Stars of the Western (Mass) Hemisphere

Glamorous Western Mass is home to a surprising number of minor celebrities, living and dead
By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON  |  June 6, 2012


No matter how many Wahlburgers Mark and Co. open, Boston can sometimes feel a little devoid of A-listers. But who needs Hollyweird? Drive just a couple hours west, and suddenly you're surrounded by famous people and the ghosts of dead famous people. Scary! We know, we know: most of us dazzling urbanites consider anything outside the 128 loop to be "Western Mass," but there's a whole state out there, full of somewhat-notable semi-celebrity landmarks! Here's a handy guide on who to look out for on your way to the Berkshires.


Before its 1761 incorporation, the town of Pittsfield was known by the unfortunate Mohican name of PONTOOSUCK. After its rechristening, the scenic haven has played host to an inordinate number of share jet-setting glitterati, from HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW to OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.

That tradition continues. HERMAN MELVILLE wrote that book about the whale while living in Pittsfield. Long before he became everyone's favorite climate-change denialist/robber baron, JACK WELCH was a lowly chemical engineer at the Pittsfield branch of General Electric, where he blew the roof off the factory. And as a teen attending Pittsfield High, actress ELIZABETH BANKS took archery lessons and regularly participated in school-wide death matches. While this had little bearing on her roles in 30 Rock and Scrubs, it did a great deal to prepare her for her recent star turn in The Hunger Games. Dashing novelist JAY MCINERNEY grew up there, too, and it's rumored that the town's rich history primed him for coke-fueled novel writing and his eventual marriage to the sister of PATTY HEARST.

These days, the town boasts a number of famous residents like astronaut STEPHANIE WILSON. But perhaps its biggest A-lister is PATCH ADAMS, otherwise known as MORK FROM ORK, who maintains a Pittsfield summer home. Nanoo nanoo, Pontoosuck! We salute you.


When JOHN BROWN moved to Springfield in 1846, he helped transform it into the most popular stop on the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. But Springfield's legacy doesn't stop there: the biggest city in Western Mass has birthed many of our great nation's most impressive contributions to the world, including BASKETBALL, the DICTIONARY, the REPUBLICAN PARTY, and nu-metal pioneers STAIND.

Fittingly, the city produced more than its share of larger-than-life personalities. And before he became a mean wrestler, a growing JOHN CENA attended Springfield University, where he played for the football team. Before he valiantly sacrificed himself to fill the vast wasteland of the American Midwest with abundant orchards, JOHNNY APPLESEED was but a Springfield lad. So was tiny THEODORE GEISEL, born to a clan of German immigrants, who went on to indoctrinate countless American children into the liberal agenda by writing The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat. TIMOTHY LEARY, the granddaddy of LSD (and godfather to WINONA RYDER) was raised in Springfield. Indie darling CHLOE SEVIGNY was born there. So was the inimitable KURT RUSSELL. So was mystery writer ROBERT PARKER. So was Simpsons producer MIKE SCULLY. Coincidence? We think not!


One morning in 1914, a baby was born in Westfield. Though his cries were no different than any of the other squalling infants in the nursery, he would go on to become one of the most recognizable voices in America. That baby was none other than Saturday Night Live announcer DON PARDO.

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