Here is a small sampling of the great minds and talent to come out of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin can boast of giving birth to many great and well-loved celebrities who have now become famous around the world. The list is extensive, but here are some of the best-known ones.
American character actor Al Molinaro was loved by television audiences for his recurring roles on The Odd Couple and Happy Days. He was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on June 24, 1919 and played the supporting roles of the policeman Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple and drive-in owner Al Delvecchio on Happy Days. He later made guest appearances in many other television series and commercials.
U.S. Representative Paul Ryan is a Republican from Wisconsin who, in the 2012 presidential election, was the running mate of Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Ryan was elected to become speaker of the House in late October 2015. He was born on January 29, 1970, in Janesville, Wisconsin and has been serving as the U.S. representative of Wisconsin's Congressional District 1 since 1999. He became the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in January 2015.
Mark Ruffalo is an environmental activist and actor who has become known most recently for his portrayal of Bruce Banner/The Hulk in the movie 'The Avengers.' Born on November 22, 1967, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Mark Ruffalo made his stage debut in 1990, and a decade later his career took a major turn with a role in the film You Can Count on Me. Parts in such high-profile films as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Shutter Island followed, and 2012 took Ruffalo to a new level of fame when he portrayed the Hulk in the smash live-action film The Avengers.
Marissa Mayer led the development of Google's most successful products for more than 10 years and was appointed CEO of Yahoo in 2012 at the age of 37. She has said "I helped build Google, but I don't like to rest on (my) laurels. I think the most interesting thing is what happens next." Born on May 30, 1975, in Wausau, Wisconsin, Marissa was appointed CEO of Yahoo in 2012. Prior to joining Yahoo, she spent 13 years at Google, where her work in product development largely contributed to the site's unique look and feel. At the time of Mayer's Yahoo appointment, she was one of only 20 female CEOs in charge of a Fortune 500 company.
Chris Noth is an actor who is best know for his roles as a detective on the television drama series Law & Order and as Big on HBO's Sex in the City. Chris was born November 13, 1954, in Madison, WI. He made his feature film debut in Smithereens in 1982. In the late 1980s, Noth moved increasingly from theater toward roles in film and television. In 1990, he landed the role of Detective Mike Logan on the critically acclaimed drama series, Law & Order. In 1998, he took the role of Mr. Big on the HBO series Sex and the City.
Tyne Daly is an award-winning actress of stage and screen, known for a wide array of projects that include ‘Cagney & Lacey,’ ‘Judging Amy’ and ‘Gypsy.’ Born in 1946 in Madison, Wisconsin, Tyne Daly came from a thespian family and went on to pursue an acting career of her own, starring as a policewoman in The Enforcer (1976) and then as Mary Beth Lacey in the hit cop series Cagney & Lacey.
Actor Gene Wilder become extremely famous when he played the title character in Mel Stuart's film adaptation of 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.' Gene began his movie career in 1967's Bonnie and Clyde, but he became famous as a favorite of writer/director Mel Brooks. His wacky roles in films such as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein have made him an unforgettable comedy icon. In his later years, Wilder has become a serious novelist, writing a memoir and several novels. He was also married to fellow actor/comedian Gilda Radner.
Les Paul was a musician who designed a solid-body guitar in 1941, which then was a new type of instrument. He said “The only reason I invented these things was because I didn't have them and neither did anyone else. I had no choice, really.” Les designed a solid-body electric guitar in 1941, but by the time it was ready for production by Gibson in 1952, Leo Fender had already mass-produced the Fender Broadcaster four years earlier, thus beating Paul to popular credit for the invention. However the Les Paul acquired a devoted following, and its versatility and balance made it the choice instrument of many rock guitarists.
And then of course, there is Liberace.