"My uncle was the town drunk, and we lived in Chicago."
- George Gobel in the 1950s
Emmy Award-winning comedian and TV host George Gobel was born in Chicago on May 20, 1919. He grew up in Albany Park and graduated from Roosevelt High School at 3436 West Wilson Avenue in 1937. George came from a show business family. Even before high school, George was a child star on radio singing and playing guitar as the "littlest cowboy" and "Little Georgie Gobel" on The National Barn Dance. The popular national radio show was aired by NBC and produced by WLS Radio in Chicago.
Maj. Gen. Richard James Oglesby served three times as governor of Illinois in the 19th Century but none of the terms were consecutive and one term lasted for only ten days. He also served one term as a U.S. Senator from Illinois.
Oglesby was born in Floydsburg, Kentucky on July 25, 1824. He was orphaned as a young child and was raised by his uncle and aunt in Decatur, Illinois. According to his congressional biography, he received a limited schooling; worked as a farmer, a rope-maker, and carpenter. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1845 and started a practice in Sullivan, Illinois.
"You can have a pretty wonderful artistic life and never leave Chicago."
-- Harold Ramis
Harold Ramis is a very successful TV and movie actor, director, writer, and producer who is best known for his innovative comedies. He was born in Chicago on Nov. 21, 1944 and currently makes his primary home on the North Side even though he also stays part time in California when he is making films. When he was growing up, his parents Nate and Ruth Ramis owned a store on the West Side called Ace Food and Liquor Mart. At age seven, Harold started working in the store on weekends. Harold attended Senn High School at 5900 N. Glenwood where he wrote in his yearbook that he wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Harold was on the fencing team at Senn and his older brother Steve Ramis was city champion in fencing in the middle 1960s.
Emmy Award-winning actress Gillian Anderson won over a large number of TV fans in her role as FBI Special Agent Dana Scully on The X-Files from 1993 to 2002. During the run of the show, she won the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series in 1997, two Screen Actors Guild Awards for best performance by a female actor in a drama series in 1996 and 1997, and the 1997 Golden Globe Award for best performance by and actress in a TV dramatic series.
Gillian was born in Chicago on Aug. 9, 1968. Her family moved several times after her birth to Puerto Rico and to London, England where her father studied film production at the London School of Film Technique. Gillian went to high school in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she was voted the "Class Clown." Her mother described her as a tomboy who wanted to be a marine biologist but also showed a flair for acting. She was also a rebel who spent time in the principal's office and was sometimes made fun of for her English accent. After graduating from high school in 1986, Gillian returned to Chicago to study at the Goodman Theater School of DePaul University. Gillian graduated from DePaul with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts in 1990.
TV and film actor George Wendt played Norm Peterson in all 273 episodes of Cheers over 11 years from 1982 to 1993. Norm was from Boston but George is a died in the wool native of Illinois. He invented a recurring character on Saturday Night Live who was one of the ultimate beer-guzzling fans of "da Bulls" and "da Bears." He has played a wide variety of comic and serious roles from the voice of Garfield the cat to one of the jurors in a stage production of Twelve Angry Men.
George was born in Chicago on Oct. 17, 1948. He was raised in Illinois and attended public schools until boarding at Campion High School, a Jesuit school in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He attended Notre Dame University and another Jesuit school, Rockhurst College in Kansas City where he received a B.A. in Economics. George was a member of the regular cast at Second City from 1974 to 1980.
John Gunther was the best selling author of 28 books including Inside Europe in 1936 and many "Inside" geo-political travel books. John was born on the North Side of Chicago on Aug. 30, 1901. He attended Lake View High School at 4015 N. Ashland Avenue and wrote for the student magazine. At age 16, he wrote an article on the Russian Revolution and would revisit the topic of Russia many times in his life culminating with his 1958 book Inside Russia Today. As an English major at the University of Chicago, he was 20 years old when he started writing book reviews for the campus newspaper, the Daily Maroon. John graduated from the University of Chicago in 1922 and was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key.
In late 1922, after he bicycled across Europe, John started to work as a cub reporter for The Chicago Daily News earning a salary of $15 per week. Gunther went to Wyoming in 1924 to write about the great oil deposit scandal of the Harding Administration called Teapot Dome. He wrote: "Teapot Dome has no resemblance whatever to a teapot [or] to a dome." His bad jokes notwithstanding, in fact his series was ranked among the best news stories of 1924.
