It is a daunting task: narrowing a list of Brooklyn’s most legendary personalities. This list is far from comprehensive, but includes 12 individuals who’ve made names for themselves through significant contributions to the worlds of all sports, music, theatre, film, science, art, and literature.
Best known for his work on “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan,” Woody Allen’s distinct brand of comedy will keep the comedian, filmmaker, writer, director, and actor’s name in our collective conscious for a long time. Allen grew up in the Midwood neighborhood.
Born as Christopher Wallace in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, Biggie Smalls (aka “The Notorious B.I.G.”) made his mark on the hip-hop and East Coast gangsta rap scenes before meeting his tragic ending at age 24.
Producer, writer, director, and actor Larry David has brought countless laughs to hundreds of millions of people around the world through his work on Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He grew up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
The last of the iconic filmmakers we’ll include on this list, Mel Brooks charmed and dazzled fans of his humor with “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers,” “Spaceballs,” Young Frankenstein,” and more. Brooks spent most of his childhood in Bensonhurst and Brooklyn Heights, just down the street from NU Hotel.
The greatest basketball player of all time is more closely associated with North Carolina and Chicago than his native Brooklyn, but the legend was born in Fort Greene, at a hospital a mile away from NU Hotel.
Kimberly Denise Jones, known by her stage name Lil’ Kim, was a member of Biggie Smalls’ Junior M.A.F.I.A. before launching her solo career. Plenty of controversy has surrounded the rapper’s career, but she’s made a name for herself as a bold, talented, and unapologetic performer.
Mary Tyler Moore
Born in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood, Mary Tyler Moore made a name for herself as one of the most respected and iconic television stars of all time. The Emmy- and Tony-award winning actress is best known for her work on The Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore shows.
Astronomer extraordinaire Carl Sagan, perhaps the most famous scientist of any discipline throughout the entire 1970s and 1980s, was born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in 1934. His influential TV series Cosmos has taught many of us most all we know about the astronomical world.
A year ago, Bernie Sanders couldn’t have cracked this list. Today, it’s hard to not imagine him on it. The Vermont Senator’s underdog bid for the Democratic presidential nomination may have proven unsuccessful, but he defied all expectations and may still wield considerable influence. Bernie grew up in Midwood.
Beloved author-illustrator Maurice Sendak, best known for his perennial children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, grew up in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
The highest-selling female recording artist of all time does nothing to hide her Brooklyn roots. The legendary vocal performer grew up in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods.
Born Shawn Corey Carter, Jay Z grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Marcy Housing Project. Today, the hip-hop artist’s net worth is greater than $500 million. And it’s unlikely that anyone of any age who is reading this hasn’t heard of the artist or his wife Beyonce.
On your next trip to Brooklyn, trace the steps of your favorite Brooklyn sons or daughters. Childhood addresses and favorite haunts for several of these celebrities can be found online. Since some of them still live in or frequently return to Brooklyn, you may even be fortunate enough to spot one.