14 Portlanders Who Made It Big in Tinseltown
Gus Van Sant. Matt Groening. Carrie Brownstein. Any self-respecting list of Portland TV and movie nobility must include these names. But our rain-sodden rough hides many more diamonds. Meet more stars of screens large and small who passed through on their way to Tinseltown.
From top, left to right: Courtesy ABC Television; 1947 Liberty Films/Courtesy Pyxurz; Gage Skidmore/CC; Hotrod!/CC; FX Networks; NBC/Universal Television; Gordon Correll; Michelle Tiu/Neon Tommy/CC; Justin Hoch/CC; AMC; Polygram Filmed Entertainment/Working Title Films; Metro Goldwyn-Mayer
1. RACHEL AMES
Before spending 50 years—yes, that’s 5-0—as a soap opera mainstay, Ames appeared onstage as a teen in her native Portland.
Known for: Audrey Hardy, the nurse on General Hospital
2. VIRGINIA PATTON
The niece of Gen. George Patton graduated from Jefferson High in 1942. At 90, these days she’s chilling in Ann Arbor.
Holiday cred: Ruth Bailey, George’s sister-in-law, in It’s a Wonderful Life
3. LINDSAY WAGNER
The future Emmy winner attended David Douglas High School and Mt Hood Community College.
Big break: Jaime Sommers on The Bionic Woman
4. “ROWDY” RODDY PIPER
The Saskatchewan-born wrestling superstar (trademark move: the Eye Poke!) lived in Hillsboro for more than 20 years.
Unforgettable as: The lead drifter in They Live
5. KAITLIN OLSON
Olson grew up on a Tualatin farm and got a theater degree from UO in 1997.
Big break: Sweet Dee on FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (She doesn’t look like a bird.)
6. KATEE SACKHOFF
Growing up in St. Helens and attending Sunset High, Sackhoff dreamed of going all the way in swimming before an injury.
Not to be fracked with: Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica
7. ROSE McGOWAN
A teenage McGowan ran away from her Eugene home in the ‘90s and lived on Portland’s streets with a group of drag queens for a year.
Career milestone: Not being the first to die in Scream
8. HOLLY MADISON
This Playboy bunny and Hefner confidante was born in Portland West (a.k.a. Astoria) and spent two years at PSU.
Post-Hooters gig: Costarred on Fox’s The Girls Next Door
9. MEL BLANC
The onetime Lincoln High student worked for KGW radio in 1927, honing his voice talent before taking over our cartoons.
That’s not all, folks: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam—and more.
10. BILL O’REILLY
Before he was a right-wing windbag, O’Reilly worked as an anchor and movie reviewer at Portland’s KATU for nine months in 1984.
Good timing: Getting in on the ground floor in the early days of Fox News
11. CHRISTINA HENDRICKS
The itinerant Hendricks family lived in Idaho, Virginia, Tennessee, and (allegedly) Portland. We’ll take it!
Like a boss: Secretary to partner to CEO as Joan on Mad Men
12. SAM ELLIOTT
Before he grew his iconic mustache and developed a deep drawl, Elliott presumably had an awkward teenage phase at David Douglas High School, in the ‘60s.
Appeared in: Tombstone (as Virgil Earp) and The Big Lebowski
13. CLARK GABLE
Gable had stints as a logger in Bend and as a necktie salesman in Meier & Frank downtown.
Spotted in: 1939’s Gone With the Wind (as Rhett Butler) and countless other classics
14. SCOTT BEACH
The late Beach was mostly recognized for a role in 1973’s American Graffiti. But the Portland native had a more ... forceful ... performance in another George Lucas project.
Nerd alert: Uncredited Stormtrooper voice