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The 10 Most Influential Women to Come Out of Pennsylvania

by Ryan Dury Mar 16, 2018

This year, we celebrated some of the best Pennsylvanian athletes who participated in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and some of the best food to come out of this amazing state. Because March is Women’s History Month, it’s now time to turn the spotlight on the 10 most influential women who were born and raised in PA.

1. Betsy Ross

Betsy Ross is responsible for convincing George Washington to change the stars on the US flag. The original design was a 6 pointed star which was changed to 5. The story goes that George Washington came up with the basic concept but Betsy finalized the design. She was a revolutionary patriot and was undoubtedly a major figure in United States history. Betsy made flags for the Pennsylvania Navy and did all she could to support America in its fight for independence. She fixed uniforms, made tents, blankets, and even prepared ammunition.

2. Tina Fey

Actress, writer, and producer, Tina Fey can do it all. She hails from Upper Darby Township and is best known for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” starring in and producing “30 Rock” and writing the cult classic film adaptation of “Mean Girls”. Her memoir Bossypants was on top of the New York Best Seller List for 5 weeks in 2011. She’s also known to shoutout her Pennslyvania roots in guest cameos on SNL.

3. Joan Jett

Straight out of Philadelphia, Joan Jett is best known for her work with the Blackhearts, whose most notable songs include “I Love Rock and Roll” and “Bad Reputation.” She made it cool for women rockers to be loud. Her punk rock sound was immortalized when she was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

4. Patti Labelle

The “Godmother of Soul”, Patti Labelle, is from Philadelphia, PA. Her group Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles were the first African-American group to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. When the group split, Patti never missed a beat and continued to produce #1 albums and songs.

5. Grace Kelly

The actress turned princess of Monaco was born in Philadelphia. She began acting in 1950 and her 1953 breakthrough performance in “Mogambo” won her a Golden Globe and an Oscar Nomination. Soon after (in 1956) she married Prince Rainier II and became literal royalty.

6. Taylor Swift

Born in Reading, PA, Taylor Swift continues to be a trendsetter for modern pop music, just as she did for country music originally. She has 5 number-one and 22 top-10 hits including “Shake It Off” and “Love Story.” She also has Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. Taylor has a total of 10 Grammy wins and a whopping 31 nominations.

7. Nellie Bly

Nellie was born in Cochrane Mills, PA but that didn’t stop Nellie from traveling the world. She had a record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days in 1889 and was also pioneer in investigative journalism.

8. Billie Holiday

This Philadelphian’s jazz career spanned nearly 30 years. She was best known for her improv style and tempo. Billie was one of the most well-known musicians of her day and sold out venues like Carnegie Hall — all without any formal training.

9. Sharon Stone

This Meadville native and femme fatale is an icon of the silver screen. She became the sex symbol of a generation after she played Catherine Tramell in “Basic Instinct,” which was released in 1992. Other notable roles include Lori in “Total Recall” and Ginger McKenna in “Casino”.

10. Tara Kristen Lipinski

This Philadelphia native was a 1998 Olympic champion and a 1997 World champion in figure skating. She is the youngest ever to win a World Figure Skating title — she was 14 years old at the time. She has now transitioned to a successful broadcasting career on NBC, recently commentating on the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

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