USA Famous People of Michigan

Michigan Biographies

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Nelson Algren author, Detroit Nelson Algren (March 28, 1909 – May 9, 1981) was an American writer.

Algren was born Nelson Ahlgren Abraham in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of three he moved with his parents to Chicago, Illinois where they lived in a working-class, immigrant neighborhood on the South Side. His father was the son of a Swedish convert to Judaism and a Jewish American woman, as his mother (who owned a candy store) was of German Jewish descent. When Algren was eight years old, his parents moved from 7139 S. South Park Avenue (now S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) in the far South Side neighborhood of St. Columbanus to an apartment in the Albany Park neighborhood on the North Side. Algren's father worked as an auto mechanic nearby on North Kedzie Avenue. Algren was educated in Chicago's public schools, graduated from Hibbard High School (now Roosevelt), and went on to study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in journalism during the Great Depression in 1931. • Nelson Algren Books

Tim Allen (1953 - ) Actor, famous for the T.V. series Home Improvement; grew up in Birmingham. Tim Allen, star of the hit sitcom Home Improvement, takes on quantum philosophy, intergender relationships, and the male midlife crisis in a joke-filled (but ultimately serious) "weekend in the life" narrative. It's an odd combination, shifting from enthusiastic gushing over restored sports cars to earnest elaborations upon Deepak Chopra and Fritjof Capra, but Allen manages to pull it off. If you're expecting a standard unchallenging celebrity-penned "book," or a fluff-filled "memoir," you're going to be quite surprised. Product Description. The popular actor and comedian shares his observations on why things are the way they are while sharing his offbeat opinions about the meaning of life and his personal role in it. Reprint." • Tim Allen Books  • Tim Allen Movies
Chris Van Allsburg (born June 18, 1949 in East Grand Rapids, Michigan) an American author and illustrator of children's books. He won the Caldecott Medal for Jumanji (1982) and The Polar Express (1986), both of which he wrote and illustrated, and both of which were later adapted into successful motion pictures. He received the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1980 for The Garden of Abdul Gasazi .

His books often depict fantastic, uncontrolled events and utilize sometimes brutal irony. Van Allsburg breaks out of the comfortable world of children's literature to explore the darker side of human nature. For example, his book The Sweetest Fig is about a selfish man who is suddenly given the opportunity to make his wildest dreams come true. His greed is eventually his downfall. This is not an unusual moral for a story in children's books, but Van Allsburg's chilling characterization of the man brings a frightening tone to the narrative. The Wretched Stone , in which a ship's crew is mesmerized and corrupted by the titular rock, is an allegorical tale about the negative impact of television. • Chris Van Allsburg Books

Ralph J. Bunche statesman, Detroit • Ralph J. Bunche Books
Ellen Burstyn actress, Detroit (born December 7, 1932) is an American stage and film actress. Burstyn was born Edna Rae Gillooly in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Correine Marie (nιe Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly, who was a building contractor. She describes herself as "Irish, French, Pennsylvania Dutch, a little Canadian Indian". She was raised Catholic but is now known to practice Sufi Islam. Her parents divorced when she was young. She would later refer to her mother as tough, violent and controlling. She left home at age 18.

Burstyn debuted on Broadway in 1957 and joined Lee Strasberg's The Actor's Studio in 1967. In 1975, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Same Time, Next Year (a role she would reprise in the film version, three years later). In 1990 she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theatre. Until 1970, she was credited as "Ellen McRae" in nearly all her film and TV appearances. • Ellen Burstyn Books • Ellen Burstyn Movies

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac (1658 - 1730), French colonial administrator, founder of Detroit (1701)

The visions and predictions of Antoine de Lamothe-Cadillac became reality after his departure from New France. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded the city of New Orleans, near the mouth of Mississippi, in 1718. The straits became a strategic location. To defend its access, Fort Niagara was built in 1725 on the right bank of the river between lakes Erie and Ontario and, in 1726, Fort Oswego was fortified even more on Lake Ontario. Later renamed "Detroit", Fort Pontchartrain enjoyed an ideal location between the Great Lakes and the river basins.

