USA Famous People of Louisiana

Louisiana Biographies

Louis Armstrong (1901 - 1971) Famous trumpet player and singer considered by many to one of the best jazz musicians ever; born in New Orleans.

This is one of the best books about Louis I've read and the reason is simple. Giddins clearly lays out the reasons why Pops was the greatest influence on modern music that this country has produced. His love for the man and the music comes through on every page. This is a wonderful almost poetic homage to a great and deserving artist. I loved the Bergreen biography and rated that 5 stars as well. That book is a fine chronological story of a fascinating life. This book is a musical biography that truly captures the essence of Louis Armstrong as well as anything written posthumously can be expected to. If you're a fan of Louis Armstrong you cannot afford to miss this. If you are curious as to why Louis Armstrong has become such an American icon this book will provide the answer. • Louis Armstrong • Louis Armstrong Discography • Louis Armstrong Books

John James Audubon (1785 - 1851), naturalist and artist, some of whose paintings for Birds of America were done in Louisiana.

Unlike the drawings and paintings of his contemporaries, which were produced from prepared skins and zoo specimens, Audubon’s paintings are taken directly from his observations in the wild, and the richness and directness come straight from the real world. No wonder that Audubon became known in his lifetime as “The American Woodsman.” These paintings were produced between 1828 and 1837; between 175 and 200 sets of these paintings were produced, and the last complete set to come to auction fetched nearly $3 million. The prints of this edition are almost exactly one-half size of the original life-size paintings. Originally published at a 30 x 27” trim so that Audubon could paint life-size renditions of the birds, this edition contains 435 full-color reproductions of hand-colored aquatinted plates taken from a rare subscription copy at the Cambridge University Library. The descriptive matter is written by Dr. Colin Harrison, who is the author of the standard reference A Field Guide to Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds and was for 26 years a scientific officer of the British Museum of Natural History, and Cyril Walker, a senior scientific officer of the British Museum of Natural History. • John James Audubon Books

Geoffrey Beene (1927 - ) Fashion designer; born in Haynesville.

Geoffrey Beene was fiercely independent, radical, subversive, and loved by ladies who lunched and underground scenesters alike. As an adventurous artist and an experimental designer, Mr. Beene (as his friends called him) helped define modern American fashion in the latter twentieth century. His designs explored the shapes and contortions of the human body using seams, geometry, and even hardware to define and insinuate the shape and scope of nature s most proud creation. From his infamous zipper dress to the jumpsuit and bolero to his witty design details, bold prints, and contrasts, Mr. Beene s influence rocked a new generation of designers and the closets of women across the world. Close friend and cultural maverick Kim Hastreiter recounts the life and work of a passionate artist who was as freethinking, original, and antiestablishment as they come. DVD included with interviews with Geoffrey Beene, clips from his fashion shows and much more! • Geoffrey Beene Books

Truman Capote (1924 - 1984) Novelist made famous with Other Voices, Other Rooms and Breakfast at Tiffany’s; born in New Orleans.

Clarke breaks Capote's life into four sections: a childhood spent mostly with relatives while his self-absorbed parents staggered through their disorderly lives; his years of discovery, when he had the two great romances of his life, traveled the world, and found his voice as a writer; the writing of In Cold Blood ; and the destructive obsessions with drugs, alcohol, and lovers that followed. Clarke's analysis tends to be superficial and his research, though impressive, has gaping holes. He is strongest in his portraits of Capote's first lover, the literary scholar Newton Arvin; the parade of men who disrupted the last 15 years of his life; and Capote's "swans," the very wealthy women who became addicted to his seemingly magic touch. Paradoxically, Clarke fails to produce a full portrait of Capote himself. The chaotic figure will need to be studied from many angles: Clarke provides a point of reference. Rob Schmieder, Boston • Truman Capote Books

Kitty Carlisle singer, actress, New Orleans (also billed as Kitty Carlisle Hart; September 3, 1910 – April 17, 2007) was an American singer, actress and spokeswoman for the arts. She is best remembered as a regular panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth. She served 20 years on the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Arts from President George H. W. Bush.

