Top 20 Most Influential People in Iowa | Social Media Handles

Iowa is one of the cities in the united states that is popularly known for its great feet in agriculture. Iowa ranks first in beef, pork, corn, soybean, and grain production and has birthed several influential people worldwide.

Iowa, popularly called the “American Heartland,” is in the north-central region of the United States. The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers bound it.

Iowa’s current economy depends on several sectors in the state, including manufacturing, processing, biotechnology, financial services, and green energy production. However, Iowa’s economy from previous records was predominantly dependent on agriculture and, in several cases, referred to as “The World’s Food Capital.”

Iowa U.S., as it is fondly called, is known to be one of the safest states to reside in the U.S.

The famous people in Iowa are primarily in the entertainment industry. They have done things that got people looking up to them in one way or another. Let’s have a ride through some of these people.

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Top 20 Most Influential People in Iowa

#1. Peggy Whitson


Peggy Whitson has successfully made the U.S. records rank top in the world. She is an Iowa astronaut and American researcher born on February 9, 1960, in Iowa. In 2018, she landed in Time Magazine as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people list. She was born and schooled in Iowa.

She is popularly known as the U.S. astronaut with the most cumulative time in space, having 665 days during three long-duration missions, and the only female astronaut to command ISS twice.

She became the first woman to command the space station during her second mission. The second mission, which lasted from April 9 to June 1, pushed her to become the first woman to command the space station twice. She spent 288 days in orbit during a single spaceflight and thus became the first female astronaut to spend the longest time there.

The Iowa native holds multiple spacewalking records: completing about ten total spacewalks and spacewalking time of about 60 hours and 21 minutes being a woman.

#2. Routh Brandon


Brandon James Routh was born in Iowa on October 9, 1979. He is an American actor and was once a fashion model. He grew up in Iowa and has been featured in several movies across countries. He starred in multiple television series throughout the early 2000s.

His fame spread following his role as ‘Clark Kent’ and ‘his secret self’ in the movie ‘Superman Returns in 2006. He has also featured as the eponymous protagonist of a comic book film, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. On ‘Arrow,” he also played ‘The Atom.”

The native of Iowa also starred in “Aquaman” and “And the Game of Thrones” and has, over time, ranked Iowa top for birthing such a great persona.

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#3. Danai Gurira


Danai Jekesai Gurira, often referred to as a Zimbabwean-American actress and a playwright, is a native of Iowa. She was born in Grinnell, Iowa, on February 14, 1978.

She has starred in several movies, including the AMC horror drama series, The Walking Dead, Black Panther, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She is also the playwright of the Broadway play, Eclipsed.

She is primarily regarded as influential in Iowa for her passion and drive for acting. Gurira says, “She began writing plays to utilize her strengths as an actress and to tell stories that convey ideas about strong women with whom she identifies. “”

#4. William Frawley


William Clement Frawley was an American stage actor, movie actor, and T.V. actor. Even though Frawley was in more than 100 movies, his most famous role was as landlord Fred Mertz on the T.V. show I Love Lucy.

In Burlington, Iowa, Frawley was born to Michael A. Frawley and Mary E. Brady. As everyone called him, Bill went to Roman Catholic school and sang in the St. Paul’s Church choir as a young boy. As he got older, he loved playing small parts in local theater shows and putting on his shows. A job in show business seemed possible, but his religious mother didn’t like the idea. He is also one of the most famous people in Iowa.

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#5. Kurt Warner


Kurt Eugene Warner was born in Burlington, Iowa, on June 22, 1971. He is an award-winning American professional gridiron football quarterback.

Kurt Warner was a great quarterback for the Rams, Giants, and Cardinals. He grew up in Iowa and played football for Northern Iowa in college. At first, he wasn’t put on an NFL team, so he played for the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League.

Kurt later got a contract with the NFL. He won the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, most valuable player in 2001 and 1999, two NFL Most Valuable Player awards, one Super Bowl championship, one All-Pro selection, four Pro Bowl selections in 1999, Bert Bell Award (Player of the Year in) 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year and was inducted in 2017 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is one of the most influential people in Iowa.

