More famous folks live in LA, but Orange County is a strong number two
As often happens here in Orange County, we’re eclipsed by our neighbor to the north, Los Angeles. When it comes to stars and celebrities, that’s especially true. Most people think celebrities all live in Hollywood or Beverly Hills. Orange County is not top-of-mind for the glitterati.
Orange County is actually bulging with famous folks who either came from here or now call Orange County home. The list is long, and they can’t all be mentioned here. But here’s a short list of Orange County celebrities:
John Wayne: Among the most famous Hollywood actors of all time, John Wayne lived here in Orange County and even has an airport named after him. Probably the most popular cowboy actor of all time, Wayne is known throughout the world as a quintessential American “man’s man.”
Nicolas Cage: Actor Nicolas Cage was born in Long Beach and has owned homes in Orange County throughout his life. In fact, Cage once told a reporter the reason he sold his home in Newport Beach was because one morning he awoke to a naked man standing at the foot of his bed eating a fudgesicle. He moved shortly afterwards.
Walt Disney: If there’s one guy who really put Orange County on the map – literally – it’s Walt Disney, who build his Magic Kingdom in Anaheim when the area was largely orange groves. Since then, Disneylands and Disneyworlds have popped up around the globe — from France to China. And it’s not just amusement parks. With the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel Comics and ESPN, to name just a few, Disney is now a global entertainment giant.
Gwen Stefani: A Fullerton native raised in Anaheim, Stefani is a three-time Grammy award winner. This mother of three has been called the “Pop Princess” and is approaching 50 — but you’d never know it.
Bette Midler: One of America’s most famous singers and actors, Bette Midler used to call Orange County home – or one of them, as she also has a stunning penthouse apartment in New York City. This 75-year-old superstar has won three Grammy and Emmy Awards and two Tony Awards. She has sold more than 30 million records.
Magic Johnson: In 2007, Magic Johnson bought a home in Dana Point for $7.6 million. This 7,700 mansin is located in a gated community, which helps keep all his fawning fans from storming his driveway. Johnson has won more basketball awards than anyone can count. He was a first round draft pick for the Lakers in 1979 and went on to play a truly magical career in the NBA.
Kobe Bryant: This LA Lakers NBA star can be found cruising the local malls and calls Newport Beach home. He’s pretty hard to miss at 6 foot, 6 inches tall. Bryant is an 18-time All Star and ranks third on the league’s all time regular season scoring list.
Tiger Woods: One of the world’s most popular athletes, Tiger Woods was born in Northern Orange County, in Cypress. After graduating from Stanford, Woods went on the win the PGA Player of the Year Award eleven times. He has won 14 professional major golf championship, which is just behind Jack Nicklaus’s 18 championships, the world’s record. Tiger Woods calls Florida his home now, but folks do see him in OC every once in a while.
Richard Nixon: This native son of OC is one many folks here would like to forget. The 37th President of the United States was born and raised in Whittier. He grew up in a small wood-framed home in a Quaker household. After Nixon’s resignation as President following the Watergate scandal, Nixon flew to his home in San Clemente and was often seen walking the beaches alone.
Mitt Romney: Former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a home — one of many — in a gated beachfront community in Orange County. Romney is currently running for Senate in his home state of Utah, which he is expected to win.
While L.A. often outshines Orange County when it comes to movie stars and glamourous people, we certainly do not lack our share of famous folks. In fact, compared to most of the country, OC has produced more people of note than many any other counties in the U.S.