From Kurt Vonnegut, Red Skelton and James Dean to Michael Jackson, John Cougar Mellencamp and David Letterman, Hoosiers have certainly made a mark on the arts over the past century. The state has also been well represented in works of art too.
The fictional story of Little Orphan Annie was mostly set in New York City, but before she became a comic strip staple and Broadway star, America’s favorite fictional parent-less youngster started out as the subject of an 1885 Hoosier poem from James Whitcomb Riley titled “Little Orphant Annie“. In addition to inspiring the oft-retold story of “Annie”, this classic poem also inspired the creation of the Raggedy Ann doll.
In the early 20th century, Illinois-born but Indiana-raised illustrator and children’s author Johnny Gruelle created a doll for his daughter and named it after two of his favorite Riley poems – “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphant Annie”. He would later turn the Raggedy Ann doll into a book series, and a cultural icon.
Not every fictional child in Indiana is named Ann. A Christmas Story, the holiday classic TV staple, was set in Indiana. Ralphie Parker might not have been a Red Ryder sharp shooter, but he was a born and raised Hoosier.
So too was Garfield the cat. Although it is commonly assumed the comic strip is set in creator Jim Davis’s home state, Muncie, Indiana was actually explicitly mentioned as Jon Arbuckle’s hometown in the 1988 Happy Birthday, Garfield TV special.
Before everybody knew his name at Cheers, bartender Woody Boyd was born in Hanover, Indiana. Leslie, Ron and the rest of the characters from the Parks & Recreation TV show might reside in the fictional town of Pawnee…but it’s located in the real state of Indiana.
Of course, a list of fake Hoosiers would not be complete without mentioning the film Hoosiers. “Rudy” is also a classic Indiana sports film, but protagonist Rudy Ruettiger was a real person…and he was born in Illinois.
Indiana’s representation is not limited to the screen. The song Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty may or may not be an allegory for drug use…but the titular Mary Jane certainly grew up in an Indiana town with them “…Indiana boys on an Indiana night.”
One famous Hollywood creation with no roots in Indiana?
Indiana Jones. The Nazi-fighting, treasure-hunting archaeology professor was created in California, born in New Jersey, raised in the Southwest, schooled in England and hired to teach in Illinois and Connecticut. His adventures have taken him across the world but, strangely enough, never to Indiana.