CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia has raised many silver and small screen entertainers, and some more common names that come to mind include Don Knotts, Jennifer Garner, Steve Harvey, and Conchata Ferrell. But you may have watched a movie or a television show that featured a West Virginian without even knowing.
Here are 10 actors you may not know were born and/or raised in West Virginia.
Karen Austin was born in Welch, West Virginia, in 1955. She is known for her 1984 role as Lana Wagner in the sitcom “Night Court.” According to IMDB, Austin, who was born Karen Brammer, received her master’s degree in Theater and Philosophy from Northwestern University.
She began rising to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s, appearing on popular television shows such as “Happy Days,” “Dallas,” “CHiPs,” “Soap,” “The Rockfort Files, “Desperate Housewives,” and “Three’s Company.”
Bernie Casey was born in Wyco, West Virginia, in 1939. Prior to his acting career, Casey was a collegiate athlete for Bowling Green State University who went on to spend eight seasons in the NFL. Once his football career came to a close in 1968, Casey began a new chapter by pursuing acting, appearing in several films and television series.
Some of Casey’s acting credits include “Guns of the Magnificent Seven,” “Boxcar Bertha,” “Gargoyles”(1972 TV movie), “Never Say Never Again,” “Bay City Blues,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “and “Vegas Vampires.”
Casey also published a book of poems and paintings called “Look at the People” in 1969, according to his Wikipedia biography. He died in Los Angeles in September 2017.
Before joining the creepy and cooky “Addams Family” as the iconic butler Lurch, Ted Cassidy grew up in the Mountain State. Though he was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1932, Cassidy was raised in Philippi, West Virginia.
According to his IMDB and Wikipedia biographies, Cassidy was academically gifted, entering his freshman year of high school at just 11-years-old. He attended West Virginia Wesleyan College before transferring to Stetson University in Florida.
Along with bringing Lurch to life in the 1960s, Cassidy’s height of 6’9″ and deep voice landed him roles in “Lost in Space,” “Star Trek,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and “Tarzan.” Cassidy died in 1979 at 46-years-old.
Joyce DeWitt was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1949, and grew up in Speedway, Indiana. She started theater lessons while a teenager, and then went on to graduate from Ball State University and UCLA.
She has made several television and film appearances since her debut on “Baretta” in 1975, but is most well known for her starring role in the hit sitcom, “Three’s Company,” where she starred as Janet Wood through the series’ entire eight seasons. Mid-series, DeWitt’s fellow West Virginia native Don Knotts would also join the show in a recurring role, and another West Virginian, Karen Austin, would also be cast in a couple of the show’s episodes.
Some of the other shows and films Wood has appeared in include “The Love Boat,” “Failing Better Now,” “Call of the Wild,” “Cybill,” “Failing Better Now,” and “Supertrain.”
Joanne Dru was born in Logan, West Virginia, in 1922 as Joan LaCock. When she was 18, Dru moved to New York City, finding work as a model before she was cast in the Broadway production of “Hold On to Your Hats.”
She made her film debut in the 1946 film “Abie’s Irish Rose.” She later appeared in other films such as “Red River,” “All the King’s Men,” “3 Ring Circus,” and her final film role, “Super Fuzz.”
Dru isn’t the only member of her family to make a name in Hollywood. Her younger brother, Peter Marshall, was best known for being the original host of “Hollywood Squares.” Joanne died in 1996 at 74-years-old.
Silent film actress Virginia Oglesby Fox, was born in Wheeling, West Virginia in the early 1900s. While her birth year is disputed, a New York Times article announcing her 1982 death lists her age at the time at 83-years-old. Fox’s Hollywood career began rather by chance when she and a friend traveled to Los Angeles on vacation and stopped by film maker Mack Sennett’s studio. She was hired on the spot, and went on to land leading roles in several silent film comedies of the 1910s and 1920s.
Some of Fox’ credits include “A Submarine Pirate,” “Neighbors,” “Haunted House,” “The Black Smith,” and “The Cave Man,” according to her IMDB biography. She married film producer Darryl Zanuck, who would go on to become a top studio executive. Though Fox retired from her acting career in the late 1920s, she stayed close to the industry, helping influence Zanuck’s business decisions. Fox died in California in 1982.
Peter Marshall was born Ralph LaCock in Huntington, West Virginia, in 1926. Like his older sister, Joanne Dru, Marshall made a name for himself in show business. He was drafted into the army in 1944, and according to his website, he became a disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio while stationed in Italy.
His stage career spans both sides of the Atlantic, staring in “Bye Bye Birdie” in London’s West End, and then on Broadway in “High Button Shoes,” “The Music Man” and more. In 1966, he was tapped for what would become his iconic role as the original host of Hollywood Squares, where he remained host for 17 years.
Marshall also made appearances in film and television including “The Love Boat,” “CHiPs,” “Annie,” “Hotel,” and “The Lucy Show.”
Lou Myers was born in Cabin Creek, West Virginia, in 1935. Myers pursued his dreams of becoming an actor after he graduated from West Virginia State University with a sociology degree in 1962. One of his best known roles is Mr. Gaines on “A Different World.”
Myers also devoted much of his time to promoting Black culture and history, even founding the Tshaka Ensemble Players in Africa, according to WVSU.
Some of Myers other acting credits include “Missing Pieces,” “Tin Cup,” “Bulworth,” “How Stella Got Her Grove Back,” “The Wedding Planner,” and “Dreams.” Myers died in Charleston, West Virginia, in 2013.
While born in New Orleans in 1969, Sam Trammell was raised in Charleston, West Virginia.
Trammell has a career spanning theater, film and television that began in 1996, but is best known for his 2008 role of Sam Merlotte in the HBO series “True Blood.” According to his IMDB biography, Trammell is also a graduate of Brown University.
Trammell’s credits also include “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem,” “This is Us,” “White Rabbit,” “Reckoning,” and “Homeland.”
Soap opera actress Patty Weaver was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Her two major roles in daytime soaps include Trish Clayton on “Days of Our Lives” from 1974 to 1982 and Gina Roma on “The Young and the Restless” from 1983 until 2023.
Also a musician, Weaver has released several music albums. She has also in recent years taken up painting, starting a new career as an artist.
Some of her other credits include “All in the Family,” “Huckleberry Finn,” and “Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit.”
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