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What famous people own homes in the Wilmington area?

Ben Steelman
StarNews

UPDATE: Ben Steelman answered this question in August 2009. More recently, Mike Voorheis tackled it again in February 2013. Click here to read his more recent answer.

Meanwhile, here’s Ben’s original answer:

It depends, of course, on how you define “famous.” Quite a few celebrities do have Wilmington addresses, though.

Among the more notable is Tony Award-winning actress Linda Lavin — perhaps best-known as the star of TV’s “Alice” — who fell in love with the area while filming the TV movie “Stolen Memories: Secrets from the Rose Garden” with Mary Tyler Moore, back in 1995. Lavin and her husband, actor/director Steven Bakunas, founded the Red Barn Studio, a 50-seat theater which opened in 2007 at 1122 S. Third St., Wilmington [Map this]. As co-creative directors, they’ve staged productions of such works as Alfred Uhry’s “Driving Miss Daisy,” John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt” and David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow.”

Lavin isn’t the only actor who decided to settle. Dennis Hopper spent several years in Wilmington after filming “Blue Velvet” here. He was largely responsible for the restoration of the Masonic Temple building at 17-21 N. Front St., Wilmington [Map this] — now home to the City Stage theater — and he directed the 1994 feature “Chasers” here and in the Myrtle Beach area. Hopper still owned real estate in New Hanover County at the time of his death in 2010. In 2011, his old Masnoic Temple apartment was used for a “Blue Velvet” retrospective exhibit during the Cuclaorous Film Festival.

Actor/screenwriter Peter Jurasik — best known as the cosmic diplomat Londo Mollari on the TV series “Babylon 5″ — has lived in Wilmington with his family for nearly a decade. He’s taught classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has appeared on the locally filmed series “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” and co-starred in the locally filmed feature “Amy & Isabelle.”

Joseph Gallison, who played Dr. Neil Curtis on the daytime drama “Days of Our Lives,” has lived in the area for many years and has been extremely active in local theater.

The late Pat Hingle bought a house in Carolina Beach shortly after filming the Stephen King thriller “Maximum Overdrive” here in 1985; he lived here until his death on Jan. 3, 2009. Nick Nolte, who filmed “Weeds” here in 1986, owned a condominium for a while at Pleasure Island.

Other current celebrity residents include “One Tree Hill” star Hilarie Burton and Henry Darrow, who played Manolito on TV’s “The High Chaparral” and who also appeared on “Santa Barbara,” “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “The New Zorro.”

Clyde Edgerton, the New York Times best-selling author of such novels as “Raney” and “Walking Across Egypt,” owns a house in town and teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Among notable business leaders with homes in the area are Dr. Fred Eschelman, CEO of the pharmaceutical research giant PPD Inc., and Dennis Gillings, longtime CEO of the pharmaceutical services business Quintiles Transnational.

Quite a few celebrities tie up, at least temporarily, at Wrightsville Beach. DJ John Boy of radio’s “John Boy and Billy Show” has had a resort home on the island for many years and has participated in local fishing tournaments. Mystery writer Patricia Cornwell has spent many summers at Wrightsville and based the climax of her 1998 thriller “Point of Origin” there.

John Edwards, the former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, owns a resort house at Figure Eight Island; former Vice President Al Gore has rented property there. William Bennett, the former U.S. education secretary and federal drug czar and author of “The Book of Virtues,” has owned a house on Bald Head Island, as has “Today Show” celebrity Willard Scott.

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38 Responses to “ What famous people own homes in the Wilmington area?”

  1. On August 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm Terry Calhoun wrote:

    Hi Ben,
    Others I have heard rumors about over the last few years in the Southport/Oak Island/Bald Head area include sports announcer Howie Long, , Richard Gere and Vanna White. I once ran into Pat Summeral on the BHI ferry, which may lead some credence to Howie Long. I have never really believed the Gere/White stories, but supposedly they own homes at the veddy, veddy expensive western point of Oak Island. The fact there’s a Buddhist Wat here could circumstantially add credence to the Gere story, and certainly Vanna is from the area originally (North Myrtle Beach).
    Just apprising you of the rumors I’ve heard; certainly not vouching for the facts.
    Terry

  2. On August 14, 2009 at 11:43 pm ELSIE WILSON wrote:

    HOW ABOUT ANDY GRIFFITH???? DID HE LIVE IN WILMINGTON DURING THE FILMING OF MATLOCK ?? THANKS

  3. On August 17, 2009 at 11:31 am Carl wrote:

    I’ve always heard George Steinbrenner had/has a shed out on Figure 8.

  4. On August 17, 2009 at 3:04 pm Scott Key wrote:

    Andy Griffith owned a house in landfall on Landfall drive across from the Country Club. Lee Iacocca lived here for a while. Walter Cronkite used to dock his yacht here, a friend of mine’s mother was his captain.

  5. On August 18, 2009 at 10:19 am Michael Bell wrote:

    Doesn’t John Travolta own a home off River Road and sometimes fly his personal Boeing 707 into ILM?

  6. On August 30, 2009 at 2:56 pm big fish wrote:

    Bill and Kay Cowher have a home on bald head
    Howie Long owns land and visits with his family when he leaves his montana ranch
    Jon Kate and 8 were here on vacation and Kate is looking to buy something permanent for the privacy

    Celebrities are left alone on Bald Head, their family time is respected, if you bother one you are pegged as a tourist.

  7. On October 7, 2009 at 5:43 pm Haley wrote:

    I am pretty sure Ben Stiller owns a house on Figure 8. Considering he told me this himself when he was filming ‘The Marc Pease Experience’ here in Wilmington. This conversation occured on set in March 2007. ‘So have you gotten a chance to visit Wrightsville Beach?’ his reply ‘Well no I own a house on Figure 8 so I stay there’.

  8. On October 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm mike wrote:

    Andy Griffith lived on Figure for years. Also his name is still on the mailbox there as well as the one next door (he owns 2 houses side by side). Also Bob Timberlake, the artist, had a home there through the 80′s.

  9. On October 8, 2009 at 6:57 am Bella Parola wrote:

    Who is the photo with this headline on the home page supposed to be? Nobody famous that I recognize. I guess famous is different these days.

  10. On October 9, 2009 at 9:05 am Burke Speaker wrote:

    The photo that ran with the headline is Hilarie Burton, of One Tree Hill.

  11. On October 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm Kristin Lubben wrote:

    My husband Chris Lubben of Chris’ Cosmic Kitchen once cooked for Howie Long and his family at their Bald Head Island home. He was a personal chef at the time and he didn’t know who the client was until the golf cart ride to their home. So at one time, they were in the area. Not sure if they still come back, this was a few years ago.

  12. On November 13, 2009 at 10:47 am Amber wrote:

    I had always heard that Andy Griffith owned the corner property on Airlie Road as you go around the bend – large property with a barn and horses – any truth to that? At one time, I knew he was regularly seeing a local chiropractor. I always always heard that Michael Jordan owned a house on Wrightville Beach – near Shell Island. Any truth to that?

  13. On November 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm cj wrote:

    My wife used to work at the gold’s gym, near Wilm nissan and said Katie Holmes used to come in from wrightsville and work out in the mornings. Unfortunately i was never able to personally verify this. of course, this was during Dawson’s Creek days, you know, when she was still smoking hot!!!

  14. On December 6, 2009 at 11:02 am Greg wrote:

    If you are going to include Fred Eschelman (PPD, Market Cap around $429M) as a famous person with a house in the area, you need to include Medtronic (MDT, Market Cap around $44B) CEO, Bill Hawkins who is rumored to own a house at Wrightsville Beach… wouldn’t it be nice if he brought some MDT operations to the area?

  15. On December 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm Amy Hotz wrote:

    And don’t forget Henry Darrow who starred in three versions of “Zorro” (he was also the first Hispanic to play the role) and is also known for his role in “High Chaparral.”

  16. On December 27, 2009 at 10:47 am Robert J. Mills wrote:

    Oprah Winfrey also owns a house on Topsail Beach.

  17. On December 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm Karen Loveless wrote:

    Andy Griffith has never owned the property on Arlie with the horse barns. I know someone who keeps their horse there and it is family owned by a local family.

  18. On January 12, 2010 at 1:30 am John Smithers wrote:

    John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley, has a house on figure 8. Its got to be the biggest house on the island, if not one of the biggest in wilmington.

  19. On March 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm Shannon Lacombe-Clayton wrote:

    Actually, Lee Iacocca did not live in Landfall…his ex-wife Peggy Iacocca lived there, though. (quite a few years after the divorce)

  20. On April 23, 2010 at 2:25 am Susanne wrote:

    Not only US celebrities call Wilmington home. Pakistan’s top model spends her summers at her mother’s house in Wilmington.

