and traded batting titles with each other, most notably coming in 1910, when the league’s batting champion was not decided until well after the last game of the season and after an investigation by American League President Ban Johnson.
Chuck Noll (1932-2014) – Professional football player and head coach. Born and raised in Cleveland, he is regarded as one of the greatest head coaches of all time, his sole head coaching position was for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1969 to 1991. When Noll retired after 23 years, only three other head coaches in NFL history had longer tenures with one team.
Jesse Owens (James Cleveland) (1913-1980) – Was a world record setting track-and-field athlete during the 1930s. In 1950 sportswriters voted him as the world’s top track star of the century. Born on a tenant farm in Oakville, Alabama, to Henry and Emma Alexander Owens, Jesse migrated with his family to Cleveland in 1922.
Leroy Robert “Satchel” Page (1906-1982), legendary baseball pitcher, was born in Mobile, Alabama, the son of John and Lula (Coleman) Page. Paige first pitched for a Cleveland team, the Negro Natl. League’s Cleveland Cubs, in 1931. The team disbanded at midseason. With the elimination of baseball’s color line in 1946, Paige signed with the Cleveland Indians at midseason in 1948, becoming the oldest rookie in major-league history at age 42. Paige was 6-1, helping the Indians to their pennant. He was 4-7 in 1949, and released.
Frank Robinson (1935-2019) – Hall of Fame baseball player and the first African American manager in the major leagues, for the Cleveland Indians.
Don Shula (1930-2020) – American football defensive back and coach who served a head coach in National Football League (NFL) from 1963 to 1995. The head coach of the Miami Dolphins for most of his career, Shula is the NFL’s winningest head coach, compiling 347 career victories and 328 regular-season victories. Shula was born in Grand River, Ohio.
George Steinbrenner (1930-2010) – American businessman who was the principal owner and managing partner of the New York Yankees. During Steinbrenner’s 37-year ownership, the Yankees earned seven World Series titles and 11 pennants. Born and raised in Rocky River, Ohio.
Tris Speaker (1888-1958) – American professional baseball player. Considered one of the greatest offensive and defensive center fielders in the history of Major League Baseball, he compiled a career batting average of .345 (sixth all-time). His 792 career doubles represent an MLB career record. His 3,514 hits are fifth in the all-time hits list. Defensively, Speaker holds career records for assists, double plays, and unassisted double plays by an outfielder. His fielding glove was known as the place “where triples go to die.” Speaker played for the Cleveland Indians from 1916 to 1926.
Mike Tyson (1966-present) – Professional boxer who competed from 1985 to 2005. Tyson is considered one of the best heavyweight boxers of all time. He reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990. Tyson won his first 19 professional fights by knockout, 12 of them in the first round. From the early 1980s through most of the 1990s, Tyson lived in a mansion in Southington, Ohio to be closer to the Orwell, Ohio, training facility of boxing promoter Don King, located 20 miles north. The mansion now sits deserted.
Cy Young (1867-1955) – American Major League Baseball pitcher. Born in Gilmore, Ohio, he worked on his family’s farm as a youth before starting his professional baseball career. Young entered the major leagues in 1890 with the National League’s Cleveland Spiders and pitched for them until 1898. He was then transferred to the St. Louis Cardinals franchise. In 1901, Young jumped to the American League and played for the Boston Red Sox franchise until 1908, helping them win the 1903 World Series. He finished his career with the Cleveland Naps and Boston Rustlers, retiring in 1911.
Ernie Anderson (1923-1997) – Actor, disc jockey, and TV announcer. Came to Cleveland as a DJ for radio station WHK, then collaborated with Tim Conway on WJW Channel 8 TV show “Ernie’s Place.” Developed cult following hosting “Shock Theater” horror/spoof show as Ghoulardi from 1963 to 1966. Ultimately became the voice of ABC from the 1970’s through the mid-1990’s. He is the father of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson.
