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Here are some of the most famous folks connected to Cobb

So, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution came up with an innocent-enough list of famous people born in Cobb County back in November.

Some of our avid readers thought we missed out on some folks. So through the power of crowd sourcing, we decided to come up with a list of people who may not be from Cobb, but are at least connected to Cobb.

If we missed anyone, we’re sure you’ll tell us like last time.

Alton Brown

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Careful cooks characterize cooking chemistry as the best kind. And so does Alton Brown.

The Marietta-dweller often talked up the city on his show “Good Eats,” which blessed television for 14 seasons. 

He has described his vision for the food education/cooking show as part Julia Child, part Mr. Wizard and part Monty Python.


READ2007 flashback: profile of Alton Brown and his ‘Good Eats’ show


The show ventured out of the kitchen and into places like the Kroger on Crabapple Road in Alpharetta and the Bed, Bath & Beyond at Perimeter Center.

He wanted education at the forefront.

“I didn't want a show that was fixated on recipes, but rather one that helps people understand food and how to cook. In one way, our generation is extremely sophisticated. We know what kind of saffron we like in our risotto, but we don't know how to cook a piece of chicken,” Brown told The AJC in 1999 about the start of the show.

He became the commentator for “Iron Chef America” in 2004, and has gone on to become a pantry staple of the Food Network. 

Chris and Rich Robinson

Stan and Nancy Robinson immediately regretted giving their two sons electric guitars for Christmas 1984. Their east Cobb home was filled with sonic suckiness.

(FIle photo)

“They (their two sons) went down in the basement, and this horrible stuff started coming out. We call it the black Christmas,” Nancy Robinson told The AJC in 1990. “We got a lot of threats from neighbors. They offered to buy our house and everything.”

That “horrible stuff” was the growing ear pain that became the bluesy rock band Black Crowes, led by brothers Chris and Rich Robinson.

Also in 1990, the brothers were “on edge” before headlining a show at Center Stage Theatre one Saturday night.

They thought of the show as a test; they’d opened for Aerosmoth, Robert Plant and Heart, but this was their show at home.

“I think a lot of people will be there to see if we are for real,” said Rich, who was 20 at the time. “We're kind of on edge. We don’t know how people perceive us.”

The band has sold more than 35 million albums, according to its website, so it’s safe to say they were perceived well.

They disbanded in 2015.


READThese are (some of) the most famous folks from Cobb County


Jesse James Dupree

In 1992, The AJC wrote about Acworth native Jesse James Dupree and members of his metal band, Jackyl, being cited for violating the city noise ordinance by causing a scene at the Kmart near The Big Chicken.

According to reporting from The AJC at the time, here’s how it went down:

Kmart said they wouldn’t sell the band’s album, so they shot their music video for “I Stand Alone” in the parking lot of the store.

The music video begins with Dupree screaming into the camera — “Everything you’re about to see in the video is the real thing. Hyaaaa!”

The band pulls up into the Kmart parking lot with a flatbed truck and got five songs in before Marietta police stopped them.

“We had put the word out about what we were going to do, so there were a couple hundred people there when we started jamming,” Dupree said at the time. “The police said that if we’d all leave without breaking anything, they wouldn't take us in, and they ended up writing us a ticket for violating a noise ordinance.”

And then there was the next stunt to promote the debut, eponymous CD/cassette later that year.

“Dupree frightened diners and infuriated the management at the Longhorn Steak House in Akers Mill Square by carving up a table with a chain saw.”


From 2014Atlantan Jesse James Dupree (Jackyl) interview about new TruTV show ‘Full Throttle Saloon


Steve Ely, general manager of the steakhouse, explained what he saw.
“One guy ran into the restaurant and yanked the tablecloth, food and condiments off the table where about eight guys — including some from Geffen — were sitting,” Ely said. “Then the second guy (Mr. Dupree) started the chain saw in the foyer, ran in and carved ‘Jackyl’ into the table. 

“People went crazy,” Ely added. “Wood chips were flying, and a couple of waitresses dove over the bar, while two guys in a back booth got up with professional cameras and filmed the whole thing for the band. They were in and out in three minutes.”

He was asked about the stunt soon after.

“It's just another Jackyl awareness day,” Dupree says of the promotional ploy aimed at local radio consultants who were lunching with George Capolini, a representative from Geffen Records, which at the time was releasing the album.

“A regular Georgian shouldn't get upset about the smell of gasoline and a chainsaw in a restaurant. It’s hard to believe that people are flipped out over something that silly.”

The president of the restaurant group was there to witness it and was reportedly unamused.

The AJC reported that Longhorn’s attorney said lawsuits were filed by two customers and three employees.

The album went platinum, according to the still-touring band’s website.

Ty Pennington

“Move that bus!”

((Evan Agostini/AP))

The Marietta native and Sprayberry High alumnus made a name for himself on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which ran for a decade until 2012.

