What famous people are from southeast Louisiana? Some names may be surprising

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

When you think of areas like New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the southeastern Louisiana parishes, which celebrities come to mind?

The region of Louisiana has been called home by many famous people through the decades.

Nestled along the Gulf coast, the area known for the mighty Mississippi River as well as picturesque bayous and tranquil lakes has produced many famous actors, music legends, and sports icons.  

Take a look at some of the most well-known faces that started out in southeast Louisiana. 

Louis Armstrong is pictured in front of one of many reel-to-reel tape machines that he used to record himself, as well as conversations with family and friends.

Louis Armstrong

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential figures in jazz during his career as a trumpet and cornet player, bandleader, singer, soloist, film star, and comedian.

New Orleans' Louis Armstong Park, dedicated in 1980, includes a statue of the famous musician with a trumpet in hand.

The house where he lived for nearly 28 years was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and was turned into a museum.

Fats Domino, known for songs like I'm Walkin' and Blueberry Hill, died at 89 in 2017.

Fats Domino

New Orleans native Antoine Dominique Domino Jr., known professionally as Fats Domino, was a singer, pianist, and songwriter who was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music.

An influence on legends like Elvis Presley and the Beatles, Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of its first group of inductees in 1986.

According to the Associated Press' estimates, he sold more than 110 million records during his career.

Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shows off her strong vocals during a breakfast in her honor in Nashville Nov. 24, 1961.

Mahalia Jackson

Known as the Queen of Gospel, New Orleans' Mahalia Jackson was one of the greatest musical figures of the 20th century.

She sang at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in January 1961, as well as for a crowd of more than 200,000 in Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech.

Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Early influence category in 1997. 

In this file photo taken on July 22, 2019, Britney Spears arrives for the premiere of Sony Pictures' Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Britney Spears

After growing up in Kentwood, Britney Spears became the best-selling teenage artist of all time with her first two studio albums, ...Baby One More Time and Oops!...I Did It Again.

Kentwood is a rural town in Tangipahoa Parish near the Mississippi state line.

Her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, starred in the Nickelodeon teen sitcom Zoey 101.

In a file photo, Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies, holds a publicity picture of herself from the show Jan. 8, 2009, in Baton Rouge.

Donna Douglas

Born Doris Ione Smith in the community of Pride in northeastern East Baton Rouge Parish, Donna Douglas was best-known for her role as Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies television series, which ran from 1962-1971.

After her acting career, she was a real-estate agent, gospel singer, inspiration speaker, and author.

Before moving to New York to pursue a career in show business, she was named Miss Baton Rouge and Miss New Orleans.

Patricia Clarkson attends the AFI Fest 2022: Red Carpet Premiere of She Said at TCL Chinese Theatr in Hollywood, Nov. 4.

Patricia Clarkson

Born in New Orleans, Patricia Clarkson has starred in several leading roles as well as supporting roles in major films.

Her awards include a Golden Globe Award and three Primetime Emmy Awards.

She has been nominated for an Academy Award and a Tony Award.

Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning smiles for cameras as he is introduced in the first half of an NBA basketball game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Denver Nuggets Dec. 20, in Denver.

Peyton Manning

One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, New Orleans native Peyton Manning played 18 seasons in the NFL.

The son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and older brother of former NFL quarterback Eli Manning, he was a five-time league Most Valuable Player and 14-time Pro Bowl selection.

Manning has been inducted in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Lil Wayne performs onstage at the NBA 2K23 Influencer Launch Event at Rolling Greens in Los Angeles in September.

Lil Wayne

Born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. in New Orleans, Lil Wayne is a rapper, singer, songwriter, and record executive.

Billboard has ranked him among the best rappers of all time.

He has won five Grammy Awards, 11 BET Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, and eight NAACP Image Awards.

In this April 7, 2016 file photo, former judges Randy Jackson, from left, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell appear at the "American Idol" farewell season finale in Los Angeles.

Randy Jackson

Born Randall Darius Jackson in Baton Rouge, Randy Jackson is well-known as one of the judges on the hit show American Idol from 2002 to 2013.

After graduating from Southern University, Jackson began his career as a musician playing bass guitar for jazz, pop, rock, and R&B artists.

He moved on to work in production and in the A&R department at Columbia Records and MCA Records.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show wrapped May 26 after 19 seasons.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres, born and raised in the New Orleans suburb Metairie, is a comedian, television host, actress, writer, and producer.

She starred in the sitcom Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002.

DeGeneres went on to host the syndicated television talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show from 2003 to 2022, which won 33 Daytime Emmy Awards.

Tyler Perry attends Marvel Studios' Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever premiere at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood in October.

Tyler Perry

Born Emmitt Perry Jr. in New Orleans, Tyler Perry is an actor, comedian, filmmaker, and playwright.

He is well-known as the creator and performer of the Madea character, who appears in many of his movies.

In recent years he had an exclusive partnership with Oprah Winfrey and her Oprah Winfrey Network.

DJ Khaled attends the 2022 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 15 in Las Vegas.

DJ Khaled

Born Khaled Mohammed Khaled in New Orleans, DJ Khaled is a disk jockey, record executive, record producer, and rapper.

Reese Witherspoon attends Apple TV+'s Surface New York premiere at The Morgan Library on July 25.

Reese Witherspoon

Born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon in New Orleans, Reese Witherspoon is an actress and producer known for such hit movies as Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, and Walk the Line.

Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries, left, gestures while describing the bourbon he and castmate Paul Wesley, right, have created at the Team Kentucky Bourbon Stage at the 2022 Bourbon & Beyond music festival.

Ian Somerhalder

Born in Covington, Ian Somerhalder is an actor known for his portrayal of Boone Carlyle in the television drama Lost, Damon Salvatore in The CW's The Vampire Diaries, and Dr. Luther Swann in Netflix's V Wars.

Author Anne Rice signs books during Entertainment Weekly's PopFest at The Reef on October 29, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Anne Rice

Born Howard Allen Frances O'Brien in New Orleans, Anne Rice was an author of gothic fiction, erotic literature, and Christian literature, best known for her series of novels The Vampire Chronicles.

Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies videos sold millions of copies.

Richard Simmons

Milton Teagle "Richard" Simmons, a New Orleans native, is a fitness personality known for his weight-loss programs and his Sweatin' to the Oldies line of exercise videos.

Rapper and LSU fan Torrence Ivy Hatch Jr., better known by his stage name Boosie, claps during an NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi in Baton Rouge, Feb. 1.


Torence Ivy Hatch, known professionally as Boosie, is a rapper from Baton Rouge.

Democratic strategist James Carville gives a speech June 17 during Big Dem Weekend at the Indianapolis Convention Center in Indianapolis.

James Carville

James Carville, a well-known political consultant, grew up in the Carville area of Iberville Parish.

He attended Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville and LSU.

Anthony Mackie attends the 2022 CMT Music Awards at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on April 11 in Nashville.

Anthony Mackie

Anthony Mackie, an actor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe beginning with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is from New Orleans.

Pedro Pascal and New Orleans native Carl Weathers are shown in a file photo from May 28. The stars were attending a panel for The Mandalorian series at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif.

Carl Weathers

Born and raised in New Orleans, Carl Weathers is an actor and former professional football players well-known for his roles as boxer Apollo Creed in the first four Rocky films.

The list goes on and on...

  • New Orleans native Truman Capote was a novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor, best known for Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood.
  • Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., best known as Dr. John, was a New Orleans singer and songwriter.
  • Harry Connick Jr. of New Orleans is a singer, pianist, composer, actor, and television host.
  • Kitty Carlisle, born in New Orleans, was an actress and singer who starred in the Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera.
  • Shane West, an actor, singer, and songwriter, is from Baton Rouge.
  • New Orleans native Phil Anselmo is a heavy metal vocalist best known as the lead singer for Pantera, Down, and Superjoint.
  • Kentrell DeSean Gaulden, known professionally as YoungBoy Never Broke Again, is a rapper from Baton Rouge.
  • Lynn Whitfield, a native of Baton Rouge, is an actress.
  • Terius Gray, known professionally as Juvenile, is a rapper from New Orleans.
  • Denham Springs native Rosalie Marie Ashton-Washington, known as Lady Tambourine, is a gospel musician well-known for her skill at tambourine.
  • Pruitt Taylor Vince, an actor, is from Baton Rouge.
  • Percy Robert Miller Sr., known professionally as Master P, is a rapper, record executive, record producer, and entrepreneur from New Orleans.
  • Baton Rouge native Don Lemon is a well-known journalist who works as a CNN host.
  • Wesley Eure, an actor, singer, author, producer, director, and educator, is from Baton Rouge.
  • Cleouna Moore, who went by Cleo Moore, was an actress born in Galvez and raised in Gonzales.
  • Bryan Batt is an actor from New Orleans.
  • Faith Domergue, a native of New Orleans, was a film and television actress.
  • Gloria Henry, an actress from New Orleans, was best known for role in the sitcom Dennis the Menace.
  • Leatrice Joy, an actress during the silent film era, was from New Orleans.
  • Dorothy Lamour, an actress and singer who appeared with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, was from New Orleans.
  • Actor John Larroquette is a New Orleans native.
  • New Orleans native Garrett Morris, an actor, comedian, and singer, was part of the original cast of Saturday Night Live.
  • Wendell Pierce, an actor, is from New Orleans.
  • Ben Turpin, an actor and comedian who worked in silent films, was a New Orleans native.
  • Cora Witherspoon, who was from New Orleans, was a stage and film actress for nearly a half a century.
  • Cokie Roberts was a journalist and author from New Orleans who worked for NPR, PBS, and ABC News.
  • Greg Gumbel, a New Orleans native, is a well-known television sportscaster.
  • Bryant Gumbel, also from New Orleans, is a television journalist and sportscaster.
  • Freddie Ross Jr., professionally known as Big Freedia, is a rapper known for his work in the New Orleans genre of hip hop called bounce music.
  • Aaron Neville, an R&B and soul singer, is from New Orleans.
  • Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, a New Orleans native, played 13 seasons in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams.
A Sept. 9, 2010 file photo shows New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson holding up the Super Bowl trophy before the Saints' NFL football season opener against the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans.
  • New Orleans native Tom Benson was a businessman, philanthropist and franchise owner of the NFL team the New Orleans Saints and the NBA team the New Orleans Pelicans.
  • Wynton Marsalis, who is from New Orleans, is a trumpeter, composer, teacher, and artistic director.
  • Pierre Dewey LaFontaine Jr., known professionally as Pete Fountain was a jazz clarinetist from New Orleans.
  • Known as the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas is a singer who was born in Ponchatoula.
  • Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Pettit was from Baton Rouge.
  • Todd Graves, the founder of the Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers restaurant chain, was born in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge.
  • New Orleans native Al Copeland was the founder of the Popeyes restaurant chain.
  • Ruth Fertel, born in New Orleans, founded Ruth's Chris Steak Houses.
  • Cosimo Matassa, a New Orleans native, was a recording engineer and studio owner who worked on R&B and early rock and roll recordings.
  • Jon Batiste of Metairie is a singer, songwriter, musician, bandleader, and television personality.
  • Leah Chase, who was born in New Orleans and grew up in Madisonville, was an author, television personality, and chef known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at and