Pictured: Allison Janney
From the silver screen to the world stage, Dayton has been a launching pad for talent that has made an indelible mark on various industries. Join us as we celebrate 30 individuals who have risen to fame from the Gem City, each contributing their unique flair and skill to the cultural tapestry of our beloved hometown.

1. Allison Janney

From Dayton, Ohio, Allison Janney was born on November 19, 1959. Initially aspiring to be an athlete, she later found her calling in acting, earning widespread acclaim across stage, film, and television. Renowned for her portrayal of press secretary C.J. Cregg on the hit series The West Wing, Janney clinched four Emmy Awards for her stellar performance. She further solidified her reputation with notable roles in Masters of Sex and Mom. Beyond the small screen, Janney has graced the stage in productions like A View From the Bridge and 9 to 5, while showcasing her talent in films such as American Beauty, The Hours, Juno, Away We Go, and I, Tonya. Her outstanding performance in the latter earned her an Academy Award in 2018, marking a remarkable milestone in her illustrious career.

2. Rob Lowe

While Rob Lowe's time in Dayton, Ohio was relatively short-lived, spanning from when he was just 6 months old until he turned 12, he remains embraced as a native of the city. Following his relocation to Malibu, California, alongside his mother and brother Chad, Lowe's journey into the world of cinema quickly gained momentum with starring roles in St. Elmo's Fire and About Last Night. Since then, he's established his name on the popular drama The West Wing as well as other later successes, such as Brothers & Sisters, Parks & Recreation and Unstable. And we can't forget his Golden Globe nomination for his work on The Grinder!

3. Martin Sheen

Born Ramón Antonio Gerard Estevez in Dayton, Ohio, Martin Sheen boasts an impressive career spanning film and television. Notable for his role in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Sheen has appeared in over 65 feature films, earning accolades for his performances, including a Golden Globe nomination for The Subject Was Roses. On television, Sheen is best known for his Emmy-nominated portrayal of President Josiah Bartlet in The West Wing, where he won six Golden Globe Awards and two SAG Awards for his compelling portrayal of the White House leader.

4. Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck, born in Dayton, Ohio, became renowned for her humorous take on suburban life, captivating readers with bestselling books like I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal DepressionThe Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank and If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? Beginning her writing career in junior high school, Bombeck's columns gained widespread syndication, reaching over 900 newspapers and earning her a place as a regular contributor to magazines like Good Housekeeping and Redbook. Despite facing health challenges later in life, Bombeck's wit and insight continued to resonate with audiences through her television series Maggie and appearances on Good Morning America.

5. Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar, born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, became one of the first African American writers to achieve international recognition for his poetry and short stories written in black dialect. Despite facing racial challenges, Dunbar's literary talent shone through as he self-published his first volume of poetry, Oak and Ivy, while working as an elevator operator. His works garnered widespread acclaim, leading to readings in the U.S. and England, and eventually a position at the Library of Congress, where he continued to captivate audiences until his untimely death at a young age.

Nancy Cartwright voice of Bart Simpson

Pictured: Nancy Cartwright voice of Bart Simpson

6. Nancy Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright's journey from birth in Kettering, Ohio, to Hollywood is marked by remarkable successes, notably as the iconic voice of Bart Simpson in The Simpsons, contributing to its status as the longest-running scripted show. Her versatility extends across animation, with roles in Rugrats and Kim Possible, and into live-action productions like Twilight Zone: The Movie and Fame, earning her accolades and an Emmy. Beyond her professional achievements, Cartwright remains dedicated to philanthropy, supporting children's welfare and education, showcasing a commitment to giving back to her community.

7. Kim & Kelley Deal

Dayton-born twins Kim and Kelley Deal, known for their band The Breeders, honed their musical skills at local truck stops before achieving fame. Inducted into The Huber Heights Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2016, they formed The Breeders in 1989, during a hiatus for Kim's other band the Pixies, quickly becoming icons with albums like "Pod" and "Last Splash." Beyond music, Kelley Deal is a noted knitter and author, while Kim Deal, reflecting on their success, expressed surprise at the popularity of "Last Splash," never imagining radio play for their music.

