21. Sidney Poitier. The first male African-American superfilmstar, Sidney Poitier is identified as a Bahamian but was actually born in Miami, Florida. His parents, who lived on Cat Island, were visiting the city when he was born prematurely. Not expected to live, Poitier did and his mom and dad stayed in the US for 3 months to let him gain strength. Although he grew up on Cat Island, he qualified for automatic American citizenship due to the birth circumstances. His only other real Florida connection was that he lived there with a brother between ages 15 & 17 before moving to New York. Most of his films were made either in California or England. He was the first black male actor to be nominated for a competitive Academy Award, and he won Best Actor for Lilies of the Field.
22. John Ringling. One of 7 brothers, Ringling helped found the meganova of traveling circuses, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. He and his wife began spending winters in Florida in 1909, and 18 years later Ringling made Sarasota the Circus’ winter headquarters. A mansion, Ca’d’zan (House of John), followed as he became one of the richest men in the world. Ringling invested heavily in real estate as he helped Sarasota develop. He & his wife started the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to showcase the paintings, etc. that they bought on trips to Europe that caused him to go for baroque. The mansion, a circus museum, and the art gallery are musts for Sarasota visitors today.
23. Don Sutton. As a pitcher, Sutton won 324 games for 6 teams, mostly for the LA Dodgers. Tied with Nolan Ryan, Sutton ranks 14 or 15 on a list of pitchers with 200 career wins and has been in the Baseball Hall of Fame since 1998. His father moved the family to the town of Molino just north of Pensacola when Don & he were quite young. Sutton attended J.M. Tate High School in Florida where he played football and basketball in addition to baseball. After one year at Panama City’s Gulf Coast Community College, he signed with the Dodgers and went on to sports glory.
24. John Travolta. John and Kelly (Preston) bought a house in Ocala, Florida, in 2003 because she loved horses and he wanted to see his planes from his own windows. The estate was featured in Architectural Digest the next year and has the largest private runway in the United States.
25. Donald Trump. In 1985 Trump bought Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Palm Beach Estate, Mar-A-Lago, for $10 million and had used it as a residence for 10 years before redoing it as a private club with 58 bedrooms that began operating in 1995. Its website & his ego call it “the most luxurious private club in the greatest mansion ever built”. On the National Register of Historic Places, Mar-A-Lago members reportedly get legendary amenities. I don’t know what they are because you need a User ID and Password to even visit the Club’s website. Trump claims to spend weekends and holidays here in his own private quarters. To add to his Florida connections, Trump reportedly plans to build a movie studio near the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami-Dade County.
The Florida conclusion tomorrow.