For a state with only 1.4 million people, Maine has been home to quite a few famous people! There are so many famous people from Maine that we’ve narrowed it down to the top 22 for you.
On this list, you’ll find artists, politicians, authors (so many authors!), actors, film directors, and an Olympian. While the majority of the famous people on this list were born in Maine, many are “from away” and made Maine their home later in life.
Without further ado, here are the top 22 most famous people from Maine:
Having lived his entire life in Maine, well-renowned author Stephen King is arguably one the most famous people from Maine. Born in Portland and now living in Augusta, King is known for his horror, supernatural fiction, and suspense books. He has written over 60 novels and 200 short stories, many of which have been adapted into films, T.V. series, and comic books. King has won numerous awards for his work, including the Bram Stoker Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the National Medal of Arts.
Best known for his acting career, Patrick Dempsey was born in Lewiston and grew up in the nearby towns of Turner and Buckfield. He is most well-known for his role as Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd in the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy but also starred in numerous other movies and T.V. shows. More recently, Dempsey has taken up auto racing, having competed in events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race, and Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Born in Rockland in 1892, Edna St. Vincent Millay was a poet and playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. Some of her most famous works include Renascence and A Few Figs from Thistles. Millay was also a noted feminist in New York City during the 1920s and beyond. She wrote much of her prose under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd.
Born in Portland in 1985, Anna Kendrick is an actress who is best known for her role as Beca Mitchell in the movie series Pitch Perfect. She’s also starred in the Twilight movie series and the movies Up in the Air and Into the Woods.
Actor Judd Nelson is best known for his roles in The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Billionaire Boys Club, and New Jack City. He was born in Portland in 1959 and grew up there until attending St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH.
Joshua Chamberlain, born in Brewer, ME in 1828, is best known as a Civil War hero. He is lauded for his heroic actions as a commander during the Battle of Gettysburg, where he led his troops in a successful defense of Little Round Top. After the war, Chamberlain served as the governor of Maine and later as the president of Bowdoin College.
Andrew Wyeth was an artist known for his highly detailed and realistic paintings of rural landscapes and common objects. While he was born in Pennsylvania in 1917, he began spending his summers in Cushing, Maine in the mid-1930s and moved there permanently in 1945. His most famous work, Christina’s World has become an icon of American art. Wyeth was part of a family of artists including his father, N.C. Wyeth, and his son, Jamie Wyeth.
Son of artist Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C. Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth is an artist with a strong connection to Maine. His art is characterized by his ability to capture the beauty and complexity of rural life and the natural world with a unique blend of realism and imagination. Although he divides his time between California and Maine, Wyeth is said to own a home on Monhegan Island, in Cushing, and also owns Tenants Harbor Light.
E.B. White was a columnist with The New Yorker and a beloved children’s author having written the classics Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. He and his wife decided to buy a farm in Brooklin, Maine as a summer retreat from New York City in 1933. They subsequently fell in love with the area and eventually moved there full-time in 1938. White lived there for the rest of his life and drew inspiration from the rural beauty surrounding him.
Born in Waterville, George Mitchell is a prominent statesman and former politician who served as a United States senator from Maine from 1980 to 1995. He is known for his role in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement, which helped to bring an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, and for his leadership of the Senate during his tenure as majority leader. After retiring from politics, Mitchell became an influential figure in international diplomacy and served as a special envoy for the United States to the Middle East.
Olympia Snowe is a former Republican politician who served as a United States senator from Maine from 1995 to 2013. She began her political career in the Maine State Legislature in the 1970s and went on to become one of the most prominent female politicians in the country. Throughout her career, Snowe was known for her moderate and bipartisan approach to policymaking, and she was a strong advocate for issues such as healthcare reform and women’s rights. Snowe was born in Augusta and attended the University of Maine.
Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to serve in both houses of the United States Congress and the first woman to represent Maine in either. A Republican, she served as a representative from 1940-1949 and as a senator from 1949-1973. She was born in Skowhegan in 1897.
Actress and singer Linda Lavin was born in Portland in 1937. She’s perhaps best known for her portrayal of the title character in the hit TV sitcom Alice, which aired from 1976 to 1985. Lavin has also won critical acclaim for her work on the stage, earning a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway play Broadway Bound.
Angus King has served as a United States senator from Maine since 2013. It was in 1969, after graduating from law school, that King accepted a job in Brunswick and put down roots in the state. Prior to his Senate career, King served as the 72nd Governor of Maine from 1995 to 2003 as an Independent. King is known for his pragmatic and independent approach to governance and has often been described as a moderate and centrist politician.
Richard Russo is a novelist and screenwriter who has lived in Waterville, Camden, and currently resides in Portland. He is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls, which explores the struggles of a working-class community in Maine. Russo has also written a number of other highly regarded novels, including Nobody’s Fool and Bridge of Sighs, and his work has been adapted for film and television.
John Martin Feeney, known professionally as John Ford, was a naval officer and film director born on Cape Elizabeth in 1894. Over his career of more than 50 years, Ford directed more than 140 films and was the recipient of six Academy Awards. A few of his most well-regarded films include Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Searchers.
Leon Leonwood Bean
Leon Leonwood Bean, also known as L.L. Bean, was the founder of the popular outdoor clothing and equipment company, L.L.Bean. He was born in Greenwood in 1872 and began his company in 1912 after creating a waterproof hunting boot that he sold through a mail-order catalog. The headquarters and flagship store of L.L. Bean is in Freeport.
Robert McCloskey was born in Hamilton, Ohio, but spent many summers on Scott Island, a small island off Little Deer Isle, and lived there permanently later in his adult life. He is known for his beloved children’s books, including Make Way for Ducklings, set in Boston, and Blueberries for Sal set in Maine.
Sarah Orne Jewett
Sarah Orne Jewett was a novelist and short story writer from South Berwick who wrote in the late 19th century. She’s best known for her regionalist works that capture the essence of small-town life in rural New England, particularly in the fictional town of Dunnet Landing. Her most famous works include the novel The Country of the Pointed Firs and the short story A White Heron.
Among the famous people from Maine is Hannibal Hamlin who was born in 1809. At the time, his birthplace of Paris was in Massachusetts but in 1820 the town became part of the state of Maine. Hamlin was the 15th vice president of the United States and served from 1861 to 1865 during President Abraham Lincoln’s first term. He was also the first Republican vice president.
Author Elizabeth Strout was born in Portland, Maine, and has set many of her novels in the state. Her fictional town “Shirley Falls, Maine” is the setting of four of her seven novels. Strout is known for her insightful portrayals of small-town life in works such as Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009.
Joan Benoit Samuelson
Joan Benoit Samuelson was born on Cape Elizabeth in 1957 and was the first women’s Olympic marathon champion, having won gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. For thirty-two years she held the fastest time for an American woman at the Chicago Marathon after winning the race in 1985. And her time at the Boston Marathon was the fastest for an American woman at that race for 28 years. In 2000, she was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame.
About Kerry Flatley
Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.