Kitty Carlisle was born as Catherine Conn (Kitty is a nickname for Catherine; the surname was pronounced Cohen) in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her family was of German Jewish heritage. Carlisle's father, Dr. Joseph Conn, was a gynecologist who died when she was 10. Her mother, Hortense Holtzman Conn, was a daughter of the first Jewish mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, and a woman obsessed with breaking into the prevailing Gentile society. (She once said to a taxi driver who asked if her daughter was Jewish, "She may be, but I'm not.") • Kitty Carlisle Books • Kitty Carlisle Discography

Van Cliburn concert pianist, Shreveport Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. (born July 12, 1934), is an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958, when at age 23, he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.

Van Cliburn was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and began taking piano lessons at the age of three from his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn. O'Bryan was taught by Arthur Friedheim, a pupil of Franz Liszt. At six years old, Cliburn moved with his family to Kilgore, Texas, and at twelve he won a statewide piano competition which enabled him to debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He entered The Juilliard School at age 17, and studied under Rosina Lhιvinne, who trained him in the tradition of the great Russian romantics. At age 20, Cliburn won the Leventritt Award, and made his Carnegie Hall debut.

It was his recognition in Moscow that propelled Cliburn to international fame. The first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 was an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority during the Cold War, on the heels of their technological victory with the Sputnik launch in October 1957. Cliburn's performance at the competition finale of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 earned him a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. • Van Cliburn Books • Van Cliburn Discography

Michael DeBakey (1908 - ) Doctor that developed the first artificial heart; born in Lake Charles.

In the time it takes to read this review, six Americans will die from heart disease. Annually, the ailment kills nearly one million people and affects one in four over the course of a lifetime at an estimated cost of close to $50 billion. World-renowned heart specialists DeBakey and Gotto have revised their 1977 publication (The Living Heart, LJ 4/1/77) to reflect the enormous changes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of heart disease over the past 20 years. Designed for the lay reader, this new version offers comprehensive chapters on diagnostic procedures; conditions such as atherosclerosis, aneurysms, hypertension, stroke, and congenital and acquired heart diseases; risk factors and healthy-heart lifestyles; surgical and drug therapies; and the vascular system. Liberally illustrated, this book includes a substantial glossary. The writing is clear, though the many medical terms may occasionally bog down the lay reader. Still, this is a very good book on heart disease for the general public. Highly recommended. Anne C. Tomlin, Auburn Memorial Hosp. Lib., N.Y.• Michael DeBakey Books

Antoine "Fats" Domino (1928 - ) Pianist, singer, and songwriter; born in New Orleans.

"When people get started dancing and having a good time, they don't care what color you are," reflected Herbert Hardesty, one of Antoine "Fats" Domino's band members, on the ability of Domino's music to break through the color barrier in postwar America. It is a recurring theme in Coleman's biography, as are, not surprisingly, segregation and mainstream society's reception to rock 'n' roll, particularly songs by African Americans. Based on interviews and years of research,

Coleman's book is well-written and full of lively details about life on the road, recording sessions and how things worked in Domino's inner circle. After making quick work of Domino's grandparents and childhood, Coleman begins a chronological journey through Domino's life, peppering his narrative with important events in music and the civil rights movement.

Although Coleman touches lightly on some of Domino's irresponsible behavior-his drinking, womanizing and ambivalence to curtain times set the mold by which later rock stars would be cast-the book borders on hagiography. Also, Coleman's suggestions that the earliest African-American performers of rock 'n' roll are largely forgotten and that there still persists a myth that it all began with Elvis are outmoded at best. However, Coleman's book succeeds as a warm tribute to an American music icon.• Fats Domino Website • Fats Domino Discography • Antoine "Fats" Domino Books

Louis Moreau Gottschalk pianist, composer, New Orleans (May 8, 1829 – December 18, 1869) was an American composer and pianist, best known as a virtuoso performer of his own romantic piano pieces. He spent most of his working career outside of the United States.

