Even if you’ve never set foot in Maine, you’ve likely experienced one of its famous and talented home-grown stars. The VIP list of Mainers spans the big screen, horror novels, the Pulitzer Prize list, and a McDreamy Maine-made man.
What’s particularly wonderful about this list of famous people from Maine is how many of them still live in or return to the state during their lives. Some artists say that there is simply no better inspiration.
Others just can’t get enough of the same lobster roll that you can devour in Old Port. One particular Maine-turned-Hollywood hunk has some wonderful things to say about the local women.
So, let’s learn about more than a dozen Mainers who have turned famous.
Famous Writers From Maine
Maine houses a pen-and-paper explosion of written crafts — from the macabre to the poetic to the inspirational. Here are some well-known writers who hail from Maine.
You’d have to be hiding in a storm drain with a red balloon to miss the fact that Stephen King is from Maine. He is a Mainer through and through — born in Portland, went to high school in Lisbon Falls, graduated from UMaine, and taught in Hampden, all before moving to Bangor.
In his horror novels, he repeatedly uses fictitious Maine towns. His rural Maine life inspired “Salem’s Lot,” while Bangor inspired the “It” fictional town of Derry.
Stephen and Tabitha King now live on the Suncoast in Florida, but their home in Bangor still sits behind ominous gates and will hopefully bring us “the next Stephen King.” The home is now a writer’s retreat for a selected lucky few.
E.B. White — celebrated author of classics like “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little” — found solace and inspiration in the serene beauty of the Mid Coast Maine town of Brooklin.
White’s love for Maine is eloquently expressed in his essays, particularly in “One Man’s Meat,” where he vividly describes his life on a saltwater farm in Brooklin Maine. He had the idea for Charlotte, the spider, as he watched a web being weaved in his barn.
And if Charlotte didn’t tug at your heartstrings, this likely will. In his later years, as Alzheimers set in, his son would read the children’s books to him. After inquiring who wrote those books and being told he was the author, White would reply, “Not bad.”
Harriett Beecher Stowe
“So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”
Whether legit or legendary, those words are attributed to President Lincoln when meeting Harriett Beecher Stowe.
At 63 Federal Street in Brunswick, Stowe penned “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in 1852, an anti-slavery book that shocked the world. It had a significant influence on public opinion, turning many Northerners against the institution of slavery.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s inspiration and impact lives on in many ways from his childhood home in Portland. This town garnered one of his most famous verses of all time:
Often I think of the beautiful town
That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
And my youth comes back to me.”
Longfellow also taught at Bowdoin College, influencing generations of students and fostering a love for literature. His poetry, including “Evangeline” and “Paul Revere’s Ride,” captured the nation’s imagination and spirit.
In fact, America might not even know who Revere was if not for that poem. We certainly might be hesitant to call him a hero based on the initial “unsoldierlike behavior” accusations he faced after the Penobscot Expedition of 1779, just four years after the ride of his life. No poem was written about that.
Movie Stars From Maine
From Vacationland to Hollywoodland, Maine makes marks on the big and small screens. Check out these actors and actresses from the state.
This “Pitch Perfect” protege hails from Portland, and she’ll sing on cue about how much she “loves Maine and Mainers.” Her 2016 memoir admits that her dreams sometimes take her out of Los Angeles and “living in a little boat off the coast of Maine.”
As a graduate of Deering High School, she was immersed in the musical theaters of Portland and Brunswick. We love how often she returns and even has time for fan photos.
If you want to visit one of the aca-awesome places she loves, head to Angel Falls near Rangeley:
“It was the first time I ever saw a moose in person. You hike past this moose, you go up to Angel Falls and spend a couple hours there, then you come back, and that moose has moved maybe 5 feet.”
Patrick Dempsey, the actor best known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd on the hit TV series “Grey’s Anatomy,” has a profound connection to Maine.
Born in Lewiston in 1966, he maintains strong ties to his hometown. He even got married in Harpswell on a farm once owned by his family but is now open for McDreamy weddings.
Dempsey and his family have actively contributed to local communities through their philanthropic efforts, notably the Dempsey Center that supports cancer research and treatment in the area.
Don’t you… forget about Judd Nelson’s Maine connection. The bad boy of “The Breakfast Club” was born in Portland and attended Waynflete School. (No word on if he ever got detention.)
Despite his evolution to the Brat Pack into a multi-talented artist based in Los Angeles, he still laments that Maine sunrises and lobster rolls are the best in the country. He clearly has a soft spot for Maine women too:
“Wow. The women here are incredible. Because, you know, they’re tough. They don’t cry when it gets cold. They don’t worry about their hair getting messed up in the wind. They have boots on.”
