Utah is a state in the United States, bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its south by Arizona, and to its west by Nevada. In a similar fashion, the beehive state is packed with human resources who have grown to become influential in their individual capacities.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the 20 most influential people in Utah. Our list of famous people in Utah was carefully selected based on verifiable data on the web.
Table of contents
Top 15 Most Influential People in Utah
Below is a well-compiled list of the top most influential people in Utah.
- Roseanne Cherrie Barr
- Rafe Judkins
- Elaine Bradley
- John Moses Browning
- Nolan Bushnell
- Steve Young
- Wilford Brimley
- Jerry Buss
- Philo Taylor Farnsworth
- Derek Hough
- Earl Wesley Bascom
- David M. Kennedy
- Kip Thorne
- Julianne Hough
- James Woods
1. Roseanne Cherrie Barr
First on our list of the most influential people in Utah is Roseanne Cherrie Barr born on November 3, 1952. She is an American actress, comedian, writer, and television producer. Barr started her career in stand-up comedy before hitting the limelight in the television sitcom Roseanne (1988–1997; 2018). She went on to win an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her work on the show.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she gained stardom through her role in Roseanne and other performances. Barr sparked controversy when performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a nationally aired baseball game on July 25, 1990. After singing the anthem in what many perceived to be a deliberately disrespectful manner, the actress grabbed her crotch and spat. This performance was condemned by baseball fans and sportswriters and was called “disgraceful” by then-President George H. W. Bush. Since the incident, Barr has been involved and vocal on political issues.
In the 2012 presidential election, Barr was the presidential nominee of the left-wing Peace and Freedom Party where she won about 700,000 votes.
You can follow her on any of the social media platforms:
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2. Rafe Judkins
Rafe Lee Judkins, born January 8, 1983, in Salt Lake City, was a contestant on the 11th season of Survivor, which took place in Guatemala. Currently, he now works as a TV and travel writer with credits on shows such as My Own Worst Enemy, Chuck, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and pieces in the “Los Angeles Times” Judkins spent his childhood years time painting rocks and taking apart machines.
He began his career journey as an English teacher and science instructor to inner city middle school students.
Judkins left Survivor to pursue a career in screenwriting in Los Angeles. He worked on Christian Slater’s short-lived drama My Own Worst Enemy. He was then hired for the third season of Chuck. Chuck Versus the Tic Tac, Chuck Versus the Honeymooners, Chuck Versus the First Fight, Chuck Versus the Push Mix, and the first half of the series finale Chuck Versus Sarah were among his episodes. He began writing for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD after a stint on Hemlock Grove.
He also founded a cooking class for students which is run by Brown’s head catering chef.
Judkins is active on any of the social media platforms:
Utah is arguably a great destination for entrepreneurs and starting your own business can be thrilling and exciting, but also daunting. Check out How to Start a Business in Utah in 2022: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide
3. Elaine Bradley
Next on our list of famous people in Utah is Elaine Bradley born in 1984. Elaine Gabrielle Doty is the youngest of seven children of Robert and Carolyn Doty. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and volunteered full-time as a missionary in Frankfurt, Germany for eighteen months.
Bradley kicked off her professional career as a drummer for the popular musical group Neon Trees. As a band, they have achieved great success over the last few years with hits like Everybody Talks. The band was formed in Provo, but Elaine is the only member who is a native-born Utah.
Elaine Bradley is active on the following social media platforms:
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4. John Moses Browning
John Moses Browning was an American firearm designer born in Ogden, Utah on January 23, 1855. He died on November 26, 1926.
Browning designed a wide range of military and civilian firearms, cartridges, and gun mechanisms, many of which are still in use today. At the age of 24, he received the first of his 128 firearm patents on October 7, 1879, after making his first firearm at the age of 13 in his father’s gun shop.
He is regarded as one of the most successful firearms designers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is credited with pioneering the development of modern repeating, semi-automatic, and automatic firearms.
