Why Does Roanoke Produce So Many Celebrities?
Roanoke has a long history of producing noteworthy individuals, from athletes to politicians to television stars and everything in between. With such a diverse group of people it may be difficult to find a commonality between them beyond their connection to the Star City. Nevertheless, we'll dig a little deeper and try.
Mr. Las Vegas himself Wayne Newton was born in Norfolk but spent much of his youth in Roanoke, VA where he learned to play the guitar, steel guitar, and piano at just 6 years old. Wayne and his brother Jerry once performed for then President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the early 1950's before Wayne went on to sell 1 million copies of Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast in 1972. Wayne went on to do thousands of solo shows in Las Vegas, appear in 18 films, and countless television shows. The road leading to the main terminal at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport is even called Wayne Newton Boulevard. After a tumultuous series of bad investments and a bankruptcy, Newton currently resides at his Casa de Shenandoah ranch in Las Vegas and has an estimated net worth of $120 million.
J. J. Redick
Before being drafted by the NBA's Orlando Magic in 2006, J.J. Redick was a McDonald's All American basketball player at Roanoke's Cave Spring High School, where he scored 43 points in the Virginia State Championship game as a senior. Redick had a storied college career at Duke University where he was named National College Player of the Year in 2006 among many other accolades. J.J. Redick currently plays for the Philadelphia 76ers with a 1-year $23 million contract.
Before co-creating CBS's hit sitcom 2 Broke Girls, and creating and starring in NBC's Whitney, Whitney Cummings attended Roanoke Catholic School where she was a high scorer for the girls basketball team. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she has appeared in over two dozen films and television shows. Whitney Cummings recently authored a book called I'm Fine... and Other Lies which is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.
Ronde Barber and Tiki Barber
Twin brothers Ronde and Tiki Barber were born just 7 minutes apart on April 7, 1975 and grew up in Roanoke, VA. Their father, J.B. Barber, was a star running back for Virginia Tech. The twins both played football for Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, played for the University of Virginia, and were drafted into the NFL - Ronde to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he was selected to 5 Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XXXVII, and Tiki to the New York Giants where he became the team's all-time leading rusher. After football, Tiki launched a career in broadcasting as a correspondent for NBC's Today Show and currently serves as the morning host on CBS Sports Radio's Tiki & Tierney. Ronde has also enjoyed a successful career in broadcasting, currently serving as an analyst for Fox Sports.
Born in the United Kingdom in 1945, John McAfee was raised in Salem, VA and received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Roanoke College in 1967. McAfee founded the computer anti-virus company McAfee Associates in 1987, which helped propel him to a peak net worth of $100 million in 2007 before his assets declined substantially during the global financial crisis. While living in Belize in 2012, McAfee was a suspect in the murder of American expatriate Gregory Faull, who was found with a single gunshot wound at his home in Ambergris Caye. Faull was a neighbor of McAfee who had filed a complaint with local authorities about McAfee's dogs and other grievances. McAfee fled Belize to seek political asylum in Guatemala, before being denied and sent back to the United States. In 2017, it was announced that Johnny Depp would portray McAfee in an upcoming film called King of the Jungle which focuses on McAfee's life in Belize.
Are there any Roanoke celebs we missed? Let us know in the comments.
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