15 Famous People You Didn’t Know Were From Madison County!

Our wonderful Madison County isn’t just a county filled with beautiful sights and destinations – it’s also home to several notable people! See how many you can recognize from our list below:


Miles Davis – This famous jazz musician was born in Alton on May 26, 1926. He’s regarded as one of the most innovative, influential, and respected figures in music history.

Ezekiel Elliott – This Dallas Cowboys running back was born in Alton in July 22, 1995, and he attended elementary school there for 2 years before enrolling in a private St. Louis school.

Elijah Lovejoy – Born in Maine, Lovejoy settled in St. Louis but moved to Alton after anti-abolitionist opponents destroyed his printing press for the third time. He began the Alton Observer, also an abolitionist paper. He died Nov. 7, 1837 when a mob of anti-abolitionists attacked his printing press and fatally shot him, but he was hailed as a martyr shortly after. You can find his name on monuments and buildings throughout the area.

James Earl Ray – Born on March 10, 1928, Ray was the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was convicted of his crime on his 41st birthday and was sentenced to life in prison.

Robert Wadlow – The tallest man ever recorded in history was born in Alton and lived much of his life there as well. You can read more about his fascinating life here!

Jesse White – Our 37th Secretary of State of Illinois was born on June 23, 1934 in Alton. He’s the smiling face you see on the wall of your local DMV when you come to renew your vehicle’s license!

Michael Stipe – Although he was born in Decatur, Georgia, the lead singer of R.E.M. graduated from high school in Collinsville!


Hedy Burress – Actress Heather Elizabeth “Hedy” Burress was born in Edwardsville on October 3, 1973. You can find her in several TV shows like Criminal Minds and Common Law and movies including He’s Just Not That Into You and If These Walls Could Talk. She has also lent her voice to various video games like Final Fantasy Explorers.

Jason Isringhausen – Isringhausen was born on September 7, 1972 in nearby Brighton and became a member of “Generation K,” a group of highly regarded prospects for the New York Mets. He was a pitcher with five MLB teams, including the Cardinals. He now resides in Edwardsville and is also a volunteer pitching coach at SIUE.

Mannie Jackson The chairman and CEO of the Harlem Globetrotters, who purchased the team in 1993, lived in Edwardsville throughout his childhood and adolescence. He attended Edwardsville High School and was among the second group of African American students to enroll in the high school after school segregation ended!

Laurie Metcalf – Born in Carbondale and raised in Edwardsville, Laurie is a famous actress who is best known for her TV roles as Jackie Harris on Roseanne, Carolyn Bigsby on Desperate Housewives, and the recurring role of Mary Cooper on Big Bang Theory!

Fairmont City

Jack Dorsey – That’s right, the creator of Twitter himself was born in Fairmont City on November 19, 1976!


Jake Odorizzi – Born in nearby Breese on March 27, 1990, Odorizzi attended Highland High School. He later became an MLB pitcher for the Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays!


George Becker – The president of the United Steelworkers (USW) was born in Madison on October 20, 1928, and was raised in Granite City. His family lived within 100 feet of the gates of the Granite City Steel Works mill, where they could feel the heat of the mill through their front door. Becker became a steelworker, an American labor leader, and was the president of the USW from 1993 to 2001.


Mark Voigt – This NASCAR racer was born on October 5, 1961 in Marine and began racing at age 4 when his father bought him his first go-kart. When he was 16, Voigt began his racing career, winning back-to-back St. Louis Karting Association Championships. He went on to race 3 times in the Busch Series in 2001 and had several NASCAR starts.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of other notable people who hail from or have ties to Madison County in some way! Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments below or by visiting our Facebook page!