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50 States, 50 Boomers

  • Who’s your hometown hero?

    Every state in the union has a baby boomer it’s proud to claim. See who is from your state.

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  • Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Alabama: Charles Barkley

    Call him Sir Charles or the Round Mound of Rebound, but never call him retiring. Barkley, 51, starred at Auburn University before moving to a Hall of Fame career in the NBA. A charismatic force on the court, he now offers outspoken critiques as a commentator for Turner Network Television.

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  • Courtesy NPR/Doby Photography

    Alaska: Corey Flintoff

    The Fairbanks native, 67, has covered stories in 50 countries for National Public Radio, from the revolution in Egypt to the war in Afghanistan. He started at public radio stations in Bethel and Anchorage. He also tried his hand at herring fishing and dog-mushing, but it’s his listeners’ good fortune that he continued with radio.

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  • Amy Sussman/Invision/AP Photo

    Arizona: Linda Ronstadt

    In an AARP interview last year, 11-time Grammy winner Linda Ronstadt, 67, disclosed she has Parkinson’s disease and can no longer sing. On a higher note, she wrote a 2013 bestseller, Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir, an evocation of her talent, her troubadours and her times.

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    Arkansas: Bill Clinton

    When he became the first boomer president, the Big Dog put Little Rock on the map. Known for his political genius (as well as less-flattering attributes), Clinton, 67, travels the world for his foundation and offers advice and support to his wife and other pols. He now eats vegan and mellows with meditation.

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  • Rex Features/AP Photo

    California: Steven Spielberg

    The Oscar-winning director, screenwriter, producer and cofounder of DreamWorks studio, Spielberg, 67, has made his life and his mark in La-La Land. Jaw-dropping box office winners include, well, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List.

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    Colorado: John Elway

    The son of a football coach, he grew up in Washington, Montana and California before settling in Colorado. The Hall of Fame quarterback spent his NFL career with the Denver Broncos, winning two Super Bowls before retiring in 1998. Elway, 53, is now the general manager and executive vice-president for his beloved Broncos. 

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    Connecticut: Geno Auriemma

    Luigi "Geno" Auriemma made Connecticut women's basketball a collegiate sports dynasty, a must-watch powerhouse of exciting players on a winning team. Since becoming head coach in 1985, the man from Montella, Italy, now 60, has led the Huskies to 40 Big East titles (regular season and tournament) plus a record 9 NCAA championships.

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    Delaware: Randy White

    Before he was an all-American at the University of Maryland and Hall of Fame defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, White, 61, was heralded as the greatest high school football player in Delaware. A physical force on the field, “the Manster” (half man, half monster) was selected first team all-pro for nine consecutive seasons. He also excels at the martial arts.

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    Florida: Carl Hiaasen

    The novelist aims his righteous indignation and riotous wit at sleaze-bag pols and greed-head developers, among other despots who would despoil the state he loves. At 61, he churns out bestsellers replete with gleeful revenge and spot-on dialogue. Fans include Toni Morrison and Bill Clinton.

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  • Evan Agostini/AP Photo

    Georgia: Jeff Foxworthy

    You know you’re a fan if you like stand-up comedy, can laugh at yourself and work for the benefit of others. The Atlanta native, 55, was born into a family with generations of Georgia connections. Known for his affinity for and expertise on all things redneck and people smarter than fifth-graders, Foxworthy also donates his time to working with the homeless. 

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    Hawaii: Barack Obama

    His life has taken him to Indonesia, California, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., but the 44th president was born in Honolulu and considers the 50th state his home. “You can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii,” his wife Michelle once said of Obama, 52, the leader of the free world and the nation’s first African American president.

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    Idaho: Barbara Morgan

    She had spent 24 years teaching elementary students when she was invited to NASA’s Teacher in Space Program as a backup to Christa McAuliffe. After McAuliffe died in the Challenger disaster, Morgan stayed with NASA, making her maiden space flight in 2008. Now 62 and retired from NASA, she is a Distinguished Educator in Residence at Boise State University, helping to develop science, math and technology programs.

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    Illinois: Oprah Winfrey

    Hard to believe she isn’t a mythical being: actress, TV host, owner of a magazine and a network, a maker of bestsellers, a mother confessor, a philanthropist, one of the richest women in the world. These days, Oprah, 60, has homes in California, New Jersey, Colorado, Florida — and, of course, Chicago.