Gottschalk was born to a Jewish businessman from London and a white Haitian Creole in New Orleans, where he was exposed to a wide variety of musical traditions. He had six brothers and sisters, five of whom were half-siblings by his father's mulatto mistress. His family lived for a time in a tiny cottage at Royal and Esplanade in the Vieux Carrι. Louis later moved in with relatives at 518 Conti Street; his grandmother Buslι and his nurse Sally had both been born in Saint-Domingue (later known as Haiti). Gottschalk played the piano from an early age and was soon recognized as a wunderkind by the New Orleans bourgeois establishment. In 1840, he gave his informal public debut at the new St. Charles Hotel. • Louis Moreau Gottschalk Books • Louis Moreau Gottschalk Discography

Bryant Gumbel (1948 - ) TV newscaster; born in New Orleans. This Paley Center seminar honors Bryant Gumbel and celebrates the 10th anniversary of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Today Show co-anchor Matt Lauer moderates.

Lauer asks Gumbel about the following topics: Gumbel's weight fluctuations over the years; why Real Sports covers stories that network sports don't; why networks are, according to Gumbel, "sycophantic" and ask athletes only "softball" questions; who comes up with story ideas for the show; what sports personalities intentionally "duck" the show's interviewers; Gumbel's thoughts on the current state of the NBA; racism in sports; why Al Sharpton sued the show; exclusionary golf clubs; and Jose Canseco's book Juiced.

Questions from the audience then lead to an examination of the following topics: loyalty in sports; who make the best interviewers; the mixed components of the show's viewership; and the show's opening and closing monologues. • Bryant Gumbel Books

Lillian Hellman playwright, New Orleans (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American playwright, linked throughout her life with many left-wing causes. She was romantically involved for 30 years with mystery and crime writer Dashiell Hammett (and was the inspiration for his character Nora Charles), and was also a long-time friend and literary executor of author Dorothy Parker.

Lillian Hellman was born in New Orleans, Louisiana into a Jewish family. During most of her childhood she spent half of each year in New Orleans, in a boarding home run by her aunts, and the other half in New York City. Hellman's most famous plays include The Children's Hour (1934), The Little Foxes (1939), and Toys in the Attic (1960).

Hellman was fond of including younger characters in her plays. In The Children's Hour (1934), the play takes place in a children's school and the antagonist of the play, Mary, is a young girl. In • Lillian Hellman Books

Al Hirt (1922 - 1999) Trumpeter; born in New Orleans. Hirt was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of a police officer, and was known as "Al" or "Jumbo." At the age of six, he was given his first trumpet, which had been purchased at a local pawnshop. He would play in the Junior Police Band with the children of Alcide Nunez, and by the age of 16, Hirt was playing professionally, often with his friend Pete Fountain. During this time, he was hired to play at the local horse racing track, beginning a six-decade connection to the sport.

In 1940 Hirt went to Cincinnati, Ohio to study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with Dr. Frank Simon (a former soloist with the John Philip Sousa Orchestra). After a stint as a bugler in the United States Army during World War II, Hirt performed with various Swing big bands, including those of Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Ina Ray Hutton. In 1950 he became first trumpet and soloist with Horace Heidt's Orchestra. • Al Hirt Books • Al Hirt Discography

Mahalia Jackson (1912 - 1972) Gospel singer made famous with “Move On Up a Little,” the first million-selling gospel record; born in New Orleans.

