Famous people, places & things
People, places and things that make Hampton Roads famous: Presidents, celebrities and more
Hampton Roads is known around the world for its people — as being from here, as a come-here, or for just passing through — as well as places and things.
It's known for its Bacon (as in Nathaniel), its ham (as in Smithfield), its presidents (more than just George slept here), its submarines and aircraft carriers, its battlefields, its warriors, its singers and writers and sportsmen — oh, just read the list!
Princess Pocahontas, Capt. John Smith and Chief Powhatan were all in Jamestown and environs in 1607.
Nathaniel Bacon led a revolt against Virginia's royal governor in 1676.
The pirate Blackbeard's head was put on a pole in Hampton after he was killed in 1718.
Thomas Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg before founding the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Patrick Henry, George Wythe and John Marshall all took part in political debate in Williamsburg, the colonial capital of Virginia.
George Washington's victory at Yorktown cemented him as the man who would go on to become our first president.
William Henry Harrison and John Tyler — you know, "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!"— became presidents. Both hailed from Charles City County.
Ben Butler, the federal commander at Hampton's Fort Monroe early in the Civil War, declared that runaway slaves could be kept as "contraband of war" (and, presumably, then be freed). His decision led the Union on its way to emancipation.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis was jailed at Fort Monroe after the Civil War.
Edgar Allan Poe served a stint as a soldier at Fort Monroe during his checkered life.
James Daniel Gardner, awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Civil War, was born in Gloucester. He was a member of Co. I, 36th Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops.
Booker T. Washington studied and later taught at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) before going on to lead Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University).
Robert R. Moton, who followed Booker T. Washington as head of Tuskegee, retired to a home on the banks of the York River in Gloucester, where his wife grew up.
Walter Reed, an Army physician from Gloucester, discovered that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes.
Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey, both world-renowned entertainers, were born in Newport News in 1918.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur is entombed in a Norfolk memorial, and the man Marines hail as their most-decorated, Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, is buried in Middlesex.
William Styron, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, grew up in Newport News and used the area for some of his books' locales.
Movie star Ava Gardner lived in Newport News in the 1930s.
Satchel Paige pitched two innings for the Peninsula Grays at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton in 1966 at the age of 59.
Irene Morgan, a Gloucester African-American, was arrested in Saluda for refusing to move to the back of a bus for a white couple in 1944, 11 years before Rosa Parks' similar action in Montgomery, Ala. The Morgan case led to the first Supreme Court decision overturning a segregation law involving interstate transportation.
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson does his show "The 700 Club" from Virginia Beach, where he also operates Regent University.
Bruce Hornsby, the Grammy award-winning musician was born, raised and still lives in Williamsburg.
Wanda Sykes, the stand-up comedian and actress was born Portsmouth and graduated from Hampton University with a degree in marketing.
Glenn Close, theater and movie star, attended the College of William and Mary and starred in several productions there in the 1970s.
Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," also is a College of William and Mary alum, as is Bill Lawrence, the creator of the television comedy, "Scrubs."
Jay Pharoah, a 2005 graduate of Indian River High School in Chesapeake, is a featured cast member on "Saturday Night Live." Check out the sketches when he plays the character of Principal Frye — that character is based on Indian River principal Jimmy Frye.
Marcel Desaulniers, co-founder of The Trellis restaurant in Williamsburg, has award-winning cookbooks that have brought his creations, such as the tempting "Death by Chocolate," to international fame.
Two early rock and roll stars – Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gene Vincent and Gary U.S. Bonds – both came from this region. So did the great R&B singer Ruth Brown, also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sax player Clarence Clemons, the legendary "Big Man" in Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band, grew up in Norfolk. (The Big Man died in 2011, but his nephew Jake Clemons of Virginia Beach now plays with Springsteen.)
Hip-hop artist and producer Missy Elliott is from Portsmouth.