5. Nolan Bushnell
Nolan Bushnell, one of the most influential people in Utah was born in 1943. He invented the Atari, so if you’ve ever played a round of Asteroids or Frogger, you have him to think! He also founded Chuck E. Cheese, among other companies.
Throughout his professional career, he has started more than 20 companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. Bushnell is considered to be the “father of electronic gaming” due to his contributions to establishing the arcade game market and the creation of Atari.
You can follow him on:
6. Steve Young
Jon Steven Young is a former professional American football quarterback born in Salt Lake, Utah on October 11, 1961. He played 15 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) and is best known for his 13 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He also played for the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League (USFL).
Young played college football for Brigham Young University, setting school and NCAA records en route to being runner-up for the 1983 Heisman Trophy. Young was named the AP’s NFL Most Valuable Player in 1992 and 1994 and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX. During his 1994 MVP campaign, he set a new NFL record for passer rating at 112.8.
7. Wilford Brimley
Anthony Wilford Brimley is an American actor and singer. After his stinct in the US Marine Corps, he went on to establish himself as an actor. He featured in movies like The China Syndrome (1979), The Thing (1982), Tender Mercies (1983), and The Natural (1984).
During his time as an actor, he blossomed into celebrity status and was the long-time face of television advertisements for the Quaker Oats Company. In a bid to give back to society, Brimley promoted diabetes education and appeared in related commercials for Liberty Medical, which later became a meme due to his accent causing him to pronounce the name of the disease as “diabeetus”.
You can follow him on:
8. Jerry Buss
Jerry Buss is one of the most famous people in Utah. He was born on January 27, 1933, in Salt Lake City. Buss was raised by his divorced mother, Jessie. His father, Lydus, was an accountant who went on to teach statistics at Berkeley
Jerry Buss was a chemist, real estate investor, and professional poker player. He is renowned for his ownership of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Buss became an owner of the Los Angeles Strings in World Team Tennis. He purchased Los Angeles Kingshockey team of the NHL, The Forum (all for a then-record combined $67.5 million for those three properties), and a large ranch from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979, in a deal that also transferred ownership of the Chrysler Building.
Jerry Buss died on February 18, 2013.
9. Philo Taylor Farnsworth
Philo Taylor Farnsworth (August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971) was an American inventor and television pioneer. He made many crucial contributions to the early development of all-electronic television.
He is best known for developing the first fully functional all-electronic image pickup device (video camera tube), the image dissector, and the first efficient and complete all-electronic television system in 1927. From 1938 to 1951, Farnsworth produced a television system complete with a receiver and camera through the Farnsworth Television and Radio Corporation in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In later life, Farnsworth invented a small nuclear fusion device, the Farnsworth–Hirsch fusor, employing inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC). It was not a practical device for generating nuclear power, though it provides a viable source of neutrons.
Though Farnsworth’s inventions never made him a wealthy man, his television systems remained in use for years and gained him the status of one of the most influential people in Utah.
10. Derek Hough
Next on our list of the most influential people in Utah is Derek Hough. Hough is an American professional Latin and ballroom dancer, choreographer, actor, and singer. He was born on May 17, 1985, in Salt Lake City.
Hough rose to stardom in 2007, when he became known for his work on the ABC dance-competition series, Dancing with the Stars, on which he has won a record six seasons.
He has won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Choreography for several routines he choreographed for the show, despite receiving nine nominations. Hough has also appeared in a number of stage productions, including the 2006 original production of Footloose: The Musical at London’s Novello Theatre, as well as the 2015 New York Spring Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. In 2013, he starred in Making Your Move, a South Korean-American independent dance film inspired by Romeo and Juliet.
You can follow Derek Hough on any of the social media handles:
11. Earl Wesley Bascom
Earl Wesley Bascom was born on June 19, 1906, in a sod-roofed log cabin on the Bascom 101 Ranch in Vernal, Utah, United States. He became popular as an American painter, printmaker, rodeo performer, and sculptor, raised in Canada.
He portrayed in works of fine art his own experiences of cowboying and rodeoing across the American and Canadian West.
