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Aziz Ansari

Born February 23, 1983

Comedian, Actor, Writer

famous-carolina-faces-Aziz-AnsariComedian Aziz Ansari was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for his original series “Master of None.” He co-wrote the episode “Parents,” with the show's co-creator Alan Yang.

Born in Columbia and raised in Bennettsville, the South Carolina native graduated from *The Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in 2000. During his time at the School, he was involved in a variety of endeavors, including the tennis team. Prior to being accepted to GSSM, he attended Marlboro Academy in Bennettsville. Following graduation, Mr. Ansari attended New York University, where he earned his marketing degree in 2004.

Mr. Ansari then shifted his career to become a comedian and actor. He landed the role of Tom Haverford on NBC's “Parks and Recreation.” In 2015, he produced and starred in his very own Netflix original series “Master of None.” Mr. Ansari first came to audiences’ attention when he co-created and starred on MTV's hit sketch comedy series, “Human Giant.” An accomplished stand-up comedian, Mr. Ansari was named “The Funniest Man Under 30” by Rolling Stone in 2011.

Recently, Mr. Ansari wrote Modern Romance: An Investigation, for which he teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project that helped him combine his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give readers a glimpse into the world of romance.

In 2012, Mr. Ansari played a talking goat in an animated video for Oxfam America to encourage donations.

Following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Mr. Ansari performed a benefit at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, for the victims.

Several years ago, the comedian was accused of sexual mis-conduct.  According to Wikipedia: “Ansari addressed the incident in his 2019 Netflix special Aziz Ansari: Right Now, telling the audience, "I just felt terrible that this person felt this way.” He discussed the impact the story had on his friends, saying "If this made not just me but other people be more thoughtful, then that's a good thing, and that's how I feel about it.”

*About GSSM: The South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) is a two-year, public, residential high school in Hartsville, SC, specializing in the advanced study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with a unique emphasis on economics and entrepreneurship.

David Brinkley

July 10, 1920 – June 11, 2003

Studio Lights

famous-carolina-faces-david-brinkleyNewscaster David Brinkley, who worked for ABC and NBC in a career spanning half a century, was born and grew up by the North Carolina coastal town of Wilmington. While in High School he wrote for the Wilmington Morning Star newspaper (now the Star News). Today Wilmington continues to shine a light on rising stars, with the largest film production studio east of Hollywood.

Stephen Colbert

Born May 13, 1964

famous-carolina-faces-stephen-colbertThe {early} Colbert Report:  Although born in the nation’s capital, political satirist, writer, comedian and television host Stephen Colbert grew up in Charleston, SC, first on James Island, and later in town on well-known East Bay Street. Since his early days in the Holy City’s Episcopal Porter-Gaud School, he has gone on to many accomplishments, and even attempted a 2008 presidential bid in his home state (through which he raised thousands of dollars for South Carolina schools).

Today, he brings his considerable talents to the public as host of The Late Show, on CBS.

Howard Cosell

March 25, 1918 - April 23, 1995

Controversial American sports journalist.

famous-carolina-faces-howard-cosell"What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.”
“Sports, the toy department of human life.”
“I’m just telling it like it is.”
– Howard Cosell

I must admit to trepidations about featuring the cocksure, controversial American sports journalist, but after digging into his biography and reading about his life, I became fascinated.

Howard William Cosell was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His accountant father moved the family to Brooklyn while Howard was very young, therefore, although the Carolinas claim him as a native son, his personality was shaped by life in Brooklyn.

A graduate of New York University with a degree in English, he earned his law degree there as well. A veteran of World War II, he achieved the rank of major and during his service, married Mary Edith Abrams.

After practicing law in Manhattan, he followed his heart and shifted into full-time broadcasting. His rise to fame began as a result of his coverage of boxer Muhammad Ali’s simultaneous ascent. The two exchanged verbal jabs, but developed a mutual respect that lasted for decades.