8. Dr. Creep (Barry Hobart)

Barry Hobart's "Dr. Creep" character, with his iconic appearance and warm demeanor, became a beloved figure in Dayton through hosting Shock Theatre and co-hosting Clubhouse 22 on WKEF-TV Channel 22. Despite the eerie theme of Shock Theatre, Dr. Creep's humorous antics made it a staple for viewers from 1972 to 1985, while Clubhouse 22 endeared him to both children and adults with its playful segments and community engagement. Beyond the screen, Dr. Creep's philanthropic efforts, including his involvement with charities and events like Horrorama, left a lasting legacy of kindness and joy in the hearts of his fans, even after his passing in 2011.

9. Gordon Jump

Dayton, Ohio native Alexander Gordon Jump, known affectionately as "Big Guy," found fame as the lovable radio station manager Arthur Carlson in the hit sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. After relocating to Los Angeles in 1963, Jump immersed himself in stage productions, crediting Ruth Hale for launching his acting career. While primarily known for television, he also appeared in feature films like Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and made memorable cameo appearances, showcasing his versatility as an actor before retiring from his iconic role as the Maytag Washer repairman shortly before his passing in 2003.

10. Dan Patrick

Dan Patrick, graduate of the University of Dayton, has left an indelible mark on sports broadcasting with his sharp wit and insightful interviews during his tenure as an ESPN anchor and reporter. From his iconic role on ESPN's SportsCenter to his widely acclaimed radio show, Patrick's versatile career showcases his deep knowledge and engaging style. Recognized as the National Sportscaster of the Year and recipient of numerous awards, including a Sports Emmy, Patrick's influence extends beyond sports, as seen in his guest-hosting stint on ABC's Good Morning America and his celebrated interviews on ESPN's Sunday Conversation.

11. Gary Sandy

Gary Sandy, born in Dayton, Ohio, embarked on a prolific acting career after studying at Wilmington College of Ohio and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. His journey began with roles in daytime dramas like As The World Turns, where he honed his craft playing villains over seven years on shows like Another World and Somerset. Transitioning to Broadway and off-Broadway productions, Sandy showcased his versatility, starring in both plays and musicals, including notable performances in Saturday, Sunday, Monday and adaptations like Sheba and Windy City. Like Gordon Jump, he's best remembered for his role in the TV sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

Jonathan Winters

Pictured: Jonathan Winters

12. Jonathan Winters

Jonathan Winters, born in Dayton, Ohio, was renowned for his unparalleled improvisational skills and comic genius, captivating audiences across various mediums. After studying visual arts at the School of the Dayton Art Institute (one of this paintings is in the Art Institute's collection), he embarked on a career in comedy and acting. Despite personal struggles, including battles with alcoholism and psychological issues, Winters emerged as a prolific entertainer, starring in television shows like The Jonathan Winters Show and earning acclaim for his unique characters. With a career spanning stand-up comedy, television, film, and literature, Winters left an indelible mark on American humor, recognized with awards such as the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for his enduring contributions.

13. Mike Peters

Celebrated as a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist from the Dayton Daily News and creator of the beloved comic strip Mother Goose & Grimm, Mike Peters enjoys global syndication and widespread acclaim for his work featured in newspapers and national publications. Beyond print, Peters is a familiar face on television, where he shares his insights and humor, and he is a sought-after speaker at events worldwide. With numerous published books showcasing his political cartoons and comic strips, as well as a successful animated series based on Mother Goose & Grimm, Peters continues to leave a lasting impact on the world of cartooning.

14. Brooklyn Decker

Brooklyn Decker, born in Kettering, Ohio, began her career after being discovered in a Charlotte shopping mall as a teenager. Transitioning from modeling to acting, she secured roles in popular TV series like Chuck and Royal Pains before making her mark in film with appearances in Just Go with It and Battleship. Decker's versatility and success in both modeling and acting have solidified her status as a prominent figure in the entertainment industry.

Luke Grimes in Yellowstone

Pictured: Luke Grimes

15. Luke Grimes

Luke Timothy Grimes, born in Dayton, Ohio, pursued acting after graduating from Dayton Christian High School in 2002. He honed his craft at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City before gaining recognition for his roles in films like American Sniper and the Fifty Shades series. Grimes further solidified his acting prowess with his portrayal of Kayce Dutton in the acclaimed drama series Yellowstone.

