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Before They Were Famous – The Sequel

2011 August 17

Earlier we presented this story on three Georgians before they were famous. Here a few more similar stories.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is world famous for his leadership in the Civil Rights movement and his nonviolent means of protest. He was able to lead so many largely because of his remarkable gift of oratory. He began honing this talent at an early age. In 1944 King–then a junior at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta–won an oratorical contest on the subject “The Negro and the Constitution.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The seeds of his later brilliant speeches can be seen in such phrases as “America gave its full pledge of freedom seventy-five years ago,” “The finest Negro is at the mercy of the meanest white man,” and “We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule.” The image above can be found at Long Island University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute site.


Before he became famous as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, character actor Sterling Holloway was born in Cedartown, Georgia. He attended the Georgia Military Academy (see photo below) before graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Sterling Holloway

Holloway appeared, primarily in small roles, in a number of films and television shows, but found fame doing voice work for Walt Disney studios. Some of his more noted work was as the the voice of the Stork in Dumbo, the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, and Kaa the Python in The Jungle Book. Finally, Holloway was the voice of the beloved animated bear Winnie the Pooh in Disney films of the 1960s and 70s.


John Henry Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia August 14, 1851. As a teenager his family moved to Valdosta, from where he went to Pennsylvania to study dentistry, graduating and coming back to Atlanta to establish a practice. The next year, Holliday was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was advised to move to the drier climate of the West. He moved to Texas, where he continued practicing dentistry but also became interested in gambling and became proficient with a revolver. In 1877, Holliday met Wyatt Earp, which led to a lifelong friendship. While Earp was a deputy U.S. marshal in Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881, the Georgia-born dentist and gunfighter–now known as “Doc” Holliday–joined Wyatt and two Earp brothers in a standoff with Ike Clanton and his gang of gunfighters. The Earps and Holliday gunned down three of the Clanton gang in what was later memorialized as the “Gunfight at O.K. Corral.” Holliday’s health continued to decline, and he died in Glenwood Springs, Colo. on November 8, 1887.

"Doc" Holliday


One more “before they were famous” story–or perhaps in this case we could say “infamous.” In January of 1844 a young (only 23 years old) Army lieutenant who was then stationed in Charleston, S.C., received orders to report to Marietta, Georgia. He arrived there in February, and spent the next six weeks taking depositions from militia members in Alabama and Georgia who had incurred personal losses of horses and equipment in the Second Seminole War. He also had time to familiarize himself with the area–an area he would visit again twenty years later–under vastly different circumstances. This young lieutenant’s name? William Tecumseh Sherman!

Young William T. Sherman

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  1. Lenora Pou permalink
    August 18, 2011

    These are all extremely interesting. Are these events noted on the This Day In Georgia History link? All would be excellent entries.

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