We know you know just how awesome Chicago is. After all, it’s home to the best deep-dish pizza and the most extraordinary architecture. It’s also one of the greatest cultural hubs in the United States, with thousands of diverse people bringing life to the busy downtown streets, gorgeous parks, impressive museums, delectable eateries, and the myriad other businesses Chicagoans have built over the years. Just in case, though, we’ve compiled this list of famous people from Chicago so you can have yet another reason to brag about living here to your friends.
Famous Athletes From Chicago
Famous Chicago athletes span a wide array of sports. Most of your friends will be familiar with the Chicago Bulls or the Chicago Cubs. Today, though, you’re going to impress your friends with these famous Chicagoans who are world-class athletes still working to improve others’ lives years after coming into their fame.
This retired professional tennis player born in Chicago has an extraordinary track record. Granville still holds the women’s NCAA record for most consecutive singles victories while studying at Stanford as part of the class of 2003. She turned pro immediately following her sophomore year after winning the NCAA individual singles title two years in a row.
During her professional career, Granville won 221 out of 381 matches, achieving a singles ranking of number 28 in 2003. She also ranked number 47 in 2007 for doubles play, with a record of 100 out of 187 matches won.
She beat Martina Hingis, Swiss grand slam champion, in 2007 at Wimbledon, reaching the 16th round. She’s also a nine-time International Tennis Federation title winner and consistently reached at least the third round at the Australian, French, and U.S. Opens, as well as Wimbledon.
Now Granville serves as a radio commentator for the U.S Open and has been the head tennis coach at Princeton University since 2013. She has been named Ivy League Coach of the Year for four years out of her eight-year tenure so far.
The latest U.S. Figure Skating Fanzone headline Evan Lysacek has appeared in comes 11 years after winning the Olympic gold medal for figure skating in 2010. Lysacek is now working in diplomacy, combining his skills in sports and business to strengthen U.S. relations in eastern and western Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia.
Lysacek was named as Sports Envoy in 2012 and began collaborating with Sports Without Borders taking sports clinics to Sweden. The Sports Envoy Program designs outreach programs for underserved communities abroad and is a part of a larger Sports Diplomacy Division that the U.S. Department of State established in the wake of 9/11 to reach out to Middle Eastern youth abroad through soccer clinics.
Lysacek is one of many famous Chicagoans using his elite status for the common good.
Famous Actors and Musicians From Chicago
Without a doubt, Chicago’s culture is conducive to fostering a wider community of performers. Some comedians, for example, have established partnerships with others to found professional development for emerging members of the comedic scene in Chicago and nationwide.
This famous Chicagoan is one such example, who began her career as a comedian by taking improv classes at the iO improv theater while she was in high school. She performed there for a few years. In recent years, she had been performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles.
In 2015, Lauren Lapkus won a Screen Actors Guild Award for an Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for her role as corrections officer Susan Fischer on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.” You may also know her from her work opposite David Spade in “The Wrong Missy” from 2020 or for her role on “The Big Bang Theory” as Denise, the comic book store guy’s girlfriend.
Currently, Lapkus hosts a number of podcasts. Her most famous, which debuted as No. 1 on iTunes is called “With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus” and is based on her exceptionally developed improv skills. You can check out more details on her website, laurenlapkus.com.
Where do we even begin so that we can sufficiently brag about famous Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson? This multiple-award-winning actress is most definitely one of our favorite famous people from Chicago. She is a multi-faceted woman who grew up singing in gospel choirs and cruise ships, as well as performing for her community in local theater productions.
According to Hudson’s biographer on IMDB, Jennifer had no formal music training and was working at Burger King before becoming a contestant on American Idol in 2002. Now, Hudson is in the exceptional and limited company of Rita Moreno, Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anne Hathaway, and Emma Stone, becoming the eight actresses in this group to win Academy Awards for roles in musicals. Her performance in the movie musical “Dreamgirls” in 2006 also earned her Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and Broadcast Film Critics Association awards.
Recently named one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2020 by “TIME” Magazine, Jennifer is described as a “quietly strong” woman, chosen for this reason by Aretha Franklin to play her in the movie “Respect.” For Hudson, Aretha’s choice had to do with a much deeper connection between the two than singing and acting.
We think the new role as Aretha Franklin might bring her a second Oscar.
Billy Corgan is the lead signer songwriter and only permanent member of the band Smashing Pumpkins, which was active from 1988 to 2000, when the band played a farewell concert at The Metro in Chicago. This famous Chicagoan has since spoken up about how musicians can often struggle with mental health and how writing the song “Today” helped him to have a breakthrough from suicidal depression.
Bravery and persistence are two things all famous Chicagoans have in common, whether they are in show business, test their bodies’ strength through sports, or delight us with their beautiful tunes. The resolve to rise up after tragedy or hardship is a commonality we can all relate to, and it’s this ability to rebuild our motivation to keep going that unites us.