Idaho’s Influence on the Influential

Idaho is not a forgettable state, despite what many like to believe. Hundreds of thousands of people have visited or lived here, influenced by the state's unique climate and diverse cultural identity. Even those who have never been to Idaho can find themselves breathless at the sight of Idaho's rustic mountainsides. Whether one has lived in Idaho for all of their life or seen it in the pictures, this state has had a fair share of influence in people's lives - including the lives of famous figures in history and pop culture. Here are a few notable people who, in one way or another, have included Idaho state in their lives. 


Idaho is the birthplace of a large number of Olympic athletes, award-winning actors, acclaimed authors, and other important figures; did you know these people were born here?

Lillian Disney

Lillian Bounds was born in Spalding, Idaho and lived in Lapwai, Idaho on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation before moving to California. Lillian met Walt while she was working at the Disney Studio in Ink and Paint as a secretary, and began dating a short while later. Walt and Lillian said their marriage vows to each other in Lewiston, Idaho in 1925. There is something to be said for marrying the owner of a company like Disney -- Walt adored his wife, and named a Disneyland Railroad car “Lilly Belle” as well as a paddle steamer replica “The Empress Lilly” in her honor. When asked about her marriage, Lillian expressed, "We shared a wonderful, exciting life, and we loved every minute of it. He was a wonderful husband to me, and a wonderful and joyful father and grandfather." 

Lillian wasn't just the wife of Walt Disney - she was the mother of Mickey. Disney's original concept for the character that would become his company's brand had the name of Mortimer Mouse. It was Lillian who suggested naming the cartoon the much happier-sounding "Mickey." The Mickey Mouse Club would have needed longer theme music, otherwise. 

Sage Kotsenburg

A native to the snowy Northern Idaho town of Coeur d’Alene, Kotsenburg was destined to pursue an interest in snowboarding. He began the sport at age 5. Though a young athlete, Kotsenburg quickly realized his potential and at the age of 12 made his US Open debut. Only four years later Sage won Silver at slopestyle at the European X Games in 2010. 

Kotsenburg was named part of the U.S. Snowboarding Slope-style Pro Team in December 2011, but became a household name during the 2014 Winter Olympics. It was at this event that Kotensburg became the first gold medalist in slopestyle snowboarding, and the first U.S. gold medalist of the games. 

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. This politician started her career in 1992 when she joined the Wasilla city council in Alaska. Her career progressed when she became the first female Governor of her state. She later moved on to become the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in 2008 with John McCain. In 2009, Palin resigned during the middle of her first term as governor. She then started a career as a public speaker.


Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel was a famous stunt motorcyclist who would perform world record breaking jumps.  Throughout his illustrious career, Knievel looked for higher rises and more impressive hurdles. His eye was on the Grand Canyon, but was prohibited from jumping the national landmark. Instead, he searched for a canyon equally as impressive in size. He found his new challenge at the Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

In 1974, Knievel made the attempt to jump over the Snake Canyon on a rocket cycle. Due to complications will his parachute, Knievel was never able to complete the jump. His jump ramp still stands as a monument to his brief time in the Snake River area. 

Ernest Hemingway

Like Knievel, Ernest Hemingway was not born in Idaho, but found this charming state a place to escape from the world. Here, he focused on what he loved most -- hunting and writing. Hemingway is an acclaimed novelist and a few of his distinguished works were at least in part written in Idaho, including For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Hemingway enjoyed his time in Idaho and spent many autumns in the landscapes of Ketchum, Idaho. Towards the end of his life, Hemingway became depressed He eventually died by his own design in Ketchum in July 2nd, 1961. Despite this end to his life, many of Hemingway’s works continue to be read and loved today.

Joe Albertson

Joe Albertson was the founder of the Albertsons grocery store chain. Though he was not born in Idaho, Albertson moved there when he was three and grew up in Caldwell, Idaho. As a graduate of Caldwell High School and the College of Idaho, Albertson started working at a Safeway. Eventually, he pursued his goal of owning his own line of grocery stores. Albertson was quite successful in this endeavor and his line continues to grow with more than 600 stores.

Acclaimed with fame, many with notoriety have been influenced by Idaho in some way. But Idaho influenced more than just the influential. Idaho continues to welcome millions of people today, both the famous and the unknown. This state will maintain its allure, charm, and comfort for both the traveler and those who will always call her home.

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