7 Famous People From Newport News VA

Newport News, Virginia is home to about 180,000 people, and many of them are certainly notable. Excelling in fields such as entertainment, sports, literature, and politics, these famous figures prove that this city doesn’t run short of talents and brilliant minds.

Ella Fitzgerald

No less than the Queen of Jazz and the First Lady of Song was born in Newport News on April 25, 1917. She spent a few years of her early life in this city before her family moved to New York. Fitzgerald would eventually become a music legend, and Newport News has given her many appropriate tributes, including the 276-seater Ella Fitzgerald Theater and the annual Ella Fitzgerald Music Festival.

William Styron

The celebrated author was born on June 11, 1925 in the historic district of Hilton Village in Newport News. His birthplace was near the site of the Southampton Insurrection, a slave rebellion that later became the subject of Styron’s novel “The Confessions of Nat Turner”. Styron’s other acclaimed works include “Sophie’s Choice” and “Darkness Visible”. As tribute, the Port Warwick neighborhood in Newport News was named after a fictional city in Styron’s first novel “Lie Down in Darkness”.

Richard Kelly

Film enthusiasts will immediately recognize the name Richard Kelly as the director of the cult classic “Donnie Darko”. Born on March 28, 1975 in Newport News, James Richard Kelly is considered one of the notable figures in independent film, alongside the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Sofia Coppola. Kelly has also been nominated in various prestigious events such as the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival.

Michael and Marcus Vick

These well-known NFL siblings were both born and raised in the East End area of Newport News. Both excelled in football at Warwick High School, then later at Virginia Tech. Older brother Michael went on to play professionally as a quarterback for various teams, most notably the Atlanta Falcons. Meanwhile, Marcus played as wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins.

Hazel R. O’Leary

The former US Secretary of Energy made history when she was appointed by President Bill Clinton: she is, as of today, the first and only African-American and the first and only woman to hold the position. Born Hazel Reid on May 17, 1937, the Newport News native is noted for having declassified Cold War-era records, confirming rumors that human radiation experiments were being done in the US.

Robert Cray

Five-time Grammy Award winner Robert Cray may be known today as a blues guitarist and singer, but his first musical endeavor was as a rhythm guitarist for a high school cover band. That happened during his years at Denbigh High School in Newport News in the late 1960s. Cray’s father was then stationed at Fort Eustis, while Cray himself developed a love for blues and soul through records and weekend gigs.

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