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  • Courtesy CBS

    Indiana: David Letterman

    His humor is desert dry, his delivery deadpan. Top 10 lists, stupid pet tricks, even the name of his charity, the Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming, testify to his darkly hilarious take on life. For more than 30 years — Letterman, 66, has warned, “For the love of God, folks, don’t try this at home!” The Late Show host of 20 years announced he’ll be retiring in 2015.

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    Iowa: Tom Arnold

    Born and reared in the heartland, Arnold made a name for himself as a writer for Roseanne Barr’s eponymous sitcom, and in 1990, they wed. The actor, 55, now wed to his fourth wife, was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sidekick in the film True Lies, and a host of Fox Sports Net’s talk show, The Best Damn Sports Show Period.

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    Kansas: Melissa Etheridge

    Etheridge was at the height of her career in 1993, with a 1992 Grammy for “Ain’t It Heavy,” when she announced she was gay — a bold move at the time. Two decades later, Etheridge, 52, balances her musical career with political action. In 2007, she won an Oscar for “I Need to Wake Up,” which she’d penned for An Inconvenient Truth, fellow boomer Al Gore’s documentary.

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    Kentucky: George Clooney

    For his effect on women, his name should be George Swooney. But the perennial bachelor also happens to be a serious guy, albeit with a silly sense of humor. With three Golden Globes and two Oscars, Clooney, 52, uses his fame to promote political candidates and humanitarian causes. 

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    Louisiana: Emeril Lagasse

    The celebrity chef, 54, certainly didn’t invent laissez les bons temps rouler, but he kicked it up a notch by moving to New Orleans in 1982 and opening his first restaurant, Emeril’s (of course), in 1990. Many eateries, Emmy nominations, cooking shows and much fame followed.

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    Maine: Stephen King

    He scares us to death, but he writes like an angel — a frenetic one. King, 66, has penned 55 novels, 7 nonfiction books and more than 200 short stories. So far — and he has no plans to put his pen down — King has sold more than 350 million books.

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    Maryland: Cal Ripken

    He was born to be a Baltimore Oriole. His father and brother were part of the organization. In 2012, his son was drafted by the Orioles. Baseball brought Ripken fame, but the “Iron Man,” 53, has given far more in return. His list of charitable donations and time he gives are as impressive as his Hall of Fame career.

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    Massachusetts: Aerosmith

    They’re a band of boomers known as the Bad Boys From Boston. Fronted by singer Steven Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry, Aerosmith has experienced a four-decade career of highs and lows. With screaming guitars and vocals, flamboyant outfits and willowy scarves on mics, “The Boys” continue to “Walk This Way.”

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    Michigan: Stevie Wonder

    Reared in Detroit, he was already a veteran musician when he signed with Motown at 11. Blind since birth, the singer-songwriter, 63, is among the most revered and honored musicians of the 20th century. No wonder! His hits include “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.”

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    Minnesota: Prince

    Prince Rogers Nelson is a musical genius who wrote his first song at 7. Now 55, Prince could live anywhere, but remains in the North Star State. Seven Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Oscar, with more than 100 million albums sold, the 5-foot-2 musical giant continues to party like it’s 1999.

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  • Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Photo

    Mississippi: Robin Roberts

    The Good Morning America anchor was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and in 2012 underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder. With all that behind her, Roberts, 53, penned a gratitude message on Facebook. Among those thanked was her longtime girlfriend Amber Laign. Roberts let the world know she is happy, healthy — and gay. 

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    Missouri: Sheryl Crow

    Born in tiny Kennett, and a graduate of the University of Missouri, Crow now lives in Nashville. With a clutch of Grammys and some 50 million albums sold since her 1993 debut, Tuesday Night Music Club, Crow moved from California after completing breast cancer treatment in 2006. Now 52, Crow is a single mom with two little boys, who juggles bedtime with stage time.

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  • Michael Schwartz/WireImage/Getty Images

    Montana: Dana Carvey

    The comedian has a crowd of people inside him, including Church Lady and a U.S. president. Born in Missoula, Carvey, 58, joined the cast of SNL in 1986, giving us belly laughs for the next six years with spot-on impersonations and creations such as Wayne’s World character Garth Algar.

