Long before they became famous, many celebrated figures had close links to Hampton Roads.
Here are a dozen who made their names in film, art, literature, song, military history and other fields after living or visiting here.
Edgar Allan Poe. The poet and writer spent four months at Fort Monroe in 1828 as a sergeant major of artillery.
Alec Guinness. The Oscar-winning British actor and creator of the iconic "Star Wars" character Obi-Wan Kenobi was the captain of a ship that became snagged in an anti-submarine net off Fort Wool during World War II. He anchored overnight and woke to discover his vessel stranded in a mine field.
George Armstrong Custer. Custer was a recent graduate of West Point when he came to Fort Monroe with the Union Army of the Potomac in 1862, He quickly distinguished himself in the Siege of Yorktown and Battle of Williamsburg.
Booker T. Washington. Born into slavery, the influential black educator, author and orator was one of the earliest students at what is now Hampton University, where he enrolled in 1872 after a walk of 500 miles.
Robert E. Lee. The renowned Confederate general was a 24-year-old West Point graduate when he received orders in 1831 to help complete construction of Fort Monroe. He married while stationed there and saw his first son born at the fort in 1832.
Steve Earle. The three-time Grammy-winning country music singer, songwriter and producer was born at Fort Monroe in 1955.
Bruce Hornsby. Born in Williamsburg, the three-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter and performer honed his musical skills playing in the clubs and hotels of Hampton Roads.
Ava Gardner. The Oscar-nominated actress from Hollywood's Golden Age lived in Newport News as a teenager, sneaking out of her family's West Avenue boarding house to go to the movies.
Georgia O'Keeffe. The pioneering Modern artist came to Williamsburg as a teenager in 1903 and stayed at her family's Henry and Scotland streets home before graduating from boarding school in 1905.
Erickson can be reached at 757-247-4783.
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