Cincinnati Celebrity Connections
Every woman has laid eyes on an issue of Vogue, and even if they haven’t seen a single episode, they’ve all heard of “Sex and the City.” But not every woman knows that each of these little treasures of pop culture has a link back to the Queen City. Forget about Kevin Bacon’s six degrees of separation because this story only has room for one degree between Cincy and stardom.
Based on Bacon’s theory, some Cincinnati hometown guys are just one degree away from the city, but Nick and Drew Lachey and Justin Jeffre are all too hot to be just one degree. That’s why they’re all a part of the band 98 Degrees. During the band’s extended hiatus, Nick Lachey has released two solo albums (a third is set to drop in November), Drew Lachey won ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” and Jeffre ran for Cincinnati’s mayor in 2005.
While 98 Degrees makes you melt, you might want to “Shout!” when you hear that The Isley Brothers were born and raised in this fine city. These Cincinnatians brought us some oldies but goodies, including “It’s Your Thing,” “Twist and Shout” and “Shout!”
Even if you’re twisting and shouting, you can still believe that love is the answer. After all, that’s what your fellow Cincinnatians believe. That’s right, Blessid Union of Souls, famous for their song “I Believe,” formed in Morrow, Ohio, less than 40 minutes away from downtown Cincy.
Travel back a little further than Blessid Union of Souls but not quite as far as The Isley Brothers, and you’ll find Cincinnatian Bootsy Collins. He expressed his funky self in Parliament-Funkadelic. The funk band members, including Collins, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
A little further behind the scenes of the stage is Cincinnati native Itaal Shur who wrote the music for the 2001 Grammy Song of the Year, “Smooth,” which was performed by Santana and Rob Thomas. Shur has also written songs for artists Jewel and Ricky Martin, among others.
From the QC to TV
Whether on stage or on the tube, Cincinnati connections still hold. And the most famous connection is with little orphan Annie on Broadway whose “Tomorrow” eventually brought her to the days (and nights) of “Sex and the City.” Sarah Jessica Parker, formerly Annie, grew up in Cincinnati where she landed a role on “The Little Match Girl,” a local TV show. This role led her to a role in her first Broadway show, “The Innocents.”
Before she had any roles at all, however, she attended the School of Creative and Performing Arts with Rocky Carroll. Cincinnati-born Carroll was nominated for the Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role — Play) in 1990. More recently you might have seen him in “NCIS: Naval Crime Investigative Service,” where he plays NCIS Director Leon Vance. He also made an appearance in the fifth episode of last season’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Also on the TV is the “Cold Case” star Kathryn Morris, who was born in Cincinnati. Starring alongside Morris is Thom Barry, who was also born in the Queen City.
Other Cincinnati-born TV stars include Patricia Wettig who plays alongside Calista Flockhart and Sally Field as Holly Harper on “Brothers and Sisters” and Vicki Lewis who played alongside Phil Hartman as Beth in “NewsRadio.”
Flying Pigs Get a Reality Check
Moving from sit-coms to reality TV, Cincinnati maintains its ties, and this is where Vogue comes in. Cincinnati-born Lisa Love works as the senior West Coast editor of Vogue and Teen Vogue magazines. Because of her position at Teen Vogue, Love appeared on MTV’s “The Hills” as LC and Whitney’s editor while the girls worked for the magazine.
In the not-so-celeb-focused reality shows, the Linz family from Anderson took first in “The Amazing Race: Family Edition.” Cincinnati-born Kirsten Buschbacher didn’t quite get the gold when bachelor Andrew Firestone proposed to the other finalist in the third season of “The Bachelor.”
Cincinnati also has ties with several soap opera stars, including Cincinnati-born-and-raised Heidi Mueller who plays Kay Bennett Crane on “Passions.” Also on Passions have been Cincinnati-born Emily Harper, Rodney Van Johnson, Inger Tudor and Carolyn Wilson.
