Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities” – A List of 40 “Good Celebrities”

By August 3rd, 2020

Blog No. 120
August 4, 2020 

Fixing America – Idea 18

 Reading Time: 7 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at


Over the last year, I have presented ideas for “resetting” and “fixing” America. This blog presents Idea No 18 in this Fixing America series of articles.

Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities”

My First 40 “Good Celebrities”

Background. Americans are becoming a cynical people. To a degree, maybe this is understandable after the impacts of 9/11, the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the broadened reach of technology, the politicization of everything, the biased reporting, the BLM and Me Too Movements, and on and on. Worse yet, many Americans believe that “greed is good;” words are cheap, and slime sells. But we must stop fixating on fallen angels and wallowing in the shock and awe of scandals. Let us start distancing ourselves from the paparazzi, empty-headed influencers, biased commentators, and the whimsical powers of social media. Let us step back. As long-ago Bobby Kennedy used to say, it might be good for each of us – this author included – “to stand still until we really see.” Also, it might be good to stand still until we really remember.

One way to break through the growing cynicism of our society is to remember the “good people” as frequently as we read about the “bad people.” To that end, it may be useful – and fun — to remember the “good celebrities.” They oftentimes speak with quieter voices. They less frequently dominate the headlines with stories of audacity or crime. But they too are part of Us. They can, if we let them, serve models and inspirations for our children.

In my book series, Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America, I specifically address both “the allure and danger of lists.” (See Section 1, pp. 50-52 of each Volume). I note that “all lists have a certain allure. Like a guilty pleasure, most of us cannot resist knowing who is or what is on this list or that list – the 100 Richest Americans, the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, the Highest Paid Athletes, the 10 Best Retirement Towns, … the 37 Most Dog-Friendly States, … and on it goes.”

But still, lists are fun. Even if, in the end, lists are admittedly personal to each individual. Each of us has our own list for almost anything. Lists are also very fluid and generationally distinctive. Each week some names should be added. Each week, sadly, some names may have to be Cosby-deleted. And while none of these “good celebrity” names can replace the names of our parents, our brothers and sisters, our good uncle or aunt, or our best friends – still, the very act of sharing the names of good Americans can be unifying. And we need that. Our country needs that.

Each year Time magazine present the 100 Most Influential Americans. Forbes lists the 400 Wealthiest Americans. The movie and television industries recognize the best actors and performances in endlessly long awards ceremonies. The NCAA passes out its Heisman Trophy. But in the opinion of this author, because of the subjectivity of the word “good” and even “celebrity,” magazines do not generate lists of the “good celebrities.”

But still, let us try. Let us try. 

Idea:  List, recognize, and remember the many “good celebrities” in American society.

Implementation. The beautify of this little project is that it is fun, and it requires neither an act of Congress nor an allocation of funds.

My humble start of such a list is set forth below for your consideration.

Please remember that these celebrities are not my buddies. I do not know them. I do not break bread with them. I do not know their quirks and habits. Thus, with respect to any of them, I could be wrong. But send me your list – let me know who “should” be on or off the list.

This initial list of “good celebrities” is presented alphabetically. Some non-Americans (e.g. Bono and Michael J. Fox) are included because they are well-known to and, in varying degrees, a part of our American society. The list also includes some Americans who have died since 2000 (e.g. Maya Angelou and Tim Russert). They are included because of their continuing influence upon our society and because many Americans remember them. I also could not resist including certain professions and groups, such as our first responders and health care providers, who in this author’s opinion should be viewed collectively as “celebrities.” Some seemingly wonderful celebrities have been omitted merely because of their younger age (e.g. Jennifer Lawrence (B: 1990, Indian Hills, KY). Actress, activist). Such omissions seem appropriate because these younger Americans have neither endured nor been blessed with the passage of years. In our age of heated politics, I also have limited the number of political figures. And, lastly, my apologies in advance to the thousands of other deserving “good celebrities” and the millions of “good Americans” whose names are not posted below. However, fear of inadvertent omissions should not stop us from recognizing those “good celebrities” who come to mind at any given moment.

My First Forty “Good Celebrities” 


Angelou, Maya (B: 1928, St. Louis, Mo – D: 2014, Winston-Salem, NC). American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

Bono (B: 1960, Dublin, Ireland). Irish singer-songwriter, businessman, philanthropist.  

Buffet, Warren (B: 1930, Omaha, NE). American businessman, investor, and philanthropist.

Bullock, Sandra (B: 1964, Arlington County, VA). American actress, producer, philanthropist.

Burns, Ken (B: 1953, Brooklyn, NY). American documentary filmmaker.

Bush, George H.W. (B: 1924, Milton, MA – D: 2018, Houston, TX). 41st President of the U.S., and Barbara Bush (B: 1925, Manchester, NY – D: 2018, Houston, TX). Former First Lady.

Canada, Geoffrey (B: 1952, Bronx, NY). American educator, social activist, and author.

Clooney, George (B: 1961, Lexington, KY). American actor, director, and producer.

Cronkite, Walter (B: 1916, Saint Joseph, MO – D: 2009, New York, NY). American broadcast journalist.

Dole, Robert (B: 1922, Russell, KS). Politician, statesman, and Republican Presidential Nominee.

Dungy, Tony (B: 1955, Jackson, MI). Professional football player, coach.  

Fox, Michael J. (B: 1961, Edmonton, Canada). Actor, comedian, author, and activist.

Gates, Bill (B: 1955, Seattle, WA). Businessman, software developer, and philanthropist, and Melinda Gates (B: 1964, Dallas, TX). Philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft.

Hanks, Tom (B: 1956, Concord, CA). Actor and filmmaker, and Rita Wilson (B:1956 – Hollywood, CA). Actress, songwriter, and producer.