Musician Pharrell Williams, who made us all "Happy," grew up in Virginia Beach. As a hip-hop producer, he teamed with another Virginia Beach friend, Chad Hugo, to form the Grammy-winning team known as The Neptunes. Another hip-hop producer, Timbaland, also grew up there.
Chris Brown, the pop-R&B singer famous for numerous hits as well as his ever-increasing arrest record, grew up in Tappahannock.
Pro Football Hall of Famers Henry Jordan, Dwight Stephenson, Lawrence Taylor, Bruce Smith, Clarence "Ace" Parker and Chris Hanburger are among the many NFL players from the region.
Former NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd grew up in Chesapeake
NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who currently plays for the New York Jets, grew up in Newport News.
Norfolk native and former Williamsburg resident Curtis Strange won two U.S. Opens and is enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Pernell "Sweetpea" Whitaker of Norfolk won world championships in four weight classes and was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Active Major League Baseball players David Wright (Mets), Mark Reynolds (Brewers), Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals), Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) and brothers B.J. and Justin Upton (both with the Atlanta Braves) played high school ball in Hampton Roads. Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers pitcher who has won MVP and Cy Young Awards, played at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
Mike Tomlin, a graduate of Denbigh High School in Newport News and the College of William and Mary, became the youngest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl when he led the Pittsburgh Steelers to the championship in 2009 in just his second season as head coach.
Nancy Lieberman-Cline and Anne Donovan played their college ball at Old Dominion University. Both have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Allen Iverson starred on the basketball court and the football field for Bethel High School in Hampton before joining the NBA. In his NBA career, mostly with the Philadelphia 76ers, he averaged 26.6 points per game, one of the top 10 averages in league history.
Actor Mark Ruffalo, who has played many dramatic roles and is currently starring as "The Hulk," is from Virginia Beach.
Jamestown: Founded in 1607, Jamestown was America's first permanent English colony.
Williamsburg: Home of the College of William and Mary and the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was restored beginning in 1926. Notable visitors to Williamsburg include many U.S. presidents, Queen Elizabeth II and heads of state.
Yorktown: The site of the siege that won the American Revolution. On Oct. 19, 1781, Lord Cornwallis surrendered after being defeated by an American and French force led by Gen. George Washington.
Chesapeake Bay: The largest estuary in the United States, the bay stretches about 200 miles from Havre de Grace, Md., to Norfolk and includes two of the five major North Atlantic ports in the United States.
Hampton Roads: Site of the first battle between ironclad warships, the Monitor and the Virginia (also known as the Merrimack). Now used as the regional name for the area that stretches from Virginia Beach in the south to Mathews County in the north.
Virginia Beach: One of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, Virginia Beach was where English colonists first stepped ashore before sailing on to found Jamestown.
Peanuts grow by the thousands of acres south of the James River. Suffolk is home of the Planters company, whose emblem is the monocled Mr. Peanut.
Have some ham. Little Smithfield is home of big Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork processor and hog producer.
Lots of beer is brewed at Anheuser-Busch in James City County.
For sippers, there's the Williamsburg Winery in James City County, the New Kent Winery in New Kent and Saude Creek Vineyards in Lanexa.
Tobacco turned 17th-century Jamestown into a financial success. Small towns like Urbanna and Yorktown were once the ports where casks of tobacco were rolled to waiting ships.
Oysters, crabs and fish, although the numbers are diminished, still play a role in our economy, culture and cuisine.
Gloucester holds a festival honoring daffodils every year because the perennials used to be a major cash crop on the Middle Peninsula.
Laser printer cartridges and custom manufactured products come off the assembly line at the Canon Virginia plant in Newport News.
Peace Frogs, the clothes and gear bearing an appealing amphibian, come from a company headquartered in Gloucester County.
One of the Chesapeake Bay's most popular small racing sailboats, the Hampton One Design, was designed and first built here in 1935.
Ships have been launched since 1898 at the shipyard in Newport News, where they are now most notably the Navy's sole supplier of nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun