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

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Shirley MacLaine

In this photo taken on February 22, 2015, Shirley MacLaine attends the Oscars in Los Angeles.

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 went on to star in films such as Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment and The Apartment.

Chris Brown

R&B singer 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, Brown performed in local talent shows and sang in his 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

Talk show host 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

Actor Rob Lowe.

Chris Pizzello

In second place was actor Rob Lowe. Lowe 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 such TV series as “The West Wing” and “Parks and Recreation.” He is currently part of the cast of 9-1-1: Lone Star.

Sandra Bullock

Actress 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-Lee High School before attending college at East Carolina University in North Carolina. At ECU, Bullock acted in many productions, such as Peter Pan and Three Sisters, while earning a degree in dramatic acting. 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 Virginia Beach-based music producer Pharrell Williams, Newport News-born Olympian Gabby Douglas, Portsmouth-born music icon Missy Elliott, and Hampton-born basketball player Allen Iverson.

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