Elizabeth Williams

 (b. 1949) – A producer on Broadway and around the world since 1989, Williams received the Tony Award for Best Musical for her production of “Crazy for You” (1992) plus the Best Revival Tony for both “The Real Thing” (1999) and for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (2000). Together, with partner Anita Waxman, Waxman Williams Entertainment has garnered 71 Tony nominations and 16 Tony Awards, more than any female producing team in history. Ms. Williams’ and Ms. Waxman’s recent Broadway productions include “Bombay Dreams,” “Gypsy,” “Flower Drum Song,” “Topdog/Underdog” and “Noises Off;” along with London West End productions of “By the Bog of Cats,” “Ragtime” and “Hitchcock Blonde.” In addition, her Four Corners Productions company is responsible for “Crazy for You,” “Into the Woods,” “the Secret Garden” and “Moon Over Buffalo.” From 1984-1989, she served as vice president of Mutual Benefit Productions and Fifth Avenue Productions, which created art and theatre investment funds. The company also served as the American financiers for Cameron Mackintosh by syndicating theatrical partnerships and helping finance the West End, Broadway, Australian and U.S. national touring companies of “Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon.” Williams has served on the board of directors of the 52nd Street Project and is a past chair of the board of directors of the New York Theatre Workshop. www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net 

Floyd Cramer

 (1933-1997) – Reared at Huttig (Union County), Cramer developed a unique “lonesome” piano style that launched him onto the Grand Ole Opry and several hit recordings during the 1960s. “Last Date” and “Alley Cat” were top piano solos for Cramer. He later expanded his range to include light jazz and pop music. In 1974, after recording over 40 albums, he received Nashville’s Metronome Award, granted annually to musicians who have contributed to the Nashville sound. www.cmt.com/artists/az/cramer_floyd/artist

Freeman Harrison Owens

 (1890-1979) – Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Freeman Owens served in World War I as a combat cameraman. He changed the movie making business forever when he perfected the process of putting sound on film, and later advanced cinematography technology when he designed and developed cameras and lenses used by Eastman-Kodak Company. Owens was 89 years old when he passed away in Pine Bluff. www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net

Gail Davis

 (1925-1997) – Born in Little Rock, Gail Davis was known to millions as television’s Annie Oakley in the 1950s. The series ran on ABC from 1955 through 1958 and was seen in reruns well into the 1960s. It was the first western to star a woman. The show was created for Davis by “singing cowboy” Gene Autry, who she had previously appeared with in several westerns. After the series ended, Davis continued to make personal appearances with Autry. She also appeared in TV specials, including “Wide, Wide World: The Western,” in 1958, a “Bob Hope Special” in 1959 and “The Andy Griffith Show: The Perfect Female,” in 1961. www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net

George Newbern

Little Rock, Arkansas, native George Newbern’s first lead role was in 1987’s Double Switch, a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper that aired as a part of the Wonderful World of Disney television series.  Newbern handled the role of Bart, a teenage rock star longing for a normal life, and also the role of Matt, a brainy high school student desperate to be popular. His big breakout movie role was in Father of the Bride (1991) and its sequel Father of the Bride Part II starring opposite Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams, and Martin Short. Other film credits include Adventures in Babysitting (1987) with Elisabeth Shue; Switching Channels (1988) with Kathleen Turner, Burt Reynolds and Christopher Reeve; and George’s most recent film credits include Senator Entertainment’s Fireflies in the Garden opposite Ryan Reynolds and the independent feature, Next of Kin. Read more »

Gil Gerard

 (b. 1943) – Little Rock native Gil Gerard rocketed to fame as Buck Rogers in the NBC television series, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” from 1979 to 1981. He has also starred in numerous made-for-television movies and feature films. Gil headed to New York in the summer of 1969 where he trained at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Shortly thereafter, he won an audition for the movie “Love Story,” which was followed by over 400 commercials for various national accounts, including Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co., and Procter & Gamble. Gerard was also a member of the cast of the Emmy Award winning “The Doctors,” daytime drama, playing the part of Dr. Alan Stewart for over three years. During this time, Hollywood called and he guest-starred in an episode of the television series “Baretta” and appeared in the role of Lee Grant’s lover in the motion picture “Airport ‘77.” After landing a guest starring role on “Little House on the Prairie,” Michael Landon offered him the lead in a new series, “Stone.” The show was never aired by NBC, but Gerard was offered the title role in the feature film and television show “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” www.gilgerard.com

