You think you know the big-deal Kentuckians — the Clooneys, Jennifer Lawrence, the Judds.
But Kentucky has seen a raft of lesser-known characters who have put an indelible dent in the American psyche, including Florence “Carol Brady” Henderson, one of the Marines in the iconic Iwo Jima flag-raising photo and iconic jazz musician Les McCann.
Let’s count down a few of them:
▪ Franklin Sousley, who appeared in the iconic photograph of U.S. Marines raising the American flag on Iowa Jima on Feb. 23, 1945, was born in Fleming County.
He was killed in action on Iwo Jima after being shot by a Japanese sniper on March 21, 1945. He was 19.
▪ Groundbreaking early film director Tod Browning, who directed the 1931 film “Dracula” with Bela Lugosi and the controversial film “Freaks” in 1932, was born in Louisville in 1880. Browning’s movies paved the way for the blooming of future horror movies.
Fellow Kentuckian and director D.W. Griffith (originally from Oldham County) first gave Browning acting work on single-reel silent comedies.
▪ Les McCann, the jazz pianist, vocalist and composer, was born in 1935 in Lexington. His producer once said he left the Bluegrass in the mid-’50s “like a bullet from a gun.”
In a 2013 Herald-Leader interview in advance of a performance at the Lyric Theatre, where he once worked, McCann said the theater is where he first got hooked on music like that from Dizzy Gillespie, Wynonie Harris and Tiny Bradshaw.
▪ You probably know that writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore are “Walking Dead” hometown royalty in Cynthiana for creating that iconic comic series that gave us Rick, Negan and Daryl.
But did you know that Melissa McBride, who plays the increasingly ruthless Carol, the Machiavellian cookie baker, was born in Lexington?
She left town