Berry was best known as a nightclub singer and “entertainer of the stars.” He was born and raised in Owensboro and graduated from Owensboro Catholic High School. He performed across the country and was a favorite entertainer at private Hollywood parties. After retiring, he devoted his time to non-profit causes and was awarded the 1997 Friar of the Year Award for his generosity and charitable fundraising endeavors.
The Owensboro-born popular movie star is an award-winning actor, best known for his frequent portrayals of offbeat and eccentric characters. Some of his memorable performances include Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland, and the wildly popular Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The film Sweeney Todd won him a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Muhlenburg Co., KY
Born in Brownie, Ky., with gospel and country roots, the brothers achieved fame with such popular hits at “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” and “Bird Dog.” They appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Perry Como shows and toured world-wide.
A Broadway, film, and television actor, Ewell was a charter member of the Owensboro High School’s Rose Curtain Players in 1923. He made his Broadway debut in 1934 and his film debut in 1940. He won a Tony Award for his role in The Seven Year Itch and won a Golden Globe for his role in the film version with co-star Marilyn Monroe. He also won an Emmy Award for his role in the television series “Baretta.”
William Christopher ‘W.C.’ Handy
Known as “The Father of Blues,” Handy was born in Alabama and married Elizabeth Price of Henderson, KY, where he lived for ten years. In addition to composing, he published several books on the blues. The city of Henderson honors him at the annual W.C. Handy Blues & Bar-B-Q Festival every June.
A graduate of Owensboro’s St. Frances Academy, Henderson is best known for her role as Carol Brady in “The Brady Bunch.” She was the first woman to guest host “The Tonight Show.” She also had a successful career on Broadway starring in such musicals as Oklahoma, The King and I, and Fanny. She returned to Owensboro in 1992 to host the gala opening ceremonies of the RiverPark Center.
Louis Marshall ‘Grandpa’ Jones
Grandpa Jones was possibly best known for his appearances on the television program, “Hee Haw.” Jones was a talented musician and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978. He was also a regular at the Grand Ole Opry.
“The Father of Bluegrass Music,” Bill Monroe is one of the only people to have bestowed upon America an entire musical genre. His “Blue Moon of Kentucky” became an official state song. Monroe became a member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1991, and is also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Muhlenburg Co., KY
Oates’ family moved to Louisville when he was thirteen, where he began his acting career after two years in the Marine Corps. In 1955, he traveled to Hollywood and began a successful career in television and movies, including The Wild Bunch and Dillinger.
Riddle was one of Hollywood’s character actors, appearing in more than two dozen movies and 400 televisions shows during his career. In 1988 he was elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Christine Johnson Smith
A Broadway star with a magnificent voice, Smith was the original Nettie Fowler in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, Carousel, for which she was nominated for the Tony for Best Supporting Actress. “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” were written by Richard Rodgers specifically for her. After her successful careers on Broadway and with the Metropolitan Opera, she returned to Owensboro to marry Dr. Robert W. Smith, where she taught vocal lessons. One of her students was Florence Henderson.
Daviess County, KY
Terrell joined the circus in 1904 as a peanut and popcorn vendor for the John Robinson Circus. He retired in 1948 as owner of the Cole Brothers Circus. During his amazing career he served as manager of Sanger’s Greater European Circus, changing the name to The Famous Robinson Circus. He was later part-owner of the Sells-Floto Circus and also became part owner of the American Circus Corporation, which operated four diQerent shows. In addition to working with famous animal trainer Clyde Beatty, he scored a publicity coup when he signed cowboy Tom Mix to appear in his 1929 show. He was inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame in 1991.