Gilbert Maxwell “Bronco Billy” Anderson

 (1880-1971) – Born in Little Rock, Max Anderson grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas before moving to New York to appear in the first western movie production, “The Great Train Robbery” in 1903. He changed his professional name before starring in over 400 “Bronco Billy” movies. Later, Anderson directed and produced movies in studios in Chicago and California. He is credited with developing many of the camera techniques that are still used today. He was awarded a special Oscar in 1958 for his contributions to the industry. www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronco_Billy_Anderson

Glen Campbell

 (b. 1936) – A native of Delight in Pike County, the famous pop/country singer and songwriter hosted his own TV variety shows, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” (1969) and “The Glen Campbell Music Show” (1982). His hit recordings include: “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle on My Mind.” He appeared in the movies “True Grit” (1969), “Any Which Way You Can” (1980), “Uphill All The Way” (1985), and “Family Prayers” (1993). Campbell, who in 1960 was a session musician playing on recordings by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley and counless others, now headlines concerts throughout North America and the British Isles. www.glencampbellshow.com

Harry Thomason

(b. 1955) – Born and riased in Hampton, Arkansas, this former Little Rock high school speech teacher and football coach who is now one of the hottest producers in Hollywood. His hits include “The Fall Guy,” “The Blue & The Gray” mini-series (1983), “Designing Women,” “Evening Shade,” and “Hearts A’Fire.” He has been nominated for numerous awards including an Emmy, Director’s Guild Award, and a People’s Choice Award – among many others. www.mozarkproductions.com/principals

Jack Mitchell

 (b. 1923) – Though not a native Arkansan, Mitchell now chooses to call Arkansas home. The self-taught drummer had his first professional gig when he was hired at age 17 by Harry Barry to be the featured boy drummer in an otherwise all-girl orchestra. His first introduction to The Natural State came during the 1940s when stationed at Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville. He continued his military and musical career when he was transferred to a base in Sebring, FL, then Smyrna, TN. After the war, Mitchell worked as an exporter for 30 years and continued to play in various bands. When not overseas, he worked with bands in Chicago and appeared with such entertainers as Eddie Fisher, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, The McGuire Sisters, Joey Bishop, Bob Newhart, Isaac Stern, Gregory Hines, Regis Philbin and Tony Bennett. Mitchell retired from business and moved to Bella Vista in 1988. He joined the Bella Vista Big Band, becoming leader in 1990. Under his tutelage, the band performed for both of former President Bill Clinton’s inaugural balls in 1993 and 1997 in Washington, DC. He continues to reside in Northwest Arkansas and leads several bands, ranging from small combos to his big band and the Praise gospel band. www.jackmitchellbands.com.

James “Jim” Bridges

 (1936-1993) – Oscar nominated filmmaker who directed such films as “The Appaloosa” (1966), “The Paper Chase” (1973), “The China Syndrome” (1979), “Urban Cowboy” (1980) and “Perfect” (1985). His movie “September 10, 1955″ (1978) explored a college student’s reaction to the death of James Dean and was filmed in Conway. Bridges was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net

Jerry McKinnis

Jerry McKinnis, the outdoor sports pioneer for ESPN, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.  Jerry had other interests besides fishing, such as baseball. He played professional baseball for the Kansas City Athletics organization. By the 1950’s, he had saved up enough money to go trout fishing on the White River. By the end of the trip, the guide had him wanting to move to Arkansas, and that’s exactly what he did. He moved to Little Rock and started a fishing guide service at Lake Maumelle. He needed a little boost in business so he started a local TV show called “The Fishin’ Hole”. This program went on to become a regional TV show, then went national is now the longest running fishing show in TV history. Read more »

Jerry Van Dyke

 (b. 1931) – This comedian starred as Luther in the ABC hit television series “Coach” and also starred in the 1960s television series “My Mother the Car.” Jerry, who is the brother of actor Dick Van Dyke, at one time owned a home between Benton and Malvern. He restored an old movie theatre in downtown Benton which is now used by the local acting company “The Royal Players.” www.castproductions.com/jerryvandyke

Jim “Moose” Brown

Brown was born in Dearborn, Michigan, but moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas, when he was 14. He is a Grammy Award winning songwriter and Grammy nominated musician/producer with a great love for the state of Arkansas and got his first experiences playing music with “Southern Comfort”, a local band, and singer John Tolley from Blytheville.  “Moose” moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1983, and gained experience working with the touring bands of Jim Ed Brown; Whisperin’ Bill Anderson; Marie Osmond; Dan Seals, and even rock star Bob Seger as a member of the “Silver Bullet Band.” In 1994, he began playing on recording sessions and became “a team” session player and was nominated by the Academy of Country Music for “Keyboard Player of the Year” numerous times. He has played on dozens of #1 songs and millions of albums sold for such artists as Brad Paisley; Trace Atkins; Darryl Worley; Hank Williams, Jr.; Blake Shelton; Joe Diffie, and many others. Read more »

