Oklahoma - Famous oklahomans



Carl Albert (1908–2000), a McAlester native, has held the highest public position of any Oklahoman. Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1947, he became majority leader in 1962 and served as speaker of the House from 1971 until his retirement in 1976. Patrick Jay Hurley (1883–1963), the first Oklahoman appointed to a cabinet post, was secretary of war under Herbert Hoover and later ambassador to China.

William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray (b.Texas, 1869–1956) was president of the state constitutional convention and served as governor from 1931 to 1935. Robert S. Kerr (1896–1963), founder of Kerr-McGee Oil, was the state's first native-born governor, serving from 1943 to 1947; elected to the US Senate in 1948, he became an influential Democratic leader. A(lmer) S(tillwell) Mike Monroney (1902–80) served as US representative from 1939 to 1951 and senator from 1951 to 1969.

Oklahomans have been prominent in literature and the arts. Journalist and historian Marquis James (b.Missouri, 1891–1955) won a Pulitzer Prize in 1930 for his biography of Sam Houston and another in 1938 for Andrew Jackson; John Berryman (1914–72) won the 1965 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for 77 Dream Songs, 1964; and Ralph Ellison (1914–94) won the 1953 National Book Award for his novel Invisible Man. The popular musical Oklahoma! by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd is based on Green Grow the Lilacs by Oklahoman Lynn Riggs (1899–1954). N(avarre) Scott Momaday (b.1934), born in Lawton, received a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for House Made of Dawn. Woodrow Crumbo (1912–89) and Allen Houser (1914–94) wereprominent Indian artists born in the state.

Just about the best-known Oklahoman was William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (1879–1935), the beloved humorist and writer who spread cheer in the dreary days of the Depression. Part Cherokee, Rogers was a horse rider, trick roper, and stage and movie star until he was killed in a plane crash in Alaska. Among his gifts to the American language are the oft-quoted expressions "I never met a man I didn't like" and "All I know is what I read in the newspapers." Other prominent performing artists include singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie (1912–67), composer of "This Land Is Your Land," among other classics; ballerina Maria Tallchief (b.1925); popular singer Patti Page (b.1927); and operatic soprano Roberta Knie (b.1938). Famous Oklahoma actors include (Francis) Van Heflin (1910–71), Ben Johnson (1918–96), Jennifer Jones (b.1919), Tony Randall (b.1920), James Garner (James Baumgardner, b.1928), and Cleavon Little (1939–92). Paul Harvey (b.1918) is a widely syndicated radio commentator. James Francis "Jim" Thorpe (1888–1953) became known as the "world's greatest athlete" after his pentathlon and decathlon performances at the 1912 Olympic Games; of Indian ancestry, Thorpe also starred in baseball, football, and other sports. Bud Wilkinson (b.Minnesota, 1916–94) coached the University of Oklahoma football team to a record 47-game unbeaten streak in the 1950s. Baseball stars Paul Warner (1903–65) and his brother Lloyd (1906–82), Mickey Mantle (1931–95), Wilver Dornel "Willie" Stargell (1941–2001), and Johnny Bench (b.1947) are native Oklahomans.