March 01, 2016
March is Women's History Month, and the Philadelphia area has plenty of women to celebrate. The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection and the surrounding region have produced many influential women, from artists and authors to attorneys and all-star athletes.
Of course, you already know Philly's ties to Grace Kelly, Jill Scott, Gloria Allred, Eve, Pink, Jazmine Sullivan, Tina Fey, Katherine Drexel and even Betsy Ross. That's because when Philly can make a claim to fame, it holds on tight. (See: obsessing over anything Reading-born Taylor Swift does in the state of Pennsylvania.)
Related Read: Women's History Month events to attend in Philly
But there are even more famous women who mark Greater Philadelphia as where they got their start -- whether they literally started their life in one of the local hospitals or spent their formative years in the area. Take a look at the list below and then remember to say "they're from my town" every time you see them, in perpetuity.
Yes, really: Famous "Little Women" author Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown in 1832. She and her family moved to Massachusetts while Alcott was a very young child, and she grew up there, but she took some signature Philly 'tude with her. Beginning with her first book at 22, Alcott made a name for herself in the male-dominated writing world, publishing more than 30 books during her lifetime.
In recent years, Amber Rose's reputation as a free-wheeling lady who always speaks her mind has eclipsed what got her noticed by ex Kanye West on a music video set all those years ago: her model good looks. Growing up in South Philadelphia, before Rose was a model, she was a stripper from her late teens to early 20s, which she called the best time of her life. These days she's busy acting, modeling, caring for her son with ex Wiz Khalifa or hosting Slut Walk LA to end sexual violence and slut-shaming.
The Tony-winning actress of stage and screen was born in Philadelphia and attended Newtown's George School before heading off to Bard College. To many, she's known as the Mrs. Byrnes from "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers." To still others, she's known as Gwyneth Paltrow's mom. (If you've read GOOP, Philly personally apologizes.)
You probably know Kate Flannery from her hilarious turn as Meredith Palmer on "The Office." Born and raised in Philadelphia, her father owned the former Flannery's Tavern in Center City, an experience she told Philly.com influenced her drunk character's funny quirks. Last year, Flannery made an appearance in "Slow Learners," the indie film produced by Philly's own MilkBoy starring Adam Pally.
Before she was kicking down the doors of rock and roll with The Runaways, Joan Jett was a little girl born in Philadelphia. Her family moved to Baltimore and then to Southern California so Jett could pursue a music career, where she started her first band at age 15. Luckily for today's rock wannabes, Philly now has a big enough music scene to kick off a youngster's career without requiring a cross-country move.
Rapper and singer Lisa Lopes, one-third of the groundbreaking R&B group TLC, was born in Philadelphia and later attended Girls High School. Lopes' quick rise to fame with the Grammy-winning group was well-documented, as was her rocky relationship with NFL player Andre Rison, which became popular tabloid fodder. Lopes died tragically in a car accident in Honduras in 2002.
As an anthropologist and women's rights activist, Margaret Mead had a huge influence on how we study other cultures. She was born in Philly in 1901 to a UPenn economist father and a political activist mother. Some of her most important works argued that men and women's personalities are shaped by cultural conditioning, not genes, but she's also often credited with bringing anthropology into the public discourse.
The creative, clever and eccentric singer now known as Santigold was born Santi White in Philadelphia in the year of the bicentennial. Last year, the Mount Airy-raised artist performed at Philly's Made in America festival, where she also recorded a music video for "Who Be Lovin' Me." She just released a new album, "99¢," in February.
This Oxford Circle native was the youngest Tony nominee ever when she got the nod at age 13 in 1977 for originating the title role in "Annie." Since her hard-knock days in that famous red wig, McArdle has gone on to star in hits like "Beauty and the Beast," "Les Miserables" and "Starlight Express." Just last spring, in fact, she took the Media Theatre stage in the lead role of "Hello, Dolly!"