Open skies, open spaces, and the wildly wonderful Western backdrop make the Cowboy State an incredible place to visit, but for many famous people from Wyoming, it’s more like a way of life. Whether they call it their birthplace or moved later in life, many famous faces have called Wyoming home, and the spirit of the state has followed them throughout their careers. From famous outlaws in history to modern-day actors and musicians, this is a list of 12 people you should know from Wyoming.

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

Vintage black and white photograph of famous Butch Cassidy, a well-known outlaw from the late 1800s, with a focused gaze and a determined expression.

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid were the monikers of Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Longabaugh, respectively, two Wild West bank and train robbers that became two of the most famous outlaws in history. While neither was born in Wyoming, they spent a lot of time and committed many crimes across the Cowboy State with their band of bandits, the Wild Bunch. They spent time in Meeteetse, Buffalo, Dubois and Cody, did time in Laramie and Sundance, and frequently hid out near Kaycee at the world-renowned Hole-in-the-Wall Hideout before eventually escaping to Argentina.

Kinch McKinney

While not one of the most famous outlaws in history, Kinch McKinney carved out his own Wyoming legacy throughout his life. During the Wild Bunch era, McKinney was a known cattle hustler who led a gang of fugitives, but his most infamous activities were not what landed him in the penitentiary but how he got out. McKinney was an escape artist (an attempted one, at least), going so far as to take a sheriff hostage in the courtroom and to help stage a riot to break out of the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie in 1892. After many tries, he eventually escaped, only to be caught and brought back to face his punishment.

These days, you can visit the site of his prison break at what is now the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, a museum that honors what was the state’s first prison and the characters it housed. While in Laramie, take a scenic hike around Vedauwoo, stroll through a vintage mansion at the Laramie Plains Museum, or grab a healthy bite at Sweet Melissa’s.

Fun Fact: There is a Kinch McKinney Spring in Five Fingers Butte, Sweetwater County, in southwestern Wyoming.

Curt Gowdy

Calling all sports lovers: if you watched or listened to major sporting events during the 70s or 80s, you are likely familiar with Curt Gowdy. Covering everything from major league baseball to NASCAR, Gowdy was a comforting and familiar commentator on Boston Red Sox games early in his career and was well-liked for his friendly demeanor in that role. His other primary passion, however, was the great outdoors.

Born in Green River and raised in Cheyenne, the Wyoming native was an avid hunter and fisherman, which extended into his career with the launch of his Emmy-winning show “The American Sportsman.” The program featured Gowdy taking celebrities on outdoor adventures and ran on ABC for over 20 years. Located at the midway point between Cheyenne and Laramie, Curt Gowdy State Park was named for him in the 1970s, a high honor for famous people from Wyoming. With three reservoirs perfect for trout fishing, ample hiking trails, wildlife viewing and camping, the park embodies all of the things that Gowdy treasured about the Cowboy State.

Pay a visit to Gowdy’s birthplace of Green River and take a trip back in time at the Sweetwater County Historical Museum, be on the lookout for animal life at the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge and find the perfect locally-made gift at Red White Buffalo.

Jackson Pollock

Famous for spearheading the popularity of abstract expressionism, Cody, Wyoming-born Jackson Pollock is one of the most prolific painters of that post-WWII movement, leading the charge in redefining painting techniques and challenging artistic boundaries. Best known for his unique painting style, called “drip painting,” Pollock’s work was heavily influenced by Surrealism. His vibrant and complex pieces are now on display worldwide, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and beyond.

Pollock isn’t just a brilliant artist — he is one of the most famous people from Wyoming. Despite moving to Arizona in childhood, it is long believed that Wyoming and the Western scenery impacted his creative development. That inspiration was reciprocal, as his influence can be seen echoing through Western art today. 

If you’re looking to find your inspiration in the city of Cody, don’t miss The Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, an immersive day on the frontier at the Museum of the West at Old Trail Town or a glimpse of the Wyoming landscape on a Cody Trolley Tour.

Chris LeDoux

Bronze statue of Chris LeDoux, the renowned country singer and rodeo champion, dynamically portrayed in mid-ride on a bucking horse under a canopy of green leaves.

Accomplished musician, rodeo star, and all-around good guy, Chris LeDoux was Wyoming’s cowboy. While the Air Force moved his family around the country in his childhood, he came to call Kaycee home, and his adult life landed him at the top of the list of celebrities who live in Wyoming. While performing at rodeos and becoming a world champion bareback rider, LeDoux began selling his tapes to the audience, eventually putting out over 30 records throughout his career. In short, he was the quintessential cowboy who made it big.

While LeDoux’s life was tragically cut short in 2005, his spirit lives on in Kaycee, a city that serves as a hub for the late man’s fanbase and anyone who wants to explore and learn more about him. Chris LeDoux Days is a rodeo and festival that takes place there annually in June, and there is a park that bears his name, one that was christened with a “Good Ride Cowboy” statue of him in 2010.  

