Minnesota is home to many Actors / Actresses who have left their marks in Film and Theater. The following is a list of those who were born (or raised) in Minnesota.
- Walter Abel (St. Paul, MN)
Familiar face on stage and film as a character actor during the 1930’s – 1950’s. Movies included; Fury (1936), Holiday Inn (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944). Abel had one of the longest Broadway careers in history.
- Frank Albertson (Fergus Falls, MN)
Actor; Over one hundred appearances (1923-1964) in movies and television. Best remembered for his role as Sam Wainwright in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). He also played the wealthy rancher Tom Cassidy at the start of Psycho (1960). Usually cast as a supporting actor.
- Larry Anderson (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; numerous guest-star appearances on shows like: Charlie’s Angels, Happy Days, Knight Rider, Mork and Mindy, The A-Team, Matlock, Night Court, Beverly Hills 90210, Boston Public, The O.C., Raising The Bar, Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, Everybody Loves Chris and many more.
- Loni Anderson (St. Paul, MN)
Actress; WKRP in Cincinnati, 1978-82. Married to Burt Reynolds from 1988-1993.
- Louie Anderson (St. Paul, MN)
Comedian; Talks about his childhood experiences as one of eleven children. Made his national television debut on the “The Tonight Show” in 1984.
- Richard Dean Anderson (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; MacGyver (1985-92); Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007). Currently lives in Vancouver and Los Angeles, and owns a cabin in northern Minnesota.
- Peter Graves (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; appeared in more than seventy films, TV series and TV movies including Mission Impossible, 1967-73, Airplane! and Airplane II. Attended University of Minnesota. He is the brother of fellow actor, James Arness. Their family’s last name was “Aurness”.
- James Arness (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; Played Marshal Matt Dillon on the TV series “Gunsmoke” from 1955 to 1975. Gunsmoke made TV history as the longest running dramatic series, a record that held until 2010. He left Minnesota at age 23 to pursue his acting dreams in Hollywood. He is the brother of fellow actor, Peter Graves. Their family’s last name was “Aurness”.
- Hy Averback (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor/Producer; Co-produced the popular 1960s sitcom F-Troop and was the voice over the loudspeaker heard on the television series M*A*S*H. Nominated for three Emmys. Won the Directors Guild of America award twice for his work on M*A*S*H.
- Lew Ayres (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930; Dr. Kildare Movies, 1938-1942
- Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner (International Falls, MN)
We struggled a bit with which category Tammy Faye would fit, but she was most well known for her television appearances on the PTL (Praise The Lord) Club with her husband Jim Bakker. She met Jim at the North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, MN.. They married and moved to North Carolina when Tammy was age 20.
- Lynsey Bartilson (Edina, MN)
TV actress most often seen on the series “Grounded for Life”. Also in the made for TV movie “Mrs. Santa Claus”, starring opposite Angela Lansbury. Appearances in numerous television series and movies.
- Jessica Biel (Ely, MN)
Actress; Seventh Heaven, 1996-2002. Considered “The Sexiest Woman Alive” in 2005 according to Esquire magazine. In October 2012 she married Justin Timberlake, original member of of the boy band, ‘N Sync. They have been romantically linked since 2007.
- Brianna Brown (St. Paul, MN)
Actress; TV and Film lead appearances, a regular on TV’s General Hospital. Supporting roles in films like “”40-Year-Old Virgin”” and “”Knocked Up””. She was nominated by the Los Angeles Business Journal in the “”Women Making a Difference”” for her work in a charity group she founded called “”The New Hollywood.””
- Kelly Carlson (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; Nip/Tuck (TV 2003), 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001), Made of Honor (2008), The Marine (2006)
- Richard Carlson (Albert Lea, MN)
Film actor. Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Co-starred with Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger in “King Solomon’s Mines”, and a number of B films including “It Came from Outer Space” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954).
- Mo (Maureen) Collins (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress/Comedian; 154 appearances on MADtv from 1998-2009. Most recently appeared on Parks and Recreation (TV series).
- Rachael Leigh Cook (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress; She’s All That, 1999
- Arlene Carol Dahl (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress. Achieved notability during the 1950s. Panelist on game show “What’s My Line”. Best films include; Reign of Terror (1949), Three Little Words (1950), and Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959).
