If you think all the famous people are from California or New York, think again. A good share of famous television personalities, sports legends and other well-known people were either born here in metro Detroit or lived a good part of their lives here. Let’s take a look at some of these celebrities, their connections to our towns and what was going on in history in their time.

Here are several of them.


Christine Lahti: Lahti, an actress known for her role on the long-running drama Chicago Hope but also for many movies, was born in 1950 in Birmingham. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1972, just before CREEM, a rock ‘n’ roll magazine that significantly influenced American music culture, moved its editorial offices to Birmingham.

Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi

During her high school years, her home town was still a township, as it was not incorporated as the city of Farmington Hills until 1973.

Ernie Harwell: Legendary baseball announcer Ernie Harwell was actually born in Washington, Georgia, in 1918. He moved to Detroit and later Farmington Hills, finally retiring to Fox Run in Novi. While the Detroit Tigers announcer was growing up in Georgia, Farmington Hills and Novi were on the cusp of becoming cities rather than farming towns, with plenty of open spaces — much different from the suburbia he settled into later in life.

Harwell died in 2010 and is buried next to his wife Lulu in Farmington’s Oakwood Cemetery.


Phoebe Patterson: Patterson, the first female justice of the peace, was born in Phoebe Ely in 1857. She first lived in Superior Township and Ypsilanti, but moved to Plymouth when she married Melvin Patterson. There, she was active in many local women’s organizations, including the League of Women Voters and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, in addition to becoming a judge in 1919. Patterson died in 1931, just one year before Plymouth became a city, and is buried in Plymouth’s Riverside Cemetery.

South Lyon, Milford

John Heffron: Heffon, a comedian who’s appeared on Last Comic Standing and The Tonight Show as well as on Detroit radio airwaves, was born in 1970 in New York City but grew up in South Lyon and graduated from South Lyon High School in 1988, the year the Iran-Iraq war came to an end.