Ned LeDoux

Scored by a soundtrack of aching guitar riffs and rich, twangy vocals, the cowboy life is closely intertwined with country Western music, which runs in the family of Kaycee native Ned LeDoux. Son of famed bareback rodeo rider and country singer Chris LeDoux, Ned is second in a family full of celebrities that live in Wyoming. With a local legend dad, Ned has been performing most of his life but began recording and releasing his own tunes in 2015. While Ned carves out his own musical legacy, it appears that the Cowboy State and the country scene at large are embracing him with the same warm reception.

Unsurprisingly, Ned’s hometown of Kaycee has long been a cowboy haven, especially in the frontier days when the outlaws roamed the land. To explore a little Wild West bandit life for yourself, check out the Hoofprints of the Past Museum, explore the red canyons of the Outlaw Cave Campground, and enjoy an afternoon at the Chris LeDoux Memorial Park.

Jim J. Bullock

With a long list of acting credits and over 30 years of laughs, comedian Jim Bullock has built quite a name for himself in the entertainment industry. At the dawn of his career, he was a regular fixture on the “Hollywood Squares” game show and had a recurring part on “Alf.” With a 6-year role in the classic sitcom “Too Close for Comfort,” cult hit movie “Spaceballs,” and kid’s TV favorite “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” chances are good that you have seen him on either the small or silver screen.

However, you might not know that this go-to funny man was born in Casper, putting him on the long list of famous people from Wyoming. Home to myriad venues for enjoying the arts, check out the upcoming shows at Casper Events Center when you arrive, plan a day surrounded by Dali and Picasso at the Nicolaysen Art Museum or look for interior inspiration from the days gone by at the Historic Bishop Home.

John Buck

Kemmerer native John Buck shook up the world of baseball in the late 90’s and went on to have a successful career across teams in the MLB. From his growing batting average to his incredible defensive sensibilities, Buck became an in-demand player during team drafts, and his talents took him all across the country. From Houston to Kansas City and Seattle to Los Angeles, many teams benefitted from his unique playing style prior to his official retirement from the sport in 2015.

If you want to visit the city where home plate dreams were born for Buck, get ready for a charming, small-town vibe with deep industrial roots in Kemmerer. Don’t miss out on seeing remnants of the past at Fossil Butte National Monument, keep your eyes peeled for ghost towns left abandoned by miners and visit the flagship JCPenney store in town.

Penny Wolin

Accomplished American photographer Penny Wolin has had a long and enviable career spanning decades, but her life began in the city of Cheyenne. Bringing her creativity from behind the lens into the physical world, she has published three books of her work. Wolin has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, photographed big names like Dolly Parton and George Burns, and featured her work in the Smithsonian Institution, among other esteemed organizations.

Wolin’s Wyoming foundations resound through her work to this day. If you seek out the wonder of the Cowboy State’s capital city for yourself, pop by the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens to ponder the natural world, plan your arrival at the Union Pacific Railroad by way of the Cheyenne Depot Museum and keep the vintage train on the track by visiting the Big Boy Steam Engine.

Pretty Lights

Contrary to other reports, wildly popular EDM producer Pretty Lights was born Derek Vincent Smith in Sheridan, Wyoming, long before taking the music industry by storm. What was once a joint effort became a solo project for Smith in the early aughts, and by 2010, Pretty Lights was cranking out new beats and performing across the country. Now Grammy-nominated, Smith curates his unique sound without samples, making a soul and hip-hop-infused electronica recorded and produced exclusively to give him that signature sound.

If you dance your way to Sheridan, get ready to find some pretty lights of your own. Enjoy a cowboy-style cocktail at the world-famous Mint Bar, take a shine to some tasty craft beer at Luminous Brewhouse and enjoy a live performance vintage-style at the WYO Theater.

Matthew Fox

A gifted stage and screen actor, Matthew Fox grew up on a ranch in the heart of Wind River Country. He may be best known for his role as Dr. Jack Shephard in NBC’s smash hit series “Lost,” which he played for all six seasons. Some may know him best as Charlie Salinger from Fox’s “Party of Five” in the 90’s. Whatever you know this Golden Globe and SAG Award nominee from, his staying power is impressive and has extended to film and live theater since he retired from television in 2010.

Fox’s family moved from Pennsylvania to the small town of Crowheart, Wyoming, where he spent his childhood. If you’re looking for a quiet, rural spot to get some space on your next getaway, Crowheart’s striking natural landscape is the place to escape the crowds. While you’re there, take in the Crowheart Butte rising stark against the horizon.

Ian Munsick

If you think the Cowboy State is fertile ground for creativity surrounding life, love, and wide open spaces, you’d be correct. Sheridan native Ian Munsick doesn’t just talk the talk — he was born to a father who loved to fiddle and grew up on a working ranch, enveloped by the environment that perfectly frames the Western experience. Now a critic favorite, Munsick has released his second album on Warner Music, praised for its reinvention of country western music with an infusion of blues, roots and pop.

To find yourself in the very landscape that serves as Munsick’s muse, pop by Sheridan and lose yourself in the nearby Bighorn National Forest. Then, explore an old-time ranch at The Brinton Museum, and dive into area history at the Museum at the Bighorns.

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