Rhode Island is known for a lot of things. Its colleges, its beaches, its world famous New York System Hot Wieners. And these 20 people were formed by and helped form the identity of the state. Here they are, the 20 most influential Rhode Islanders of All Time!
20. Davey Lopes
The East Providence native was a four time All-Star and two time world series champion playing for the Dodgers, Cubs, A’s and Astros. Lopes was one of the most effective base stealers in baseball history, stealing 557 bases with a success rate of an incredible 83 percent.
19. Tarzan Brown
One of the greatest long distance runners ever may also be one of the more mysterious figures in the sport as well. Tarzan Brown was a two-time winner of the Boston Marathon and also very famously participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Tarzan was also a member of the last acknowledged royal family of the Narragansett Indian tribe.
18. Meredith Viera
If you own a television you have seen Meredith Viera. Born in Providence, Rhode island, Meredith Viera was the original moderator on ABC’s The View when those types of shows had a semblance of intellect and credibility. From there, she co-hosted Today with Matt Lauer. She was also the original host for the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.
17. Spalding Gray
One of America’s most prolific storytellers, Spalding Gray was ahead of his time in many ways. His brand of long form storytelling paved the way for the likes of David Sedaris and others. His form has since been adapted by many storytellers and podcasters who may not even know his name.
16. Viola Davis
One of the more powerful and decorated actresses of her generation, Central Falls native Viola Davis has forged a reputation on her raw and emotional performances in films like “Doubt” and “The Help” the latter of which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Most recently she won an Emmy for Best Actress for her work on Shonda Rhimes’ “How to Get Away with Murder” becoming the first African American to win the award.