From Taylor Swift dominating the world, to President Biden accomplishing more at age 81 than most people do in their 20s, we’re looking back at the year that was for seven well-known Pennsylvanians.
No one will confuse Pennsylvania with Hollywood or New York City, but many celebrities have roots here in the Keystone State.
For some celebs, their Pennsylvania ties are well known. For others, that connection to the commonwealth is a little more under the radar. Either way, we are proud to call them Pennsylvanians.
Read on to get caught up on the 2023 activities of seven of Pa.’s most famous sons and daughters.
Taylor Swift has been a successful pop star for some time, but she broke a lot of records in 2023. Her Eras Tour — which played Pa. for five nights — has been one of the highest-grossing concert tours ever, which is no surprise considering it initially broke Ticketmaster. Resale tickets for the more than three-hour-long concerts sold for thousands of dollars and one of Swift’s shows in Pittsburgh broke the record for the highest attendance ever at Acrisure Stadium. “The Eras Tour” film, which was released in October, also became the highest-grossing concert film of all time. And Swift’s re-recordings of her albums “Speak Now” and “1989” also jumped to the top of the charts.
Swift famously grew up on a Pennsylvania Christmas tree farm. The West Reading native moved from Pennsylvania when she was 14 to begin her country music career in Nashville, but she still keeps Pa. in her heart. She’s a Philadelphia Eagles fan — at least, she was, until she started dating the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and became his good luck charm.
Wiz Khalifa made sure you knew he’s from Pittsburgh with his biggest hit, “Black and Yellow,” a tribute to the city (and its colors). In 2023, Khalifa released three mixtapes and embarked on the 33-city “High School Reunion Tour” with Snoop Dogg. He also appeared as George Clinton in the Neil Bogart biopic “Spinning Gold.”
Khalifa got his start in the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene, recording songs at a local studio while attending public high school in the city. Unlike many celebrities from Pennsylvania, Khalifa has a house here. While he does have a home in Los Angeles, he also has one in the suburban enclave of Canonsburg, not far from Pittsburgh.
Jeff Goldblum may be an actor known for delivering the best lines in Jurassic Park, among other popular films, but he spent much of 2023 on stage with his band: Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. The band plays jazz, with Goldblum on piano. Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra toured both Europe and the US, promoting their new EP “Plays Well With Others.”
Though Goldblum moved to New York when he was 17 to pursue acting, he’s originally from West Homestead, just outside Pittsburgh.
Will Smith spent much of 2023 the same as he did 2022 — aiming to stage a comeback after the slap heard ‘round the world (when Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars after Rock told a joke at his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith’s expense). This year, Smith began filming the fourth installment in the “Bad Boys” movie franchise. The film is untitled as of yet but is set to be released in June 2024. Smith also released a podcast, Class Of ’88, in October. The podcast dives into hip-hop history, focusing on the pivotal year of 1988.
You probably already know that Will Smith has ties to West Philadelphia, where he was born and raised, per the theme song of the semi-autobiographical “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” TV show in which Smith starred in the early 90s.
Comedian Tina Fey has had an active 2023. The Delaware County native was busy producing a musical version of her film “Mean Girls.” She also appeared in two films this year, the black comedy “Maggie Moore(s)” and the Hercule Poirot flick “A Haunting in Venice.” Fey has also been doing live comedy shows with fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Amy Poehler on a tour that stops in Philly this weekend.
Patti LaBelle may be 79, but there’s no sign of her slowing down anytime soon. The two-time Grammy winner and “Godmother of Soul” performed throughout the year, including a performance during the 2023 BET Awards honoring her old friend, Tina Turner, who died in May. LaBelle also features on a holiday album featuring members of the Philadelphia Eagles. She sings with left tackle Jordan Mailata on the album “A Philly Special Christmas Special,” which benefits charities in the Philadelphia area.
LaBelle was born in the Eastwick neighborhood of Southwest Philly, where she sang in the church choir and started her career after winning a talent competition at her high school.
This Scranton native may have been a US Senator from Delaware, but we know where his roots really lie. President Joe Biden has certainly had a busy year, responding to two wars, working with an intensely partisan Congress, and announcing he is running for reelection in 2024. Plus, there are his (four-legged) son’s shenanigans. The First Couple’s German Shepherd, Commander, was ejected from the White House after several biting incidents involving the Secret Service.
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