Mahalia Jackson, born Mahala Jackson, nicknamed “Halie," grew up in the Black Pearl section of the Carrollton neighborhood of Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. The three-room dwelling on Pitt Street housed thirteen people and a dog. This included Little Mahala (named after her aunt, whom the family called Aunt Duke), her brother Roosevelt, whom they called Peter, and her mother Charity. Several aunts and cousins lived in the house as well. Aunt Mahala was given the nickname "Duke". When Peter was born Halie suffered from genu varum, or "bowed legs." The doctors wanted to perform surgery by breaking Halie's legs, but one of the resident aunts opposed it. So Halie's mother would rub her legs down with greasy dishwater. The condition never stopped young Halie from performing her dance steps for the white woman her mother and Aunt Bell cleaned house for. • Mahalia Jackson Books • Mahalia Jackson Discography

Dorothy Lamour actress, New Orleans (December 10, 1914 – September 22, 1996) was an American film actress. She is probably best-remembered for appearing in the Road to... movies, a series of successful comedies co-starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Carmen Louise (nιe LaPorte) and John Watson Slaton, both of whom were waiters. Lamour had French Louisianan, Spanish and Irish descent. Her parents' marriage lasted only a few years, with her mother re-marrying to Clarence Lambour, and Dorothy took his last name. The marriage also ended in divorce when Dorothy was a teenager. The family finances were so desperate that when she was 15, she forged her mother's name to a document that authorized her to drop out of school. Later, however, she did go to a secretarial school that did not require her to have a high school diploma. She regarded herself as an excellent typist and usually typed her own letters, even after she became quite wealthy.

After she won the 1931 Miss New Orleans beauty contest, she and her mother moved to Chicago, where Lamour earned $17 a week as an elevator operator for the Marshall Field department store on State Street. She had no training as a singer but was persuaded by a friend to try out for a female vocalist's spot with Herbie Kay, a band leader who had a national radio show called "The Yeast Foamers", apparently because it was sponsored by Fleischmann's Yeast. • Dorothy Lamour Books • Dorothy Lamour Movies

Jerry Lee Lewis (1935- ) Singer and pianist famous for songs like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire"; born in Ferriday.

I thought the book HELLFIRE was very well written and agree with other readers' comments that it was in presented in the style of a great novel. However, Mr. Tosches concentrated on the negative aspects of Jerry Lee Lewis' great career. . .i.e. the drinking and drug abuse. . .without noting the fact that he overcame these flaws. The book does not mention his 13 year marriage to his wife, Keffi, which has produced two children (one born and one adopted), or his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 (one of the first inductees). I think the book would have been of greater value if it took us to the present time. I saw the Killer in concert in March while visiting Memphis and thought he was still at the top of his craft. Instead of concentrating solely on the tawdry aspects of Jerry Lee's life, I would've appreciated more credit for the fact that he fought his demons and overcame them. • Jerry Lee Lewis Discography

Huey P. Long politician, Winnfield Huey Pierce Long, Jr. (August 30, 1893 - September 10, 1935), nicknamed The Kingfish, served as the Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and as a U.S. senator from 1932 to 1935. A Democrat, he was noted for his radical populist policies. Though a backer of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election, Long split with Roosevelt in June 1933 and allegedly planned to mount his own presidential bid.

Long created the Share Our Wealth program in 1934, with the motto "Every Man a King," proposing new wealth redistribution measures in the form of a net asset tax on corporations and individuals to curb the poverty and crime resulting from the Great Depression. To stimulate the economy, Long advocated federal spending on public works, public education, old-age pensions and other social programs. He was an ardent critic of the Federal Reserve System's policies to reduce lending. Charismatic and immensely popular for his social reform programs and willingness to take forceful action, Long was accused by his opponents of dictatorial tendencies for his near-total control of the state government. • Huey P. Long Books

Wynton Marsalis musician, New Orleans Wynton Learsonlal Marsalis (born October 18, 1961) is an American trumpeter and composer. He is among the most prominent jazz musicians of the modern era and is also a well-known instrumentalist in classical music. He is also the Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. A compilation of his series of inspirational letters to a young jazz musical student, named Anthony, has been published as To a Young Jazz Musician.