16. Charles Michael Davis

Charles Michael Davis, born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, began his career with the talent agency Actors, Models, and Talent for Christ (AMTC) before transitioning into acting and modeling. Best known for his portrayal of Marcel Gerard on The CW's The Originals, Davis has also appeared in various television shows including The Game and Switched at Birth. His diverse heritage, with an African American father and Filipino mother, adds depth to his identity both on and off the screen.

17. Joe Estevez

Born Joseph Estevez in Dayton, Ohio, Martin Sheen's brother discovered his passion for acting at a young age and pursued it despite expectations that he would become a factory worker. With over 230 films under his belt, Estevez is celebrated as one of Hollywood's busiest and most talented actors, known for his unwavering dedication to his craft. Alongside his prolific acting career, Estevez hosts the Faith Film Festival in New York City and is the subject of his own book, Wiping off the Sheen.

18. Roger Troutman

Troutman, an R&B recording artist, helped pioneer the famed funky "Dayton sound," as a solo artist and with his band Zapp. This multi-talented musician was known for his innovative use of the "talk box" and mastery of various instruments like the bass guitar and harmonica. His influence extended beyond funk into West Coast hip hop, shaping the sound of the 1980s and 1990s. With hit singles like I Heard It Through the Grapevine and collaborations with iconic rappers like Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre, Troutman solidified his legacy as a funk rock icon and a pivotal figure in hip-hop music.

19. Damian Chapa

Damian Chapa, from Dayton, Ohio, overcame a challenging upbringing and personal struggles to establish himself as a versatile actor and director. Notably, he starred in iconic films like Blood In, Blood Out and Undersiege, showcasing his talent and resilience in the face of adversity. Despite setbacks, including a near-fatal motorcycle accident during the filming of Brando Unauthorized, Chapa persevered, earning accolades for his directorial work and continuing to make impactful contributions to the industry.

Sherri Saum

Pictured: Sherri Saum

20. Sherri Saum

Born in Dayton, OH, Sherri Saum has risen to prominence as a versatile TV actor, earning acclaim for her roles in various hit series like Law & Order, CSI, Gossip Girl and How to Get Away With Murder. Influenced by her mother's resilience, who juggled single motherhood while working at the Dayton Daily News, Saum embodies determination and strength in her performances. Best known for her portrayal of Lena Adams Foster in Fosters, Saum's impactful presence on screen has contributed to groundbreaking discussions on social issues, particularly around homosexuality, showcasing her ability to tackle complex roles with grace and depth.

21. Tommy James

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tommy James is a versatile artist known for his work as a composer, singer, songwriter, record producer, and author. His journey to fame includes the accidental success of Hanky Panky, which catapulted his band, Tommy James & The Shondells, to stardom after a DJ's mix-up led to its unexpected rise on the charts. Inspired by a view from a New York hotel room, James coined the title Mony Mony, another of his chart-topping hits, showcasing his knack for finding inspiration in everyday moments. Despite declining an opportunity to perform at Woodstock, James's impact on music earned him induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in the Performing Arts.

22. Dorian Harewood

Born in Dayton, Ohio, on August 6, 1950, Dorian Harewood is a versatile actor recognized for his roles in iconic films such as Full Metal Jacket, Space Jam, and Sudden Death. With a career spanning decades, Harewood's performances have left an indelible mark on cinema, showcasing his talent and range as an actor. His captivating presence on screen has solidified his status as a respected figure in the entertainment industry.

23. Max Charles

Born in Dayton, Ohio, on August 18, 2003, Max Charles has become a prominent American actor in both film and television. Making his debut at the age of six in an HBO TV series, he quickly garnered attention for his talent and versatility. With notable roles in acclaimed projects like Guillermo del Toro's The Strain and The Amazing Spider-Man, Charles has captivated audiences with his endearing performances, earning him nominations for prestigious awards such as the Saturn Awards.

24. Billy Strayhorn

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Billy Strayhorn was a prolific American pianist and composer, best known for his lifelong collaboration with Duke Ellington. Initially applying to Ellington as a lyricist in 1938, Strayhorn's own composition Lush Life served as his credential, leading to a prolific partnership. Responsible for iconic compositions like Take the 'A' Train and Chelsea Bridge, Strayhorn's refined, impressionistic style left an indelible mark on jazz music, blurring the lines between his work and Ellington's to the point where their contributions became inseparable.