There should always be passion in the days of our lives, and Cincinnati-born Stephen Nichols is the one to bring that passion to “Days of Our Lives” as character Steven Johnson. Nichols has also appeared in “General Hospital” and “Port Charles” as character Stefan Cassidine.
Cincinnati also has connections to “As the World Turns” with born-and-raised Cincinnatian Marie Masters who plays Susan Stewart. Another “As the World Turns” actress is Cincinnati-born Napiera Groves, who was Miss District of Columbia USA and Miss Congenialty of the 1997 Miss USA pageant.
One of the most well-known actors to have a Cincinnati tie is none other than George Clooney. Son of newscaster Nick Clooney and nephew of singer Rosemary Clooney, George went to schools in Ft. Mitchell and Augusta, Ky. and Mason, Ohio. Before his acting career took off, Clooney aspired to be a professional baseball player but struck-out with the Reds when he tried out for the team in 1977.
Clooney isn’t the only well-known movie star to go to school in Greater Cincinnati. Long before the Church of Scientology entered his mind, Tom Cruise aspired to be a Catholic priest. He studied at St. Francis Seminary right here in the Queen City.
Clooney and Cruise aside, Julie Hagerty starred in “Airplane!” that has been rated 10th funniest movie in the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Laughs” and sixth in Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies.” Hagerty was born in Cincinnati and attended Indian Hill High School.
Another Cincinnati girl, Irvetta McMurtry, has played as a stunt double for Vanessa Williams in “Light it Up,” “Soulfood” and “Hoodlum.” McMurtry is also the reigning Beauties of America’s 40s.
Behind the Scenes From the Queen (City)
You’ve seen at least one of his long list of movies, including “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” but you might not have known that Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati. Yep, that Oscar-winning director and his father, Arnold Spielberg, who was the inspiration for “Saving Private Ryan” were both born in this city.
She might not be as big as Spielberg (yet), but DeAnn Heline has found her way out of the Queen City and into the jungle, the “Lipstick Jungle” that is. Heline has written every episode thus far of the show that is inspired by the novel by Candace Bushnell, author of “Sex and the City.”
And who could forget the founder of CNN and TNT? Ted Turner was born in Cincinnati, and before he moved to Georgia at age 9, Turner attended a boarding school right here in the Ohio River Valley.
Back in the Good Old (Porkopolis) Days
Cincinnati hasn’t just recently started giving birth to shining stars. Both Roy Rogers (born Leonard Slyle) and Doris Day (born Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff) were Cincy-born. They both also starred in their own TV programs, among other works.
Another old-time celebrity was John Lounsbery. As one of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” Lounsbery worked as animator, directing animator or director for more than 50 Disney productions, including “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “The Rescuers.”
Cincy Starter Stars
Even though Cincinnati already has so many connections with Hollywood, there will only be more in the future because of two key organizations: the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) and New View Management Group.
SCPA gave many of the above-mentioned celebs their start. Nick and Drew Lachey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rocky Carroll…the list goes on. Check out this week’s career column to learn more about the SCPA.
New View Management is a modeling agency that has been the key to several careers, including Irvetta McMurtry and Heidi Mueller discussed above. Other models have starred in a 3 Doors Down Video (Amanda Bentley), starred in Pantene Pro-V commercials (Kindra Hanson) or won the Miss Ohio pageant (Aisha Berry).
So if you want to see your own name in the credits sometime, you can check out these companies, but it won’t be easy. “Those that make it out of Cincinnati…they are the ones that have the heart, hard work and perseverance to make it in this industry (fashion, talent),” says Chester Ricks, agency director of New View Management. “Like Heidi Klum says on “Project Runway,” ‘One minute you’re in, the next you’re out.'”
First Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: The McAlpin
Model: Missy DeGroot
Makeup Artistry: Charlie Greer, Lancome Makeup Artist, Saks Fifth Avenue