Charles H. Percywas the last U.S. Senator from Illinois to complete three full terms in office. He served for 18 years from 1967 to 1985. Chuck Percy was born on Sept. 17, 1919 in Pensacola, Florida but he was raised in Chicago and Winnetka. He attended schools in Illinois and graduated from New Trier High School. In 1941, he graduated from the University of Chicago. At the age of only 22, he was working for and became a director of the Bell and Howell Camera Company in Chicago. The company was then headed by Joseph McNab who was Percy's Sunday School teacher and who became Percy's business mentor.
During World War II, Percy enlised in the U.S. Navy as an apprentice seaman was was honorably discharged in 1945 as a lieutenant. He rejoined Bell and Howell and at the age of 29 early in 1949, he was voted in as president of the company after the death of his predecessor Joseph McNab.
Betty Friedan was a controversial author who advocated a radical brand of feminism. She was born on Feb. 4, 1921 in Peoria, Illinois and raised in the city. Her birth name was Bettye Naomi Goldstein. Her father Harry Goldstein was an immigrant to Peoria from Kiev, Russia who peddled buttons on the street when he first arrived and became the proprietor of a jewelry shop in Peoria that he advertised as "the finest jewelry store in the middle west." One family member called the store "the Tiffany's of Peoria" perhaps in a humorous vein and perhaps not.
Betty's mother was Miriam Horowitz Goldstein who was born in America and was a graduate of Bradley University. Miriam was editor of the society page for a local newspaper. Miriam's father was a Hungarian immigrant and doctor who became public health commissioner of Peoria after World War I when Betty was a small child.
Tony Award-winning actor Joe Mantegna is a proud Illinoisan through and through. He was born in Chicago on Nov. 13, 1947. He graduated from Morton East High School in Cicero in 1965 and from the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago in 1969. The Goodman School has since been re-named as the Theatre School at De Paul University. Joe made his acting debut in a 1969 production of Hair.
Based on his many afternoons watching the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Joe created the concept for and was one of eight writers of the award-winning play Bleacher Bums which was first performed at Chicago's Organic Theater in 1977. Another contributor was Dennis Franz of Maywood who played Detective Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue. The play ran five years in L.A. The play was put on WTTW in Chicago in 1979 and an updated version won an Emmy Award for Joe when it was broadcast on the Showtime channel in 2002.
Valdus Adamkus, the current president of Lithuania, was born in his native country but was a citizen of Illinois most of his life. He lived in Chicago and suburbs for 49 years from 1949 to 1998. His life story so far has been an amazing testament to his personal courage, integrity, and leadership. Adamkus was born on November 3, 1926 to a Roman Catholic family in Kaunus, the second largest city in Lithuania. They escaped from Soviet-occupied Lithuania during World War II. Adamkus attended the University of Munich in Germany before emigrating to Chicago in 1949. He worked as an automobile draftsman and graduated with a degree in civil engineer from the Illinois Institute of Technology with the class of 1960.
Adamkus was for many years the Midwest Regional Director for the Envioronmental Protection Agency under both parties and won praise from both President Reagan who appointed him and from President Clinton in the early 1990s. Adamkus left Chicago and returned to Lithuania in 1998. He had maintained political contacts there and was popular with other exiles returning from America. He was elected president of Lithuania in the fall of 1998 for a five year term that ended in 2003. His successor was removed from office by the high court of Lithuania on corruption charges and Adamkas ran again for president in 2004. He is now serving his second non-consecutive five-year term as president. His current term will expire in 2009. He is fairly popular in his country, a respected European leader, and a friend of the U.S.
Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny. -Carl Shurz (1829-1906)
"There is nothing politically right that is morally wrong."
-- Daniel O'Connell, Irish statesman,
"Every once in a while, an innocent person is sentenced to a term in the state legislature." - Will Rogers
"There are some ideas so stupid only an intellectual could believe them." -George Orwell
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard." - H.L. Mencken
"I Have Sworn Upon the Altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
"Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot."
- Saint Thomas More (1478 - 1535)
"The trouble with the world ain't ignorance, it's just that people know so much that isn't so."
- Josh Billings (pen name for Henry Wheeler Shaw 1818-1885)
"Hey, if people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody can stop 'em."
- Yogi Bera
"It's true I didn't come over on the Mayflower, but I came as soon as I could."
Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak in 1931