Pennington, a Kennesaw State University grad, was also on TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” which at one point was set to have its reboot air April 7.

In 2002, The AJC described Pennington’s role on “Trading Spaces” as “the carpenter with the surfer ‘tude.” He lived in land-locked Grant Park at the time.

The newspaper also called him a “girl magnet” and he was named one of Atlanta’s most-eligible and “hunky.” OK, you get the picture.

When asked about his early life in Atlanta, he said: “I grew up in Brookhaven. You could take the bus everywhere. My parents moved to Marietta in the late ‘70s, when everybody else did. We had to be driven everywhere. And that was a nightmare.”

Good thing the traffic has gotten so much better ...


READHave you ever read all the Google reviews of The Big Chicken? We did.


Billy Joe Royal

Growing up in Marietta when it was sleepier a town, Valdosta-born Billy Joe Royal went on to become a country hit.

He formed a rock band named the “Corvettes” at Campbell High School before going to Marietta High School in the later ‘50s.

With Elvis Presley everywhere, Royal swiveled his hips so much during a school show that officials banned the Corvettes from playing at assemblies, according to his obituary in The AJC.

At the age of 19, Royal recorded the hit he’s known for, “Down In The Boondocks.”

That tune and several hits after like “Hush,” “Cherry Hill Park,” “I Got To Be Somebody” and “I Knew You When” brought him from Marietta and to Savannah, Cincinnati and California before he came back to Marietta with his parents.

He died in his sleep Oct. 6, 2015, at his home in Morehead City, North Carolina. He was 73.

Andy Dick

You know Andy Dick, but you may not know that he went to Walton High School.

The actor and comedian has a very long, very public history of law-breaking and outlandish comedy. (He is known for licking faces.)

Comedian Andy Dick placed seventh on Season 16 of "Dancing with the Stars" with partner Sharna Burgess. Dick attended high school in East Cobb. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

A Vice profile from 2016 details some of his felonious and altogether ill-advised antics: “Take a deep breath. In 2004, Dick was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure after allegedly drunkenly mooning the denizens of an LA-area McDonald's. In 2007, he was famously dragged off the set of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” after repeatedly fondling potential future first daughter Ivanka Trump. The next year, he was arrested for exposing the breasts of a 17-year-old girl in the parking lot of a Buffalo Wild Wings while "extremely intoxicated." Dick pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery, but was arrested again two years later in Virginia after grabbing the crotch of a bouncer and forcing a kiss on a man at a bar. In 2011, Dick was accused of exposing his genitals while dressed in drag and rubbing (them) on an audience member's face during a standup show. In 2014, Dick, on a bicycle, rode up to a man and stole the necklace from his neck. Valued at over $1,000 by the victim, the act constituted grand theft. EtcEtcEtc.

He had “The Andy Dick Show” on MTV that ran for a few seasons from the late 90s to the early 2000s.

Dick was on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2013 and did not win.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote in October 2017 that Dick had been fired from an indie film following accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct on set, some of which he denied.

Brett Butler

Classes at Wheeler High School must have been more fun when Brett Butler was there.

And we’re not talking about the Braves player.

Brett Butler (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The comedian and actress went on to her star role on “Grace Under Fire,” on which she played a recovering alcoholic divorced from an abusive husband struggling to bring up three children on her own. Yes, it was a comedy.

According to IMDB, the show ran for 112 episodes from 1993 to 1998. She was nominated for Golden Globes in 1995 and 1997.

Before the hit show and before she left Johnny Carson laughing, she spent a year at the University of Georgia, The AJC reported in 1987.

She was discovered in a comedy club in Houston in 1982 and moved back to Atlanta the next year to crush the local scene.

Then she had to make that classic showbiz choice: the land of palm trees or that granite island.

“The reason I picked New York over Los Angeles was that I’d been in the beautiful, easygoing South and I figured Los Angeles was too much like that. New York seemed kind of romantic in a dangerous way ... I drove up there not knowing anybody.”

She has continued to get television work.


READHow did the Cobb’s cities get these crazy names?


Pam Stone

Another funny Wheeler woman, Pam Stone went from waitress at the Punch Line in Sandy Springs to headlining at the comedy club to co-starring on the ABC series “Coach.”

Stone, who attended Kennesaw College for a bit, started waiting tables at the Punch Line to support her love of dressage and horse riding — a punch line itself.

Zac Brown

Zac Brown — you know, from the always-touring “Zac Brown Band” — sat down with The AJC to talk about food and music. The Smyrna resident talked about “pocketknife slaw.”

“It’s a variation on a salad-slash-slaw I used to make growing up, going to deer camp with dad. ... At deer camp sometimes we’d be there cutting up vegetables with our pocketknife; it’s made in places where you don’t always have access to kitchen knives.”