Ages 8 to 14 years. This book outlines Antoine de la Mothe Cadillacs hunger for power and adventure led him to the New World where he founded Detroit, now one of the oldest cities in North America. Features include maps, his family history, and the legacy he left behind. • Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac Books

Lewis Cass (October 9, 1782 – June 17, 1866), Michigan territorial governor (1813 - 1831), U. S. senator from Michigan (1845 - 1857), U. S. cabinet officer, and Democratic candidate (1848) for the U. S . presidency. An American military officer and politician. During his long political career, Cass served as a governor of the Michigan Territory, an American ambassador, and a U.S. Senator representing Michigan. He was the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States in 1848

During the War of 1812, Cass served as a brigadier general and participated in the Battle of the Thames. As a reward for his service, he was appointed Governor of the Michigan Territory by President James Madison on October 29, 1813, and served until 1831. He was frequently absent, and several territorial secretaries often served as acting governor in his place. In 1817, he was one of two commissioners (along with Duncan McArthur) who negotiated the Treaty of Fort Meigs, which was signed September 29 of that year with several Native American tribes.• Lewis Cass Books

Bruce Catton historian, Petoskey • Bruce Catton Books
Roger Chaffee astronaut, Grand Rapids • Roger Chaffee Books
Walter P. Chrysler (1875 - 1940) Industrialist who established the Chrysler Corporation. From humble beginnings as a Kansas railroad-shop apprentice wiping down locomotives for 5U cents an hour, Walter Chrysler (1875-1940) rose to become a railroad master mechanic and foreman, then a leading auto manufacturer and industrial mogul. Brashly confident, convinced of America's limitless potential for economic growth, Chrysler, "the quintessence of American business in the 1920s," built Manhattan's Chrysler BuildingAart deco emblem of modernism and progressAwhose spire went up just one month before the 1929 stock market crash. This dynamic biography brings a surprisingly neglected giant out of the shadows. Chrysler, self-educated, self-made son of a German immigrant, is not nearly as well known as Henry Ford, even though he expanded Detroit's Big Two (GM and Ford) into the Big Three, when Chrysler Corporation bought out Dodge in 1928. • Walter P. Chrysler Books
Madonna Louise Ciccone (1958 - ) Singer with hit singles “Material Girl,” and “Vogue.”  She has also acted in such movies as A League of Their Own, and Evita; born in Bay City.

The answers to anything you ever wanted to know about Madonna that AREN'T on the gossip pages lie within the pages of this book. Mary Cross unleashes a deluge of well-researched, and accurate, information about Madonna the mega-star and how she came to be. A fascinating and easy read, Cross tells the story of a woman with a "never say die" attitude, in an entertaining way, without resorting to trashy, tell-all techniques. The book is organized in a very accessible format, including a detailed timeline that chronicles Madonna's rise to stardom right from the day she was born. Her #1 hits, albums, music videos, films, books and plays are also organized into individual timelines. The book even includes a section of photographs that takes the reader through the varied incarnations of Madonna's frenetic life. • Madonna Louise Ciccone Books

