Coming up this Sunday is the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony, where celebrities strut their stuff on the red carpet and movie lovers cheer on their favorite films and performances of the year. But did you know Alexandria’s got its own award-winning cast? With world-renowned actors, musicians and athletes having called the city home, the list of celebrities from Alexandria is as star-studded as they come. Read on to discover the Alexandria connection for just a few of the big names both past and present to come out of ALX:
Image credit: Scott Barlow
Maybe you’ve heard of a little band called Nirvana? Or how about the Foo Fighters? Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl attended high school at Bishop Ireton in Alexandria. Years later Grohl returned to Alexandria with his band mates to record the Foo Fighters’ third album, “There is Nothing Left to Lose,” in the basement of his home on Nicholson Lane; the band also named a track on the 2011 album Wasting Light after the city’s northern neighborhood, “Arlandria.” Two songs recorded in Alexandria also made it onto the band’s fourth album, “One by One.”
Iconic rock musician Jim Morrison came to Alexandria as a teenager when his father, a naval officer, was transferred to the Pentagon in nearby Arlington. As a senior at George Washington High School, the future lead singer for The Doors was a voracious reader who puzzled his English teacher with his book reports on 16th and 17th century demonology texts from the Library of Congress. Morrison graduated from George Washington High in 1961.
SNL alum Casey Wilson
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Born and raised in Alexandria, actress and writer Casey Wilson graduated from T. C. Williams High School, then went on to a career that has included starring roles in the comedy shows Marry Me and Happy Endings and the film adaptation of Gone Girl. A Saturday Night Live alum, Wilson also contributes to the Funny or Die comedy site. Most importantly, she gives back: to honor her late mother, Wilson and her family created The Kathy Wilson Foundation, a charitable organization that donates to Alexandria preschools and daycare centers. (Here, Wilson make an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and gives a nod to Alexandria.)
Remember the Titans football team
In 1971 Alexandria consolidated its three public high schools into one and integrated the football teams. Playing together across racial divides in a time when tensions were high, the athletes won the state championship that same year. They were memorialized decades later in the award-winning film Remember the Titans starring Denzel Washington (and a young Hayden Panettiere). Today many of the championship team’s former football players remain active in the Alexandria community, including Petey Jones, who still works at T. C. Williams High School.
House of Cards creator Beau Willimon
Netflix original drama House of Cards may be set in Washington, D.C., but its creator was born just across the Potomac right here in Alexandria. As showrunner and writer for the hit series, Beau Willimon drew on his experience as a press aid for political campaigns in the area—and when he ends up back here for a shoot or press event, he makes sure to give a shoutout to his hometown.
Actor Dermot Mulroney
Image credit: Chris Cheung
Actor Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding, About Schmidt, August: Osage County) was born in Alexandria and graduated from T. C. Williams High School. In a recent interview with the Alexandria Times, Mulroney reminisced about jumping off piers into the Potomac and running his paper route in Rosemont. Years later, Mulroney returned to Alexandria for his role in the Clint Eastwood-directed biopic J. Edgar, whose production around Old Town allowed him to catch up with old friends.
The Mamas and the Papas
If you’re humming California Dreamin’ to yourself this time of year, you have two Alexandria natives to thank for the 1966 hit song. Both John Phillips and Cass Elliott of folk rock group The Mamas and the Papas grew up in Alexandria: Phillips lived in Del Ray with his parents and played basketball at George Washington High School, while Elliott (whose real name was Ellen Naomi Cohen) lived with her family in Alexandria and acted in a George Washington High production of the play The Boy Friend—a few years after graduating, she would join Phillips to help form The Mamas and the Papas.
Law & Order’s Christopher Meloni
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Anyone who’s ever been sucked into a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit marathon recognizes Christopher Meloni, who attended St. Stephen’s School in Alexandria and played quarterback on the football team. Meloni returned to Alexandria in 2007 to accept a tribute at St. Stephen’s when his team was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Header image via Wikipedia.