- Ian Anthony Dale (St. Paul, MN)
Actor; The Hangover (2009), The Bucket List (2007)
- William Demarest (St. Paul, MN)
Actor; My Three Sons
- Richard Dix (St. Paul, MN)
Major leading man at RKO Radio Pictures from 1929 through 1943. Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame. Academy Award (Oscar) nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role – Cimarron (1931).
- Kimberly Elise (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress; John Q, 2002; Diary of a Mad Black Woman, 2005
- Mike Farrell (St. Paul, MN)
Actor; M*A*S*H, 1975-83; Providence, 1999-2002
- William Fawcett (High Forest, MN)
An actor with a Ph.D.. Fawcett was Professor of Theatre at Michigan State University in the early 1940’s. He became a full-time actor after WWII and was a character actor in hundreds of TV movies, shows and film from 1940-1970.
- Ed Flanders (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; St. Elsewhere, 1982-87
- Patrick Flueger (Red Wing, MN)
Actor; The 4400, 2004-06
- Al Franken (New York City, NY – raised in St. Louis Park, MN)
Actor/Comedian/Writer, Saturday Night Live. Became a highly political radio personality, eventually becoming a U.S. Senator for Minnesota in 2008 on a very close election that took months to resolve.
- Judy Garland (Frances Ethel Gumm) (Grand Rapids, MN)
Actress/Singer; Made her stage debut at the age of 2 in Grand Rapids, MN. Her family moved to California when she was 4 years old. Her many film credits include; Love Finds Andy Hardy, 1937; The Wizard of Oz, 1939; Meet Me In St. Louis, 1944. Her only Academy Award (Oscar) was a Special Award for her outstanding performance as a juvenile in The Wizard of Oz. She won a Golden Globe as Best Actress in A Star Is Born (1954).
- Genevieve Gorder (Minneapolis, MN)
Designer; Trading Spaces, 2000-2006; Dear Genevieve, 2009
- Joel Gretsch (St. Cloud, MN)
Actor; Television, Film. Noteable TV series include “V” (2009-2011), “The 4400” (2004-2007), “Taken” (2002).
- Josh Hartnett (St. Paul, MN)
Actor; Pearl Harbor, 2001; Black Hawk Down, 2001. (Note: Many sources list his birthplace as San Francisco, but he has stated in a People Magazine interview that he was was born in Minnesota.)
- John Hawkes (Alexandria, MN)
Actor; American Gangster (2007), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Identity (2003), The Perfect Storm (2000), Rush Hour (1998), Miami Vice (2006) and Sol Star on the HBO series Deadwood. In 2011 he was nominated for an Academy Award (Oscar) in the Actor in a Supporting Role category for the film “Winter’s Bone”.
- Garrett Hedlund (Roseau, MN)
Actor; Tron Legacy (2010), Country Strong (2010), Friday Night Lights (2004), Four Brothers (2005), Troy (2004). 2010 has been a very good year for him with two major films. He starred as Jeff Bridges son in Tron Legacy and in Country Song with Gwyneth Paltrow and Leighton Meester.
- Tippi Hedren (Lafayette, MN)
Actress; Starred in two Alfred Hitchcock classics: The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964). Hedren’s family moved from New Ulm to Edina, MN when she was about 4 or 5 years old, later moving from Edina to California when she was a junior in high school. She starred in two Alfred Hitchock films, “The Birds” and “Marnie.”. Hedren is the mother of actress Melanie Griffith.
- Don Herbert (Waconia, MN)
Actor/Scientist; Watch Mr. Wizard, 1951-72; Mr. Wizard, 1972-75; Mr. Wizard’s World, 1983-91
- James Hong (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; over 450 supporting roles in movies and television. He is more well known for his roles in the 1980s and 1990s such as Dr. Chew in “Blade Runner” (1997), and the voice of Chi Fu in Disney’s “Mulan” (1998).
- Vincent Kartheiser (Minneapolis, MN)
Kartheiser is an actor best known for his roles as Connor in the TV series “Angel” and Pete Campbell in the HBO series “Mad Men”. He first began acting on the stages of The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. His first film debut was in “Untamed Heart” filmed in Minneapolis and starring Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei.
