People say we grow ’em big in Texas. That’s true, we do have some larger than life personalities. But, we don’t grow ’em so much as raise ’em. And the results are in. Oscar, Emmy and Grammy sure love Texas women. We do, too. We’ve chosen 25 Texas female entertainers who exemplify the spirit of the Lone Star State.
25. Alexis Bledel, (September 16th, 1981-Houston)
If you’ve seen Gilmore Girls, you might have noticed that Rory Gilmore was a fast-talking, somewhat cantankerous woman of immense integrity. Of course the actress who played her is from Texas. A native of Houston, Alexis has also stunned audiences in Sin City, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Mad Men.
24. Selena (April 16th, 1971-March 31st, 1995-Corpus Christi)
The Queen of Tejano was born in Lake Jackson, but cultivated much of her career in Corpus Christi. Before her tragic murder in 1995, Selena brought home a Grammy Award, 36 Tejano Music Awards, 13 Billboard Latin Awards, and multiple others wins and nominations.
23. Morgan Fairchild (February 3rd, 1950-Dallas)
Morgan Fairchild has appeared in hundreds of films and TV shows. From Dallas and Falcon Crest to Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Friends (Remember when she played Chandler’s mom and Ross made out with her? Hilarious.), Morgan’s sultry stare and petite allure have captivated audiences for nearly 50 years.
22. Natalie Maines (October 14th, 1974-Lubbock)
As the lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, Natalie has earned 13 Grammy Awards and 10 CMAs. Her controversial politics may have isolated some fans, but not enough to keep her down.Natalie is still making country music and she’s recorded music with such colleagues as Pat Green, Stevie Nicks, Pete Yorn, Neil Diamond, and Robert Earl Keen.
21. Annette O’Toole (April 1st, 1952-Houston)
Annette O’Toole has had a super career. No for real, she was in Superman III with Christopher Reeve as Lana Lang and then later played Martha Kent on Smallville for 139 out-of-this-world episodes! As Martha Kent, she made us believe that it takes a super mom to raise a Superman. Annette has been nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and even a Teen Choice Award.
20. Amy Acker (December 5th, 1976-Dallas)
Amy Acker is a cult queen whose work has won the praise of genre fans everywhere. A member of director Joss Whedon’s inner-circle, Amy has appeared in TV on Angel, Dollhouse, Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Alias and Person of Interest. She also played the lead, Beatrice, in Whedon’s modern film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Her graceful poise is second only to her artful gravitas…the girl can act!
19. Lee Ann Womack (August 19th, 1966-Jacksonville)
Lee Ann Womack won over fans by combining old-school country styling with contemporary late 90’s elements. Popular country tracks like “I Hope You Dance” and “I May Hate Myself in the Morning” have catapulted Lee Ann to the top of the female charts and have earned her 5 CMAs and a Grammy.
18. Eva Longoria (March 15th, 1975-Corpus Christi)
Eva Longoria rose to quick fame in the early 2000’s. She went from a two-year stint on The Young and the Restless, to a leading role as the saucy Latina vixen Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives. When Desperate Housewives ended its eight-season run on ABC, Longoria went out and got a Masters in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge. You gotta respect a Texan woman with strong ties to her roots.
17. Hilary Duff (September 28th, 1987-Houston)
After becoming a teen idol in her role as Lizzie McGuire on the eponymous Disney TV series, Hilary Duff went on to work in several hit films including Agent Cody Banks, Cheaper by the Dozen and A Cinderella Story. And proving she’s a triple threat, Hilary has sold 15 million albums and Elixir, a New York Times Best-Selling Novel.
16. Leighton Meester (April 9th, 1986-Dallas/Fort Worth)
Leighton Meester (pictured above, right with fashion designer Vera Wang) played fashionista Blair Waldorf to icy, but vulnerable perfection on the CW’s Gossip Girl. She has since starred in critically acclaimed films such as Country Strong and The Judge. Meester married her The Oranges co-star Adam Brody in February of 2014.
15. Amber Heard (April 22nd, 1986-Austin)
Amber Heard is not just the new Mrs. Johnny Depp, she’s also a prolific leading actress. The beautiful Amber Heard has starred in Friday Night Lights, North Country, Zombieland, The Rum Diary. Amber has five films coming out in 2015, including Magic Mike XXL and The Danish Girl.
14. Jessica Simpson (July 10th, 1980-Abilene)
Jessica Simpson is a powerhouse icon. She began as a pop princess a la Britney Spears and Mandy Moore and utilized her image as a ditsy blonde to star in The Newlyweds, what might be considered the first celebrity vanity reality TV show. Don’t be fooled, Jessica Simpson knows what she’s doing. She’s forged a fashion empire, sold multiple albums, starred in hilarious films–The Dukes of Hazzard, Employee of the Month–and graced the cover of basically every magazine you can imagine.
13. LeAnn Rimes (August 28, 1982-Garland)
LeAnn had her first big hit at 13 with her single, “Blue”, which garnered her comparisons to such greats as Patsy Cline. Since then, it’s been non-stop for LeAnn. She claims multiple Grammys, CMA’s and Billboard Music Awards. She’s also an accomplished author with two novels and two children’s books under her belt.
12. Jennifer Garner (April 17, 1972-Houston)
Garner’s first big gig was playing Sydney Bristow for five seasons of edge-of-your-seat thrills on ABC’s Alias, for which she won her first Golden Globe and Screen Actor’s Guild Award. She’s since starred in Pearl Harbor, Catch Me if You Can, Elektra and The Dallas Buyers Club. A smile that big would have to come from Texas!