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  • Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

    Nebraska: Alexander Payne

    It all started with a camera his father brought home. He was hooked. Now 53, the writer and director has been nominated for an Oscar seven times. He has won the prize twice — for Sideways  and The Descendants. Other movies: About Schmidt, Election and the recent Nebraska. 

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  • Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

    Nevada: Jennifer Harman-Traniello

    In 2000, she won the first of two World Series of Poker bracelets in open events, becoming the first woman to do so. Harman, who has over $2.5 million in live tournament winnings, will turn 50 in November. A two-time kidney transplant recipient, the Reno native raises money and awareness for organ donation and other charities.

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  • Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Photo

    New Hampshire: Ken Burns

    Through black-and-white photos, period-piece music, and deft storytelling and editing, he breathes life into history with such documentaries as The Civil War, Jazz, Baseball, Prohibition, The Central Park Five and The War. Born to an academic family, Burns, 60, has lived in New York, France, Delaware and Michigan. He has settled in Walpole, N.H.

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    New Jersey: Bruce Springsteen

    The Boss may have been born to run, but he continues to reside in his home state. Featured on covers of Time and Newsweek in 1975, and once hailed as “rock and roll’s future,” Springsteen, 64, has spent four decades making music, touring and standing up for the poor and the powerless. 

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  • Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

    New Mexico: Demi Moore

    She was in the 1990 sleeper Ghost, and five years later she was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. The Roswell native has modeled, acted, posed nude (seven months pregnant) for Vanity Fair, and wed three times. At 51, she looks great and lives on a fabulous spread in her home state.

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    New York: Spike Lee

    Turning his unflinching eye on social ills and societal racism, he is an unrepentant provocateur. Lee, 57, who lives in Manhattan, has made more than 35 films and documentaries in 30 years, among them the Oscar-nominated Do the Right Thing and the harrowing When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, an HBO documentary on Hurricane Katrina. Lee brings that same intensity to watching his beloved Knicks from courtside.

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    North Carolina: Michael Jordan

    Cut from his high school varsity team as a sophomore, he didn’t give up on the game — or himself. Perhaps the best basketball player ever, the gravity defier went on to win an NCAA title at North Carolina and six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. Today at 51, MJ owns the Charlotte Bobcats.

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  • Dawn Villella/AP Photo

    North Dakota: Louise Erdrich

    From her first novel, Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich, 59, has been a literary star. Steeped in the land and culture —her mother is half Ojibwa, her maternal grandfather was Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribal chairman — Erdrich’s 13 novels, poetry and children’s books feature Native American characters and settings. Most recently, The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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  • Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty Images

    Ohio: Drew Carey

    He is a veritable poster man for his hometown of Cleveland. From the opening montage of The Drew Carey Show to his support of libraries — he gave the $500,000 he won on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to the Ohio Library Foundation — Carey, 55, may host the iconic The Price Is Right, but he hasn’t gone Hollywood: “I love the normalcy of Cleveland. There’s regular people there.”

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    Oklahoma: Reba McEntire

    If she had a theme song, it would be “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” her collaboration with Brooks & Dunn, which also happened to be her 56th top 10 hit. Country singing may be her bread and butter — more than 56 million albums sold worldwide — but McEntire, 58, also won raves for her Broadway portrayal of Annie Oakley. Her rules for success: “Be different, stand out and work your butt off.”

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    Oregon: Dick Fosbury

    As a teen in the ’60s, he turned the world of track and field upside down with his headfirst, face-up high-jump technique, immortalized as the “Fosbury Flop.” He won Olympic gold in the 1968 Summer Games. A civil engineer and cancer survivor, Fosbury, 67, still challenges the status quo: He’s running for the state House of Representatives in his adopted state of Idaho.

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    Pennsylvania: Sharon Stone

    She didn’t win the title of Miss Pennsylvania, but Meadville native Sharon Stone heeded the pageant judge’s advice and left northwest Pennsylvania for New York. Good move. Model, producer, actress and activist Stone, 56, is best known for that erotic scene in Basic Instinct. Later, she won a Golden Globe for her role in Martin Scorsese's Casino. Youth-obsessed Hollywood doesn’t bother her a bit: “I like being a woman, not a girl.”