- Linda Kelsey (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress; played a young and perky reporter on Lou Grant, 1977-82. She was nominated for the “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series” four times but never won the elusive award.
- Craig Kilborn (Hastings, MN)
Anchor/Host; ESPN; Late, Late Show
- T.R. Knight (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; Grey’s Anatomy, 2005-2009
- Charlie Korsmo (Born Fargo, ND. Raised Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; Dick Tracy, 1990; Hook, 1991
- Peter Krause (Alexandria, MN)
Actor; TV: Six Feet Under, 2001-2005, Dirt Sexy Money (23 episodes, 2007-2009), Parenthood (2010-?). He started college as a pre-med student, but graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from Gustavus Aldophus College in St. Peter, MN.
- Don LaFontaine (Duluth, MN)
Voiceover Actor; Worked on more than 4000 films and movie trailers. Most recognized for phrases like “In a world where…”, “A one-man army…”, “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide”, and “From the bedroom to the boardroom…”
- Jim Lange (St. Paul, MN)
Game show host and disc jockey. Best known as the host of “The Dating Game”, Lange first began his career as a disc jockey. His television career began as an announcer on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. He also hosted many other game shows including the “$100,000 Name That Tune”. He also appeared as himself in Bewitched, Laverne & Shirley. He graduated from the University of Minnesota.
- Jessica Lange (Cloquet, MN)
Actress; Academy Awards (Oscar) for Best Actress (Blue Sky – 1994) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Tootsie – 1982). She also has five Golden Globe Awards. Other films include “Big Fish”, “American Horror Story”, “The Vow”, “Cape Fear”. Lange studied art at the University of Minnesota and then later pursued acting.
- Tom Laughlin (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; best known for writing and starring in the Billy Jack films of the 1970’s. The first Billy Jack only cost $800,000 to produce, but grossed more than $65 million.
- June Marlowe (St. Cloud, MN)
Actress; Readin’ and Writin’, 1932; Little Rascals/Our Gang movies (Miss Crabtree)
- E.G. Marshall (Owatonna, MN)
Actor, Emmy-award winner. Best known for his TV roles in The Defenders in the 1960s, and as neurosurgeon Dr. David Craig on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors in the 1970s.
- Jared Mason (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor/Musician; co-starred on Broadway in the Tony award nominated “Million Dollar Quartet” as Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. He has toured with several national and international productions including STOMP. As musician/composer, he won the “Album of the Year” at the L.A. Music Awards in 2004.
- Kevin McCarthy (Seattle, WA)
Actor; Most noted for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956). Nominated for the Academy Award (Oscar) – Best Actor in a Supporting Role – “Death of a Salesman” (1951).
- Daniel McKeague (Hugo, MN)
Voiceover Actor; McKeague, a sales manager at the Twin Cities radio station KQRS, was selected from 12,500 contestants to become the voice of the Aflac Duck beginning on April 26, 2011. He will be paid in the low six figures for his first one-year contract.
- Ralph Meeker (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; Hundreds of roles in TV, Film, Stage. Meeker received the New York Critic’s Circle Award in 1954 for his stage performance in Picnic. Other key roles as private detective Mike Hammer in the film, “Kiss Me Deadly” (1955), and a supporting role in the film, “Paths of Glory” (1957) with Kirk Douglas.
- Breckin Meyer (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; The Insider (1999), Road Trip (2000), Rat Race (2001), Go (1999), Clueless (1995), Kate & Leopold (2001)
- Karen Landry Mulkey (MN)
Actress; theatre, film and television. Has appeared on TV in shows like “Cold Case”, “Six Feet Under” and “St Elsewhere”. Her film career includes roles in “Collapse, Live!”, “Sweetland”, “Frozen Kiss”, “Peaceful Warrior”, “Shattered”, “Dragon Wars”, and “The Personals”. She is married to actor Chris Mulkey.
- Noel Neill (Minneapolis, MN)
Neill was best known for her role as Lois Lane in the films “Superman” (1948), “Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) and the 1950s television series “Adventures of Superman”.
- Gena Lee Nolin (Duluth, MN)
TV/Film Actress, most widely known for her role in Baywatch (1995-1998), Sheena (200-2002), and the movie “The Underground Comedy Movie” (1999). Nolin was also a runner-up in the 1993 Miss Hawaiian Tropic swimsuit competition.
