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The 20 Most Influential Rhode Islanders Part 4

We’ve seen actors and athletes and Jersey Shore DJs, now we’re down to the top 5 most influential Rhode Islanders. Buckle up!

5. The Farrelly Brothers

Born and raised in Cumberland, RI, the Farrelly Brothers burst onto the scene with the breakout R-rated comedy hit “There’s Something About Mary”. Armed with a taste for the absurd, Bobby and Peter Farrelly showed with each scene they filmed that there was no limit to their comedic sensibility or how far they would go in pursuit of a deep belly laugh. Working with some of the best comedic actors of their generation, they have written for and directed Bill Murray, Chris Elliot, Ben Stiller, Randy Quaid and Jim Carrey.

4. Dave Gavitt

As head coach and athletic director of Providence College, Dave Gavitt helped the Friars advance to the postseason eight straight years and led the team to its first ever Final Four appearance. Later he would help create the Big East conference which became one of the more prestigious and successful conferences in college basketball.

3. Buddy Cianci

Vincent “Buddy” Cianci is the longest serving mayor of Rhode Island, serving 21 action-packed years.  Purveryor of marinara sauce, radio host, politician, RICO indicted felon, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci did it all.  Seen by some as the architect of a renaissance of a city in turmoil and by others as a crooked politician who gave priviledge to cronies while lining his and his friends’ pockets with kickbacks, he is one of the more polarizing figures in Rhode Island history, and surely one of the most influential Rhode Islanders ever. 

2. Claiborne Pell

Rhode Island’s longest serving senator (1961 to 1997), Claiborne Pell is best known as the sponsor of the Pell Grant which provides financial aid to American college students in need of assistance.  Claiborne Pell was the model for politicians as actual civil servants and advocates for the people elected by the people.

1. Roger Williams

Exiled from Salem, Roger Williams pulled up his long socks, got on his horse and founded Rhode Island.  Promising religious freedom and rights to the Native peoples that lived here, Roger Williams was a forward thinking genius who bucked convention and blazed trails.

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