The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel this week took a glance at the Wisconsin side of a web project that links locations to their most famous past or present residents.
“A People Map of the US,” compiled by The Pudding, combines cities with the most famous “people born in, lived in, or connected to a place” as determined by how frequently they’ve been pulled up on Wikipedia.
It’s a fun site, though findings aren’t terribly surprising. In Appleton, actor Willem Dafoe took the top slot over notables such as Harry Houdini, Rocky Bleier and Edna Ferber. WWE superstar Hornswoggle is Oshkosh’s most famous.
Outagamie County Sheriff Clint Kriewaldt took Freedom’s slot, although it’s probably for the NFL years the preceded his law enforcement career.
A number of communities are linked notorious crimes whether its Jeffrey Dahmer in Milwaukee or Ed Gein in Plainfield.
Here at the Valley Review, we realize that real life is OK though there’s something to be said for fiction. With that, let’s put a little twist on the concept.
Who, then, are the most famous characters with a history tied to Wisconsin communities?
We start at home and in Appleton, the nod without a doubt goes to Edna Garrett.
Mrs. G entered our lives as housekeeper to Phillip Drummond and a key adult figure in the lives of Arnold, Willis and Kimberly in “Diff’rent Strokes.” She moved on to become housemother on “The Facts of Life.” It’s there she regaled the girls with tales from her childhood on a farm near Appleton. We here can take pride knowing that Appleton taught the wise Mrs. Garrett how to take the good, take the bad, take them all … basically, the facts of life.
Little Chute’s most famous fictional resident was shot into space to endure bad films.
Fictional Mike Nelson, portrayed by real life Michael Nelson, arrived in the fifth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to endure cinematic torment aside Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. Nelson, a temp worker who came to work for the mad scientists behind the plot, hailed from the Heart of the Valley.
Weird things are known to happen in Sheboygan, so it’s appropriate that instead of a person, it gets poultry. Chicken Joe, the stoner surfing bird from the 2007 computer animated film, “Surf’s Up,” hails from the shores of Lake Michigan.
Port Washington would have to go to the Lambert family of “Step by Step,” a new wave “Brady Bunch” that aired in ABC’s TGIF lineup with the likes of “Full House.” Patriarch Frank Lambert was portrayed by Patrick Duffy while matriarch Carol Foster-Lambert brought Suzanne Somers back to our small screens.
The northwoods of Wisconsin has been crucial in saving the fictional world from the forces of Cobra. Grand Slam, G.I. Joe’s laser artillery soldier, hails from Chippewa Falls while Recondo arrived from Wheaton.
Speaking of saving the world …
Ethan Hunt, portrayed by Tom Cruise and protagonist in the “Mission: Impossible” films, hails from Madison. Perhaps the next edition could focus on getting some bipartisan action rolling in the capitol building.
For Genoa City, feel free to take your favorite Newman or Abbott, though based on longevity and role in storyline, we’ll go with Jack Abbott of the Young and the Restless to be the most famous fictional character from the fictional version of the real life Wisconsin locale.
Milwaukee? Oh so many options, but it has to go to the Fonz.
Home to both Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, Milwaukee puts the rest of the state to shame for notable characters. Though as a bronze statue of Henry Winkler’s ode to cool stands tall in downtown Milwaukee, the Fonz stands tall above the rest.
If you’re going to go with fictional people in fictional places within the Dairyland, nods would go to everyone in Picket Fences and That 70s Show as well as Norm McDonald’s Stan Hooper.