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  • Sarasota and Manatee draw celebrities, famous people over the years – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

 October 28

by Carolina

It’s a pretty safe assumption that Mick Jagger is either staying in Lakewood Ranch this week or will at least visit.

After all, the Rolling Stones are playing in Tampa on Friday night, and Jagger purchased a $1.9 million home in Manatee County for his girlfriend and their young son last year.

This, naturally, raises a question: Who is the most famous, influential, and iconic person to have ever set foot in Sarasota or Manatee County?

And no, Bello Nock, Pee-Wee Herman, Rosie O’Donnell, Jerry Springer, and the Landers Sisters don’t count.

This All-Area team of world icons is a tough one to crack. If you weren’t knighted or inaugurated, forget it. Zero chance. Won an Olympic gold medal? That’s a skill-crane prize at Chuck E. Cheese on this list. Four golds? In front of Adolph Hitler? Then maybe we can talk. Inventing the lightbulb will score you redeemable prize tickets too.

Put it this way: Every president since 1976 has been here, including Ronald Reagan, who once campaigned in the parking lot of the old DeSoto Square Mall in Bradenton. Reagan has an airport named after him, and he’s not even close to being the most famous person to swing through these parts.

Who lives here? 20 celebrities with homes in Sarasota-Manatee

The Rolling Stones in Florida: The Rolling Stones in Florida: From writing ‘Satisfaction’ to Mick Jagger buying a home

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Same for Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Charlton Heston, Dustin Hoffman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lucille Ball, Mikhail Gorbachev, Prince Rainier, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, James Brown, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Smokey Robinson, Duke Ellington, Little Richard, Ringo Starr and Luciano Pavarotti, to name a few. They’ve all been here, and they don’t even merit Honorable Mention.

Here’s who does.

Elvis. The King played four shows at the Florida Theater in downtown Sarasota on Feb. 21, 1956. Tickets were $1. Bonus fact: In attendance was a 1951 Sarasota High School grad named Dayton “Bones’’ Howe, who moved to Hollywood and co-produced Elvis’ 1968 Comeback Special, one of the best performances any singer has ever delivered.

Bob Dylan. In addition to appearing at the Van Wezel, it is believed Dylan played in May of 1964 at the Siesta Key home of the late folk singer Eric von Schmidt, one of Dylan’s friends who lived at 532 Beach Road. The recorded set list includes a very early rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Babe Ruth. One of the biggest cultural icons in the history of this country, Ruth played spring training games in Sarasota and Bradenton, and in 1926 shared a penthouse apartment near Sara Bay County Club with golfing legend Bobby Jones. When Ruth died in 1948, 100,000 people lined up to see his body at Yankee Stadium. That’s pretty big.

Michael Jordan. The Babe Ruth of basketball was in Sarasota during spring training with the Chicago White Sox in 1994.  Want to know how big Jordan was? In 1998, Forbes magazine estimated he had a $10 billion impact on the U.S. economy.

Thomas Edison. In the book “Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota,” there is actually a photo of Edison sitting next to Henry Ford in 1926 in Bradenton at a Boston Red Sox game. Can you imagine?

Jesse Owens. Owens became a legend when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in front of Adolph Hitler. But get this: On Oct. 27, 1975 – exactly 46 years ago – Owens signed the wall at the Bradenton Boys & Girls Club on Ninth Street West. It was hidden for over 25 years by a wooden storage structure before it was discovered. In 2014, the building was destroyed for a parking lot, and the wall turned to dust, but director Willie Cooper still has a picture of it.

Real History by Jeff LaHurd: Sarasota’s brushes with fame go back to early days

In case you missed it: Golden Globe winners Dylan McDermott, Ving Rhames to lead Sarasota acting master classes

And yet these guys aren’t even big enough.

So if it’s not Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison or Elvis Presley, then who?

That would be Time magazine’s Person of the 21st Century.

According to Sarasota historian Jeff LaHurd, this man was in Sarasota for about a month in 1949, recuperating from surgery. He stayed at a cottage at 161 Polk Drive on Lido Key, strolled the beach, visited Sarasota Jungle Gardens and went to Badger’s Drug downtown. The FBI, at the time, had him under surveillance.

Who knew Albert Einstein was here?

Contact columnist Chris Anderson chris.anderson@heraldtribune.com. Please support local journalism by purchasing a digital subscription.

Original posted at www.heraldtribune.com

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