Chicago is a big city, but it’s not as well-known as some of the other major cities in America. But that doesn’t mean that Chicagoans are less talented or famous than people from New York City or Los Angeles.
Many famous celebrities, famous people, and important historical figures were born and raised in Chicago!
If you’re one of the millions of people who live outside of Illinois and don’t know much about this great American city, then check out this list to learn more about what makes Chi-Town so special!
And if you do happen to be from Chicago yourself, remember all those local celebs and famous people when bragging to your friends back home!
This list of notable Chicagoans will help you see some well-known names from Windy City! From actors to politicians and athletes, this list has them all.
This list of famous people includes everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama. Check out these celebs who call Chicago home!
Former First Lady Michelle Obama
Best known for being the First Lady of the United States while her husband Barack Obama was in office, Michelle Robinson Obama currently focuses on her work with charities and kids’ education.
She is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School! She has been selected as one of 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine.
Singer-Songwriter Kanye West
One of the most popular rappers on the planet, Kanye West is one proud Chicagoan! Although he was raised in Oak Lawn, Illinois, during his childhood, Kanye moved to New York City as soon as possible.
It wasn’t until 2008 that he returned to Illinois permanently. He has multiple songs about his love for Chi-Town on albums like The College Dropout and Late Registration.
Comedian and Actor Bill Murray
Born in Wilmette, Illinois, Bill Murray is a comedian and actor who started his career on Saturday Night Live. He’s starred in Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, and Lost in Translation movies.
Murray is a well-known Chicago Cubs fan—he even showed up to the Cubs’ celebration party after winning the 2016 World Series!
NFL Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But he went to college at the University of Central Florida and has played for the Chicago bears since 2012.
He set several records throughout his high school and college career, which led him to be drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2006.
Actor and Filmmaker John Cusack
John Cusack is a Chicago native who started his career on stage at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His first movie role was in Sixteen Candles, and he’s since starred in films like The Grifters, Con Air, and Being John Malkovich.
John Cusack is also a well-known political activist and has spoken about many issues, including the Iraq War and the 2008 financial crisis.
MLB Pitcher Jake Arrieta
Jake Arrieta was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but he moved to Chicago when he was 10 years old. He played for the Baltimore Orioles from 2010-2013 before being traded to the Chicago Cubs.
Arrieta is known for his stellar pitching performance in the 2015 National League Wild Card Game and the 2016 World Series.
Singer and Songwriter Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan was born and raised in Chicago and is one of the most successful singers of all time!
She’s won 10 Grammy Awards, sold over 70 million records, and released 38 singles that made the Billboard Hot 100—including her biggest hit, “I Feel For You”! In addition, khan was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
Harrison Ford was born in Chicago and is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood. He’s starred in blockbuster films like Star Wars (Han Solo), Indiana Jones, and Blade Runner.
However, Harrison Ford also has a strong connection to Chicago, Illinois—he attended Ripon College in Wisconsin and served as a volunteer fireman for the Park Ridge Fire Department.
Jenny McCarthy started her career as a model and became a huge TV personality. She’s starred in the sitcoms Jenny and The Jenny McCarthy Show, co-hosted MTV’s Singled Out and appeared as a panelist on The View.
In addition to being an actress, McCarthy has also been a print model, a radio host, and a magazine columnist. She’s been nominated for five Emmy Awards. She was born in Evergreen Park.
Hillary Clinton is a Chicago native and was the First Lady of Arkansas from 1979-1981, and the United States from 1993-2001, U.S. Senator from New York from 2001-2009, 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009-2013, and the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 2016!
There you have it! As they say, Chi-Town is a pretty great place to be from! The notable Chicagoans listed above have made a big impact on their city and the world.
However, honorable mentions are all Chicagoans either born and raised in the city or relocated to the area include those listed below.
John Wayne Gacy
Gacy was born in the Chicago, Illinois, area and is one of the most notorious serial killers in American history.
He was convicted of 33 murders of teenage boys and young men, which he committed between 1972 and 1978. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in 1994.
Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York but moved to Wilmington, North Carolina when he was just a toddler. He became an NBA icon and is considered by many to be one of the best basketball players in history!
Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls from 1984-1993 and again from 1995-1998.
Michael Irvin was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida but moved to Chicago when he was six years old. He starred as a wide receiver for the University of Miami Hurricanes and then the Dallas Cowboys, winning three Super Bowls.
Irvin is a Pro Football Hall of Fame member and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi but was raised in Milwaukee and later Nashville. After getting her own television show, she became one of America’s most successful talk show hosts.
Winfrey is also the founder of Harpo Productions, O Magazine, and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). She’s won countless awards for her work, including dozens of Daytime Emmy Awards and a Presidential Medal of Freedom with her show produced in Chicago, Illinois.
Sylvester Stallone is an Italian-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter born in New York but lived in Chicago for several years when he was young. He is best known for playing the eponymous protagonist in the Rocky and Rambo films.
He has also received critical acclaim for his work in acting, ranging from winning an Academy Award and a Golden Globe to being nominated for four other Oscars.
Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, but moved to Indiana, where she graduated high school as valedictorian of her class. She then attended Howard University and was awarded a fellowship to Cornell University, where she earned her master’s degree.
She is the author of numerous novels, all of which have achieved critical acclaim, including winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988.
Jesse Williams was born and raised in Chicago and is an actor, activist, and model. He is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Avery Jackson on the ABC medical drama television series Grey’s Anatomy.
