Successful People Originally From El Paso – Our Top Six
Sometimes it seems like we're so isolated and alone here in El Paso, and no one ever gets out and really does anything that the rest of the world will notice.
This really isn't the case! There are tons of well-known people in different areas that are pretty well-known for what they've done! You probably know some of them and don't even realize they're originally from here!
We've compiled a short list, feel free to add your own list of famous El Pasoans to it!
Jordan started acting in plays at the age of 5, and did voiceover work and local commercials until she decided to move to Hollywood and really jumpstart her career. She landed the lead role in a Disney movie called “Go Figure” and then she got roles in several TV series, including “Eureka”, “Hank” and “CSI:Miami”. She's also appearing in the next Harold & Kumar movie called “A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas”!
Alan Tudyk may have been raised in Plano, TX, but he was born right here in El Paso! He won an Academic Excellence Award for Drama and even went to study at Julliard! His first small role was in “Patch Adams” with Robin Williams, and then began to appear in many comedic roles in movies such as “28 Days” and “A Knight's Tale”. He's probably most known for his role as Wash, the crazy pilot in the short-live TV series “Firefly”, and the movie “Serenity”. He also appears most recently in “Transformers:Dark Side of the Moon” as John Turturro's assistant.
Gene Roddenberry was born in El Paso, and moved to LA where his father was a police officer. He joined the military and flew 89 combat missions in World War II in the United States Army Air Forces. After the war, he became a commercial airline pilot and then followed his father and became a police officer. He then began to focus on writing scripts for television, including scripts for “Have Gun, Will Travel” and “Highway Patrol”. He then created his first TV show, “The Lieutenant” and then “Star Trek” in 1964. The show premiered in 1966 and ran for 3 seasons and spawned a whole host of TV shows and movies. Gene Roddenberry was also one of the first humans to have his ashes “buried” in outer space!
Debbie Reynolds won a beauty contest at 16, which launched her movie career at MGM. She wasn't even a dancer until she landed the role alongside Gene Kelly for “Singin' In The Rain” in 1952! She was nominated for an Academy Award in 1964 at the age of 31 for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”. She lost her first husband Eddie Fisher (Carrie Fisher's dad) to Elizabeth Taylor. She's one of the few actresses to have danced with both Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire in the movies!
Sam Donaldson, the well-known reporter for ABC News is also from El Paso! The son of a farmer and a school teacher, Sam attended the New Mexico Military Institute as well as Texas Western (new UTEP), and became the station manager for KTEP, the campus radio station. He began to submit reports for ABC news during Vietnam, and became the White House correspondent beginning with the Carter administration. He had some great notable quotes during spars with different presidents, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Sam hosted several news and political shows, including “The Sam Donaldson Show – Live in America” and “20/20″.
John D. “Danny” Olivas
While Danny was born in North Hollywood, he was raised right here in El Paso, and graduated from Burges High School! he then went on to receive his Bahelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from UTEP, his Masters of Science from the University of Houston and his Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Rice University. He owns 6 U.S. Patents, 4 NSAS Class One Tech Brief awards, and 5 JPL-California Institute of Technology Novel Technology Recognitions among other awards! He worked at NASA in the Robotics Branch, responsible for ensuring proper configuration and integration of future modules and vehicles for the Space Station. He flew into space on 2 Space Shuttle missions, STS-117 Atlantis and STS-128 Discovery, in 2007 and 2009!