Seinfeld-famous John O’Hurley hails from Kittery, where he says he lived “just long enough for me to pick up sports allegiances (Boston teams).” As a singer and actor, he has been around the world but has several reasons that Maine resonates:
“I come back for the lobster. Frankly, I have a minimum daily requirement of shellfish every day,” he laughs before turning nostalgic. “It’s one of the prettiest states in the country and has so many things to offer: the lands and the lakes, and then the seacoast are just extraordinary. It’s one of my favorite places to come.”
He has been invited several times to perform at the Ogunquit Playhouse — a regional theater in Ogunquit — and says he will take them up on that offer one of these times.
“We drove past the Ogunquit Playhouse, and my wife says to me, ‘You’ve got to do a show here.’ And I think back, and I go, ‘Yeah, I really do.’”
Famous Artists From Maine
Maine provides artistic expression for generations — from paintings to sculptures that weave history into the present. Here are a handful of Maine artists who have made names for themselves.
Winslow Homer — one of America’s foremost 19th-century painters — had a deep and enduring connection to Maine. He first visited the state in the mid-1800s and was captivated by its rugged coastal scenery.
Maine’s rocky shores, crashing waves, and local fishermen became central themes in his art. His iconic seascapes, such as “The Gulf Stream” and “Weatherbeaten,” are celebrated for their vivid depictions of Maine’s maritime life.
Bernard “Blackie” Langlais
Bernard “Blackie” Langlais, a renowned American sculptor, was born in Old Town Maine in 1921. He grew up in the state and later returned to his roots.
He and his wife, Helen, transformed their family farm in Cushing Maine into a unique outdoor art installation filled with his distinctive wooden sculptures. Langlais’ artworks — often featuring animals and bold colors — reflected his deep love for nature and Maine’s rustic beauty.
Today, his legacy lives on through the Langlais Art Preserve, protecting his remarkable artistic contributions and celebrating his enduring connection to the state of Maine.
Andrew Wyeth, one of America’s most celebrated artists, spent many summers in the coastal village of Cushing, capturing the stark beauty of the Maine landscape in his paintings.
His iconic work, “Christina’s World,” was inspired by a resident of Cushing, and the area’s rolling fields and weathered farmhouses often served as his muse. That home is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Wyeth’s meticulous attention to detail and his ability to evoke deep emotion through his art made him a revered figure in the Maine art community. His legacy endures through the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland Maine, which houses a significant collection of his works.
Molly Neptune Parker
Molly Neptune Parker — a prominent Passamaquoddy basket weaver — lived and died in Maine. During her lifetime between Indian Township and Calais, she was a respected figure in the Passamaquoddy community and a guardian of traditional Wabanaki basketry techniques.
Parker learned basket-making from her grandmother and has dedicated her life to preserving and passing down this rich cultural heritage. Her intricate and beautiful baskets — crafted from brown ash and sweetgrass — are cherished for their craftsmanship and cultural significance.
Her work connects her to the state of Maine and serves as a vital link to the indigenous traditions of the region, ensuring their continuity for future generations.
Well-Known Entrepreneurs From Maine
We’ll bet the next lobster roll dinner that you have at least one of the products from these famous Maine entrepreneurs in your home. Let’s find out!
Leon Leonwood Bean
What started as a man annoyed by wet feet during a hunting trip in 1912 has grown into a global outdoor brand still headquartered in Freeport Maine.
Famous for the Bean boots, L.L. Bean wanted to support all aspects of outdoor adventures. That includes being open 24 hours a day because hunters and anglers get an early start to the day, sometimes after driving all night. “We have thrown away the key to the place,” he said.
That flagship store is still open 24 hours a day and, through the brand’s expansion, remains in the Bean family.
Roxanna Quimby created all the buzz around the Burt’s Bees product, but long before that, she moved to the edge of Maine’s woods at the age of 25. With just $3,000, she built a humble cabin and lived as rustic a life as you can imagine — an outhouse with no plumbing or no power.
She met Burt Shavitz — the face famous on the products now — at his beekeeping shack. The ideas blossomed, and the product first went to Maine’s craft fairs and farmer’s markets before going mainstream.
Quimby sold Burt’s Bees in 2007 for $900 million and became a conservation advocate. The Guildford land of her past gave her a front-row seat to the logging industry. She purchased land that would no longer be logged.
That was the start of the North Maine Woods and the creation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
If you’ve worn a prom, homecoming, or wedding dress since the 1980s, you’ve likely worn a piece by a Presque Isle-born fashion designer Jessica McClintock.
Her father was a shoemaker, and her mother was a hairdresser. Jessica’s destiny was evident from a young age, and her family encouraged and fueled her creativity.
She moved to San Francisco and, with a $5,000 investment, created a namesake brand that’s synonymous with special occasions.
Fame From Maine Keeps You Humble
What we love about these celebrated Mainers is their love of the state, and it’s not just lobster rolls and coastlines. They hail from all corners and keep influencing all art and business forms as the next generation of famous people from Maine wait in the wings.
We know many more famous people hail from Maine. Who would you add to this list?