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    Rhode Island: Peter and Bobby Farrelly

    There’s something about these brothers, who were raised in the Ocean State. Peter, 57, at left, and Bobby, 55, are behind the hilariously gross “hair gel” scene in There’s Something About Mary. Other films with their trademark humor include Dumb and Dumber, Shallow Hal, and Kingpin.

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    South Carolina: Stephen Colbert

    Host of The Colbert Report since 2005, he’s a satirist of the first order. Funny and way smarter than those he slyly skewers, Colbert, who turns 50 in May, also is a consummate interviewer. As a result, he will succeed David Letterman as host of the Late Show on CBS in 2015.

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    South Dakota: Pat O’Brien

    Known for his tenure at CBS Sports and as anchor of Access Hollywood and The Insider, the radio and TV personality got an early taste of fame without even leaving his home state. As a teen, he was member of the Sioux Falls rock band Dale Gregory and the Shouters, for which O’Brien, 66, was inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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    Tennessee: Dolly Parton

    Self-deprecating and sly, she says stuff like “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” Don’t be fooled by big hair and tight clothes. Parton, 68, has been a country-hit machine for decades. Her movie career took off in 1980, with the comedy 9 to 5. The rags-to-riches star even created a theme park, Dollywood.

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    Texas: Tommy Lee Jones

    He attended Harvard University on scholarship, studied English, started on the 1968 undefeated football team and roomed with Al Gore. Now 67, the laconic Jones went on to win an Oscar for The Fugitive. Back in Texas, he lives on a cattle ranch and religiously follows the exploits of the San Antonio Spurs.

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    Utah: Donny and Marie Osmond

    They’ve done more apart than together, but they might as well be twins. Marie, 54, the only girl in a Mormon family of nine children, has acted, sung and hosted a talk show. Brother Donny, 57, has been equally busy. But to boomers, the sibs will always be the adorable “Donny & Marie” from their ’70s variety show.

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    Vermont: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

    Childhood pals Ben (left) and Jerry (right) entered the cultural Zeitgeist with their first ice cream shop in downtown Burlington in 1978. They created an empire from Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey and other fun flavors. They sold the biz in 2000 and now Cohen and Greenfield, both 63, are full-time philanthropists.

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    Virginia: Katie Couric

    With a writer mother and a newspaper editor father, she was born to be a journalist. Known as “America’s Sweetheart” for her tenure on NBC’s Today show, Couric underwent an on-camera colonoscopy to raise awareness of colon cancer after her husband died of the disease. Couric, 57, has entered the Web frontier as global anchor for Yahoo News.

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    Washington: Paul Allen

    Paul Allen is more than the other guy behind Microsoft. In 2012, he was named the most charitable living American, having given away over $372 million. Allen, 61, has no plans to stop sharing. He has pledged to give away the majority of his fortune. These days, Allen is exercising his boasting rights as owner of Super Bowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks.

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    Washington, D.C.: Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon

    Combine two talky sports fans and you get ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, with longtime Washington Post columnists Tony Kornheiser (right), 65, and Mike Wilbon (left), 55. This fast-paced D.C.-based program has the duo weighing in on the latest in the sports world. 

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    West Virginia: John Corbett

    Before he was Carrie Bradshaw’s beau in Sex and the City, and the non-Greek who wed Toula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Corbett was the DJ on the TV series Northern Exposure. In real life, the Wheeling native, 52, is acting, making country music and keeping time with a “10,” longtime girlfriend Bo Derek. 

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    Wisconsin: Willem Dafoe

    Born William Dafoe, the actor has played heroes, villains, drug dealers, goblins, vampires and the voice of Gill in Finding Nemo. Boomers will know him as Sergeant Elias in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. From Appleton, Defoe, 58, lives in Rome, L.A., and New York with actress wife Giada Colagrande.

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    Wyoming: John Perry Barlow

    Talk about dichotomies. Barlow held a fellowship at Harvard and was a lyricist for the Grateful Dead, penning “Hell in a Bucket,” “Cassidy” and “Mexicali Blues.” He attended a one-room schoolhouse in the Cowboy State, and at 66 writes essays for the New York Times. He advocates for freedom for cyberspace and is considered one of rock’s “10 Supersmart Musicians.”

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As the last of the Baby Boomer Generation turns 50 and more baby boomers are retiring, AARP celebrates the generation that changed the world.

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