Marsalis has made his reputation with a combination of skill in jazz performance and composition, a sophisticated yet earthy and hip personal style, an impressive knowledge of jazz and jazz history, and skill as a virtuoso classical trumpeter. As of 2006, he has made sixteen classical and more than thirty jazz recordings, has been awarded nine Grammys between the genres, and has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, the first time it has been awarded for a jazz recording. • Wynton Marsalis Books • Wynton Marsalis Discography

Jelly Roll Morton jazz musician, composer, New OrleansFerdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (1880s – July 10, 1941) was an American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer.

Widely recognized as a pivotal figure in early jazz, Morton claimed, in self-promotional hyperbole, to have invented jazz outright in 1902. Morton was the first serious composer of jazz, naming and popularizing the "Spanish tinge" of exotic rhythms and penning such standards as "Wolverine Blues", "Black Bottom Stomp", and "Buddy Bolden's Blues".

Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe was born into a Creole community in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. A baptismal certificate issued in 1894 lists his date of birth as October 20, 1890; however Morton himself and his half-sisters claimed the September 20, 1885, date is correct. His World War I draft registration card showed September 13, 1884 but his California death certificate listed his birth as September 20, 1889. He was born to F.P. Lamothe and Louise Monette (written as Lemott and Monett on his baptismal certificate). Eulaley Haco (Eulalie Hιcaud) was the godparent. Eulalie helped him to be christened with the name Ferdinand. Ferdinand’s parents were in a common-law marriage and not legally married. No birth certificate has been found to date. He took the name "Morton" by Anglicizing the name of his stepfather, Mouton. • Jelly Roll Morton Website • Jelly Roll Morton Discography • Jelly Roll Morton Books

Huey Newton (1942 - 1989) Black activist; born in Monroe.

Though essentially a civil rights organization, the Black Panther Party continues to evoke images of gun-wielding black men clashing with law enforcement officials. In the first authorized biography written about the Party's founder, Huey Newton (1942–1989), the authors shatter those images by expounding on the ideals upon which the party was formed. Frustrated by the civil rights organizations mired in "intellectualizing and rhetoric," Newton formed the BPP in Oakland, Calif., in 1966. His manifesto called upon blacks to demand freedom, adequate housing and educational opportunities, and to "defend their own people with their lives." Those affiliated with the BPP soon became targets for police surveillance and harassment. According to Hilliard, when Newton realized that the BPP was becoming isolated from the black community, which viewed the organization as an ad hoc military group, he began creating various community "survival programs," among them a student-centered school that attracted international education officials. Newton's dichotomous nature is evident throughout the book, yet only in the last chapters is the extent of his inner turmoil addressed. His cause of death offers proof of this: he denounced drugs yet became addicted to crack and died at the hands of a drug dealer. Hilliard offers a highly readable, if hagiographic, introduction to Newton's life and the BPP's ideology. His own memoir, This Side of Glory (1993), described his years as the BPP's chief of staff. Photos. (Jan.) • Huey Newton Books

Paul Prudhomme chef, Opelousas (born July 13, 1940) is an American celebrity chef famous for his Cajun cuisine. He is also the owner of one of the top restaurants in New Orleans, K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen.

The youngest of thirteen children, Prudhomme was raised on a farm near Opelousas, the seat of St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Members of his family had been active as cooks and in the restaurant business in and around Lafayette, Louisiana. In 1979, he and his late wife, Kay Prudhomme, opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In the early-1980s, the restaurant made the dish of blackened redfish famous. Today, K-Pauls is one of New Orleans' most celebrated restaurants. It is consistently rated in the Top 10 for food and popularity by Zagat and is highly recommended. The restaurant used to have communal seating during its day, however it has been refurbished and offers far more seating and lunch now.

Prudhomme has been a key figure in taking Cajun cooking from a style little known outside of the Acadiana region of southwest Louisiana and propelling it to national fame. He is also the creator of Magic Seasoning Blends, including Meat Magic, Vegetable Magic, and Poultry Magic. He is sometimes credited with having invented the turducken, though layering different varieties of poultry is a French tradition that is older than the French Republic itself. • Paul Prudhomme Books

Cokie Roberts (1943 - ) Journalist; born in New Orleans.