Kelly Carlin

Pictured: Kelly Carlin-McCall

25. Kelly Carlin-McCall

Kelly Carlin-McCall, born in Dayton, Ohio, received her Master's Degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute before establishing herself as a multifaceted performer, writer, and broadcaster. Currently residing in Los Angeles with her husband, Bob McCall, and their Jack Russell Terrier, Stella, Carlin-McCall is renowned for her solo show A Carlin Home Companion, along with hosting two radio shows: The Kelly Carlin Show on SiriusXM and Waking from the American Dream on the SModcast Network, while also contributing to the Huffington Post through her insightful blog posts.

26. John Scofield

Born in Dayton, Ohio, John Scofield emerged as a leading figure in contemporary jazz guitar, sharing the spotlight with luminaries like Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. His distinctively rock-infused sound, often laced with distortion, bridges the realms of post-bop, fusion, and soul-jazz, showcasing his masterful improvisational skills honed since his high school days in Connecticut. Scofield's illustrious career has seen him collaborate with jazz legends like Miles Davis and Charles Mingus, while leading his own acclaimed groups and releasing a diverse array of albums, from the funky vibes of his early sessions to theme-driven explorations and soulful tributes to icons like Ray Charles.

27. Candace Smith

Candace Smith's journey from Dayton, Ohio, to Hollywood is marked by a diverse range of experiences, from her early days at the Dayton Playhouse to her academic pursuits at the University of Dayton and Northwestern University School of Law. Transitioning from a successful legal career in Ohio, Candace ventured into the entertainment industry, earning accolades for her performances in films like My Father Die and End of Watch, as well as her appearances in television shows such as Hawaii Five-0 and Entourage. Beyond acting, Candace has delved into comedy, stand-up, and TV hosting, showcasing her multifaceted talents across various platforms.

28. Janet Sheen

Yes, you may have guessed it, Janet Sheen is married to Martin Sheen. Janet, also born in Dayton, Ohio has not only acted alongside her husband, but also took on producing roles, notably in the 2010 film The Way directed by her son Emilio Estevez. With her involvement in projects like the television mini-series Kennedy, Janet continues to contribute her talents to the family's collaborative endeavors in the entertainment industry.

29. Amy Schneider

Born in Dayton, Ohio Amy Schneider attended Chaminade-Julienne High School and graduated from the University of Dayton.  In the eighth grade, she was voted "Most likely to appear on Jeopardy!" by her classmates – and she went on to fulfill that prediction in grand style.  She became an American writer and game show contestant. Winning 40 consecutive games on the quiz show Jeopardy! from November 2021 to January 2022 and the November 2022 Tournament of Champions, she holds the second-longest win streak in the program's history, behind only Ken Jennings (74 games), who hosted the show as she competed. She is the most successful woman and most successful transgender contestant ever to compete on the show, in terms of both the length of her streak and her $1.6 million in winnings. On January 19, 2022, Schneider was awarded a GLAAD Special Recognition honor for her Jeopardy! performance.

30. Clarence Page

Clarence Page, born in Dayton, Ohio, started his journey into American journalism at the young age of 17, while still in Middletown High in Ohio, contributing as a freelance writer and photographer for local newspapers. Throughout his illustrious career, which included stints at the Chicago Tribune and a nationally syndicated column, Page maintained his connection to freelance work. Notable for his Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on vote fraud and his insightful commentary on race relations, Page's impact extends beyond print journalism to his contributions as a regular panelist on PBS and guest appearances on national radio and television programs.


In reflecting on the remarkable individuals who have risen to fame from Dayton, Ohio, it becomes abundantly clear that this city has been a fertile ground for talent across various industries. From acclaimed actors like Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, and Martin Sheen to influential figures in journalism such as Clarence Page, Dayton has nurtured and celebrated its own, each contributing their unique flair and skill to the cultural tapestry of our beloved hometown. As we honor these 30 individuals who have left an indelible mark on the world stage, we celebrate not just their achievements, but also the spirit of creativity, resilience, and excellence that defines the Gem City.