Many famous folks share link to Brookhaven

Published 12:39 pm Monday, April 12, 2010

I get tickled every time I stand in line and read all of thegossip on the checkout-stand tabloids and magazines.

And I will admit there have been times I’ve purchased a magazine ortabloid because I read a headline about one of my favorite actorsor actresses.

Seeing all of those smiling celebrity faces got me to thinking howmany really famous people have either been born or reared inBrookhaven or have called Brookhaven home at some point. The listis quite lengthy.

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Here are just a few.

In sports we have football players Lance Alworth, who is now amember of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College FootballHall of Fame; Ralph “Catfish” Smith; Don “Red” Estes; EarsellMackbee; Thomas Straughters and Alundis Brice. I’m sure there aremany others.

Another famous person most of our young people don’t know, but knowof his creation, is Robert “Bob” Pittman. Pittman is credited withbeing the founder of MTV. According to Wikipedia, he went on to beCEO of the network and oversaw the transition of the Nickelodeonnetwork, which a lot of parents with children know all about.

Pittman has a pretty impressive resume, which includes being thechief operating officer of America Online and AOL Time Warner. Hecurrently sits on the boards of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NYUMedical Center and the Alliance for Lupus Research.

Another famous businessman, who was in the news a few years back,is Bernie Ebbers. He isn’t a native of Brookhaven, but made thishis home for many years. Bernie is the former CEO ofWorldCom.

Other famous Brookhavenites that you may not have heard of includeactress Ruth Ford and her brother, artist and writer Charles HenriFord. Ruth made many films and appeared on Broadway during hercareer, which spanned the 1930s to the 1980s. Her brother was asuccessful poet, writer, filmmaker and photographer. They lived inNew York until their deaths.

Another early writer and actress was Tallulah “Lulah” Ragsdale.Miss Ragsdale published several books and was quite popular duringher day. Her first novel “The Crime of Phillip Guthrie,” waspublished in 1892.

Other novelists include Virginia Fairfax and Helen Ripley. The pairwrote under the pseudonym Helen Randolph. Fairfax also pennedseveral books using her own name.

Fairfax wrote the Girl Scout Mystery Series in the 1930s andco-authored the Mexican Mystery Stories For Girls series withRipley. (Note: I am currently doing research on Fairfax and Ripley.If you have information on either of the women, please call me. I’dlove to hear about them.)

Another quite famous author is Cid Ricketts Sumner. She isresponsible for all of the “Tammy” series of books, a lot of whichwere made into movies with the title character portrayed by DebbieReynolds and Sandra Dee.

We have had several nationally renowned sculptors: The late BruceBrady was a native of Brookhaven and a nationally acclaimedsculptor and author. His sculptures have found their way to theOval Office and into presidential collections. Another famoussculptor is Dr. J. Kim Sessums, who came to Brookhaven as OB/GYNdoctor and is making a name for himself in the world of art. He hasdesigned the African-American Monument that rests in the VicksburgNational Military Park as well as many other works.

There have also been several musicians who have left their mark onthe entertainment world including Blind Jim Brewer. He made a namefor himself on Chicago’s Maxwell Street as a blues singer andguitarist. Lavell Crump was reared in Brookhaven and Jackson. Theyounger generation knows him better as the rapper DavidBanner.

I know there are probably lots of other famous people from our areathat I haven’t mentioned.

And there are a lot of not-so-famous people that should be famousfor their good works and deeds.

It will be interesting to see as the years pass, who will be in thenext generations of local “celebrities.”

And how was your week?

Lifestyles Editor Tammie Brewer can be reached at The DAILY LEADERat (601) 833-6961 ext. 134, by e-mail at oryou can write to her at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS39602.