Controversial , and yet …

He provided commentary for many of boxing’s biggest fights during the 70s and early 80s, and clashed with many in the sports field. And then came Monday night football, where Cosell reached the TV world in prime time. His fame grew and he became even more outspoken. But, in retrospect, in many instances, the comments were surprisingly progressive. He broadcast his horror at a one-sided, brutal fight, threatening to leave the sport unless the referee called the game. Eventually, major boxing reforms allowed refs to do just that.

His infamous “Look at that little monkey run!” comment actually occurred in various versions, describing both white and black athletes. The broadcaster was taken aback by the cries of racism, explaining that he called his own grandson a “little monkey,” and it was a term of affection. Later, he chronicled his disenchantment with his fellow commentators in the book he wrote, I never played the game, and was taken off the schedule for the 1985 World Series.

Clearly, the man was a champion of unpopular causes, including Ali’s conversion to Islam and conscientious objector status. He criticized players and coaches, attracting tons of hate mail during his heyday. At the end, he became a caricature of himself, bombastic, yet insecure. He was enigmatic to the extreme, in voice, actions and commentary. He was one of a kind.


Tyler Florence

Born: March 3, 1971
Greenville, SC

Chef, celebrity, tv star and author

He’s known and loved throughout the United States, but the Carolinas had him first.  Chef Florence grew up in Greenville, and graduated from the prestigious College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston South Carolina.

One of his first jobs was working for Chef Donald Barickman and he has a special fondness for his restaurant, Magnolia’s Uptown/Down South.  In fact, Chef Barickman’s pimiento cheese with flatbread was Chef Florence’s choice to showcase as one of his favorites, otherwise known to insiders as Caviar of the South.

He’s published a number of popular cookbooks, including Tyler’s Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time, Eat This Book:  Cooking with Global Fresh Flavors, Inside the Test Kitchen: 120 New Recipes , Perfected, Tyler Florence Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better, and several children’s food-oriented books.

He is Chef/Owner of Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, and co-owner, with Sammy Hagar, of El Paseo Restaurant in Mill Valley, California. Rumors swirl about a possible restaurant in his hometown of Greenville, but after several years, it seems doubtful.  He is married to Tolan Clark, and has two children by this marriage, and a son from a previous marriage.


Ava Gardner

December 24, 1922 - January 25, 1990

The other Barefoot Contessa

famous-carolina-faces-ava-gardner-barefoot-contessaTinseltown legend Ava Gardner – famed for her roles in movies such as Show Boat, The Killers, Mogambo and The Barefoot Contessa – was born in 1922 in a rural community near Smithfield, NC.

Considered the most beautiful woman in the world by many, her life was as exotic and challenging as many of the roles she played on the screen.

One of seven children, her father was a poor tobacco farmer, and her mother worked in domestic jobs, eventually opening a boarding house for teachers after the death of her father.  She was discovered at 18 after her brother-in-law took her photo and was so taken with it that he placed it in a window on a Manhattan street, where the image attracted great interest. She caught the eye of MGM and the young Southern beauty was on her way.

Married to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra, adored by George C. Scott and Howard Hughes, she pursued life and love with great abandon.  Most biographers consider Sinatra the love of her life, and even after their divorce, the couple remained good friends until her death.

Today, fans celebrate her legacy at the Ava Gardner Museum, located in Smithfield. "Ava's Closet" exhibit features never-before-seen personal clothing worn by Ava. View clothing, accessories, jewelry, gloves, shoes and pocketbooks, plus information about her favorite designers.

“When I’m old and gray, I want to have a house by the sea. And paint. With a lot of wonderful chums, good music, and booze around. And a damn good kitchen to cook in.” – Ava Gardner

Leeza Gibbons

Born March 26, 1957

famous-carolina-faces-Leeza-GibbonsShe was born in Hartsville, SC, the daughter of Jean and Carlos Gibbons. Her father was a former state superintendent of education and antique shop owner. Leeza was raised in Irmo, SC, with a sister, Camy, a brother, Carlos, Jr., and a baby chimpanzee named Martha. (Martha eventually was taken to Africa, where she was released into a wildlife preserve.)

She attended the University of South Carolina, where she majored in Mass Communications and Journalism and was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority.

Leeza is a natural creative and hosted Entertainment Tonight and Extra, among other programs. Eventually, she hosted Leeza, a talk show, from 1993 until 2000. In 2007, she participated in Dancing with the Stars. Leeza continues her entertainment career as cohost of America Now, but it is also in her philanthropic pursuits that she really shines.

Participating in caregiving for her mother, Jean, after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Leeza promised her mother that she would “tell her story and make it count.” She did much more than that.

Leeza created the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation providing programs and services for caregivers. A signature program from the foundation is Leeza’s Place, “A Place for Caregivers.” It’s a community gathering place and resource center committed to providing free support services, resources and programs for family caregivers taking care of loved ones with memory disorders or other chronic and/or progressive illnesses.

She serves on a board in California that oversees stem cell research. She received the Artistic and Philanthropic Visionary Award in 2009 from the Alfred Mann Foundation for Scientific Research. In 2009, she co-wrote a book, Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health and Happiness while Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss.

Her newest book is Take 2: Your guide to Creating Happy Endings and New Beginnings and examines ways we can stop and have a second take to reinvent our lives. She’s also started a new scrapbooking line, because she believes in the importance of creating memories of what has gone before.
Leeza Gibbons is the mother of three and in 2011, married her fourth husband, Steven Fenton.

Joe and Terry Graedon

The People’s Pharmacy™

famous-carolina-faces-joe-terry-GraedonsFor several years, I would, by chance, turn on public radio and find The People’s Pharmacy™.  The hosts, Joe and Terry Graedon, seemed extremely knowledgeable about a huge variety of health-related issues.  I was impressed, time and again.  Turns out these folks have been on a mission for more than four decades to empower us to make wise decisions about our health, and they’ve got the credentials to back their efforts.

This is straight talk, filled with insights not found elsewhere.  They freely discuss the pros and cons of prescription and over-the-counter medicines.  They listen to callers share their stories and provide expert advice.  And, they don’t ignore home remedies.  Ever tried mustard for leg cramps?  Can’t hurt, and thousands say a tiny spoonful works like a charm in a couple of minutes.

When we set out to discover more about the Graedons, we learned that they’ve got a wealth of experience that gives enormous credence to their words of wisdom. And so, although they may not be “famous faces,” they’re certainly “famous voices” that resonate from the Carolinas to everywhere public radio is heard and enjoyed.

Joe Graedon has a Master of Science degree in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan.  He’s a founding member of the Society for Participatory Science, and Co-editor of the Journal of Participatory Medicine.  He’s an adjunct assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and a founding member of the Patient Advocacy Council.  He’s been on the Dr. Oz Medical Advisory Board since 2012.

Terry Graedon has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan.  She was Postdoctoral Fellow in Medical Anthropology at the University of California, and was an assistant professor at the Duke University School of Nursing and adjunct assistant professor in Duke’s Department of Anthropology.  She’s Co-editor of the Journal of Participatory Medicine, and a founding member of the Patient Advocacy Council.

They are award-winning authors and hosts.  The Graedons live in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  Discover their health-related information at

Andy Griffith

June 1, 1926 - July 3, 2012

famous-carolina-faces-Andy-Griffith-StatueReal life Mayberry:  Andy Griffith, one of television’s favorite lawmen and the moral compass for a generation, died July 3, 2012, in his home on Roanoke Island, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The venerable actor was known for his folksy wisdom, which drew heavily from his real-life home town of Mt. Airy. The sitcom which bore his name often used real names and places from the area around his home town. But he was no hayseed. The real-life Andy Griffith was infinitely more sophisticated than Sheriff Andy. He was an expert on wine, loved Hollywood, and married three times.

Those of a certain age can remember favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, in which Andy saved Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife from himself, or taught Opie a thing or two about honorable living.

Today, Mt. Airy remains a charming town in the foothills of North Carolina, easily accessible and worth a visit. The new Andy Griffith Museum holds the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia collected by his friend Emmett Forrest.

The collection features hundreds of items from his life and career, including props used in The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, and given by the actor. The Museum is open seven days a week throughout the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the Gift Shop features all things Andy for that special Andy Griffith fan.

This quintessential town in the Blue Ridge foothills exudes charm, from Snappy Lunch to wineries, hiking trails and jazz music!

Brandon Micheal Hall



This fresh face has been profiled in The New York Times and is now starring in the title role on ABC’s “The Mayor” which premiered in October to rave reviews. He’s also a series regular in TBS’ critically acclaimed “Search Party,” which has just begun its second season.

Brandon Hall, a native of Anderson, SC, is 24 and a graduate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.  The public, residential high school for the arts gave him the pre-professional training which led to acceptance into the famed Julliard School’s Drama Division.  

South Carolinians recognized Mr. Hall’s talent and expenses for his audition trip to Julliard were funded by support from donors to the school.

If you haven’t yet watched, here’s the backstory.  Courtney Rose (The Mayor), is a struggling rapper who runs for mayor in a small Northern California town in hopes of getting free publicity. He shouldn’t win – he can’t win – but he does, and it’s a Cinderella story which The New York Times says mirrors the actor’s real-life story.  It’s a strong cast and the public has taken notice.

The SC Governor’s School cultivates young artists from across the state and offers pre-professional training in creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts.  It’s a tuition-free, public residential high school which nurtures talents in a master-apprentice community with nationally recognized academic education.  For more information:

Vivian Howard

Born 1978

“Seriously Seasonal, Seriously Local, Seriously Delicious”

famous-carolina-faces-vivian-howard-kitchenIf you ever watch “A Chef’s Life” on your local PBS station, you’ll be hooked for life (especially if you love Southern food, the farm-to-fork philosophy, and the ability to be a bit of a voyeur as Chef Howard and her husband, artist Ben Knight, work, play and create spectacular food in Eastern North Carolina.)

It’s not all peaches and cream, especially during the segment during which The Chef and the Farmer, their brand new restaurant, has a devastating fire, but what comes through is talent, commitment and a willingness to do the hard work to get the job done while embracing family and raising twins.

It’s paid off. Chef Howard and her restaurant have won many accolades – she was selected as a James Beard semi-finalist – and visitors and locals flock to enjoy the creations.

For those of us who have left home only to be lured back, the back story is familiar. Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, worked and played in New York. She had become well-known in the Manhattan restaurant world, as well as with her gourmet delivery service. She could have opened a restaurant there, but her parents offered to help her build a restaurant, if she agreed to open it back home in Eastern North Carolina, “a place to which she swore she would never return.”

Today, in Kinston, NC, their restaurant is open and thriving. Her family is part of her daily life and the twins are flourishing. And, the world has gotten to know the family, through the award-winning series, “A Chef’s Life.”

Winner of the Peabody Award in 2013, the series is admired for its honesty, and its “nuanced, non-stereotypical portrait of the rural and small-town American South.”

And now, Chef Howard has partnered with Southern Season to showcase products she finds worthy.

Want to visit the restaurant and watch the show? Of course you do. You can thank us later. A Chef’s Life. The Chef and the Farmer Restaurant.


Maria Howell

Actor, Singer, Voiceover

She made her debut in The Color Purple as a soloist from the choir, performing what one critic called “one of the most thrilling moments of the film.”  After that, her amazing talents have been seen in a variety of television shows, theatrical events and live performances.

Born and raised in Gastonia, near Charlotte, NC, Ms. Howell credits her Mom, who was her first music teacher, and Carolyn Spencer, her high school choir teacher, as being her strongest mentors. “Those two were instrumental in giving me a great foundation, not just in music but in life,” she shared.  “I still do so many of the things they taught me.”

She has performed in almost 20 films, including The Blind Side, The Hunger games: Catching Fire, and Hidden Figures, among others. Her television credits include “Saints and Sinners,” “Devious Maids,” “Revolution,” and “The Vampire Diaries,” among others.  

Ms. Howell is an ardent supporter of her charity of choice, “Students Without Mothers,” where she’s served on the board for more than five years and co-chairs its annual holiday benefit concert, featuring her brainchild musical concept, “Girls in Gowns.”

Although she lives in Los Angeles and performs nationally, she returns to the Carolinas whenever possible.  “I’m deep in the Carolinas,” she explained.  “When I have the chance to go back, I send out a text message and get together with my friends in local restaurants.”

She continues to enjoy giving live performances, one of which is a music series that she produces in Hollywood called “#DUETS” along with LaToya Black Billiard, Royce and Xavier Gordon.

She performs in the spring in Columbia, SC, at the Columbia Museum of Art, as well as in Atlanta, Charlotte and other locations in the region.

A new CD, “Old Devil Moon,” with the Noel Friedline Quartet (NFQ) has recently been released.  Order it at and enjoy that magnificent jazz-tinted voice, with just a hint of gospel.


Carl Ray Kasell

Those Dulcet Tones

April 2, 1934 –
April 17, 2018

He was born in Goldsboro, NC, the oldest of four children,and from an early age, used his grandmother’s Victrola to pretend to be a disc jockey, in between songs.  At Goldsboro High School, he met Andy Griffith, a young teacher and budding actor and comedian.  Mr. Griffith urged him to become an actor, but he already had a part-time job at a local radio station and was hooked – for life.

Mr. Kasell attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in English and with his buddy and fellow student, Charles Kuralt, he helped create WUNC, a campus radio station.  Just before graduating, he was drafted by the army in 1956 and served in Italy, where he met his first wife.

The two had a son, Joseph, and his wife died in 1997.  In 2003, he married Mary Ann Foster, a Washington psychotherapist, who had a son, Brian Foster, by a previous marriage.  

His career spanned more than 50 years, beginning in Goldsboro at WGBR, then serving as news director of WAVA-FM in Arlington, Virginia.  In Arlington, he hired Katie Couric, a University of Virginia student, as a summer intern.

He joined NPR in 1975 as a weekend announcer for “All Things Considered,” eventually switching to “Morning Edition,” where he became a familiar voice.

In 1999, Mr. Kasell shared a Peabody Award that was given to “Morning Edition.” He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.  He discovered he had Alzheimer’s Disease in 2012, but continued to work for two more years.  

Among his more memorable recurring segments were “Bluff the Listener,” where callers were asked to distinguish real news from fake, “Not my Job,” in which luminaries were asked questions about topics completely unrelated to their expertise,

On his last show, there were taped tributes from President Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert, Tom Hanks, and Katie Couric. His legacy includes more than 2,200 recorded messages for the private voicemails of folks who called into the show and won!  Many of them revealed his gift for comedy.

Read his memoir -- Wait Wait ... I'm Not Done Yet!


Andie MacDowell

Born April 21, 1958

andie-mcdowell-dvdActor, producer, philanthropist and mother of three amazing kids.

Both states have a legitimate claim to this ageless, charming and very talented actress, making Andie MacDowell doubly qualified as a Carolina Famous Face.

Born in Gaffney, SC, she attended Winthrop University (then College) in Rock Hill and also lived in Columbia for a brief time.  A rep from Wilhelmina actually noticed her first, but she signed with Elite Model Management in New York.  The family-owned historic home near Asheville, NC, in Arden, was a childhood destination, and today, the Blake House Inn still sports a bit of graffiti she scribbled in the closet of the Holly Room.  

The actress lived in Asheville for many years, raising her three children in North Carolina and marrying twice.  Since then, she’s lived in California and Montana.  Today, she enjoys being off the radar.
Embodying the best of Southern culture, grace and style, Ms. McDowell moved her family to Asheville at least in part to provide a southern upbringing away from the limelight.  Her daughter, Rainey Qualley, reminisced about her mother in an article in the Charlotte Observer, saying that Andie McDowell taught her the Southern qualities of looking someone in the eye and giving full attention.  

Her twitter account lists her personal interests as: horseback riding. Spending time with family and pets. Traveling. Yoga. Long walks on the beach. Making the world a better place.

Her career began as a very successful model but most of us remember her for performances in Groundhog Day (my personal favorite), and Four Weddings and a Funeral, for which she received a Golden Globe® nomination.

A spokesperson for L’Oreal for 30 years, she currently stars as Gray Chandler Murray on the TV series Jane By Design and as Judge Olivia Lockart on Cedar Cove.

In another Carolina connection, Ms. McDowell was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Lander University in Greenwood, SC, and an “Honor of the Arts” from Winthrop University.

Learn more about Gaffney and Asheville.

Bill Murray

Born September 21, 1950

famous-carolina-faces-bill-murray-baseballHe was so funny on Saturday Night Live – creating characters that made you laugh and watching him play off others in the ensemble cast. Caddyshack was wildly popular, but it was Ghostbusters that propelled him into superstardom. I, however, fell in love with him in Groundhog Day, where we watched him morph from burned-out boredom to a compassionate, fully alive altruist. His repertoire expanded with roles in Ed Wood and Rushmore, and he earned an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe Award and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for his remarkable role in Lost in Translation. I loved that one, too. There were other award nominations and accolades, including a Primetime Emmy for his role in HBO’s Olive Kitteredge.

More recently, he’s received acclaim for his roles in Moonrise Kingdom, Grand Budapest Hotel, and St. Vincent.

The Carolinas can’t claim Bill Murray as a native son, but he has adopted Charleston SC – at least for part of the time. He sported a locally created Charleston-born Brackish Bow Tie at the 2014 academy awards. He’s been spotted dropping in on special events, and encouraging young people he meets on the street. From a variety of news reports – and clearly, a bit of good-natured stalking by fans seeking to catch a glimpse and take a selfie – Bill Murray and Charleston are well-suited for one another.

Born in Illinois and raised in a northern suburb of Chicago, he was one of nine children in a Catholic Irish American family. Divorced, he is the father of six boys. As part owner of the team, he can often be seen at a Charleston River Dogs baseball game.

Image: © Jerry Coli l

Edward R. Murrow

April 25, 1908 - April 27, 1965

"Good night, and good luck" 

famous-carolina-faces-murrow-bookThis is Greensboro, North Carolina, birthplace of pioneering broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. He was born just outside of town, in Guilford County, and today the city boasts a “Murrow Boulevard” and statue of the longtime CBS journalist at the Greensboro Historical Museum, among other tributes.

Teyonah Parris

Born December 11, 1974

“The Next Big Thing”

famous-carolina-faces-Teyonah-ParrisThat’s what The Hollywood Reporter has called Columbia, SC native Teyonah Parris, after seeing her impact in TV’s Mad Men, and the buzz she created in the Sundance hit, Dear White People.  Next up is a leading role opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Hudson in Spike Lee’s film, Chiraq, and she’s also starring in the Starz comedy Survivor’s Remorse.

Ms. Parris, the middle child and only girl in her family, attended Lower Richland High School in Columbia, where she played softball, modeled, and was a cheerleader.  Her drama teacher, Rachel Cooper, was a great influence and helped her decide to attend SC Governor’s School for the Arts.  Upon graduation, she enrolled at Julliard and moved to New York.

Her debut on the silver screen came in 2010, opposite Reese Witherspoon and Jack Nicholson in the romantic comedy How Do You Know.  That was followed by a stint on Broadway and the roles kept coming, and getting larger.  She was noticed and applauded for her skills and now Ms. Parris is well on her way to becoming another Carolina Famous Face.

We caught up with her by phone and she talked about Columbia.  “I love to come back home and see my family,” she said, adding that there are two babies in the family that help to draw her back.  What about that non-existent Southern accent?  “Dialect classes helped me lose the accent, but it returns when I come home,” she laughed.

And what advice does she have for others seeking a career in theater?  “Focus on your craft,” she said.  “When you study the character, you peel away the layers for the character and yourself, and then it all comes together in the role.”

Teyona Parris Photography:PHOTOGRAPHER: Ben Miller; HAIR: Felicia Leatherwood; MAKEUP: Beatrice Sandoval; STYLING: Toye Adedipe

Robert Sumwalt

Story Written By Rachel Haynie


Born 1950

Seeing the face of Robert Sumwalt on the evening news probably means a disaster has occurred involving some mode of transportation. And when you hear his gently rounded words, residual of a Southern accent, you will recognize he is a Carolinian.

Mr. Sumwalt, just confirmed as the 14th chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB,) is the 50-year old agency’s face and voice at media briefings when incidents have taken place, anywhere within the transportation arena.

Soon after he joined NTSB in 2006; President George W. Bush designated Mr. Sumwalt to a two-year term as vice chair. More recently, he served as acting chair; now he continues as CEO and director of a Washington, DC-based agency with a strength of 420 professionals.

Mr. Sumwalt first soloed as a 17-year old, flying out of Miller Aviation at Columbia Metropolitan Airport(CMA.) The teen earned his private pilot’s certificate at CMA in 1974 before entering the University of South Carolina where he majored in Business Administration and founded the USC Flying Club, which he then managed.

As a commercial pilot for more than 24 years, he logged more than 14,000 flight miles.

His focus on safety leadership has helped promote the importance of proactive safety management, guiding the industry’s voluntary adoption of safety programs that have proven effective.

He’s taking the helm of the Washington, DC-based National Transportation and Safety Board at a time when more issues face transportation than at any other time within its 50-year history.

Drones coming into the marketplace and airspace, highway and other infrastructure improvements, environmental matters – from weather to birds – all are issues NTSB concerns itself with, along with  forward-leaning innovations.

Robert Sumwalt returns home to the Carolinas as his work in the nation’s capital allows.

Mark Walberg

Born June 5, 1971

famous-carolina-faces-Antique-road-show-Mark-L-WalbergOur Treasure Hunt Host:  Television Host Mark Walberg was raised in Florence, SC, but for more than 20 years, he’s been in demand as a host for a number of television shows. What began as a job as an assistant at Dick Clark Productions quickly became front-of-the-camera host for the game show, “Shop Til You Drop.”

Later, Mark served as host of “Burnt Toast,” a sports magazine show on ESPN. That was when the young television personality was noticed by the late Brandon Tartikoff, who worked with him to produce the nationally syndicated “The Mark Walberg Show.”

Since then, he’s hosted or been featured in many popular talk, reality competition and game shows – including the FOX hit, “The Moment of Truth,” “The Mansion,” “House Rules,” “Russian Roulette,” and the slightly less family-oriented “Temptation Island.”

For the past 14 years, he’s hosted the Emmy-nominated series “Antiques Roadshow” for PBS. An ardent fan of the show long before he was named host, he enjoys the constant journey of discovery by those bringing their cherished belongings for evaluation – and sometimes identification.

Part adventure, part history lesson and part treasure hunt, the show is seen by almost 10 million viewers each week and is the highest rated series for PBS.

Walberg is a sought-after motivational speaker, and is active in a number of charities, including Good Will Industries of Southern California (where he serves on the Board of directors), as well as serving on the Academic Advisory Board of the Young Americans College. In an age of instant marriages and divorces among the Hollywood set, it’s notable that he’s been married to his wife, actress Robbi Morgan Walberg, for more than 30 years, and has two children.

Learn more at

Vanna White

Born February 18, 1957

Wheel of {Good} Fortune 

famous-carolina-faces-vanna-whiteVanna White made her debut on Wheel of Fortune  in December 1982, becoming the first female co-host of a game show. Before basking in the glow of lettered puzzle boards, however, she was a Carolina Girl growing up in North Myrtle Beach, SC. Today the resort area of Myrtle Beach offers its fair share of excitement and entertainment.