With the recent release of Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana documentary, we began to think about other notable celebrities who once called Pennsylvania’s Americana Region “home.” From entertainers and artists to athletes and frontiersmen, Berks County has been the home to many big names over the years and we included a few below.
Although Daniel Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now Kentucky, the pioneer and frontiersman did reside in the Reading area for some time. His birthplace near Birdsboro, Berks County, Pennsylvania has been restored and furnished to resemble authentic rural life in the 18th century and can be visited by families today.
The Daniel Boone Homestead includes 579 acres at 400 Daniel Boone Rd. and gives guests the opportunity to learn about his story and what life was like in the 1700’s.
Artist Keith Haring had a unique style, and his work, which spanned over many countries, businesses, and museums, is still easily recognized by many today. He was born in Reading in 1958 and raised in Kutztown before moving to Pittsburgh and then on to New York City. His colorful murals of outlined figures typically made a statement about a social theme he was passionate about.
Although he passed away from AIDS-related complications at the young age of 31, his legacy and artwork lives on and his Keith Haring Foundation continues to support non-profit organizations that assist in education, prevention, and care related to AIDS.
While Lenny Moore may be known for his achievements as a running back in the National Football League for the Baltimore Colts, his skill on the football field started long before that when he played with his team at Reading High School. Moore was born and raised in Reading, PA and drafted into the NFL as a first round pick following his impressive tenure with Penn State University. After 12 seasons and seven Pro Bowls, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
TV star Jillian Murray spent her childhood in Reading and Wyomissing, PA before relocating with her family to Tucson, Arizona and finally to Los Angeles where she got her start in film. Her roles include Portlyn on Sonny with a Chance, Olivia on MTV's Awkward, Gwen Adams in American High School, and Lex Mitchell in Forget Me Not, among others. Her path to stardom began in the beautiful Berks County.
American writer and Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike was born in Reading and raised in Shillington by his parents. Berks County was where Updike first became interested in writing when he watched his mother attempt to become a published writer herself and it’s also the inspiration to the environment he writes about in some of his works including Rabbit, Run.
He graduated from Shillington High School as co-valedictorian and received a full scholarship to Harvard College. His birthplace home, where his first fiction, poetry, and prose were written, can be toured today at 117 Philadelphia Avenue, Shillington, PA.
Conrad Weiser was born in Germany in 1696 and migrated to America in 1710 where he settled in New York. He lived with the Mohawk tribe before moving his family to the Tulpehocken area in Pennsylvania in 1729. He used the knowledge he gained of the Iroquois to mediate Indian/Colonial politics. Today, he is credited with the settlement of the town of Reading and the establishment of Berks County. His home can be visited at the Conrad Weiser Homestead at 28 Weiser Lane, Womelsdorf, PA 19567.
Stars Left Their Mark Here
While this is not a complete list of all of the stars that were either born in Berks County or moved to the area later on in their lifetime, it gives a clear indicator that Berks County has shaped many notable names in a variety of industries. Just as they are all a part of Pennsylvania’s Americana Region’s story, this region will always remain as a part of their journey as well.
Comment below other celebrities that have lived in Berks County and they may be featured in a future edition of this blog.