Bascom was vested the Pioneer Award by the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2016 and inaugurated into several halls of fame including the Canadian Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1984. Bascom was called the “Cowboy of Cowboy Artists,” the “Dean of Rodeo Cowboy Sculpture” and the “Father of Modern Rodeo.” He was a participant member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He died on August 28, 1995, after an illustrious 89 years.
12. David M. Kennedy
David Matthew Kennedy (July 21, 1905 – May 1, 1996) was born in Randolph, Utah, to George and Katherine Kennedy (née Johnson).
He was an American politician and businessman who served as the 60th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and later as the 8th U.S. Ambassador to NATO, both under U.S. President Richard Nixon. He was Chief Executive and Chairman of the Board of Continental Illinois during the 1950s and 1960s.
Until his death in 19966, Kennedy was the special representative of the Latter Day Saints Church’s First Presidency. This assignment required him to represent the church around the world, meeting with government and ecclesiastical leaders.
13. Kip Thorne
Kip Stephen Thorne is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate, known for his contributions to gravitational physics and astrophysics. He was born on June 1, 1940, in n Logan, Utah. His father, D. Wynne Thorne, was a professor of soil chemistry at Utah State University, and his mother, Alison, was an economist and the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State College.
Thorne was the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) until 2009 and is one of the world’s biggest experts on the astrophysical implications of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
He is still involved in scientific research and consulting, most notably for Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar. Thorne, Rainer Weiss, and Barry C. Barish were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017 “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.”
14. Julianne Hough
Julianne Hough is a renowned American dancer, actress, singer-songwriter, and celebrity judge born in Orem, Utah.
She is best known for playing the lead role in the 2011 film ‘Footloose.’ Julianne Hough grew to become an outstanding dancer and choreographer. She started dancing at the young age of 10. After going through highs and lows in her dance as well as acting career, she has now established herself as one of the most prominent choreographers from Utah.
She is also a two-time professional champion of the well-known dance reality show ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ Julianne has won numerous awards and competitions, making her a household name. In 2014,
she was named the fourth permanent judge on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ making her the show’s first former competitor to serve as a judge. Julianne has gone about displaying her skills as a dancer and actress, inspiring a number of young hearts all over the world. She became a judge on ‘America’s Got Talent in 2019. “Adrenaline is the reason I do what I do,” she famously said.
15. James Woods
Born on April 18, 1947, in Utah, James Howard Woods grew up in Rhode Island where he graduated as one of the top students in his class. He received a scholarship to ‘The Massachusetts Institute of Technology,’ but dropped out in his sophomore year to pursue his passion for acting. He began in the theatre before branching out into films, and the silver screen quickly became his arena for showcasing his talent.
His first film was ‘All the Way Home, after which he got some scanty roles as a supporting actor. However, it was his performance as a ruthless cop-killer in the film ‘The Onion Field’ which shot him to fame. He went on to become the toast of moviegoers, as a string of offers for performing intense characters followed. His talent was not limited to playing negative roles alone.
Woods has firmly carved a niche for himself in the annals of cinema with his outstanding talent.
FAQs On Most Influential People In Utah
Utah is well-known for its skiing, with the mountains near Salt Lake City receiving an average of 500 inches of snow per year, as well as the Sundance Film Festival, which takes place in Park City each January and is one of the world’s premier independent film festivals.
According to the U.S. News & World Report’s Affordability Rankings, Utah ranks 34th which means it’s one of the most expensive states in the country to live in.
The name “Utah” originates from the Native American “Ute” tribe which means people of the mountains.
The likes of Roseanne Cherrie Barr, Rafe Judkins, Elaine Bradley, John Moses Browning, and so on are amongst the numerous persons in Utah who have grown to the status of influential based on their individual and community achievements. These individuals have transcended the place of individual elevation to community elevation. To cheer you up, you can make the list if you take that bold step TODAY. Cheers on your journey through life!
- onlyinyourstate.com – You May be Surprised to Learn that These 20 Famous People are From Utah
- ranker.com – Famous People From Utah