Nina Blackwood (1955-present) – Disc jockey and radio host. Rocky River High School graduate; one of the original five MTV VJs. Currently hosts a show on Sirius XM radio. She has appeared in Playboy and well as movies.
Phil Donahue (1935-present) – Talk-show host; Cleveland native. Began The Phil Donahue Show in Dayton; first talk-show host to include audience participation as regular part of the format. His show ran for 29 years, with 26 in syndication.
Mike Douglas (1925-2006) – Big-band singer, TV talk-show host. Launched his afternoon talk show in Cleveland in 1961. The program became syndicated two years later, then moved to Philadelphia in 1965.
Hugh Downs (1921-2020) – TV host and anchor; Akron native. Hosted the Today show and the game show Concentration. Anchored the news program 20/20 and was an announcer for Jack Paar.
Alan Freed (1921-1965) – Disc jockey, impresario. His local radio career was at WAKR in Akron and WJW in Cleveland, where he became known as “Moondog” and the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Organized the Moondog Coronation Ball, considered the country’s first major rock ‘n’ roll concert, in 1952 at the Cleveland Arena.
Arsenio Hall (1956-present) – TV host and actor; Cleveland native, Kent State University graduate. Known for The Arsenio Hall Show and as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice.
Steve Harvey (1957-present) – Comedian, author, and TV host. Grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Glenville High School. Began his stand-up career at amateur night at Hilarities in Cuyahoga Falls. TV host of Family Feud and The Steve Harvey Show. Featured in the Spike Lee movie The Original Kings of Comedy and a half-dozen other films. Host of Miss Universe pageant.
Kelly O’Donnell (1965-present) Journalist; Mentor, Ohio native. She is a political reporter for NBC News as White House and Capitol Hill correspondent. She appears on NBC Nightly News, Today, Meet The Press, and MSNBC.
Dr. Mehmet Oz (1960-present) – TV host and author; Cleveland native. Host of The Dr. Oz Show and co-author of six New York Times best-sellers. He is vice chairman of the surgery department at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and attending surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
Jack Paar (1918-2004) – Talk-show host; Canton native. Radio disc jockey for WGAR in Cleveland. Best known as a TV personality and host of The Tonight Show. Nurtured Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett.
Al Roker (1954-present) – TV weatherman, actor, author. Spent five years in Cleveland, beginning in 1978, with WKYC Channel 3. Best known as Today show weatherman he also heads a television production company. Roker is related to the late actress Roxie Roker, who played Helen Willis opposite Franklin Cover on the sitcom The Jeffersons and was the mother of rock musician Lenny Kravitz.
George Stephanopoulos (1961-present) – Television host, political commentator, and former Democratic advisor. Stephanopoulos currently is a co-anchor with Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan on Good Morning America, and host of This Week, ABC’s Sunday morning current events news program. From 2014-2020 Stephanopoulos held the title as “Chief Anchor” of ABC News. Stephanopoulos graduated in 1978 from Orange High School in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
Michael Symon (1969-present) – Chef, restaurateur, TV personality. Nationally celebrated Iron Chef and James Beard Foundation Award winner whose first restaurant, Lola, gave the Tremont neighborhood its reputation as a dining destination. Was a regular on TV’s The Chew which ran on ABC from 2011 to 2018.
All persons listed were born or lived within a seventy-five-mile radius of Cleveland. The following sources were heavily relied upon, including much of the wording, in compiling this list:
- “Ranking the top 100 Cleveland Celebrities of all Time,” Troy L. Smith, Cleveland.com, Posted Feb. 28, 2017, Updated May 19, 2019
- List of people from Cleveland (2021, May 6) from Wikipedia.
- Encyclopedia of Cleveland History; John J. Grabowski, Editor, Case Western Reserve University Department of History.
- “Some People Don’t Know These 9 Things Came From Cleveland,” Conor Battles, Only In Your State, Posted March 9, 2017
- Cleveland Inventions and Historical Firsts Worth Knowing About, Amanda, Cleveland Traveler, Posted April 14, 2020
- Suggestions of people to include were also received from family and friends.