Jim Porter

 (b. 1932) – Jim Porter was born in Little Rock in 1932. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1954 and entered the family businesses of warehousing, moving and storage, food and appliance distribution. But it was the music business that called Porter; not as a performer, but as an agent and manager and as a promoter of famous jazz artists. Porter presented such artists as Ray Charles, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Erroll Garner, Louis Armstrong, Ramsey Lewis, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Stan Kenton, Harry James, Four Freshmen, George Shearing, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Dave Brubeck, Buddy Rich, and Maynard Ferguson. Porter’s long and outstanding career with promoting jazz in Arkansas is the reason he was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame. www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net

Jimmy Driftwood

 (1907-1998) – Noted folk singer and songwriter who was born on a farm near Mountain View. While serving as superintendent at Snowball, he wrote his big hit “The Battle of New Orleans.” He is also known for another composition, “The Tennessee Stud.” Today, Jimmy Driftwood’s Barn in Mountain View is the setting for performances by the Rackensack Folklore Society. www.encyclopediaofarkansas.com

Joe Nichols

(b. 1976) – Rogers native, Joe Nichols, found his love for country music at a young age listening to his family pick on their guitars. He made his debut at age 20 with a self-titled album on the independent Intersound label. His 2002 single “The Impossible” gained him recognition and critical acclaim for his neotraditionalist country style. The single peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was followed by his No. 1 single “Brokenheartsville” from his platinum-certified second album, “Man With a Memory.” His albums include “Revelation” (2004), which included the Top 10 hit “If Nobody Believed in You,” “A Traditional Christmas,” “III” (2005) gold-certified that produced his biggest hit to date the No. 1 single “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “Real Things” (2007) which produced the Top 20 hits “Another Side of You” and “It Ain’t No Crime.”

John Grisham

 (b. 1955) – Born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, the family moved to Southaven, Mississippi in 1967 where John graduated from Southaven High School in 1973. As a child, he dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn’t have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears. Grisham majored in accounting at Mississippi State University, received his degree in 1977, and graduated from Ole Miss Law School in 1981. He practiced both civil and criminal law in Southaven until 1990. Elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1983, he served from January 1984 until September 1990. In 1989, he published his first novel, A Time to Kill. The book received good reviews but sold only moderately well. Completed in 1988, The Firm proved to be his breakout hit. In 1990, before the novel was published, Paramount Pictures purchased the film rights. That same year, he resigned from the Mississippi House of Representatives and bought a farm near Oxford, Mississippi. Since then, Grisham has gone on to be recognized as one of the world’s best-selling novelists. Among his twenty-one publications are: A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Painted House (set in 1952 Arkansas), Skipping Christmas, The Summons and many more. www.johngrishamonline.com

John Michael Talbot

 (b. 1954) – Former rock star in the late 1960s, with the group Mason Proffit, pioneered the Country Rock that became the mainstay of modern Country Music. Now a moving force in Christian music, Talbot leads the monastic-style Little Portion, a Roman Catholic community a few miles east of Eureka Springs. Catholic music’s number one recording artist with sales of around four million records worldwide, Talbot’s numerous awards include nine Dove award nominations, a Dove Award for the album “Light Eternal,” and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) President’s Merit Award for “Song of the Poor.” www.johnmichaeltalbot.com

John Weston

 (1927-2005) – A Brinkley native, Weston was born on December 12, 1927. The singer/songwriter combined fine songwriting with a deep Delta Blues style. A self-taught harmonicaist and guitarist, John began performing in 1970 and by 1977 had built a local audience in Marianna where he was living. His lyrics, which grew from his personal experience, reflect the humor and irony of daily life. He became a popular festival performer in the Delta and all over the world. He performed solo for many years although he occasionally played with a band. In 1989, John won the Lucille Award (named after blues singer B.B. King’s infamous guitar) at the Handy Awards in Memphis. In 1995 he began performing as a duo with Little Rock slide guitarist Mark Simpson. His CD “Got To Deal With The Blues” contains several cuts featuring the two. On April 20, 1996, John Weston and Mark Simpson performed in Jonesboro at Hairy Larry’s. The performance was taped for broadcast on “Something Blue.” www.deltaboogie.com