If you want to talk about famous people and Philadelphia, Ben Franklin is our silent king. But Franklin was born in Boston, not Philly, and so, he’s not a native. But we sure have our share of well known celebrities, and in general we’re known for a lot of things, so Boston can keep Franklin.
Let’s take a look at some of the greatest (and worst) people to come up out of Center City. By the way, we’re building this list off search volume data, so it might not be our pick of top celebrities, but this is the list from most searches per month to least, so bear with us. Here’s a breakdown of who those famous celebrities are, and how many searches they get each month (click their name to jump to the part about them).
As anyone who heard the catchy jingle knows, Will Smith was born in West Philadelphia on September 25, 1968. He grew up in Wynnfield and got his career start in Philadelphia. You may know him as “The Fresh Prince” or the guy who slapped Chris Rock. We know him as our reigning champion of what it means to be from Philly.
Bob Saget was born here in Philadelphia on May 17, 1956. His family quickly moved him over to Virginia, but right after his bar mitzvah he came back for a few years until he uprooted again to Los Angeles. He got to know Larry Fine, another Philadelphia native (who didn’t make the list), and then headed back to Philadelphia. They just couldn’t keep him away, and he even went to college and graduated from our very own Temple University.
Philadelphia’s most famous athlete, Kobe, was born on August 23, 1978, and his father was a basketball player as well. They moved him around Italy for his fathers career before bringing him back to Philadelphia for highschool where he got recognized as a potential basketball star. The rest, as they say, is history.
Kevin was born here in Philly on July 6, 1979 to a single parent household. He spent his childhood here, and went to George Washington High School. He even went to the Community College of Philadelphia for a little bit before he eventually dropped out and got out of here. Kevin Hart set out for NYC, and then ended up going to Massachusetts and slowly getting his comedic start there. A little note for the readers, Kevin’s first stand up act was here in Phillly at The Laff House. It did not go well.
Born in Philadelphia on March 23, 1995, Victoria is our youngest star coming out of Philadelphia. She went to high school all the way over in Fairless Hills, and went on to earn a BFA in acting at The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh. Victoria is a true Pennsylvanian more than a Philadelphian, it seems. You can read more about her here.
Yes, not everyone hailing from our wonderful city is a great person. I guess that’s why Philadelphia has some shocking crime statistics. Bill Cosby is, for better or worse, a Philly native. Born on July 12, 1937, Cosby grew up on Philadelphia streets. He attended Central High School and Germantown High School (but failed), and tried going to Temple University (eventually got a degree). He worked bars in Philly and eventually moved to stand-up, splitting his time between here and NYC. You can read our opinions of the man here.
Kevin Bacon, born July 8, 1958 has his roots in Philadelphia. Characterized by his famous “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” style game, we’re sure you can find him anywhere though. Kevin went to Julia Masterman middle and high school and won a scholarship for the PGSA at Bucknell University. He’s another true Pennsylvanian.
Yes, Richard Gere, the american male sex symbol, was born right here in Philadelphia on August 31, 1949. His family was supposedly pilgrims that were descendants of the Mayflower. Regardless of his family’s past, he didn’t make it long in Philadelphia. His family moved him up north to Syracuse where he was raised. Still, we’re keeping claim of him.
Yes, the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, hails from these streets. Born onNovember 12, 1929, Grace grew up in East Falls in a small catholic community. Her father was a legend in Philadelphia and even ran for mayor, losing by a close margin. As with most stars, she packed her bags and headed for New York.
Born right in Overbrook Park on February 8, 1974, Seth Green owes it all to Philly! Just joking, he’s an extremely talented actor, but that humor can only be born in a place like this. You can read more about Seth Green’s life here.
Speaking of comedic wonder, Tina Fey also breathed her first breath of air right here in Philadelphia on May 18, 1970. Well, right next door at Upper Darby. She spent most of her childhood in Upper Darby, but her father was an administrator at University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University, so we’re guessing most of her time was actually here. We’re claiming her, sorry Upper Darby.
Billie Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan, better known as “Lady Day” was born in Philly on April 7, 1915. The story of her parents is shaky, but we know she grew up on these streets, even if we’re a little unsure who her father was (there’s some dispute on it being Holliday). Even though she was born here, her childhood memories are from Baltimore where she actually grew up.
Born on April 14, 1977 in Philadelphia to Irish Catholic parents, Rob McElhenney is the full embodiment of what it means to be from Philadelphia. He went to St. Joseph’s Prep and even went to Temple University for a bit. As with all others, NYC called his name eventually, but Rob has always been big on Philly, hence his show. He even purchased a bar here and renamed it Mac’s Tavern. You can read all about Rob here.
Dear intellectuals, sorry Noam is so far down the list, it seems no one cares for him these days, at least no one using search engines. Born in East Oak Lane on December 7, 1928 Noam is the oldest person on our list! Noam even went to Central High School before his career, as is always the case, brought him to NYC.
Born on February 1st, 1938, Sherman Hemsley is one of South Philly’s own. He went to Central High School as well as Bok Technical Highschool. After that he dropped out and joined the Air Force. When he got out, he came back to Philly to work for the post office and studied acting before, you guessed it, he got tired of Philly and set out for NYC. You can read all about Sherman Hemsley here.