READWatch the Zac Brown Band pay tribute to Steely Dan’s Walter Becker


That year, he predicted he’d tour upwards of 220 dates, a far cry from his $3-cover-charge nights at the Dixie Tavern in Marietta.

The band went on to win Grammy awards in 2009 along with 2010 and 2012, according to the Recording Academy’s website.

Jennifer Larmore

(Contributed by Ribalta Luce)

A longtime Mariettan, Grammy-winner Jennifer Larmore has performed as a mezzo-soprano opera singer in some of the world’s most respected opera houses.

She made her New York Metropolitan Opera debut in 1995. A year later, The New York Times wrote that Larmore was “contending for status as the darling of the opera world, mezzo division.”

She won a Grammy in 2007 for best opera recording on Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel, according to the Grammy website.

The AJC reported in 2009 that The San Francisco Opera created a role in “The Barber of Seville” for her pet miniature schnauzer, which also performed on stages in New York, Paris and Berlin.

She was nominated for another Grammy in 2015.

Lucas Till

As a student at Kell High School in Marietta, Lucas Till would host a weekly morning talent show for his 2,000 fellow Longhorns called “Steak Knife.”

About six months after graduating, he blew up real big as Miley Cyrus’ love interest in “Hannah Montana: The Movie.”

This is Lucas Till at the W Hotel in Buckhead for that press tour stop on April 6, 2009. ((Elissa Eubanks/AJC))

“No one's recognized me — yet,” Till said in April 2009 during a stop on his press tour at the W Hotel in Buckhead.

His reaction to getting the roll? “I screamed into the phone, dropped it, then did a backflip. I hurt myself.”

He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was discovered by Joy Pervis, a local agent who found Dakota Fanning and Raven Symone, at a talent expo at the Mall of Georgia when he was 10 years old.

After being Miley’s man, he played the Marvel mutant Havok in three movies, premiering the role in “X-Men: First Class” in 2011.

*pushes glasses up* Havok’s real name is Alexander Summers and the brother of Christopher Summers, aka Cyclops. Havok can absorb ambient cosmic energy and basically shoot it at stuff/people. (Nerd out here.)

The only thing better than being a superhero is starring on a rebooted MacGyver filmed in metro Atlanta, and that’s just the situation Till found himself in in 2016.

The CBS show averaged 7.7 million viewers its first season, The AJC reported and was renewed for another.


READAn honest-to-goodness hipster's guide to Cobb County


Robyn Lively

Just how 1990s was Robyn Lively?

Well, she had recurring roles on “Twin Peaks,” “Chicago Hope” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.”

The actor was born in Powder Springs, according to her IMDB.

She also was in the ‘80s film “Karate Kid III,” which, in case you forgot the plot: The puffy-haired leader of the Cobra Kai dojo lost all of his students and so he goes to his Vietnam War buddy, who owns a toxic waste disposal company because that counted as a plot device back then. The garbage dude tells bad-guy dojo dude to go to Tahiti to rest and plot his revenge against Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi.

Lively’s character helps Daniel-san dig up Mr. Miyagi’s prized bonsai and then stuff happens.

The film has a score on Rotten Tomatoes of 16 percent, and that seems generous.

(It was announced in September 2017 that Ralph Macchio and William Zabka — stars of the very-much-not-bad 1984 movie “The Karate Kid” — were revamping the franchise for a YouTube-only series named “Cobra Kai.”)

Lively also was the teen witch on “Teen Witch.”

She has some notable relatives: Jason Lively, who played Rusty Griswold in the 1985 classic “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” (“Big Ben! Parliament!”) and Blake Lively.

Blake Lively has starred in television show “Gossip Girl” along with “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Green Lantern.”

The Elf On The Shelf

Santa’s little snitch.

While the Elf on the Shelf reports back to Santa, the reindeer’s job is to build up the Christmas spirit so Santa can fly. (File photo)

That’s what “The Elf on The Shelf” is. It also happens to be a wildly popular Christmas-themed business started right in Cobb County.

The elf appeared at Bob and Carol Aebersold’s West Cobb house every Thanksgiving and stayed through Christmas. They told the three children that the elf was watching them and reporting their behavior back to Santa Claus about their levels of naughty and nice.

Parents shift the elf overnight to keep kids on their toes.

All grown up in 2005, Chanda Aebersold Bell noticed the doll sitting on guess what.

“I remembered apologizing to the elf when I was bad as a child,” she told The AJC in 2007. “I thought other families would embrace his magic.”

So she, being a former teacher, and her mother dreamed up “The Elf on The Shelf,” which published to great acclaim.

“We are selling tradition — cheeseburgers and apple pie with ice cream,” she told The AJC, which could have benefitted from an Oxford comma there. “This creates happy memories that people long for.”

Their charming yuletide brand now has several mobile apps and a website with lots of candy cane pop-ups.


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John Driskell Hopkins speaks on his Grammy award and current Grammy nomination.

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