Howard, Ron (B: 1954, Duncan, OK). Actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.

Lewis, John (B: 1940, Alabama – D: 2020, Atlanta, GA). Politician and civil right leader.

Meacham, John (B: 1969, Chattanooga, TN). Writer, Presidential biographer, editor; Beschloss, Michael (B: 1955, Chicago, IL). American historian; and Goodwin, Doris Kearns (1943,      New York, NY). American biographer and historian.

Nye, Bill (B: 1955, Washington, DC). Science commentator (To some, the successor to the original science commentator, Carl Sagan (B: 1934, Brooklyn, NY – D: 1966, Seattle, WA)).

Obama, Michelle (B: 1964, Chicago, IL). Former First Lady, author, and lawyer.

Parton, Dolly (B: 1946, Sevierville, TN). Singer, songwriter, humanitarian, and philanthropist.

Reeves, Keanu (B: 1964, Beirut, Lebanon). Canadian actor, director, and musician.

Ritter, John (B: 1948, Burbank, CA – D: 2003, Burbank, CA). Actor and comedian.

Rowe, Mike (B: 1962, Baltimore, MD). Television host, narrator, former opera singer, and trade activist.

Russert, Tim (B: 1950, Buffalo, NY – D: 2008, Washington, DC). Television journalist, lawyer, longest-serving Moderator of Meet the Press.

Shriver, Sargent (B: 1915, Westminster, MD – D: 2011, Bethesda, MD). Diplomat, politician, and activist.

Sullenberger, Chesley (B: 1951, Denison, TX). Retired Air Force fighter pilot and Airline captain.

Spielberg, Steven (B: 1946, Cincinnati, OH). Film director, producer, and screenwriter.

Washington, Denzel (B: 1954, Mount Vernon, NY). Actor, director, and producer.

White, Betty (B: 1922, Oak Park, IL). Actress and comedian.

Winphrey, Oprah (B: 1954, Kosciusko, MO). Talk show host, media executive, and philanthropist.


Doctors Without Borders (Founded 1971, Geneva Switzerland).

America’s First Responders

America’s Doctors, Nurses, and Teachers

Personal Inspirations:

Chapin, Harry (B: 1942, Brooklyn, NY – D, Interstate 495, NY). Singer-songwriter, philanthropist. After

his tragic car accident death, it was discovered that he had quietly – and always – donated one-half of his concert receipts to charities.

The 204 Signatories of the Giving Pledge (Founded 2010).

Source: Mack W. Borgen.



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Previously Presented Ideas of Mack W. Borgen
Idea 1 –  Consolidated Interstate Database for Reports of License Suspension or Revocation (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 2 – Term Limits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019).
Idea 3 – The Media – Report Corporate Settlements, Awards and Fines as Percentage of Annual Net Profits (Blog 106, Oct. 14, 2019). 
Idea 4 – Award of Attorneys’ Fees to Winning Party (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019).
Idea 5 – Inclusion of Positive Aspects of American Society as a Distinct Part of U.S. History School Curricula (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 6 – Office of International Comparisons (Blog 107, Oct. 28, 2019). 
Idea 7 – The Need for Climate Scientists to Retain Professions for the Development of an Educational Campaign (Blog 109, Nov. 26, 2019). 
Idea 8 – Redefining the Concept of “News” The Need for the Regular Infusion of Positive News (Blog 109, Nov. 26, 2019).
Idea 9 – The Necessity of Mandatory Public Service (Blog 109, Nov 26, 2019).
Idea 10 – Cap or Tie Congressional Pay Increases (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 11 – Scrutinize (and Possibly Eliminate) the Congressional Health Care System (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 12 – Eliminate the Congressional Retirement System (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019). 
Idea 13 – Cease production and eliminate the use of the U.S. penny (Blog 110, Dec 7, 2019).
Idea 14 – Institutionalized Use of U.S. Military Units in Event of Natural Disasters (Blog 113, February 11, 2020).
Idea 15 – Streamline the Federal and State Penal Codes and Address the Issue of Overcriminalization in American Society (Blog 114, February 25, 2020).
Idea 16 – It’s Time to Reset America (Blog 118, June 30, 2020).
Idea 17 – If They’re Good Enough for Our Capitalism, They’re Good Enough for Our Democracy – Monthly Bonus Payments for Excellence in Citizenship (Blog 119, July 15, 2020).
Idea 18 – The Simple Utility of Remembering America’s “Good Celebrities” (Blog 120, August 4, 2020).

The Fancypants Word of the Day

Lachrymose (Part of speech: Adjective; Origin: Latin) 1) Easily given to tears; weepy;  2) Sorrowful; tending to cause tears.
Examples of use in sentences: “Watching sad, sentimental movies always made her lachrymose.”
“Bring your tissues, because I’ve heard it’s a lachrymose play.”
Source and thank to and Shawna Borgen.

The Gen Z* Slang Word or Phrase of the Day

Introduction: Communicating with younger generations is oftentimes difficult enough – especially since their conversations are dominated by memes, ever-changing social media platforms, and 280-character tweets. Nevertheless, our ability to “talk” with one another is important – and even if not important, it is at least useful. These short slang definitions might help.

Wig. “Wig” is an exclamation used to refer to something that is amazing. It suggests a thing or idea that is so amazing and incited so much shock in a person, that their “wig” flew off.

Example 1: “Wig!! Did you just see that too?

Source: The New York Times. * Definitions of Generations: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1996), and Gen Z (1997- ).

If you like what you’re reading … Order Copies of My Books Now –

Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

 (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015))

The Relevance of Reason

(Volume I (Business and Politics) and Volume II (Society and Culture)) 

Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in Three Separate Categories

U.S. History, Current Events, and Reference –

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Books authored by Mack Borgen

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