Key West Celebrities: Famous People in Paradise

Because Key West is such a beautiful and laid back island there are many celebrities past and present who have visited or made our island paradise their home.

Key West’s most famous celebrity would be Ernest Hemingway who lived on the island from 1928 to 1939. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is his most popular work penned while living in his famous compound off of Duval Street. He also spent his free time fishing in the Dry Tortugas waters and drinking at the famous Sloppy Joe’s bar bar where he is still revered and remembered both for his wild streak and generous spirit.

Tennessee Williams, playwright of both well known works, “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” was often seen at the Heritage House along with poet Robert Frost. Actually, The Heritage House is where Robert Frost wrote his famous “The Gift Outright” which is most known for being read at JFK’s inauguration ceremony. The Robert Frost Poetry Festival is now held here yearly.

President Harry S. Truman spent his winters in Key West during his presidency. In fact the winter home which was originally the first officer’s quarters on the naval station (and was once occupied by Thomas Edison during WW1 while serving in the navy) is now known as the Harry S. Truman Little White House because of the time he spent in the home during 11 visits to Key West. Also to pay respect to the President, Division Street was renamed Truman Avenue in 1948 after his reelection. Upon leaving office Truman made several return trips back to the home that was unofficially dubbed the ” Southernmost White House.”

Several other very respectable Presidents and politicians have stayed in the Truman “Little White House”:

In 1948 General General Dwight D. Eisenhower held meetings here that resulted in creating the Department of Defense. He returned almost 10 years later as President to recuperate from a heart attack.

President John Kennedy held a one day summit here in 1961 with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

President Jimmy Carter held a family reunion in the home in 1996.

In 2001 Secretary of State Colin Powell opened a week of OSCE peace talks at the site.

On February 12, 1974 the home was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. In 1991, the house became a state historic site & museum.

Jimmy Buffet, the laid back beach bum musician established this attitude after being introduced to Key West where he moved during the early 70’s. In 1985, the singer/songwriter/film producer/author also opened the first of his popular Margaritaville restaurants on Duval Street where it remains a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

Other notable * famous * Key West celebrity locations include:

Heritage House Museum and Robert Frost Cottage 410 Caroline Street.

Harry S. Truman Little White House 111 Front Street

Margaritaville Cafe 500 Duval Street

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