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"I Didn't know Superman Was from Toronto . . ."

Torontonians show up in films, television, music, and literature that's famous the world over, and their scientific, architectural, and political accomplishments have had a global impact. How many people on this list did you know were from Toronto?

  • Margaret Atwood (b. 1939): Canada's most famous literary luminary -- her books have been translated into more than 20 languages, and there's a university in Sweden that teaches a course just in the use of comedy in her novels -- Atwood is best known for her futuristic novel The Handmaid's Tale, which was made into a Hollywood film. Her body of work includes The Edible Woman, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, and Oryx and Crake (all published by Emblem Editions).
  • Jim Balsillie (b. 1961) and Mike Lazaridis (b. 1961): Co-founders of Research in Motion, the firm in nearby Waterloo, Ontario, that invented the now-ubiquitous BlackBerry, the wireless hand-held device. They are both billionaires.
  • Sir Frederick Banting (1891-1941): Banting was the co-discoverer of insulin at the University of Toronto; in 1923, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his life-saving research. He also distinguished himself as a captain in the Army Medical Corps in World War I and, later in life, as an artist.
  • John Candy (1950-94): The well-loved funnyman and Toronto native got his start in comedy with the local Second City troupe, playing a succession of crazy characters on "SCTV." In Hollywood, he made a succession of popular films that included Only the Lonely, Uncle Buck, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He was also a co-owner of the Toronto Argonauts football team.
  • Jim Carrey (b. 1962): Before striking it rich in Hollywood with movies such as The Mask, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Carrey lit up the stage at Toronto comedy clubs.
  • Michael Cera (b. 1988): This fast-rising Hollywood actor was born and raised in the suburb of Brampton, Ontario. His films include Superbad, Juno, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and he appeared in the cult-hit television series Arrested Development.
  • David Cronenberg (b. 1943): This director knows how to shock audiences -- witness his 1996 film Crash, which explored violent injury fetishes and won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. His eerie body of work includes The Fly, The Dead Zone, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, and A History of Violence.
  • Atom Egoyan (b. 1960): His films -- including Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, and Felicia's Journey -- have been critical successes. Born in Cairo and raised in western Canada, Egoyan studied at the University of Toronto. His latest film, Chloe, unabashedly uses Toronto, especially its ravines, to portray a tale of infidelity and revenge.
  • Frank Gehry (b. 1929): Arguably the world's most famous living architect, Gehry put Bilbao, Spain, on the map with the swooping titanium shape of its Guggenheim Museum. In a more subdued way, Gehry refashioned the Art Gallery of Ontario to fit within the context of its residential neighborhood, where he grew up.
  • Norman Jewison (b. 1926): This multiple award-winning director found fame south of the border making films that include Fiddler on the Roof, The Cincinnati Kid, Jesus Christ Superstar, Agnes of God, and Moonstruck. In 1986, the Toronto native established the Canadian Centre for Film Studies in his hometown.
  • k-os (b. 1972): His real name is Kevin Brereton, but he's better known as k-os in his work as a rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer. He frequently references places and events in Toronto in his songs.
  • K'naan (b. 1978; aka Keinan Abdi Warsame): This Somalia-born poet, rapper, and singer gained global exposure for writing Wavin' Flag, Coca Cola's anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup of Soccer, and continues to win over fans with songs about the immigrant experience in Canada.
  • Marshall McLuhan (1911-80): The man who is best known for coining the phrases "the medium is the message" and "the global village" was a professor of English and the director of the Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. His seminal works include The Gutenberg Galaxy (University of Toronto Press), Understanding Media (MIT Press), and War and Peace in the Global Village (Ginkgo Press).
  • Lorne Michaels (b. 1944): Ever wonder why Saturday Night Live has featured so many Canadian performers? That may have had something to do with the fact that the show's creator was born and raised in Toronto. Michaels has also produced SNL alumni movies such as Wayne's World and Baby Mama, and TV shows including 30 Rock.
  • Mike Myers (b. 1963): Myers became a celebrity when he starred on Saturday Night Live from 1989 to 1994, playing a series of characters that included metal-head rocker Wayne Campbell and German aesthete Dieter. On the big screen, Myers has struck gold writing and starring in such films as Wayne's World and Austin Powers (and their respective sequels).
  • Michael Ondaatje (b. 1943): Ondaatje is perhaps best known for his novel The English Patient (Knopf Canada), which was adapted into an Oscar-winning film. Born in Sri Lanka, he earned his B.A. from the University of Toronto and taught English literature at Toronto's York University from 1971 to 1988. His acclaimed body of work includes Running in the Family, In the Skin of a Lion, and Anil's Ghost (all published by Knopf Canada).
  • Mary Pickford (1893-1979): Known in the Jazz Age as "America's Sweetheart," this Academy Award-winning actress was born and raised in Toronto. While she made some memorable films, including Little Lord Fauntleroy and Coquette, her most important role was of movie magnate: In 1919, Pickford, her husband Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin founded the United Artists film studio.
  • Christopher Plummer (b. 1929): He's usually remembered as the dashing Baron Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, but this versatile actor has played every role imaginable in a film career that has spanned more than 50 years. Born in Toronto, the Shakespearean-trained Plummer has returned to his roots many times at the nearby Stratford Festival.
  • Joe Shuster (1914-92): Poor Joe Shuster -- if only he and his Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel had known what a success their cartoon character would be one day, they wouldn't have sold the rights to D.C. Comics for a pittance in 1940. Shuster had been a newspaper boy for the Toronto Star, and in the early Superman strips, Clark Kent worked for the Daily Star (later rechristened the Daily Planet). Toronto purportedly served as the model for the city of Metropolis.
  • Neil Young (b. 1945): Maybe Neil shouldn't be on this list -- the genius singer/songwriter is likely the only famous person Toronto has produced that people actually realize is from Toronto.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.