Ty Cobb (1886 - 1961) Baseball star, played 22 seasons (1905 - 1926) for the Detroit Tigers. Stump, Ty Cobb's ghostwriter for the 1961 autobiography My Life in Baseball, fleshes out the story in this bare-knuckle, shocking biography. Born in Georgia in 1886, Cobb began his baseball career with the Detroit Tigers in 1905 and stayed in the big leagues until 1928-all the time hated by his rivals and teammates alike because of his meanness and combativeness. The author portrays the highlights of Cobb's career: his first batting championship in 1907; his 96 stolen bases in 1915; and his three .400 seasons in 1911, 1912 and 1922. Stump also looks at Cobb's involvement in game-fixing in 1919, his time as a manager and his activities after retiring. He died in 1961. The most sensational aspects of the book deal with Cobb's personal life: his mother's murder of his father, millionaire Cobb's cheapness (no electricity or telephone in his house), wife beating, alcoholism and racial bigotry. Stump has written a biography of the "Georgia Peach" that will stun readers with its brutal candor. Photos. 25,000 first printing. • Ty Cobb Books
Francis Ford Coppola (1939 - ) Writer, producer, and director, most famous for The Godfather ; born in Detroit. The terrible fact about Francis Ford Coppola's career is that it will always be divided evenly in half, down a line called Apocalypse Now. Before that film is prodigious promise--an Academy Award for writing Patton, two uncannily fine Godfather movies, and the Antonioni-esque smallness of The Conversation . After, there is telescoping debt, talk of reinventing the studios, and multiple, hollow exercises in style. If that's a tough assessment, it's one borne out by this thick, fair biography. The author, Michael Schumacher, who has previously published books on Allen Ginsberg and Eric Clapton, makes much of Coppola's boyhood spell of polio, from which he emerged miraculously healthy and movie-mad. He orchestrated his life thereafter with a consequent mania, as though making up for lost time. While still in film school, he sold screenplays and made Z-budget drive-in movies for Roger Corman. In two years, he wrote 12 scripts for 7 Arts, and in the mid-1960s started a family, made You're a Big Boy Now and Finian's Rainbow, pushed George Lucas to write THX1138, founded American Zoetrope, and took a job, purely for the money, directing The Godfather. The chapters on Apocalypse Now are the book's highlights, and without saying as much they explain the spent quality at the core of Coppola's films in the next two decades. After hurricanes in Manila, Marlon Brando, and the ungodly beauty of those helicopters at dawn, whose career wouldn't wing straight to twilight? • Francis Ford Coppola Books • Francis Ford Coppola Films
George Armstrong Custer (1839 - 1876) Commander of Michigan's cavalry brigade in the Civil War, later killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn Like a cavalry charge led by its celebrated subject, fast on the heels of Louise Barnett's Touched by Fire (Forecasts, Apr. 15) comes a second, even finer Custer bio from Wert (General James Longstreet) based on a broad spectrum of archival research and recent scholarship. Wert's Custer is eager for glory and greatness. At one time the Union's youngest general, Custer found both during the Civil War by establishing an unsurpassed record as a cavalry officer. He also made many enemies because of his flamboyant personal style, but his exuberant self-confidence carried him so far between 1861 and 1865 that, Wert contends, he saw no reason to change in the different environment of the postwar frontier army. According to the author, Custer resisted maturity and understood neither himself nor his new enemies, the Plains Indians. Custer took personal and professional risks, Wert shows, because he was most alive living on the edge.• George Armstrong Custer Books
Thomas E. Dewey politician, Owosso Thomas Edmund Dewey (March 24, 1902 – March 16, 1971) was governor of New York (1943 – 1954). In 1944 and 1948, he was the Republican candidate for President, but lost both times. He led the liberal faction of the Republican Party, in which he fought conservative Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft. Dewey advocated for the professional and business community of the Northeastern United States, which would later be called the "Eastern Establishment." This organization accepted the majority of New Deal social-welfare reforms enacted after 1944. It consisted of internationalists who were in favor of the United Nations and the "Cold War" fought against communism and the Soviet Union. In addition, he played a large part in the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower as President in 1952. Dewey's successor as leader of the liberal Republicans was Nelson Rockefeller, who became governor of New York in 1959. The New York State Thruway is named in Dewey's honor.

Dewey was born and raised in Owosso, Michigan, where his father owned, edited, and published the local newspaper, the Owosso Times. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1923, and from Columbia Law School in 1925. While at the University of Michigan, he joined Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a national fraternity for men of music, and was a member of the Men's Glee Club. • Thomas E. Dewey Books

Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931) Inventor; lived in Port Huron. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. That was Thomas Edison’s philosophy, and it led him to create the incandescent light bulb and illuminate the world with electricity. But that was just one of the many groundbreaking inventions Edison devised, many of which changed the shape of entertainment, industry, and everyday life. Meet the Wizard of Menlo Park, and see how he grew from a lonely, inquisitive boy who carried out experiments in his basement to the smart, enterprising, and imaginative inventor who gave us the stock market ticker, helped develop the phonograph and cinema, and even came up with the first storage battery and electric car.• Thomas Edison Books
Edna Ferber author, Kalamazoo • Edna Ferber Books
Gerald R. Ford (1913 - ) Became the 38th President of the United States when Richard Nixon resigned; grew up in Grand Rapids. When historian Douglas Brinkley was asked by the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., general editor of the American Presidents series published by Times Books, to undertake a short biography of Gerald R. Ford, the man from Michigan who served less than three years in the White House was a neglected subject.

