Today we put the finishing touches on our list of actors who hail from the Windy City and the surrounding suburbs. So far, our list has included everyone from bonafide megastars like Harrison Ford and Robin Williams to beloved comedic actors like Melissa McCarthy, Bernie Mac, and Jack Benny. So let’s yell action one more time as we complete our list of famous faces that got their start in the city of big shoulders.
Walt Disney: While technically not an actor, is there any individual who has provided audiences with more delight than Walt Disney? Born in 1901 in Chicago and raised at 2156 N. Tripp Avenue in the Hermosa neighborhood, Disney spent his early years in Chicago before moving to Missouri with his family. In his youth, Disney developed his passion for drawing, watercolors, and crayons. In 1917, the Disney family moved back to Chicago, where Walt attended McKinley High School and served as the school’s newspaper cartoonist while also taking classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. After working his way up the animation ladder of the 1920s, Disney hit paydirt with the creation of Mickey Mouse (after deciding against using the name Mortimer Mouse) in 1928. The years between the 1930s and 1950s saw Disney skyrocket to fame with the releases of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo, Fantasia, and Cinderella. Disney’s theme parks in Florida and California followed as well as more animated hits, which basically made the name Disney synonymous with nearly everyone’s childhood. Disney passed away in 1966 at the age of 65, leaving behind a production company that has grown into the world’s most successful movie studio owning Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, just to name a few.
Dan Castellaneta: This actor’s name may not ring a bell right away, but his work as a voice actor is iconic when it comes to animation. The man behind the “D’oh!” of Homer Simpson was born at Roseland Community Hospital in 1957. Castellaneta grew up in River Forest and Oak Park and attended Northern Illinois University with the intention of becoming an art teacher. However, his natural gift for impersonations led him to do voice-over work and focus on improvisation while at NIU. Upon graduating, Castellaneta worked at Second City from 1983 to 1987. After auditioning for the Tracey Ullman Show, Castellaneta was hired to do voice work for an animated short called The Simpsons. Castellaneta became the voice behind Homer Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Barney Gumble, and Groundskeeper Willie, to just name a few, which helped make The Simpsons a blockbuster television hit. For voicing Homer Simpson, Castellaneta has won four Emmys, an Annie Award, and the beloved character came in at number 2 in TV Guide’s Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters.
Patricia Arquette: Born in Chicago in 1968, the Oscar-winning actress hails from a family of actors and comedians. The Arquette clan moved from Chicago to Virginia and back to Chicago during Patricia’s youth before settling in Los Angeles. Arquette’s first roles were in television specials and horror fare such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 before spending much of the early 90s in independent films like the Sean Penn directed The Indian Runner and her portrayal of a deaf girl with epilepsy in Wildflower. Arquette became a cult favorite for her performance in 1993’s True Romance (written by Quentin Tarantino). Her work in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, Stigmata, and Bringing Out the Dead (co-starring her one-time husband, Nicholas Cage) made Arquette an in-demand actress. Her television work includes the hit series Medium, and recently she starred in the Ben Stiller- directed Escape at Dannemora. In 2014, Arquette won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Boyhood. Alongside her siblings, David, Rosanna, and the deceased Alexis, the Arquette’s have proven to be Hollywood royalty, with Chicago-born Patricia carving out a most impressive film resume.
That does it for our list of great actors born in and around Chicago. While we couldn’t include everyone, we hope this list was entertaining and informative and hopefully relieved some of the boredom of being stuck inside. Check out all of these performers on your favorite streaming networks and enjoy the fact that Chicago has a rich history of actors who have entertained millions. That’s a wrap!
ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO