Arizona is consistently teeming with celebrities -- actors/actresses, athletes and musicians -- who flock to our state in search of better winter weather, prime golfing conditions and pristine courses, and of course, some nightlife action.
But while we're never in shortage of potential celebrity sightings, we don't actually have that many celebrities we can claim as our own. Much like what's seen in the world of the commoners, people seem to live here after they've tired of the snow, rain, or expensive real estate in their hometowns, not because they were born here.
But here are 10 celebrities we'll always claim -- whether they were born or grew up in the Valley of the Sun.
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10. Michelle Branch
Although Branch has been off our radar for quite some time, it's hard to forget the "Everywhere" singer, hailing from Sedona, Arizona. She attended Sedona Rock High School but ended up finishing her high school years being homeschooled. Her first major-label debut was The Spirit Room, released in August of 2001, of which included the aforementioned hit, "Everywhere." She went on to release the album Hotel Paper, as well as collaborating with her friend Jessica Harp in the band The Wreckers. Her latest album West Coast Time, has been delayed for two years, but is currently slated to be released in spring of this year. For those of us who grew up with her music, nostalgia's hoping she stays true to her musical roots. The world can only handle so many pop princesses.
Although Schilling wasn't born here, he did go to Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, and attend Yavapai College in Prescott. That's enough for us to consider him one of ours, even if he lives in Massachusetts now and named his video game company, Green Monster Games (it ended up being changed to 38 Studios, Schilling's jersey number), after the Red Sox's giant green wall, the team he retired with. Schilling was a dominant face in the Valley while he was with the Diamondbacks, and was instrumental in the Dbacks' only claim to fame in 2001. Even though Schilling pulled a Roger Clemons in 2007 when he took back his decision to retire, he did end up winning another World Series Championship with Boston, so we can forgive him. There's no denying that he was an extraordinary pitcher, and his presence on the Diamondbacks certainly helped shape 2001 into its legendary status among Phoenicians.
8. Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper's name has almost become synonymous with Arizona, even if it isn't his real name. Between his restaurant, haunted houses, and Christmas shows, all named after him, it would be hard to escape him. Although he was born in Detroit, Michigan, Cooper ended up in Phoenix after battling a series of illnesses as a child. He went to Cortez High School, and eventually was awarded an honorary doctorate from Grand Canyon University in 2004. One would be hard-pressed not to think fondly of the shock rocker, despite his history of cringe-inducing performances and the infamous Chicken Incident. Everybody loves a comeback, and Cooper certainly experienced one of his own, after winning his war with alcoholism. Cooper even managed to save his marriage, after his wife, Sheryl Goddard, filed for divorce during his most tumultuous years battling the booze. Cooper and Goddard are still married to this day, and have three children. Cooper has famously claimed that he never cheated on his wife in all the time they've been together, and that the secret to a successful relationship is continuing to go on dates together.
Bennington was born in Phoenix in 1976, and our guess is his blue-collar parents had no idea their son would become a member of the wildly successful band, Linkin Park. Linkin Park was a ubiquitous force during this writer's teenage years, and the same could probably be said for everyone considered a Millennial or Generation Y'er. It would be difficult to separate one's youth from this band who exploded onto the music scene in 2000 with their debut album Hybrid Theory. The lyrics provided something for everyone to grasp on to, and the album eventually went to Diamond status, selling over 10 million copies in the U.S. Phoenix teens were proud that their favorite band hailed from their hometown. Bennington went to Centennial High School before transferring to Greenway High School, where Bennington and his friend started the band, Grey Daze. Linkin Park released a new album last year, after a hiatus where the members pursued other projects. The heyday of the Linkin Park era may be over, but those of us who grew up with the band will always think we're a little bit cooler for our state being the same as Chester Bennington's.
6. David Spade
Spade was born in Birmingham, Michigan, but moved to Arizona when he was four, living in Scottsdale and Casa Grande. Spade attended Scottsdale Community College and Arizona State University, receiving a degree in business. Spade performed standup at the university and around the valley, including Greasy Tony's in Tempe. Spade is one the great comedians, perhaps even underrated in reputation, and we think it's pretty sweet that he called Arizona home before leaving us for Tinseltown.
5. Jim Adkins
Adkins may be more of a celebrity to us Phoenicians than anybody else, despite his band Jimmy Eat World becoming well-known and successful outside of the local circuit. Adkins formed the band in 1993 with his friend Zach Lind as well as Tom Linton and Mitch Porter, and given the fact that the group was based out of Mesa, they garnered a large and loyal following here in the Valley. Adkins continues to have a presence in the local music scene, recently performing at Crescent Ballroom supporting Daniel Johnston with a slew of enviously awesome local names. We love Jimmy Eat World, Jim Adkins, and the fact that they're from Arizona.
4. Emma Stone
Emma Stone is the new Julia Roberts. You heard it here first. Well, you may have heard it somewhere else, but we never have, and we're laying claim to the label. Stone may not have Roberts' classic beauty and famous pearly white grin, but no one could deny that she is indeed beautiful. She also has an infectious laugh, and can play dramatic and comedic roles effortlessly, or so it appears. Everybody loves Stone, and the fact that she was born here in Scottsdale gives us a reason to love her even more. She may be the most recent Arizona resident to rise to fame of her level. The Help and Easy A star has garnered a pretty impressive resume for someone under 25, and we're guessing it will only continue to grow.
3. Nate Ruess
You might start an argument over who is more beloved in Phoenix, the aforementioned Adkins or Ruess. Ruess wasn't born in Arizona but moved to Glendale when he was a toddler. Ruess attended Deer Valley High School and was one-half of the epic, cult-favorite band The Format. There was something about the earnestness and honesty in Ruess's voice, coupled with the lyrics that everyone felt they could identify with, that made Ruess and Sam Means--the other half of The Format--so appealing. Not to mention that they sang about the 51 being backed up, and who doesn't love local references? Unfortunately, Ruess and Means split up in 2008, breaking the hearts of many, and certainly everybody under the age of 25 in Arizona. While we're sure everyone can agree that Ruess's new band fun. is just that, fun, they'll never replace our beloved Format, and even though Ruess calls NYC "home" now, for us here in Arizona, we'll always consider him one of us.
2. Lynda Carter
The name pretty much speaks for itself. How awesome is it that Wonder Woman was born and raised in Phoenix? Carter attended Kachina Elementary School in Scottsdale and Arcadia High School in Phoenix, and after attending ASU she dropped out to pursue a music career in San Francisco. That didn't pan out, and after returning to Arizona she entered a beauty contest and won. She eventually won Miss World USA, and managed to parlay the award and recognition into an acting career, most notably as Wonder Woman and her alter ego Diana Prince. Carter is an icon, and we think it's pretty cool that she's from Arizona.
1. Stevie Nicks
Born Stephanie Lynn Nicks at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, Nicks would go on to become one of the most prolific singers and songwriters of our time. Nicks' uncle was a struggling country singer and taught her how to sing. Nicks met her future music and romantic partner, Lindsey Buckingham, at a high school party her senior year, and he later asked her to join his band. Nicks' mystical performances have mesmerized fans for decades, and there is no mistaking her gravelly voice for anyone but Nicks. Nicks is the quintessential female rocker, and we're proud that she's from our humble state.