Moses and Tarzan Brown, Meredith Viera, Pauly D! We’ve had some interesting people so far in the 20 Most Influential Rhode Islanders. Now we’re down to the top 10!
10. HP Lovecraft
A contemporary of Poe, HP Lovecraft is universally renowned for his dark and supernatural stories that used the city of Providence as a backdrop. Narragansett Beer even made a sweet beer inspired by him!
9. Richard Jenkins
Richard Jenkins began his acting career at the Trinity Repertory Company and made his foray into films in 1974. A perennial member of the That Guy Hall of Fame, ticking in at Number 4 on Buzzfeed’s That Guy List. Jenkins has recently made the leap from “that guy” to “oh, it’s him!” with an Oscar nom for The Visitor and a Primetime Emmy win for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his understated and heartbreaking turn in Olive Kitteridge.
8. Elizabeth Biesel
In a state that calls itself “The Ocean State” you better know how to swim and no Rhode Islander has ever swum better than Elizabeth Biesel. Biesel has won a total of nine medals in international competition. She won a silver in the 400 meter individual medley and bronze in the 200 meter backstroke in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.
7. Ben Mondor
Fun fact: the village Ben Mondor was born in disappeared under water in 1931. So while he’s not technically a native Rhode Islander, we’ll take him since he lived in a modern day Atlantis.
So where does a man go when his city disappears under water? Pawtucket.
Ben Mondor bought a lowly affiliate of the Boston Red Sox farm system and turned them into the one of the best minor league baseball franchises and fan experiences in America. In 2004, Mondor was elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame and was given an honorary day at Fenway Park. Any Rhode Islander who has spent a summer night under the stars watching a ballgame in Pawtucket has Ben Mondor to thank for making it possible.
6. Vinny Pazienza
The “Tazmanian Devil” was whirlwind of heart, bravado and jabs in his illustrious boxing career and he remains a whirlwind of bravado in his post fighting life as well. Soon to be the subject of a major motion picture, Pazienza’s story of pathos, bravado and hubris played out like a Greek tragedy where the togas were replaced with sleeveless shirts.