By the time Brinkley had finished the manuscript, Ford's story had been told, copiously and repeatedly, in newspaper obituaries recording his death at age 93 last December, and his contributions to American life had been praised in memorial ceremonies in California, Washington and Grand Rapids, Mich. -- and in dozens of columns and editorials. As his body was carried across the country, from his final home near Palm Springs, to the Capitol where he had served, and then back to Michigan for burial, the praise rolled in for the man who had applied the healing comfort of his common sense and goodwill to a nation badly bruised by the ordeals of the Vietnam War and Watergate. • Gerald R. Ford Books

Henry Ford (1863 - 1947) Founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903; from Dearborn. My Life and Work written by Henry Ford is the autobiography of the founder of the Ford Motor Company. In My Life and Work Henry Ford details his strategies and philosophies for life and business. The same strategies and philosophies that allowed him to rise to the top of his industry and in the process made him one of the most successful and wealthiest entrepreneurs that America has ever produced. My Life and Work by Henry Ford is a very inspiring book and it should be a part of everyone's personal library. • Henry Ford Books
Daniel Gerber (1898 - 1974) Developed canned baby food in 1927. • Daniel Gerber Books  
Julie Harris actress, Grosse Pointe Park (born December 2, 1925) is an American stage, screen, and television actress. She has won five Tony Awards and three Emmy Awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award. She is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame. She also received the 2002 Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award

Harris's screen debut was in 1952, repeating her Broadway success as the monumentally lonely teenage girl Frankie in Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. That film also preserves the original Broadway cast performances of Ethel Waters and Brandon DeWilde. That same year, she won her first Best Actress Tony for originating the role of insouciant Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera, the stage version of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin (later musicalized as Cabaret on Broadway in 1966 and, in the 1972 film, with Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles.) Harris repeated her stage role in the 1955 film version of I Am a Camera. She also appeared in such seminal films as East of Eden (1955), with film icon James Dean (with whom she became close friends), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967). • Julie Harris Books • Julie Harris Movies

William R. Hewlett inventor, Ann Arbor • William R. Hewlett Books
Earvin “Magic” Johnson (1959 - ) Basketball star that led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA titles in the 1980s; retired in 1991 after announcing he had the AIDS virus and now works to educate people about the disease; from Lansing. Basketball superstar Johnson's straight talk on AIDS gives his autobiography its thrust and power. Born in Lansing, Mich., son of an hardworking auto assembly-line worker and a pious Seventh-Day Adventist, Johnson comes across as a modest, straightforward, upbeat guy in this high-spirited if sanitized self-portrait. Fans will enjoy his replays of key games and seasons, as well as his frank impressions of his former Los Angeles Lakers teammates, coach Pat Riley, the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird and other players. Johnson discusses his on-again, off-again relationship with his wife, Cookie, whom he married just a month before he tested positive for the HIV virus. The strongest sections describe his retirement, his coming to terms with his condition and return to play, his role as an AIDS activist and the birth of his second son earlier this year. An epilogue contains the rousing speech "A Message for Black Teenagers." Coauthor Novak has collaborated on "autobiographies" with Lee Iacocca and Nancy Reagan. Photos. Author tour. • Earvin “Magic” Johnson Books
Donald B. Keck inventor, Lansing • Donald B. Keck Books
John Harvey Kellogg (1852 - 1943) & William Keith Kellogg (1860 - 1951) Invented corn flakes and founded the Kellogg Company in 1906; brothers from Battle Creek. an American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas and exercise. Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism and is best known for the invention of the corn flakes breakfast cereal with his brother, Will Keith Kellogg

John Kellogg and his brother Will Keith Kellogg started the Sanitas Food Company to produce their whole grain cereals around 1897, a time when the standard breakfast for the wealthy was eggs and meat, while the poor ate porridge, farina, gruel, and other boiled grains. John and Will later argued over the recipe for the cereals (Will wanted to add sugar to the flakes). So in 1906, Will started his own company, the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which eventually became the Kellogg Company, triggering a decades-long feud. John then formed the Battle Creek Food Company to develop and market soy products. • John Harvey Kellogg Books

Julie Krone jockey, Benton Harbor Julie Krone (born Julieann Louise Krone, July 24, 1963, Benton Harbor, Michigan), is a retired American jockey. In 1993, she became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race when she captured the Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair. In 2000 she became the first woman inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Julie Krone appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the issue of May 22, 1989. She is one of only eight jockeys so recognized (the others are Willie Shoemaker, Bill Hartack, Eddie Arcaro, John Longden, John Sellers, Robyn Smith and Steve Cauthen). Krone also was the only woman to win riding championships at Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park, the Meadowlands and Atlantic City Race Course.

Krone retired for the first time on April 18, 1999, with a three-winner day at Lone Star Park, near Dallas. She embarked upon a broadcasting career in horse racing. From 1999-2000 she worked as an analyst for TVG Network, then worked as a paddock analyst for Hollywood Park from 1999-2002. • Julie Krone Books

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