Idaho may seem like an ordinary out-of-the-way place of not much consequence. Often times people will get Idaho confused with Iowa. Let’s set the record straight, Idaho is in the west between Wyoming and Oregon. Iowa is nestled in the heart of the Midwest. Idaho has many claims to fame besides the Famous Idaho Potato. A number of celebrities in many walks of life have roots in Idaho or have come to live here.
Aaron Paul is one of the most recent additions to this growing list of Idaho’s celebrities. Aaron was born in Emmett, Idaho in 1979 and graduated from Centennial High School. As a youth he fell in love with acting, taking advantage of as many opportunities to participate in church, and school productions. After graduating high school in 1998, he realized his dream of moving to California. Aaron worked hard at several acting and non-acting jobs over the span of a decade, always working toward his goal of becoming a highly sought-after actor. His big break came when he got a job acting on the TV show “Big Love”. From there his career really caught momentum, getting roles in “Breaking Bad”, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”, and “Triple 9”.
Sarah Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1964. Her family moved around a lot throughout her childhood, finally landing in Wasilla, Alaska where she attended high school. When she was in her 20’s she won the title of Miss Wasilla and then won second runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant. She attended college in Idaho at North Idaho College and then finishing up her degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. Her political career began in 1992 when she won a seat on the Wasilla City Council. From there she became mayor of Wasilla, and then later governor of Alaska. This made her the first woman governor of Alaska, as well as the youngest governor. Later, she ran as John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 Presidential Election but lost the election to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. After this defeat, she returned to her duties as governor.
Mark Felt was the former Assistant Director of the FBI. He is better known as the informant who leaked details of the Watergate Scandal to two journalists. His code name was Deep Throat. He was born and raised in Twin Falls, Idaho. After graduating high school in 1931 he attended University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. He began his career working in the Office of Senator James P. Pope, and later Pope’s successor Senator David Worth Clark. He also squeezed Law School in at night. In 1940 he earned his law degree from George Washington University and was admitted to the bar in 1941. Later he became the Chief Inspector under J. Edgar Hoover. After Hoover’s death, he was promoted to Assistant Director. In 1972 through 1973, Felt was the lead investigator of the Watergate break-in. It wasn’t until 2005 that it was revealed that he was the person who had leaked the details about the Watergate Scandal to the journalists. His involvement subsequently forced Pres. Richard Nixon to resign.
Peter Gunz was born in 1969 in Bronx, Idaho, a small town just north of Sandpoint. Gunz got into the entertainment industry as half of a hip-hop duo Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. In the summer of 1998, they released their first and only album “Make it Reign”. Throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s he appeared in several tv shows, then in 2013, he appeared on the fourth season of “Love and Hip-Hop” with his girlfriend Tara Wallace. In 2017 he was part of the cast of ‘Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars’ in which he tries to salvage his marriage after cheating on his wife, Amina Buddafly, with his ex-girlfriend. Currently, he’s helping his son Cory build his blossoming rap career.
James Rainwater is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Rainwater was born in 1917 in Council, Idaho. Following the death of his father, when James was a baby, his mother moved them to California where she eventually remarried. Rainwater studied physics at the California Institute of Technology where in 1939 he received his bachelor’s degree. He then attended Columbia University where he received his Master of Arts degree. While at Columbia he worked on the Manhattan Project which resulted in the atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II. He received his doctorate degree in 1946 and after the war ended, he returned to Columbia University where he worked as an instructor. It was in this capacity that he discovered that not all atoms have spherically shaped nuclei. In 1975 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics which he shared with his collaborators Aage Bohr and Ben Mottelson.
Barbara Morgan was the first teacher/astronaut in space. Although she wasn’t born in Idaho, she taught second grade at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho for 22 years. She trained with Christa McAuliffe, and when Christa died she then took her place. In 2007 Barbara got her chance to go into outer space. While in space, she operated the robotic arms of the space station and the shuttle to install equipment on the International Space Station to help with spacewalks. In 2008 she became a faculty member of Boise State University. The West Ada School District in Boise named a STEM school after her, Barbara Morgan STEM Academy.
Idaho is a diverse state with much to offer residents and visitors alike. Many successful people call Idaho their home, whether they were born here, or have come to live in Idaho. Some of those people are Lana Turner, actress, who was born in Wallace, Idaho, and Peter Cetera, lead singer with the band Chicago, who has lived in Ketchum, Idaho since the 1980’s. Whatever brings you to Idaho to live, don’t forget to enjoy the views, eat your huckleberries, and join some of the famous and influential people who call Idaho home.