Biden leads notable Delawareans


So, many in the state have been buzzing over the past week with reports that Sen. Joe Biden has been named running mate for Sen. Barrack Obama in the upcoming presidential election. Surely there are those who are excited because of Biden’s vast experience in foreign relations, and others who think the selection is prudent based on Biden’s long tenure in the Washington inner sanctum.
Darin McCannDarin McCann

But I think some of the excitement has been over Biden being a Delaware senator.

It’s natural to root for the hometown boy. There’s that hope and promise for the “local boy done good” idea, and a special source of pride in watching somebody from your back yard do well. We often root for teams from close to us, and we pull for that local kid who got an academic scholarship at some prestigious university to represent us all in a positive light. We often live vicariously through the deeds of others, and that’s been going on for the length of time.

I started thinking about whatever famous people have come from our little state, and decided that for the purposes of this piece, we’d focus more on those who are still alive, so we can concentrate our rooting interests on those who, well, breathe. So, with all due apologies to now-deceased Delawareans like Declaration of Independence signer George Read and Caesar Rodney, let’s move on with the cast of the living.

A favorite target of my adolescent attention was Valerie Bertinelli. One of the stars of the show, “One Day at a Time,” and married to rocker Eddie Van Halen, Bertinelli was just about the most beautiful and cool woman in the world to me — and she was originally from Delaware.

Yes, she’s had her share of problems — addiction, public split with Van Halen, certain lack of direction in her career for the past 20 years or so. But she’s still Valerie Bertinelli. She’s still from Delaware. And she’s still a personal favorite.

Though far less hot than Bertinelli, Delawarean Henry Heimlich has also left a lasting impression on the world. The famous Heimlich maneuver was, surprisingly enough, created by Heimlich, and has saved countless lives by preventing people from choking on steak, bread and their own tongue after reading some of my columns.

Plus, if you want to know something really cool about Heimlich, several Web sites reported that he is second cousins with Anson Williams — the guy who played Potsie in “Happy Days.”

Heading back to the celebrity trail, Delaware is also the home state of actor Ryan Phillipe — former husband of Reese Witherspoon, and one of the cast of possibly my favorite movie, “Crash.”

Phillipe is a pretty boy, and has a large following of teenage girls who hang his poster and start fan Web sites concerning his career, personal life and latest photos — and he’s our hometown boy.

Jennifer “Jennicide” Leigh is from Wilmington, and is one of the most famous Internet poker players in the world. She has cashed in some huge tournaments, and is respected for her aggressive style, but she has probably gotten more notoriety for her shoot in Playboy.

Sure, that might not be the exact career arch many have for their children, but she has become somebody of note and wealth, and she’s from our back yard.

Yet another pretty face from Delaware is actress Elizabeth Shue. Oh, she’s had a pretty impressive career, but her crowning achievement, in my eyes, will always be her role as Ralph Macchio’s love interest in “The Karate Kid.”

No, it wasn’t exactly “Casablanca,” and she didn’t have to really turn in an inspired performance for the nuances of her role, but think about it — she had to act as if she was interested in a 76-pound dork who looked like he was 8 years old.

If that’s not acting, I don’t know what is. And she’s from Delaware, people.

One shining star from our humble little state that continues to dot the silver screen is Teri Polo — probably best known for her role as Martha Focker opposite Ben Stiller in “Meet the Parents” and the sequel, “Meet the Fockers.” Polo plays the straight role to all the other goofiness going on in the movies, and pulls it off without a hitch. She’s talented, pretty and vibrant on the screen — something that should make all Delawareans proud.

Yes, Sen. Biden carries the national torch for Delawareans (and, apparently, Pennsylvanians) during this national election — the state is well-represented on the celebrity trail.

Wow, this whole piece stunk of a giant digression, didn’t it?