AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo Texas is not mentioned high on anyone’s list when naming famous celebrities – however, stars are born in the Yellow City.
This list will be compiled of 12 different celebrities that were born in Amarillo before making their claim to fame on the world’s big stage. The order of the list was determined by IMDB.
Famous entertainers from Amarillo include:
1. Carolyn Jones (1930-1983)
Carolyn Jones was born in Amarillo on April 28, 1930. Jones began her film and television career in the 1950s with roles in “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956), “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956), “The Big Heat” (1953), “The Addams Family” (1964-1966), and others. Jones was recognized nationally in 1957 when she received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for “The Bachelor Party,” as well as a Golden Globe Award for being one of the most promising actresses of 1959.
2. Cyd Charisse (1922-2008)
Cyd Charisse was born on March 8, 1922, in Amarillo, under the name Tula Ellice Finklea at the time. After recovering from polio as a child, Charisse began her acting career in the 1940s by studying ballet. She would go on to become a talented dancer, and her abilities would be showcased in the majority of her acting roles until the 1950s. Charisse appeared in “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Band Wagon,” “Brigadoon,” and “Silk Stockings” (1957). Her most notable roles include The Band Wagon and Silk Stockings, and she made her Broadway debut in 1992.
3. Arden Cho (1985-Present)
Arden Cho is an American model, producer, singer, and actress who was born on August 16, 1985, in Amarillo. She began her college studies in Chicago, where she majored in Phycology with the goal of becoming a lawyer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Cho would also enroll in her first drama class and develop an interest in the acting profession. Cho launched her modeling career in 2004, winning the “Miss Korea Chicago” title. She then decided to relocate to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actress. Cho has since appeared in shows such as “Teen Wolf” (2014-2016), “Chicago Med” (2018-2019), “Hawaii Five-0” (2015), “Partner Track” (2022), and others
4. Derek Cecil (1973-Present)
Derek Cecil was born in Amarillo on January 15, 1973. He went to the University of Houston and graduated from there, as well as the American Conservatory’s Advanced Theater Training Program in San Francisco, California. Cecil began his acting career, gaining national attention when he starred in the TV series “The Beat” (2000). Cecil later appeared in Fox series such as “Pasadena” (2001), “Push, Nevada” (2002), “House of Cards” (2014-2018), “Men in Black 2” (2002), “The Next Three Days” (2010), and others. Cecil was nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for the House of Cards series in 2015 and 2016. He is a founding member of New York’s Rude Mechanicals Theater Company, where he has acted and directed.
5. Ann Doran (1911-2000)
Ann Doran was born on July 28, 1911, in Amarillo. She was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild and spent 30 years on the board of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Doran appeared in over 500 films and 1000 television shows, according to one count. Beginning at the age of four, she appeared in hundreds of silent films under aliases to keep her father’s family from finding out. Doran’s most well-known films include “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), “You Can’t Take It with You” (1938), “His Girl Friday” (1940), and “Them!” (1954).
6. Francie Swift (1969-Present)
Francie Swift was born on March 27, 1969, in Amarillo and graduated from Tascosa High School in 1987. Swift is an American film and television actress who has appeared in films such as “Two Weeks Notice” (2002), “Thoroughbreds” (2017), “Cop Out” (2010), and “Law & Order” (1995-2022), among others.
7. Paula Trickey (1966-Present)
Paula Trickey was born in Amarillo on March 27, 1966. She grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she discovered her love for acting and writing plays to entertain and cheer up her family. Starting in elementary school, Trickey would direct numerous plays and theatrical productions. Paula began doing local commercials and pageants in high school, she was later crowned Miss Oklahoma in the All-American Teen Pageant in 1985. She would fall short in the finals to a now well-known Halle Berry. Trickey is best known for his roles in “The Christmas Trap” (2018), “Running Away” (2017), and “Crimes of the Mind” (2014).
8. Justin Tarr (1940-2012)
Justin Tarr was born John Howard Kenneth Barnes on April 14, 1940, in Amarillo. Tarr grew up in the High Plains before moving to Colorado when he was nine years old. Tarr excelled in a variety of sports in high school, including shotput, javelin, discus, boxing, basketball, and weightlifting. He didn’t start acting until his sophomore year of college, after attempting flying school and other careers. Tarr moved to New York in 1963 after selling his car and receiving a scholarship to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City for three years. As a result, he appeared in films such as “The Rat Patrol” (1966), “Bullitt” (1968), “Massacre Harbor” (1968), and others.
9. Jorja Curtright (1923-1985)
Jorja Curtright was born in Amarillo on August 14, 1923. She was an actress best known for her roles in “M,” “The Cases of Eddie Drake,” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” (1955). Previously, she was married to Sidney Sheldon. She died in Los Angeles, California, on May 11, 1985.
10. Payton Spencer (1997-Present)
Payton Spencer was born in Amarillo on November 28, 1997. Her acting career began when she was five years old, pointing to the TV and telling her parents she wanted to be one of those people. Her parents took her advice and enrolled her in acting classes with an Amarillo company. Spencer would go to her first talent show and kill it, attracting the attention of a big-name agent from Los Angeles, California, who also represented Dakota Fanning. This led to her landing the first major role of her career in “Joan of Arcadia,” which is unprecedented in the industry. Spencer would go on to be is widely known for roles in “What About Brian” (2006), “NCIS” (2003), and “The Last” (2010).
Payton has recently resumed acting, during an upcoming exclusive interview with Myhighplains.com she details upcoming projects, being a child actress, what she was up to while away from stardom along with her reasons for stepping away and more.
11. Les Brandt (1968-Present)
Les Brandt was born in Amarillo on September 7, 1968. He spent most of his childhood in the Texas High Plains before moving to Dallas to pursue an acting career after high school. Brandt has appeared in a number of films, but he is best known for his commercial work. He has appeared in commercials for brands such as L’Oreal, The Home Depot, Old Spice, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Scott’s Lawn, and Yoplait GoGurt, as well as two Nissan spots, one of which he co-starred in with Blake Shelton.
12. Harry Northup (1940-Present)
Harry Northup was born on September 2, 1940, in Amarillo. Northup didn’t spend a lot of time in the Panhandle graduating from high school in Nebraska. He would go on to college to study poetry and acting in college leading him to have a successful career in both professions. Northup has appeared in 37 films and has nine books of poetry published while also being a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1976. He is known for the following movies “Taxi Driver” (1976), “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “The Manchurian Candidate” (2004), “And Mean Streets” (1973).
For a complete list of entertainers from Amarillo, Texas visit the IMDB website.
For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with MyHighPlains.com and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.