Williams is also a strong advocate for social justice issues and has been very vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Musician and Producer Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Mayfield was born and raised in Chicago and is considered one of the most influential soul artists. He started his career as a member of The Impressions and wrote and produced many of their biggest hits.
After leaving the group in 1970, Mayfield went on to have a successful solo career as a singer and record producer, releasing albums like Superfly and There’s No Place Like America Today. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Jennifer Hudson was born in Chicago and is an Academy Award-winning singer, actress, and spokesperson. She first came to national attention as a contestant on the third season of American Idol.
Hudson has since starred in films such as Sex and the City, The Help, and Dreamgirls, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Former Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley
Richard M. Daley was born in Chicago, Illinois, and he served as the mayor for 22 years! He was first elected in 1989 and retired from office in 2011. Daley is credited with revitalizing downtown Chicago and reducing crime rates.
Jackson Avery is a fictional character on the ABC medical drama television series Grey’s Anatomy. The character was created by series producer Shonda Rhimes and is portrayed by actor Jesse Williams.
Dr. Avery is a fictional trauma surgeon born in Chicago.
Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, but relocated from his hometown to Chicago at the age of nine.
As a gangster, he led a mafia crime syndicate dedicated to the smuggling and bootlegging liquor and other illegal activities during the Prohibition Era.
His rivals notoriously knew Capone as being ruthless during his time as the leader of the Chicago Outfit. He was eventually arrested and convicted of tax evasion, serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison.
Bernie Mac was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side and was an American comedian and actor who was a regular cast member on the FOX sketch comedy series MADtv. After retiring from stand-up comedy, he began acting primarily in comedic roles where he would use his unique style of humor.
His big break came when Mac appeared in several films, including Ocean’s Eleven, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Bad Santa, Mr. 3000, and Pride. He tragically passed away in 2008 due to complications from pneumonia at the age of 50.
In Chicago, Soulja Boy was born DeAndre Cortez Way and is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, producer, actor, and entrepreneur.
He embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the moniker “Kid Gangsta” and released his first album “souljaboytellem.com” in November 2007.
Robin Williams was born and raised in Chicago and is an American actor and comedian. He first rose to fame as a stand-up comic in the 1970s and starred in numerous films such as Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poet’s Society, Awakenings, The Fisher King, Jumanji, and Night at the Museum.
He also had his own TV show called The Crazy Ones, which lasted one season. Robin Williams tragically passed away in 2014 due to asphyxia caused by hanging.
President Barack H. Obama
President Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, but spent most of his childhood living in Chicago. He is the 44th President of the United States and is the first African American to hold office.
As President, Obama has championed numerous initiatives, including the Affordable Care Act and the economic stimulus package known as the Recovery Act.
Cynthia Ann Crawford was born in DeKalb, Illinois, and an American model. Known for appearing on countless magazine covers throughout her career, she became one of the world’s most popular sex symbols and was once dubbed “the first modern supermodel.” Crawford has also worked as an actress, producer, director, and television show host.
Walter Elias Disney was born in 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. The creative genius was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
Disney co-founded Walt Disney Productions, which later became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world.
Disney himself was responsible for many of these creations, which have become ingrained in popular culture or captured generations of children’s imaginations.
Elliott Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska but moved to Portland at a young age. When he was 18 years old, he dropped out of college and started playing music on the streets of Portland with his older brother—eventually moving to Los Angeles.
Smith is considered one of the most influential singer-songwriters of his generation and has been posthumously nominated for five Grammy Awards. Unfortunately, he tragically died in 2003 at the age of 34.
Benjamin Scott “Ben” Savage was born in Chicago and is an American actor. He rose to fame in the role of Cory Matthews on Boy Meets World from 1993–2000, a series which aired on ABC’s TGIF block programming.
Savage reprised his Boy Meets World role as the older brother of both Riley and Auggie Matthews on the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World.
Kim Novak was born in Chicago and is an American actress who was a regular in the films of Alfred Hitchcock. She appeared in three films nominated for Best Picture; Picnic, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Love Me or Leave Me.
However, her most iconic performance came when Novak played Madeline in Vertigo. She attended the Chicago School of The Art Institute.
Jerry Springer was born in London, England, but moved to Ohio when he was young. He is an American television presenter, actor, and politician who is best known for hosting the tabloid talk show Jerry Springer Show.
The talk show host has been on air since 1991 and is one of the longest-running TV shows in history. Springer has also served as the Mayor of Cincinnati and as a Democratic candidate for Governor of Ohio.
Common (Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.)
Hip Hop artist Common (stage name) was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr, in Chicago and raised on the South Side. He began his music career in the early 1990s and has released 10 studio albums.
In addition to his music career, he has also starred in several films, including Smokin’ Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, and Selma. He won an Oscar for his song “Glory,” which was featured in the movie “Selma.” In 2011, he was named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.
Vincent Anthony “Vince” Vaughn was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota but grew up in the Windy City. He is an American actor and screenwriter who has appeared in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Clay Pigeons, Wedding Crashers, and The Break-Up. In addition to acting, he founded Wild West Picture Show Productions in 2010.
Howard Jones was born Howard Stanton Levey in Chicago, Illinois, and is an English musician, writer, and songwriter who first came to prominence in the mid-1980s as the lead singer of the new wave band Howard Jones. His most popular songs include “What Is Love?”, “Things Can Only Get Better,” and “Life in One Day.” He continues to tour extensively.
Whether they were born here or moved here later in life, these celebrities and famous people all have something in common—they love living in Chicago! From actors and actresses to athletes and musicians, these notable locals make us proud to call ourselves Chicagoans!