Famous Alabamians

Famous People Born in Alabama

See our top list of the most famous people from Alabama. We’ve chosen people like athletes, actors, civil rights activists, scientists and people from other walks of life that have come from the “Yellowhammer” state. Take a look and see how many famous people you know that were born in Alabama. You may even be surprised who you see!

Octavia Spencer: Actor, Montgomery

Octavia Spencer is the recipient of several accolades including an Academy Award for The Help. She had earned numerous nominees in the acclaimed movie, Hidden Figures among others. She is also the author of a popular children’s book series titled “Ninja Detective.”

Courteney Cox: Actor, Birmingham

Courtney Cox @ The Paley Festival’s Courgartown Panel. Photo by current events on Flickr

Courteney Cox is best known for her role as Monica in the hit TV show Friends for which she won a Screen Actor Guild Award.

Laverne Cox: Actor, Mobile

A prominent LGBTQ+ advocate, Laverne Cox played the role of Sophia Burset on the widely popular Netflix TV series, Orange Is The New Black. She is the first openly transgender person to win a Daytime Emmy Award.

Debby Ryan: Actor, Huntsville

A singer and actor from a young age, Debby Ryan was part of the popular Disney series Jessie and The Suite Life on Deck. Most recently, she starred in the Netflix series Insatiable.

Channing Tatum: Actor, Cullman

Photo Credit: Anders Krusber / Peabody Awards 

An actor with a highly decorated career, Channing Tatum has been a part of a whopping 43 movies and has been nominated for a plethora of awards, many of which he has also won.

Johnny Simmons: Actor, Montgomery

Johnny Simmons had his breakthrough role in the movie Evan Almighty after which he was cast in Perks of Being A Wallflower21 Jump Street, and other hit movies.

Roy Woods, Jr.: Actor, Birmingham

An actor, producer, writer and deejay, Roy Woods has appeared on a number of TV programs and was also a correspondent on The Daily Show.

Ned Vaughn, Actor, Huntsville

Having starred in a vast variety of hit shows such as Criminal Minds, Ned Vaughn is one of the co-founders of Unite for Strength.

Sonequa Martin-Green: Actor, Russellville

Cast & creators panel at SDCC 2017 by vagueonthehow on Flickr

Sonequa Martin-Green is best known for her roles in Once Upon A TimeThe Walking Dead, Star Trek: Discoveryand New Girl.

Hank Aaron: Athlete, Mobile

Hank Aaron 

Hank Aaron, nicknamed “Hammer” or “Hammerin’ Hank” is a retired Major League Baseball right fielder who played for the Braves and the Brewers. He broke Babe Ruth’s homerun record for career home runs for 33 years. He was a Golden Glove winner for 3 seasons, awarded MVP when the Braves won the World Series, among several other accolades.  He served as senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves until his death in January 2021.  

Carl Lewis: Athlete, Birmingham

Carl Lewis 

Carl Lewis is an uber-successful former track and field athlete. His prowess is evident in the fact that he won 10 World Championship medals, 8 of which were gold, and 10 Olympic medals, 9 of which were gold.

Jesse Owens: Athlete, Oakville

Jesse Owens 

A track and field athlete who gained international fame, Jesse Owens set three world records in 1935 and won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. According to ESPN, he was the highest ranked athlete in his sport in the 20th century.

Mia Hamm: Athlete, Selma

An icon in the women’s soccer field, Hamm was a player in the US national women’s national soccer team. She won 2 Olympic gold medals and was twice selected as the champion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

David Donald Albritton: Athlete, Danville

David Albritton

David Donald Albritton was a renowned track and field athlete who amassed many titles and laurels over his three-decade career. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives and was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Tommie Lee Agee: Athlete, Magnolia

A professional baseball player in Major League Baseball, Tommie Lee Agee was a two-time recipient of the Gold Glove Award. He was also inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame after he passed away.

Ray Anderson: Athlete, Anniston

Ray Anderson @ Celebrity Fight Night XXIII in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Gage Skidmore

As an amateur boxer, Anderson was among the few men who went up against Muhammad Ali and won. He is most widely known, however, for being the first challenger to last 15 rounds against Bob Foster, arguably the greatest light heavyweight champion.