- Charles Nolte (Duluth, MN)
Nolte made his Broadway debut in a 1947 production of “Antony and Cleopatra”, but it was his lead role in “Billy Budd” (1951) that really launched his career. He moved into film and appeared in “War Paint” 1953 and many other films. He taught at the University of Minnesota from the mid-60’s to late 90’s.
- Seth Numrich (Minneapolis, MN)
Numrich has appeared on stage, television and film. He is the youngest person ever accepted to Juilliard (at age 16) and later graduated with a degree in drama. He made his Broadway debut in the 2010 revival of The Merchant of Venice. He was a member of the original Broadway cast of War Horse.
- Johnny Olson (Windom, MN)
Radio/TV Personality. Most of his career was as an announcer for many popular TV game shows from the late 1950’s to 1985, most notably on the game show “The Price Is Right” from 1972-1985. He was also an announcer for The Jackie Gleason Show from 1962 to 1970.
- Melissa Peterman (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress/Comedian; Regular cast member on the TV show, “Reba” from 2001-2007. In 2010 starred in new sitcom on CMT titled “Working Class”. She has hosted many shows on CMT.
- Chris Pratt (Virginia, MN)
Actor; Film and Broadcast. Mostly recognized for his film work in Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, Her and Moneyball. Other film credits include; Wanted (2008), Jennifer’s Body (2009), Bride Wars (2009)
- Marion Ross (Albert Lea, MN)
Actress; Richard “Richie” Cunningham’s Mom on “Happy Days”, 1974-84
- Jane Russell (Bemidji, MN)
Actress; The Outlaw, 1943
- Winona Ryder (Winona, MN)
Actress; The Crucible, 1996; Autumn in New York, 2000
- Seann William Scott (Cottage Grove, MN)
Actor; The Dukes of Hazzard (movie), 2005. Best known for his roles in the American Pie films. Other films include “Cop Out” (2010) co-starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, and “Dude, Where’s My Car?” (2000) with Ashton Kutcher.
- Gale Sondergaard (Litchfield, MN)
TV/Film Actress; Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the film, Anthony Adverse, 1936. Many film and TV credits. She was primarily a film Actress in the 30’s-40’s, and then moved into TV later in her career.
- Kevin Sorbo (Mound, MN)
Actor; Hercules, 1995-99; Andromeda, 2000-05
- Ann Sothern (Valley City, ND)
Actress from 1927–1987. Raised in Minneapolis, graduated from Central High School. Numerous supporting and lead roles in decades of films. Nominated for an Academy Award for her role as the neighbor of Lillian Gish and Bette Davis in The Whales of August (1987). Received a Golden Globe award for Best TV Show: “The Ann Sothern Show” (1958).
- Helen Stenborg (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress; nominated for a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in Noel Coward’s “Waiting in the Wings”, she won an Obie Award for her performance in “Talley & Son” at the Circle Repertory Theatre. She also appeared in the films, “Three Days of the Condor”, “Starting Over”, “Enchanted” and “Doubt”.
- Nicholas “Nick” Swardson (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor/Comedian/Writer; Best known for his role in the Comedy Central series Reno 911!, his work in Happy Madison movies, and for his Comedy Central television series “Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time”. He has also appeared in movies like “Almost Famous” (2000), “Click” (2006), “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” (2008), “Blades of Glory” (2007), and “Just Go With It” (2011).
- Lea Thompson (Rochester, MN)
Actress/Dancer; Best know for her work as Marty McFly’s mother, in the “Back to the Future” trilogy; and the 1990’s NBC situation comedy “Caroline in the City”.
- Cheryl Tiegs (Breckenridge, MN)
Actress/Supermodel; best known for her photos in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which featured her on the cover in 1970, 1975, and 1983. The 1978 poster of her in a pink bikini became an iconic 1970s pop culture image.
- Sofia Vassilieva (Minneapolis, MN)
Actress; My Sister’s Keeper, Medium (TV)
- Robert Vaughn (New York City, NY)
Actor – TV/Film; Most remembered for his role in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (1964-1968). He was nominated for an Academy Award for “The Young Philadelphians (1959)”.
- Vince Vaughn (Minneapolis, MN)
Actor; Wedding Crashers, 2005; The Break-Up, 2006. Although born in Minneapolis, Vaughn was actually raised in Chicago.
