Bonjour, Iowa. As you already know, I’m a pretty big deal. Or at least I was, back in the day. But here in Iowa, all sorts of people have made their mark and hit it big. I’ve been traveling around the state learning about the famous people who called this place home. You can do the same. Here’s where to start your trip.
Nothing’s more American than John Wayne, the duke himself. The small house in Winterest where he was born is open for tours, and a fantastiqué new museum with interactive exhibits documenting his life opens in May 2015. Don’t miss it, pardner.
Thomas Jefferson was the US President I knew best, but Herbert Hoover is the Iowan who served as this nation’s commander in chief. His birthplace of West Branch, Iowa, is home to a world-class museum in his honor, one of only 15 National Presidential Museums in America.
On one of my trips to Iowa, I visited the American Gothic House in Eldon. (You can see that trip here.) It’s the place where Iowa’s most famous artist-in-residence got his inspiration for the iconic “American Gothic.” Several other places celebrate Wood’s genius. The Lourve is so overrated. I’m checking out these places next.
On a recent visit to Corning, a man on the street called out, “Heeeeeeeeere’s Napoleon.” I didn’t really get it. But then I walked a few blocks farther and stumbled upon the birthplace of Johnny Carson who was born here in 1925.
Football seems to take on a different meaning in the United States than in France, and Iowans have a special connection to a college football great. 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick grew up in Adel and died in World War II. The football stadium at the University of Iowa is named in his honor.
Don’t miss this! Don’t even be late! Of course I’m talking about a visit to the Music Man Square in Mason City that celebrates the life of native son Meredith Willson who found fame on Broadway with The Music Man and State Fair.
These are just a few celebrities who hail from The Hawkeye State. Find a larger list of famous folks here. You’ll see that your favorite French emperor is missing from this round-up. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until these Iowans come to their senses.