It wouldn’t be fair to ignore all of the celebrities” who have called our town, Sarasota, Venice or Bradenton their home or fourth home. One of the earlier celebrities going back over 40 years is John D. McDonald the author who made one of the more interesting commentaries on Sarasota. “I’ve never met so many people who have said they have done so much in this world (of the people in Sarasota)”.
Of course you can go further back to John Ringling of the Ringling Circus fame and Martha Palmer the Chicago magnate who bought all the land from south Sarasota to Venice that is known as Palmer Ranch. Elvis Presley although he didn’t live here was sited at the Hob Nob restaurant of 1950’s fame.
Along came Bobby Vinton of “Roses are red” fame who lived on Lido Key, Dickie Smothers of the Smothers brothers. The Landry sisters, Audrey, Judy, Ruth found their way here from Hollywood after dipping their feet into our local sand. Audrey starred in Dallas and Judy was in a number of TV series.
Who could miss Dick Vitali the famous basketball announcer who calls Sarasota his home. He raises millions of dollars each year in Sarasota to fight cancer for children. Or Jerry Springer who can be seen wondering around St. Armands Circle. Tennis went big time in Sarasota when Nick Bollettieri coached at the Longboat Key Club and then his own academy raising tennis stars of the like, Boris Becker, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, and Serena and Venus Williams.
A host of musicians have graced our area including Dickey Betts who claims local roots back to ancesters of the Civil War in Manatee County, famous for his ‘Ramblin man” song and many others. Joe Perry lead guitarist and co-songwriter behind Aerosmith living on Longboat Key. Garth Brooks who called Manatee County home for a bit. Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame who likes to live on Bird Key. Mick Jagger, his ballet dancer girlfriend Melanie Hamrick who recently bought in Lakewood Ranch. Peter Frampton who likes the ranch also and has performed at the Van Wezel. Icon Dick Hyman who played piano for Benny Goodman and is famous in his own right receiving the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award, the highest honor in jazz. After scoring Moonstruck and many other movies.
And who can forget Donna Summer of disco fame, Dik Browne author of Haggar the Horrible who moved from Sarasota to Wisconsin, artist Syd Soloman who infamously closed Midnight Pass in the early 1980;s while trying to save his home on south Siesta Key only to have it taken over by Mother Nature. Midnight Pass one of our local wonders when it was open has been closed since then.
Duly noted legendary authors John Jakes of “North and South” and many other historical books, along with Stephen King the author of all those scary books. He often takes to the cyber world to comment on life and people. And as mentioned earlier John D. McDonald of “Condominium” fame. Jack Perkins the narrator for A&E “Biography” even hosted a program on our local area after he retired.
And as noted by the Herald Tribune authors ‘MacKinlay Kantor (the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Andersonville”), Walter Farley (“The Black Stallion”), Joseph Hayes (“The Desperate Hours”), and Stuart Kaminsky (Edgar Award-winning mystery writer, co-wrote the screenplay for “Once Upon a Time in America”) all have lived in this area.
Other notables who have lived here include Rosie O’Donnell, Jane Lynch, Martina Navratilova and Terry Bradshaw.