Famous Idahoans


Aside from potatoes and football, many people are unaware of the rich history of Idahoans and their contributions to the rest of the world. There are many great people that have grown up in the Great State of Idaho, and here is a brief list of them. For this list, it includes people that were either born in Idaho, died in Idaho, spent a significant amount of their lives here, or specifically claim Idaho as their home state.

Philo T Farnsworth

One of the Idahoans to effect the world the most would have to be Philo Farnsworth. Farnsworth was the inventor of the modern electric Television. Spending his youth on a farm here in Rigby, Philo found a love for mechanics, electronics, and other sciences at a young age. He was even known to take old ‘junk’ and retrofit it to perform various jobs around the farm. Philo spent a few years in the Navy but then moved to California to work on his inventions. While in California, he developed and patented his electronic television. Philo, over his years, developed dozens more useful inventions, which earned him a permanent statue in the United States Capitol Building in D.C. Because of his contributions to science and technology inventions like baby incubators, radar, and infrared vision were able to be developed.

Joe Albertson

Joe Albertson, the founder of the Albertsons Grocery stores, is another famous Idahoan. Originally from Oklahoma, Joe Albertson and his family moved to Idaho when he was 3 years old. He studied business in school and after partnering with L.S. Skaggs created one of the most successful grocery chains in America. Joe Albertson and J.S. Skaggs founded their company on principles of quality, excellent service, and good value, principles that have made it one of the most successful grocery stores in the country.

JR Simplot

The JR Simplot Company may not ring a bell for most of you, but its influence can be felt—or rather tasted—across the country. One of the most successful agricultural corporations in America, the JR Simplot is famous for its tasty and crisp potatoes. JR Simplot grew up in the Twin Falls area where he experienced the joys of farming first hand. He soon grew into one a fantastic business man and was one of the first to offer precut frozen French fries. It was this product that secured the future of the JR Simplot Company because, in one swift move, the Simplot Company became one of the largest suppliers of French fries to the McDonalds Empire.

Lillian Disney

Probably the most surprising person on this list, Lillian Disney, the wife of Walt Disney, was actually born and raised in Idaho. She spent most of her growing years on the Nez Perce Native American Reservation. She eventually moved down to Hollywood to work for Disney in their department for ink and paint. It wasn’t long before she caught Walt’s eye. They dated for a while and were then married in July of 1925.

Gutszon Borglum

Although he was only born in the Idaho Territory before it was incorporated, Mr. Gutzon Borglum is still considered an honorary Idahoan. Known mainly for his work on the illustrious Mt. Rushmore Project, Borglum was famous before that for his work in sculpting and other art. He wasn’t always a sculpture, though, Borglum actually started off as a physician and even had his own practice in Nebraska. He began sculpting and soon become so popular that he eclipsed the fame of his brother who had been sculpting before him. The Mt. Rushmore Project was not his brainchild, but he was chosen to carry it out. The result? An unprecedented work of art that will go down in history… all thanks to an Idahoan.

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway is known for his many written works, some of which include, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “The Sun Also Rises”, and “A Farewell to Arms”. He was originally born in Illinois in the twilight of the 19th century to two very well educated parents. He learned from them a love of literature and the value of a good education. Ernest Hemingway traveled all across the world writing both fiction and journalistic work. Towards the end of his life, however, he settled down from his life of travel and moved to Ketchum Idaho—where he lived until he passed away until his death in 1961.

Though these examples of famous Idahoans are great and very influential, in the 20th and 21st century, Idahoans are still making waves. Here are several Idahoans that are playing center stage in several different arenas.

Sarah Palin

Usually known for her Alaskan loyalty, former Governor Sarah Palin was born in Sandpoint. She only lived there for a few years after birth when she and her family moved to Alaska. Since then Sarah Palin has gone on to be the ninth Governor of Alaska, Vice President Candidate with running mate John McCain, and a strong supporter of the Tea Party Movement.

Dan Cummins

A popular stand-up comedian, Dan Cummins has made his name in the last ten years through vehicles such as Comedy Central and Warner Brothers. But, like many others on this list, was born here in Idaho. Raised mainly in Riggins, Dan eventually took his talents to the top, receiving numerous accolades from many different comedy authorities.

Aaron Paul

Made famous for his roles in shows like Breaking Bad and Big Love, the star of the new Need for Speed movie has recently been taking Hollywood by storm. However, Aaron Paul was not always a Californian Movie Star, he was actually born and raised here in Idaho, graduating from an Ada County high school.

These are not the only famous people that have called Idaho home at one point or another, there are plenty more where they came from. Idaho is a great place to live and is quickly becoming one of the most desired locations for people looking to relocate in the nation.

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