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Notable Berkeleyans: An Exhibit. August 16 - September 15, 2012.   Tags: berkeley, biography  

What does Wavy Gravy have in common with Whoopi Goldberg and Jack London? They were Berkeleyans. Berkeley Public Library invites you to discover some of our more notable Berkeleyans (anyone who has lived, studied, or worked in Berkeley!).
Last Updated: Sep 21, 2012 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Notable Berkeleyans in the Berkeley Public Library

Cover Art
Hallelujah Junction - John Adams
Publication Date: 2008

Work in Progress - David Brower
Publication Date: 1991

Cover Art
Telegraph Avenue - Michael Chabon
Publication Date: 2012

Cover Art
Whoopi Goldberg - James R. Parish
Publication Date: 1997

Cover Art
Time and Materials - Robert Hass
Publication Date: 2007

Cover Art
Red Diaper Baby - Josh Kornbluth
Publication Date: 1996

Cover Art
Julia Morgan - Mark A. Wilson
Publication Date: 2007

Upside Your Head! - Johnny Otis
Publication Date: 1993

Cover Art
Nursery Crimes - Ayelet Waldman
Publication Date: 2000

Cover Art
Our Town - Thornton Wilder
Publication Date: 1960


Notable Berkeleyans

John Adams, b. 1947

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer of operas such as Nixon in China and Doctor Atomic. His sixtieth birthday was declared “John Adams Day” in his home town of Berkeley.

Peter Apfelbaum, b. 1960

Avant-garde jazz pianist, tenor saxophonist, drummer, and composer. Born in Berkeley. Graduate of the Berkeley High Jazz Program.

Elmer Bischoff, 1916-1991

Grew up in Berkeley. Part of the Bay Area Figurative Movement. Studied at UC Berkeley. Served as an intelligence officer during World War II. Taught at the California School of Fine Arts.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1930-1999

Prolific science fiction writer. Co-founder of Society for Creative Anachronism. Long-time Berkeley resident.

David Brower, 1912-2000

Berkeley-born environmentalist, founder of Friends of the Earth. First Executive Director of the Sierra Club.

Raymond Burr, 1917-1993

Actor known for bad-guy role in Rear Window and good-guys Perry Mason and Ironside.  He was also a philanthropist, vintner, orchid grower, and noted seashell collector. Graduate of Berkeley High.

Michael Chabon, b. 1963

Berkeley resident. Pulitzer Prize-winning author. His 2012 novel, Telegraph Avenue, is set in Berkeley and Oakland. Husband of the author Ayelet Waldman.

Ina Coolbrith, 1841-1928

Noted Californian poet. Oakland Public librarian. Mentor to Jack London. Her poem “Copa De Oro” is featured on the Addison Street Poetry Walk on the corner of Shattuck & Addison.

Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982

Prolific science fiction writer with over a dozen movies made from his works. Graduate of Berkeley High.

Richard Diebenkorn, 1922-1993

Important American figurative and abstract painter. Lived in Berkeley for many years. Awarded National Medal of the Arts in 1991.

Robert Duncan, 1927-1999

Poet and important gay culture intellectual. Key figure in the 1950s San Francisco Renaissance. Born in Oakland. Attended UC Berkeley.

Dave Eggers, b. 1970

Author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which recounts the death of his parents and his efforts to raise his young brother, Toph. Moved to Berkeley and founded Might magazine. This was followed by McSweeney’s Quarterly and the education center 826 Valencia. Continues to write important and interesting novels and works of nonfiction. Married to author and publisher Vendela Vida.

Joseph Esherick, 1914-1998

Architect and teacher. Taught at UC Berkeley for many years. Co-founder of the College of Environmental Design. Winner of the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal.

Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1997

Wrote parts of “Howl” in Berkeley while a grad student at UCB. Honored by the Allen Ginsberg Memorial Poetry Garden at the Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School, across the street from where Ginsberg lived at 1624 Milvia.

David Lance Goines, b. 1945

Berkeley-based artist, printer, and political activist. Attended UC Berkeley and was part of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Author of The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960s. He is a seventeen-gallon blood donor.

Whoopi Goldberg, b. 1955

Emmy and Academy Award-winning actress and comedian. Host and moderator of The View. Lived in Berkeley in the late 1970s and joined the Blake Street Hawkeyes Theater.

Robert Hass, b. 1941

Former Poet Laureate. National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner. Former faculty member at UC Berkeley. Wounded veteran of Occupy Cal.

Patricia “Patty” Hearst, b. 1954

Daughter of the Hearst Family. Kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment. As a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, robbed several banks with her captors, the Symbionese Liberation Army. Captured in 1975 and served 7 years in prison. Granted full pardon by President Clinton. Went on to become a mother and an actress.

Timothy Hutton, b. 1960

Academy Award-winning actor for his role in Ordinary People. Since 2008 has starred in the drama series Leverage. Attended Berkeley High School.

Pauline Kael, 1919-2001

Noted film critic. Attended UC Berkeley. Broadcast many early reviews from KPFA, Berkeley.

Josh Kornbluth, b. 1959

Monologist and actor. Author of Red Diaper Baby and Haiku Tunnel, which were made into movies. Popular portrayer of Benjamin Franklin. Berkeley resident.

