Photo by Mark Warner – Wikimedia

Top 10 Famous People from Missouri


Missouri is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is located along a river by the same name. River Missouri is said to be the longest river in continental America.

The state has several other rivers, more than 3000, making it one with the most rivers in America. 

Missouri is home to numerous celebrities who share an exceptional bond with the state. Some of them are politicians like Former American president Harry S Truman, writer Mark Twain, actor Don Cheadle, and musician & rapper Akon.

These and other famous people from this great state have contributed to society in several other ways.

Today, we will look at historical figures, celebrities, famous women and singers among others.

Here are the top 10 famous people from Missouri.

1. Maya Angelou – Poet

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She was born in St. Louis as Marguerite Johnson. Maya is an award-winning author for her book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Angelou was the first African American woman to have a book on the New York Times Nonfiction best-seller list. In 1993, she delivered a speech titled On the Pulse of Morning during the Inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

Before having a breakthrough in poetry, Maya did odd jobs like a fry cook, sex worker, nightclub performer, Porgy and Bess cast member, Southern Christian Leadership Conference coordinator, and correspondent in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa.

Maya was also a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Additionally, she was an active civil rights movement member ad worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Angelou wrote a total of seven autobiographies.

2. Kate Spade – Fashion Designer

Kate Spade and her husband Andy Spade founded the Kate Spade New York luxury fashion design house in 1993. Her brand competes with Michael Kors.

Born Katherine Noel Brosnahan in 1962, she grew up in Kansa City and went to an all-girls Catholic high school.

In 1985, she graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. It was at ASU that she met her husband Andy Spade.

A year later, they moved to New York City where Kate worked as a style editor for Mademoiselle. She left in 1991 to start her handbag line and got inspiration from browsing through flea markets and thrifting stores.

Slowly but surely, her company climbed the social ladder and was recognized by the public.  

3. Jean Harlow – Actress

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Jean Harlow was a popular actress known for her depiction of bad girl characters.

She was also the leading sex symbol in the early 1930s ad had beautiful platinum blonde hair. Harlow helped define the pre-code era of American cinema.

Her entire acting career lasted a decade during which she appeared in 36 movies. Furthermore, she was voted No. 22 on the American Film Institute’s list of the Greatest American Screen Legends.

Jean was also the first actress to be featured on the cover of Life Magazine. As an influencer of the 20th century, Jean got several women to use peroxide to change the colour of their hair.

4. Misty Copeland – Ballet Dancer

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Misty Danielle Copeland is a ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States.

In 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history.

That same year, Misty was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine and appeared on its cover

Other than dancing ballet, Misty is a public speaker, a spokesperson and a stage performer. She is also a published author with two autobiographical books.

Copeland has also voiced a documentary, A Ballerina’s Tale, about challenges she’s faced in her career.

5. Martha Gellhorn – Novelist

Martha Ellis Gellhorn was a novelist, travel writer, and journalist considered as one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century.

She reported on nearly every major world conflict that took place during her six-decade career. The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism is named after her.

After the war ended, she worked for the Atlantic Monthly. Here she wrote stories about the Vietnam War and the Arab-Israel conflicts in the 1960s and 70s.

Apart from writing news stories, Gellhorn published several books some with a collection of war articles. Her bestsellers are The Face of War (1959); The Lowest Trees Have Tops (1967), Travels with Myself and Another (1978).

6. Jack Dorsey – Chief Executive Officer of Square

Photo by Mark Warner – Wikimedia

Jack Patrick Dorsey is a technological entrepreneur and philanthropist who is the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter. He is currently the CEO of Square, a fintech company.

Dorsey became interested in dispatching routes when he was 14. He, therefore, created open-source software that was used for dispatch by taxicab companies.

In 1995, he joined the University of Missouri-Rolla before transferring to New York University in 1997. Jack dropped out of uni one semester before graduating.

It was while he was a student at NYU that he developed the app Twitter.

Together with his co-founder Jim McKelvey, they developed a small business platform that accepts debit and credit card payments on a mobile device. It was called Square and it was launched in 2010.

the app is available for free on android and iOS.

7. Mark Twain – Writer

You may have read his popular books like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).

While you may recognize him from his pen name, Mark Twain’s real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

He was a writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Twain was praised as the greatest humourist the United States has produced.

Furthermore, William Faulkner called him the father of American literature. He is remembered for his bestseller, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Mark Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for the novels Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

8. Sterling K. Brown – Actor

Photo by Gage Skidmore – Wikimedia

Sterling Kelby Brown is an actor famous for his role in the television series This is Us. He has also had other leading roles in The People Vs O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Black Panther (2018).

Brown has won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

Moreover, he has won a Golden Globe award, making him the first African American actor to win his category in the award show’s 75-year history.

He got cast in This Is Us in 2016 and his role earned him an award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.

9. Burt Bacharach – Composer

Burt Freeman Bacharach is a composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist. He has composed hundreds of pop songs from the late 1950s to the 1980s.

Most of his compositions were through a collaboration with lyricist Hal David. They wrote for Dione Warwick who was a vocalist.

Bacharach also wrote other popular melodies like Broadway musical Promises, movie theme songs and Butch Cassidy.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid earned him two Oscar Awards. He was also the recipient of six Grammys.

10. Harry S. Truman – 33rd President of the United States

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Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States, serving from 1945 to 1953. He had previously served as the 34th vice president for four months in 1945 under President Franklin Roosevelt.

Truman was a lifetime member of the Democratic Party who represented the state of Missouri in the senate from 1935 to 1945.

After the death of President Franklin Roosevelt, Truman assumed office. He is remembered for putting an end to World War II in the Pacific by dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.

Truman is also known for the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, and the Korean War.