#6. Johnson Shawn


Shawn Johnson was an Olympic gymnast who won the world title. She was born on January 19, 1992, in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up there. She went to Des Moines’s public high school. Iowa has sent almost 20 people to the Olympics, so there must be unique about her. Shawn Johnson is one of the most famous people in Iowa.

#7. Lolo Jones


Another Olympian who was born in Des Moines is Lolo Jones. She was taken to a humble family on August 5, 1982.

During her career, she took part in races with hurdles and set a record for the U.S. as the first woman to consecutively bag the World Indoor titles in the 60m hurdles. Jones rounded up her career at LSU by being a three-time national champion and 11-time All-American, ranking among the top-three all-time at LSU in both the 60m and 100m hurdles.

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#8. Dan Gable


Dan Gable was the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa. He took over as coach in the mid-1970s, and as a coach at Iowa, he won 22 straight Big Ten Conference titles and 15 NCAA team titles in 22 years. He was born on October 25, 1948, in Waterloo, Iowa, U.S.

Dan Gable won a gold medal at the Olympics in 1972 without giving up a single point—two-time head coach for the Olympics (1980 and 1984).

A true sports legend, Gable dominated his sport, which was almost unknown in the United States, like no one else before or since. Gable was virtually unbeatable.

He is known as one of the greatest American Olympic heroes ever. As a coach, he’s been so good that it’s scary. Dan Gable is one of the most famous people in Iowa. 

#9. Tom Arnold


Tom Arnold was born in the southeast Iowa town of Ottumwa. He was a renounced American comedian. His roles in “Roseanne” and “Soul Plane” made him one of the most influential people in Iowa.

#10. Herbert Hoover


Herbert Hoover was born in the small town of West Branch. He was the first U.S. president to be held in Iowa.

Herbert Hoover was the Son of a Quaker blacksmith, born in an Iowa village in 1874; he grew up in Oregon.

He showcased a distinguished reputation and an enviable character for public service as an engineer, administrator, and humanitarian during his time as President.  

Herbert Hoover is one of the most influential people in Iowa.

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#11. Ashton Kutcher


Ashton Kutcher was born on February 7, 1978, in Cedar Rapids and grew up there. He is a famous Iowan actor, and Since “That 70s Show” made him famous, he has been in many movies and T.V. shows. Ashton is one of the most famous people in Iowa.

#12. John Wayne


John Wayne was born on May 26, 1907, and is regarded as one of the world’s most famous actors. He won an Oscar for best actor and began his career in silent films in the 1920s.

He starred in several movies, including cowboy movies and World War II movies, playing several roles across various genres of films, including; biographies, romantic comedies, police dramas, and many others.

He has become an enduring American icon, setting a harsh and individualistic example of masculinity

#13. Adrian Constantine Anson


Captain Adrian Constantine Anson is famous as the best baseball player of the 1800s. Cap Anson’s plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame says, “The greatest hitter and best National League player-manager of the 19th century.” Anson helped make baseball a popular sport in the United States. He hit over.300 in all but three of his major league seasons.

When he retired in 1897, he held the records for games played, times at bat, hits, runs scored, doubles, and batted in. During most of his career, he was also the National League’s Chicago White Stockings manager.

He led the team to five pennants and 15 finishes in the league’s top half in 19 seasons. Adrian Constantine is one of the most famous people in Iowa.

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#14. Donald L. Campbell

Donald L. Campbell was an American chemical engineer. He was born on August 5, 1904, in Clinton, Iowa, and died on September 1, 2002, in Brick, New Jersey. He worked with three other scientists in the same field to develop the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) process in 1942.

 Changing crude oil into high-octane gasoline made it easier for oil refiners to make it. Campbell got into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999 for his essential work in chemical engineering. Today, he is still recognized as one of the most influential people in Iowa.