Jack LaLanne, 1914-2011

Fitness educator. Graduate of Berkeley High School.

Dorothea Lange, 1895-1965

Photographer known for her images from the Great Depression, which put a human face on the suffering. Her photographs during World War II of Japanese American internment camps were so powerful that they were impounded by the Army. Invited by Ansel Adams to teach at the California School of Fine Arts. Passed away in her Berkeley home of 25 years.

Ursula LeGuin, b. 1929

Hugo and Nebula award-winning fantasy and science fiction and children’s author. Pulitzer Prize finalist. Raised in Berkeley.

Phil Lesh, b. 1940

Founding member and bass player of the Grateful Dead. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Attended Berkeley High.

Jack London, 1876-1916

Attended UC Berkeley in 1897. Dropped out and became bestselling author of many books, including Martin Eden, set in the East Bay. This book recounts the protagonist’s self-education, which was guided by an Oakland Public Library librarian, based on London’s real-life mentor, poet and librarian Ina Coolbrith. London was also an accomplished photographer and documented the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Billy Martin, 1928-1989

Baseball player and World Series-winning manager of the New York Yankees. Graduate of Berkeley High.

Bernard Maybeck, 1862-1957

Architect and designer of some of his home town of Berkeley’s most beautiful buildings. Designed the domed Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 International Exposition. Long-time UC Berkeley professor. Mentor to Julia Morgan and William Wurster.

Country Joe McDonald, b. 1942

Began busking on Telegraph Ave. His song “The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” was made famous at Woodstock. His mother, Florence Plotnick, served for many years on the Berkeley city council.

Josephine Miles, 1911-1985

Poet and university professor at UCB. Founded Berkeley Poetry Review in 1974. Helped Allen Ginsberg publish “Howl.”

Czeslaw Milosz, 1911-2004

Polish poet. Defected in 1951. Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at UC Berkeley. Winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Julia Morgan, 1872-1957

Noted architect. Graduate of UC Berkeley. Chief architect for Willam Randolph Hearst on his San Simeon Castle.

Kent Nagano, b. 1951

Born in Berkeley. Conductor and music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Bavarian State Opera. Former conductor of the Berkeley Symphony. Worked with Frank Zappa.

Johnny Otis, 1921-2012

Born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes in Vallejo. Known as the Godfather of Rhythm and Blues. Grew up in Berkeley.

Elizabeth Partridge

Award-winning biographer and children’s book author. Life-long Berkeleyan. First woman to graduate from the Women’s Studies Program at UC Berkeley. Grand-daughter of the photographer Imogen Cunningham.

Joshua Redman, b. 1969

Berkeley-born jazz saxophonist. Son of jazz saxophonist Dewey Redman. Member of award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble. Winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition.

Malvina Reynolds, 1900-1978

Songwriter and activist. Author of such songs as “What Have They Done to the Rain,” “Turn Around,” and “Magic Penny.” Her song “Little Boxes” has recently been sung by many different performers during the opening credits of the TV series Weeds. She lived in Berkeley for many years and was known as the Muse of Parker Street.

Rebecca Romijn, b. 1972

Berkeley-born model and actress. Star of X-Men series. Regular on Ugly Betty series.

Galen Rowell, 1940-2002

Wilderness photographer and mountain climber. Published in Life, National Geographic and Outdoor Photographer magazines. Combined adventure and art. Graduate of Berkeley High School.

Andy Samberg, b. 1978

Berkeley-born comedic actor, writer, and member of Saturday Night Live, 2005-2012.

Ariel Schrag, b. 1979

Graphic novelist and television writer. Her first book, Awkward, depicts her experiences at Berkeley High School.

Jason Shiga, b. 1976

Eisner Award-winning comic book author and artist. Graduate of UCB in pure mathematics. Incorporates mazes and puzzles into his work, including an issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly. Life-long Berkeley Public Library patron.

Ayelet Waldman, b. 1964

Author of The Mommy-Track Mysteries and works of nonfiction dealing with her personal experiences. Wife of the author Michael Chabon.

Alice Waters, b. 1944

Her Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, consistenly ranks among the world’s 50 best restaurants. Called the mother of American food, she is the author of many cookbooks. She created the Edible Schoolyard program at King Middle School in Berkeley.

Wavy Gravy, b. 1936

Born Hugh Romney and rechristened by B.B. King in 1969. MC at Woodstock. Known as a political clown. He founded Camp Winnarainbow, the Berkeley-based Seva Foundation, and the Hog Farm. One-time Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. He has been called a Berkeley institution.

Thorton Wilder, 1948-1975

Graduate of Berkeley High. Playwright, translator, and novelist. Winner of three Pulitzer Prizes. His 1927 novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, was selected by the American Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century and was quoted from by Prime Minister Tony Blair during memorial services for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

William Wurster, 1895-1973

Influential architect and teacher. Graduate of UC Berkeley and in 1950 named dean of the architecture school. He helped create the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.


    Notable Berkeleyans Flier


    Notable Berkeleyans


    Notable Musicians


    Notable Writers


    Notable Artists & Architects


    Notable Berkeleyans


    Historic Lobby Exhibit Cases


    Historic Lobby Exhibit Cases


    Berkeleyside Article, August 30, 2012


    Daily Californian Article, September 13, 2012


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