ABC News political commentator and NPR news analyst Roberts didn't intend this as a general history of women's lives in early America-she just wanted to collect some great "stories of the women who influenced the Founding Fathers." For while we know the names of at least some of these women (Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney), we know little about their roles in the Revolutionary War, the writing of the Constitution, or the politics of our early republic.

In rough chronological order, Roberts introduces a variety of women, mostly wives, sisters or mothers of key men, exploring how they used their wit, wealth or connections to influence the men who made policy. As high-profile players married into each other's families, as wives died in childbirth and husbands remarried, it seems as if early America-or at least its upper crust-was indeed a very small world. Roberts's style is delightfully intimate and confiding: on the debate over Mrs. Benedict Arnold's infamy, she proclaims, "Peggy was in it from the beginning." Roberts also has an ear for juicy quotes; she recounts Aaron Burr's mother, Esther, bemoaning that when talking to a man with "mean thoughts of women," her tongue "hangs pretty loose," so she "talked him quite silent." In addition to telling wonderful stories, Roberts also presents a very readable, serviceable account of politics-male and female-in early America. If only our standard history textbooks were written with such flair! 7 illus. not seen by PW. • Cokie Roberts Books

Kordell Stewart - nicknamed "Slash" (born October 16, 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a former American NFL quarterback. Stewart attended the University of Colorado and was drafted 60th in the 1995 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Playing for Colorado in 1994 he completed a Hail Mary pass to beat the University of Michigan 27-26, a play known as "The Miracle at Michigan." Among NFL quarterbacks, his 38 rushing touchdowns ranks second all-time, behind Steve Young's 43. The NFL Network named him #6 on its list of the 10 most versatile players in NFL history.

Stewart was born in New Orleans and raised in Marrero, Louisiana, where his father Robert Stewart, Sr. and older brother Robert, Jr. own a barber shop.

Stewart's mother, a heavyset smoker, died from lung cancer when Stewart was ten years old. As a result, Stewart wore number 10 throughout his playing career in high school, college, and the NFL as a tribute to his mom and became an anti-smoking advocate. With the Steelers, Stewart's number 10 was previously worn by kicker Roy Gerela during the team's dynasty years in the 1970s, later by quarterback Scott Campbell, and is currently worn by wide receiver Santonio Holmes. • Kordell Stewart Books

Ray Walston actor, New Orleans (November 2, 1914 – January 1, 2001) was an American stage, television and film actor who played the title character on the situation comedy My Favorite Martian and Judge Henry Bone on the drama series Picket Fences.

He was born Herman Walston in New Orleans, Louisiana (some sources indicate Laurel, Mississippi) to working-class parents Mittie (nιe Kimball) and Harry Norman Walston, a lumber man. He started acting at an early age, beginning his tenure as a "spear carrier" rounding out productions at many New Orleans theaters. He mostly played small roles with stock companies, where he not only starred in travelling shows but also worked at a movie theater, selling tickets and cleaning the stage floors. His family moved to Houston, Texas, where he joined the Houston Civic Theater's repertory company under Margo Jones, debuting in 1938. • Ray Walston Books • Ray Walston Movies

Edward Douglas White jurist, Lafourche Parish (November 3, 1845 – May 19, 1921), American politician and jurist, was a United States senator, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and the ninth Chief Justice of the United States. He was best known for formulating the Rule of Reason standard of antitrust law. He also sided with the Supreme Court majority in the 1896 decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the legality of segregation in the United States, though he did write for a unanimous court in Guinn v. United States (1915), which struck down many Southern states' grandfather clauses that disfranchised blacks. (However, in practice, the Southern states found other methods to disfranchise blacks that passed Court scrutiny.) • Edward Douglas White Books