The Famous Locals of Minnesota
When you speak to a local in Minnesota, they are proud about the rich list of celebrities born and raised there. Most will immediately think about the current stars that include the captivating Winona Ryder, the beautiful Jessica Biel, the legendary Judy Garland, and the dashing Vince Vaughn -and many more... However, Minnesota has a whole slew of home-grown heroes you may not have heard of before. You will also find it entertaining nonetheless, to know that Minnesota produced 2 of the most notable “Peanut Men” that have been firmly anchored into history. We’ll also share a few more celebrated celebs from the land of 10,000 Lakes. If you thought you knew Minnesota well enough, hold onto your seat- as we explore some of the most interesting facts you probably have never read anywhere else.
The Missionary Man of Minneapolis
The most commonly mentioned and obvious is the performing artist: Prince, who was born in Minnesota in 1958, under the name Prince Rogers Nelson. While most people thought he had taken-on the stage name, Prince is actually his name by birth. Yet you may never have heard that he was a devout Jehovah ’s Witness, and that he visited people all over Minnesota. Along with Larry Graham (his bassist) they would go door to door, reading scripture from a little bible in tow. They were so bold, they even visited a Jewish household where the lady of the house recognized him and thought he might be looking to using her house for a music video until she realized he was really there on a mission to preach. Oy vey!
Good Grief, how could we ever forget?
You may still recall cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who was born and bred in Minnesota and is undeniably famous for being the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. He earned the nickname: “The Peanuts Man” as a result and his truly beloved characters went on to become household icons we all know. In an ironic twist it’s funny how two Minnesota locals could be labeled “Peanut Man" as that was also the nickname of another famous local too-you will read about in the next paragraph. As for Mr. Schulz, over the 50 plus year run of drawing the Peanuts cartoon strip, you may be very aware of that familiar Beethoven bust atop the piano that Schroeder proudly plays. One interesting fact about Charles Schulz is that he held such an admiration for classical musician Ludwig Van Beethoven so much that he organized a birthday party for the late composer at his home in the 1960’s! Someone whom else he admired tremendously was Billie Jean King- back in the early 70’s and even became close friends with this legendary tennis star. His interest in the fair treatment of women in sports, led him to serve on the Women’s Sports Foundation Board and he even helped sponsor the first Tennis Classics Tournaments from 1983-1985 for tennis stars over 35. One final amazing Schulz fact, is that he is known to be a proud WWII veteran, even though he never fired a weapon! The famous story goes: He aimed his mounted machine gun at a German soldier to fire -but the gun wasn’t even loaded, however the German soldier surrendered at that point anyway, this was a victory without any bloodshed involved.
Once a slave, hailed an American hero
Now the second person whom is known in Minnesota as the “Peanut Man” is of course George Washington Carver. He was a scientist, nature lover and you probably wonder why he’s called the Peanut Man too. It came about from his appearance before congress in 1921 to ask for a tariff for: (of all things) – peanuts! Incredibly, he did develop over 300 peanut products including many industrial grade product applications from solvents to soap, he ran the gamut. George Carver is one of the few people who got a personal letter from Mahatma Gandhi thanking Carver for his agricultural bulletins Carver sent him, these bulletins helped Gandhi build-up inner strength during his infamous hunger strikes. Minnesota locals also claim that George Carver had lent a big hand to Henry Ford in the development of biofuels and bioplastics, which may or may not have been a promotional capitalization of Carvers’ fame by Henry Ford. Little is known about the truth surrounding the Plastic Car of 1942, and even less is known how far Ford and Carver were able to take biofuel to the next level. No matter, for Mr. Carter it seems- he will forever be cemented into the halls of fame as the Peanut Man of Minnesota.
One woman who cooked the books!
Marjorie Husted is another fine example of a famous Minnesota native who played a major role in creating the face of the character known as Betty Crocker. First of all, she wasn’t just another person who got lucky in life, her father was a lawyer and perhaps this had something to do with her insight to becoming a champion of early American feminism and the empowerment of the homemakers’ role in society. A university education earned her a B.A. and B.Ed. from the University of Minnesota where she was also a sorority member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Her first experience after that was at the Minnesota State Fair selling incubators, one of which her father has acquired through a client. This later led to full-time job working as a secretary for the Infant Welfare Society of Minneapolis and later spring-boarded into more promotional management positions for consumer products. It wasn’t until 1924 that she started working for the Washburn-Crosby Company that produced the Gold Medal Flour. Later this company would later merge into the current General Mills company we’ve all heard of before.
A field rep in the beginning, it only took 2 years for her to move into the position of the Home Service Department where they answered questions from consumers under the companies product signature name: Betty Crocker. For decades it was thought by many Americans that they believed she was a real person. And even though she was only a fictional character, Marjorie did in fact play the voice of Betty Crocker for the WCCO radio show from 1926-1953 on several occasions, and always wrote the scripts for each of them. The character adored by many as Betty Crocker, was so convincing that she received several marriage proposals per week by men who were impressed by such a strong and smart homemaker role. To most women who raised families at home, Marjorie represented a symbol of strength and the image of the perfect American Housewife. However in Marjorie’s personal life, she was a great contributor to many AAUW (The American Association of University Women) publications including a Money Management Portfolio in 1953 that helped women focus on how to manage themselves at home. Though she was practical in her approach to the blight of women in the role of mothers, she symbolized the empowered woman that modern feminism has all but destroyed! She died at the ripe age of 94 in Minneapolis, yet the Betty Crocker image that Marjorie helped shape into such an iconic figure is all that is left from her legacy.