  21. On July 23, 2010 at 11:43 pm Wanda Watson wrote:

    Just thought I would add that Dennis Hopper has passed away.Dennis Lee Hopper, actor, photographer and painter, born 17 May 1936; died 29 May 2010.

    http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/29/dennis-hopper-actor-and-iconoclast-has-died/

    Thanks

  22. On October 22, 2010 at 7:57 am Debbie wrote:

    Hello… Has everyone forgotten about Michael Jordan? Wasn’t he born and raised here? I believe his 1st job was at Whitey’s on Market street. And He went to Laney High School.

  23. On January 22, 2011 at 12:41 am Love Robiczek wrote:

    Why doesn’t Wilmington have a nice exit road out of the airport that gets you into city traffic, like other cities with airports have? Why does the traffic come out in front of the site of the county jail, and right by the poop plant?

  24. On January 25, 2011 at 10:43 am WNJONESJR wrote:

    LOT OF YOU MISSED OUT MY FAVORITE AND HER MOTHER AND SON WHO IVE MET IN LANDFALL MORE THAN 20 YRS AGO AND THIS WAS VALARIE BARTINELLI, HER MOM AND HER SON WERE THERE AS WELL IN LANDFALL. I WAS A LANDSCAPER AND WAS ONE DAY WORKING IN HER MOM S BACK YARD. AT THE TIME SHE WAS HOLDING HER FIRST NEW BORN SON AND IVE TALKED TO HER MOM. I ALSO BECAME VERY CLOSE FRIENDS OF SOMEONE WHO LIVED IN LANDFALL WHO HAD BEN MATLOCK (ANDY GRIFFIN) NEXT DOOR TO HIS HOME AS WELL. ALSO MANY FORGOT THAT AN ACTOR BURNETTE S MOM LIVES AT WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH FOREVER! CAROL BURNETTE. THERE S REALLY ALOT MORE AND PLS DO NOT MAKE THEM OR CAUSE ANYONE FAMOUS UNCOMFORTABLE HERE IN WILMINGTON NC OR ANY WHERE SINCE IM SURE BEING IN BEVERLY HILLS WAS REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE PLACE TO BE SINCE THERE S LOT OF PHOTOGRAPHERS AND DRAMA THAT NEVER STOPS SO LETS NOT LET THIS HAPPEN HERE. I BELIEVE THEY CAME TO HAVE SOME TIME ALONE AND SOME QUIET AWAY FROM CALIFORNIA. THANKS

  25. On January 25, 2011 at 3:37 pm Wayne wrote:

    Debbie, Michael was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. but was raised here. Michael is a Tar Heel.

  26. On August 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm Cathy Cross wrote:

    Let’s not forget Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters, Charlie Daniels and David Brinkley. All Wilmingtonians.

  27. On August 8, 2011 at 9:40 am Jerry wrote:

    How about Sugar Ray Leonard

  28. On September 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm salty pete wrote:

    Doesn’t Moira Kelly of the Cutting Edge and One Tree Hill still live in Wilmington? Saw her at the airport not too long ago.

  29. On October 27, 2011 at 8:50 am Bob Austin wrote:

    You omitted Jim Goodnight, founder and 3/4 owner of SAS Institute who is a NHHS graduate, one of the richest people in the world and owns a home at Wrightsville Beach.

  30. On January 18, 2012 at 1:28 am Sharon wrote:

    You forgot Ellyn Bache “Safe Passage” author who lived at Wrightsville Beach!

  31. On May 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm Shaun wrote:

    Bill Cowher, former superbowl head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, owns a home on Bald Head Island. His daughter recently had her wedding filmed there.

  32. On May 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm Brian wrote:

    Pat Hingle (played Commissioner Gordon in the first Batman movies w/ Michael Keaton along with lots of other movies and TV shows) lived at Carolina Beach for many years. Used to wash his car at the Car Wash.

  33. On July 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm boo wrote:

    Also Hank Mckinnell, ex CEO of Pfizer, Inc. who owned or perhaps still owns one of the largest homes at Figure 8.

  34. On February 11, 2013 at 11:28 am billy t wrote:

    Former Securities and Exchange Chairman Harvey Pitt lives on Figure 8.

  35. On August 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm Mark Douglas wrote:

    What about Michael Jordan? He went to Laney High School and his mom still lives there. I believe he still has a house there.

  36. On August 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Here at the StarNews we don’t know that he has a house in our area, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t.

  37. On October 2, 2013 at 9:24 am Barbara Savarese wrote:

    OOPS ! You seem to have missed Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
    He lived on Carolina Beach Road, north of the bridge to Pleasure Island prior to his passing.
    Met him at Immaculate Conception Church, with his wife and his sister-in-law Francis Weller of WECT.



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