It is often said that one of the many qualities worth celebrating about Stamford is its diversity. It is therefore apt to highlight a few of Stamford’s headliner names for this year’s marking the city’s 375th birthday. Among them are artists, entertainers, musicians and athletes. Some were born here, others made their home here, and still others lived here briefly. But together they help reinforce a picture of a heterogenous community we love to call home. Take a quick read; some of these names are bound to surprise.
Known for his work on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Borglum also boasts a stake in the carving of Stone Mountain and modeled a bust of Abraham Lincoln that was once exhibited at the White House. Borglum once owned an estate in Stamford along Wire Mill Road and High Ridge Road.
designer & merchant
Bendel was involved in retail all of his life, eventually establishing the high-end, eight-story fashion emporium in NYC that bears his name. Bendel’s ties to Stamford are rooted in the mansion he built, now home to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center.
Houdini was a vaudeville regular and major headliner. His escape acts garnered worldwide attention, earning him the nickname “The Handcuff King.” Houdini summered in Stamford at his seven-acre farm on Webbs Hill Road.
aviator & explorer
June’s mechanical skills and bravery (perhaps honed during his year at Stamford High) led him to serve as co-pilot on the first Antarctic expedition. After a second expedition to the South Pole just a few years later, June reported more land was surveyed than any expedition in decades.
Many know this famed performer as Ethel Mertz, her character in the wildly popular TV show, I Love Lucy. Thanks to this role, Vance was the first to win an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress. After the show’s end, Vance moved to and lived in Stamford for about a decade. The commute to Hollywood, though, proved to be too much, so she returned to California.
musician & composer
Also referred to as the “King of Swing,” Goodman made a name for himself though the writing and performance of jazz and swing music. With a clarinet in hand, Goodman took strides to change the music industry by playing in a groundbreaking concert at Carnegie Hall and strategically hiring band members in an attempt to dissolve racial segregation. Goodman resided on Rockrimmon Road.
Arguably one of the most influential baseball players of all time, Robinson was a trailblazer: the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. His career with the Brooklyn Dodgers earned him the Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, an MVP Award in 1949, and entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In moving to the suburbs, Robinson and his family built a life—and a home—on Cascade Road.
Salinger began writing quite young, with some of his earliest pieces published while in high school. His work history includes novels, novellas, and short stories. But, of course, he is most known for penning The Catcher in the Rye. It is believed Salinger began writing it in the late 1940s while renting a home in North Stamford.
Should you turn on your TV at 6 and 11 p.m., flip to WNBC to catch Scarborough as the lead male news anchor, a position he has held for more than forty years. Scarborough has won thirty-one Emmys, has earned a spot in the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, and has written three books. Scarborough currently resides in Stamford with his wife, Ellen.
songwriter & musician
Simon grew up in a musical household, laying the foundation for her successful career in music. She has won several Grammys, and a handful of other prestigious honors, including induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Simon family estate in Stamford was eventually converted into what is now the King School on Newfield Avenue. The original house still stands, and is used as an administrative building.
A satirist who in the 1980s worked as chief speechwriter for then vice president George H. W. Bush, Buckley draws on actual happenings for many of his hilarious novels. The son of writer and political commentator William F. Buckley Jr. is also a talented journalist, with pieces featured in several nationally recognized publications. Buckley was born and raised in Stamford.
Though he started his career on the stage, the silver screen was was where Abbott always wanted to be. After a recurring role as Charlie on the hit HBO series Girls, the Stamford-raised, Brooklyn-based actor is today working alongside some of Hollywood’s big names, including Cynthia Nixon and Mireille Enos.
For more FAMOUS PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD go to STAMFORDMAG.COM
Photographs: Mount Rushmore by istockphoto.com © PaaschPhotography; Bendel by Garvin Burke; Houdini By McManus-Young Collection – Library of Congress, Public Domain; Airplane by istockphoto.com © Guy45; Stamp contributed; Goodman © Library of Congress, Public Domain; Buckley by Katy Close; Book courtesy of Publisher; others contributed