11. Renee Zellweger (April 25, 1969-Katy)
Renee Zellweger is a member of the Hollywood female elite. She’s won the Oscar, Bafta, Critic’s Choice, Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild Award. Her roles in Jerry Maguire, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Chicago, Cold Mountain and Case 39 have cemented her as a true power-house starlet. Renee has also been attached to Jim Carrey, Jack White and Kenney Chesney.
10. Kacey Musgraves (Aug. 21, 1988-Mineola)
Kacey Musgraves is a strong Texas woman on the top of her game. Her music evokes the country of times past, while incorporating the spunk of modern times. She’s a true rising star with a trio of Grammy, CMA, and AMA awards under her belt.
9. Kelly Clarkson (April 24, 1982-Fort Worth)
Kelly was an American Idol back when being an American Idol meant something. Heck, she was the FIRST American Idol. Her pop hits –“Since U Been Gone”, “Strong (What Doesn’t Kill You)”, “Never Again”–have helped turn her records platinum and her career golden. She’s also a member of the Grammy, CMA, AMA, MTV, People’s Choice, Teen Choice, Billboard Winner Club.
8. Jennifer Love Hewitt (Feb. 21, 1979-Waco)
Jennifer Love Hewitt was the queen of teens in the 90s. She made dudes watch Party of Five, made us jump up in our seats during I Know What You Did Last Summer, and root for the underdog to get the girl in Can’t Hardly Wait. Later, Love set her sites on TV and starred in Ghost Whisperer and The Client List. She’s also released four studio albums and graced a picture frame on this writer’s desk from freshman to senior year of high school.
7. Norah Jones (March 30, 1979-Grapevine)
Norah Jones is a nine-time Grammy-winning musician and University of North Texas alumni. Known for her smooth-jazz voice and blues rock instrumentals, she has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. Norah has worked with numerous top artists, including Ryan Adams, Foo Fighters and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. She’s also pulled her fair share of AMAs, Billboards, and World Music Awards.
6. Beyonce (Sept. 4, 1981-Houston)
What can you say about Beyonce that hasn’t already been said? She’s the most powerful living musician on this list. She commands a legion of followers who have flocked to her R&B, female-empowering singles. From Destiny’s Child to her most recent album, Epic, Beyonce is a consistent artist and is one of the highest-grossing female artists of all time. She’s won 20 Grammy Awards, 8 Billboards, and 6 American Music Awards. All-in-all she claims over 500 trophies.
5. Miranda Lambert (Nov. 10, 1983-Longview)
Miranda Lambert is arguably the reigning queen of country. She’s been making sweet music for nearly 15 years. Lambert’s country-loving lyrics and sassy style have helped her bring home the Grammy, CMA, ACM and multiple other awards. She’s a proud Texan woman and a fine example of the spirit of Texas.
4. Sissy Spacek (Dec. 25, 1949-Quitman, TX)
Sissy Spacek made her debut as the tortured teenager “Carrie” in the film adaption of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. A bit of Trivia: Sissy Spacek was originally supposed to play Princess Leia in Star Wars, and Carrie Fisher was supposed to play “Carrie”. When Carrie Fisher refused to get nude for the role of “Carrie,” the studio switched the actresses. The rest is history.
After that, Sissy brought home an Academy Award for playing Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, as well as a Grammy nomination for work on the film. She’s starred in such acclaimed films as JFK, Nine Lives, Get Low and The Help. Sissy Spacek is an actress of immense talent. She’s soft spoken, but strong. She’s a damn fine Texan.
3. Farrah Fawcett (Feb 2, 1947–June 25, 2009-Corpus Christi)
Few names evoke the feather-haired sexuality of the 1970’s like Farrah Fawcett. She was literally the poster-child for the blonde bombshell. Farrah is famous for her winning run on Charlie’s Angels, and a publicized marriage to the popular TV star Lee Majors (and later Ryan O’Neal). She also went on to star in various films (The Cannonball Run, Logan’s Run) and TV shows (The Partridge Family, The Six Million Dollar Man). Farrah lost a public battle with cancer in 2009.
2. Janis Joplin (Jan. 19, 1943–Oct. 4, 1970–Port Arthur)
Janis Joplin is Texas’s greatest tragic female singer-songwriter. Throughout the 1960s, her work with Big Brother and the Holding Company, as well as her solo work, established Janis Joplin as a rock and roll heavy-hitter. Songs like “Piece of My Heart”, “Cry Baby” and “Mercedes Benz” have been covered by hundreds of artists since her demise, but not one has captured her characteristic passion and electric soul. She was one of the main acts at Woodstock in 1969 and no doubt would have remained an opening act for years to come had she not tragically died of an overdose at the age of 27.
1. Dale Evans (Halloween Day, 1912-February 7, 2001-Uvalde)
Born in Uvalde, Frances Octavia Smith took on the name Dale Evans in the early 1930’s. Dale Evans is considered the finest cowgirl of them all by many music historians. Dale starred alongside her husband, Roy Rogers in The Roy Rogers Show. She even penned the popular tune “Happy Trails”. Dale has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is featured in an exhibit at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Forth Worth. It was there that she once said, “‘Cowgirl’ is an attitude really…The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear.” Dale passed away in 2001, but her long lasting legacy will continue to guide countless Texans for years to come.
If you enjoyed Nick’s article about 15 Entertaining Texas Women, you’ll probably love the ladies in his novel, The Ties That Bind (The Fiction Supply Co, 2014). Nick’s book is available in paperback and e-book.