Bo Jackson: Athlete, Bessemer

A former professional football and basketball player, Jackson is the only player in history to have been awarded an All-Star in both football and basketball. He is hailed by many as being among the greatest athletes in the world.

Osborne Earl Smith: Athlete, Mobile

Known as “The Wizard” for his outstanding defense, Osborne “Ozzie” Smith was a baseball player in Major League Baseball. He made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Musicians 

Nat King Cole: Singer, Montgomery

Nat King Cole

Born as Nathaniel Adams Coles, he was a prolific singer and Jazz pianist. He also acted in films and television roles. He is known for his smooth voice and beautiful jazz standards. He is most know for songs like, “Mona Lisa”, “The Christmas Song”, and “Unforgettable”.

Lionel Richie: Singer, Tuskegee

Lionel Richie at Kennedy Center 

A household name in the 80s and 90s, Lionel Richie has sold over 90 million records over the course of his long career. He started out in the funk and soul band the Commodores and then went on to an even more successful solo career with hits like, “Hello” and “All Night Long”.

Candi Staton: Singer, Hanceville

Known as the “First Lady of Southern Soul”, Candi Staton gained popularity after the release of “Young Hearts Run Free”.

Mattie Moss Clark: Singer, Selma

Clark sang the hit song “Is My Living in Vain”, which was written by her own daughter. She is among the most decorated gospel singers of the US.

Hank Williams, Sr.: Singer, Mount Olive

Hank Williams, Sr. promotional picture from 1951

Easily one of the most influential singers of the 20th century, Williams wrote a whopping 35 singles that reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart.

Emmylou Harris: Singer, Birmingham

“Emmylou Harris” by AnnaKika is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Emmylou Harris has won a formidable 14 Grammys and has also received induction into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tim Cook: Apple CEO, Mobile

Photo by Austin Community College on Flickr

Tim Cook serves as the current CEO of Apple. During his tenure, he has doubled the revenues and profits of the company.

Mae Carol Jemison: Astronaut, Decatur

Mae C. Jemison
Official NASA portrait 

Mae Carol Jemison is a former NASA astronaut and became the first black woman to travel to space in the capacity of a mission specialist in 1992 on the space shuttle Endeavor. She now runs her own technology company.

Harper Lee: Novelist, Monroeville

Harper Lee

Harper Lee is the author of the internationally renowned book To Kill A Mockingbird which won a Pulitzer Prize.

Percy Lavon Julian: Chemist, Montgomery

A prolific chemist, Percy Lavon Julian’s work helped to lay the basis for the steroid industry’s production of corticosteroids and birth control pills.

Heather Whitestone: Beauty Queen, Dothan

First deaf winner of the Miss America pageant, Heather Whitestone went on to become a conservative activist and motivational speaker.

Helen Keller: Author, Humanitarian, Tuscumbia

Helen Keller

Helen lost her hearing and sight at the age of 18 months and overcame her disability by the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Helen Keller was not only a writer of 14 prolific books, but a prominent advocate and political activist. She spent her life advocating for the rights of the disabled community, world peace, women’s rights and labor rights. She was even co-founder of the ACLU. Helne was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971 for her life’s work.

James Browning Allen: Politician, Gadsden

James Allen was among the most conservative senators of his times. A skilled parliamentarian, he is widely known for having stoked the revival of the filibuster rule.

Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Activist, Tuskegee

Termed as the “mother of the freedom movement”, Rosa Parks was pivotal in the fight against racial injustice across the US. She refused to give up her seat to a white man, as was expected of black people in those times.

George Wallace: Governor, Cleo

George Wallace is best known for serving as the 45th governor of Alabama for four terms. He is also the fourth longest serving governor in US history. Wallace ran for president four times on the platform of resistance to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He is best known for his segregationist views.

Coretta Scott King: Civil Rights Leader, Marion

The wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a prominent civil rights activist in her own right, Coretta Scott King was a prominent leader of the civil rights movement and the women’s movement.

Condoleeza Rice: Politician, Gadsden

An influential US politician, Condoleeza Rice served as the National Security Advisor to President Bush in his first term and as Secretary of State in his second term. She is the second woman in the history of the US to achieve this feat.