#15. Wallace Hume Carothers


Wallace Carothers was born in Burlington, Iowa, on April 27, 1896, to a family of Presbyterians of modest means.

Wallace Hume Carothers invented Nylon. To date, he is still one of the most influential people in Iowa. He was an American chemist, inventor, and head of organic chemistry at DuPont.

Carothers was in charge of a group at the DuPont Experimental Station lab near Wilmington, Delaware, where they researched polymers most. Carothers was a brilliant organic chemist. He was the first person to make nylon and helped make Neoprene possible. He taught at a few universities after getting his Ph.D. before DuPont hired him to do primary research.

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#16. Johnny Carson


John William Carson was born to a power company manager on October 23, 1925, in Corning, Iowa. He was the second child of three children.

The cold and shy private Carson in books isn’t much like the outgoing clownish public Carson. Everything about his life is in his book. This is neither a piece of praise nor criticism of Carson. Johnny Carson is one of the most influential people in Iowa.

#17. Carrie Chapman


Carrie is one of the most famous people in Iowa. She was in charge of the campaign that led to the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. In 1919, Carrie Chapman Catt led a group of women who didn’t have the right to vote to get Congress to change the Constitution so that they could vote. Within 18 months, the bill became law, at least partly because of how organized and in charge she was.

Catt spent the next 25 years working for peace as the foundation of human rights. This was after she won the battle that had taken up almost all her time and energy for nearly half of her life. During the first half of the 20th century, Catt was one of the most influential and well-known women in the United States.

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#18. William Cody


William Cody was born in LeClaire in 1846 and died in 1917. He worked as a Pony Express rider, a cavalry scout, a buffalo hunter, and a showman in the late 1800s.

William Frederick, also known as “Buffalo Bill,” got his nickname when he agreed to sell buffalo meat to workers on the Kansas Pacific Railroad. Cody earned his nickname because he killed 4,860 buffalo in just eight months.

He and Comstock eventually had a shooting match to see who had the right to use the name alone. Cody won the game and got to use the title alone.

Cody served as a Civil War soldier and Chief of Scouts for the Third Cavalry during the Plains Wars. His Wild West shows made him known all over the world. William Cody is one of the most influential people in Iowa.

#19. Lee DeForest


Lee DeForest was an American inventor. He invented the radio, audio piano, and audio oscillator. He is known to have ignited a way for other inventions in electronic communication.

He had more than 180 patents to his name. De Forest developed the Audion, a vacuum tube that boosts weak electrical signals. De Forest is one of the fathers of the “electronic age” because his invention, the Audion, helped make electronics more popular. He is also credited with creating one of the most critical ideas that brought sound to movies.

#20. Bob Feller


Bob Feller has played baseball since 1918—a person in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many baseball fans think he was the best right-handed pitcher ever. He was born in Van Meter. However, Feller’s baseball career as a pro was nothing like his childhood, almost like a myth. As soon as Feller signed his first professional contract, he became controversial.

Feller fought with owners, the press, and other players, annoying and charming them. This shows the complex motivations of a man who knew how good he was and how many chances he had. Feller was a proud American who joined the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor. He was also a successful businessman who put together profitable winter barn-storming tours. Feller is one of the most famous people in Iowa.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does Iowa have any well-known people?

Ashton Kutcher, Johnny Carson, and more are just some of the 27 famous people from Iowa.

Who is well-known and comes from Winterset, Iowa?

John Wayne.

What is Iowa famous for?

The Grotto of Deliverance.
The place where sliced bread was first made.
The Iowa State Fair.
The state of Hawkeyes.
Corn, corn, and even more corn!

Who are some well-known people from Cedar Rapids, Iowa?

Ashton Kutcher.
Farrell, Terry.
Michael Emerson.
Ron Livingstone.
Riley Smith
Bobby Driscoll
Barr Douglas.
Elijah Wood.


Not just knowing how to do a thing but being the best at that thing is what makes one stand out and influential.

Several people have been identified as effective in Iowa owing to their confidence and several success stories.



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