Five of the most famous people in Virginia

Sandra Bullock, Rob Lowe, Katie Couric, Chris Brown and Shirley MacLaine. Can you guess what these stars have in common?

According to a recent study by the website Famous People, they are among the top five most famous people in Virginia.

In a nationally representative survey of the US population conducted earlier this year, people were introduced to famous people and asked to determine whether they knew them. The poll was based on which state the celebrities were born in and what level of fame they achieved in that state.

While the hometowns of some celebrities, such as journalist Katie Couric or singer Chris Brown, may be well known, for others, such as actors Sandra Bullock and Rob Lowe, it can be surprising.

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Shirley MacLaine


John Shearer/Invision/AP

First, fifth place on the list is Golden Age Hollywood actress Shirley MacLaine. MacLaine was born in Waverley in 1934, and her brother, actor Warren Beatty, was born in Richmond. Her family later moved to Norfolk, then to Arlington. Her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 black comedy The Trouble with Harry earned her a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year. McClain has starred in films such as Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment and The Apartment.

Chris Brown


Matt Sales

R&B singer Chris Brown came in fourth on the list. Brown was born in Tappahannock in 1989. As a child, he performed in local talent shows and sang in the church choir. At age 15, the future star signed a contract with Jive Records and in 2005 released her first hit, “Run It,” which reached number one on the charts.

Katie Couric



Award-winning journalist Katie Couric, ranked third on the list, was born in Arlington County in 1957. She began her career as a newspaper reporter at Yorktown High School. She continued to write for The Cavalier Daily while a student at the University of Virginia, graduating in 1979. In 1991, Couric became a co-host of The Today Show. She became the first female evening news anchor on the CBS Evening News in 2006. In 2009, Couric won the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Rob Lowe


Chris Pizzello

In second place is actor Rob Lowe, who was born in Charlottesville in 1964 and raised in Dayton, Ohio. Lowe was a teen heartthrob and screen darling in films like The Outsiders and St. Elmo’s Fire. Lowe later starred in TV shows such as The West Wing and Parks and Recreation. He is currently part of the cast of 9-1-1: Lone Star.

Sandra Bullock


Joel C Ryan

The most famous person in Virginia is Miss Congeniality star Sandra Bullock. Bullock was born in Arlington County in 1964 and graduated from Washington-Liberty High School, formerly known as Washington-Lee High School, before attending East Carolina University in North Carolina. At ECU, Bullock appeared in many productions, including Peter Pan and Three Sisters, while earning a degree in drama. After college, she moved to Manhattan to pursue an acting career. Bullock’s film credits include “The Proposal,” “Speed,” “The Blind Side” and the Netflix thriller “Bird Box.”

Other big names from Virginia include music producer Pharrell Williams of Virginia Beach; Olympic champion Gabby Douglas, a Newport News native; music icon Missy Elliott of Portsmouth; and basketball player Allen Iverson, a Hampton native.

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