- Chris Wedes (St. Paul, MN)
TV Personality. Wedes is best known as “J.P. Patches” the clown, as popular children’s show in Seattle that ran for 23 years, making it one of the longest running locally-produced children’s television programs in the U.S.. The character of J.P. Patches was first created by Daryl Laub and appeared on WTCN (now KARE) in Minneapolis in 1953. Wedes took over this role in 1955, but relocated to Seattle after being offered his own TV show there.
- Richard Widmark (Sunrise, MN)
Actor; Film, Theater, Television, Radio. Nominated for a Academy Award (Oscar) as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the film “Kiss of Death” (1947). Other notable film credits include; “The Alamo” (1960), “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), and “How the West was Won” (1962). He appeared in over 60 films.
- Cedric Yarbrough (Burnsville, MN)
Actor/Comedian; Numerous appearances in film and TV. Does a lot of voice work for animated TV shows like The Penguins of Madagascar, and The Boondocks.
- Francine York (Aurora, MN)
TV/Film; Model turned actress. Film roles in “The Family Man” (2000), “The Nutty Professor” (1963), “The Big Tease” (1999), “The Disorderly Orderly” (1964). Appearances on TV in “Bewitched” (1964), “Batman” (1966) and “My Favorite Martian” (1963), The Wild Wild West.
- Gig Young (St. Cloud, MN)
TV/Film/Theater Actor. Academy Award (Oscar) and Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for the film, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969). Other film roles include; Film Rear Window (1954), Young at Heart (1954) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974). Had a tragic private life.
- Steve Zahn (Marshall, MN)
Actor; Sahara, 2005. He has over 50 film credits and 4 film credits as a performer on a soundtrack.
These are individuals who were NOT born in Minnesota, but have studied, lived OR still live in Minnesota.
- Barkhad Abdi (Mogadishu, Somalia)
In 2013 Abdi was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor by the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes, and nominated for the Academy Award (Oscar) for his role in the film “Captain Phillips”, his first-time acting role. When he was 14 (in 1999), his family won a U.S. greencard lottery and moved to Minneapolis from Somalia. 12 years later, (at age 26) he auditioned for this movie role and has recently moved to Hollywood.
- Amy Adams (Vicenza, Italy)
Actress; numerous movies including “Julie & Julia”, “Enchanted”, “Catch Me If You Can”, “Doubt”. Adams moved to Minnesota in 1996 and worked at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in Chanhassen, MN for three years. While in Minnesota she made her film debut in the movie, “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (1999).
- Terry Kilburn (London, England)
Kilburn received acclaim as a child actor in the 1930’s. One of his most notable roles were as Tiny Tim in the 1938 version of “A Christmas Carol”, the first Hollywood film adaption. His other notable roles were in Goodbye Mr Chips (1939) and Lord Jeff (1938). He has called Minneapolis home since the 1990’s.
- Debbie Turner Larson (Arcadia, California)
Debbie Turner played Marta von Trapp in the 1965 film, “The Sound of Music”. Marta was the second youngest von Trapp family member. Turner married Rick Larson and moved to Minnesota in the early 1990’s for her husband’s job. She and her family have lived her ever since.
- Mary Tyler Moore (Brooklyn, New York City, NY)
No, Mary never lived in Minnesota, but in a local 2002 interview on WCCO TV she stated that “Minneapolis has been such an important, integral part of my being, it’s my home”. Moore played Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show between 1970–1977. Her role as a producer in the fictional Minneapolis newsroom of WJM-TV – and a single working woman – earned 29 Emmy Awards.
I love your website. My daughter is doing the MN notebook and you are helping her sooooooooooo much.
Aren’t James Agnes’s and Peter Graves brothers? If true, interesting bit of trivia to add. Author and economist Friedman?
Yes, they are. Both used a stage name, but their family’s last name was “Aurness”. Author Thomas L. Friedman is listed on our page. Economist Milton Friedman was actually born in Brooklyn, New York, but did teach at the University of Minnesota during the 1945–46 academic year.
what about “Doc” William Faucett? He taught at the university of Michigan, but as far as I know, he was born in Minnesota & is buried in Roseville.
Thank you. His name has been added.
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