Mahershala Ali + More Celebs You Didn't Know Were From Oakland


Sure, you can rattle off Too $hort, Angela Davis, and Jack London, but did you know about these stars who grew up in The Town?

Mahershala Ali

Moonlight star Mahershala Ali won his first Academy Award for best supporting actor Sunday night. Also known as Remy Danton in House of Cards and Cottonmouth in Luke Cage, Ali was born in Oakland, raised in Hayward, and attended St. Mary's College of California.

(Imagine having gone to class with this hottie at Oakland Technical High School.)

Clint Eastwood

Can you believe this young hottie was walking around Piedmont in the '50s? Though born in San Francisco in 1930, the Eastwoods settled in Piedmont where Clint was supposed to attend Piedmont Junior High School. Shortly before school started, however, the born troublemaker rode his bike on the school's new sports field and tore up the wet turf. As a consequence, he was asked not to enroll that fall. Instead, The Man With No Name attended Oakland Technical High School.

(Tom Hanks as a senior at Oakland's Skyline High School in 1974. Photo: Seth Poppel)

Tom Hanks

The Concord-born star went to Skyline High School in Oakland before studying theater at Chabot College in Hayward. After two years he transferred to Cal State, Sacramento, where he didn't run track, sadly.

Chelsea Peretti

Best known for portraying Gina Linetti on the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Peretti was born and raised in Oakland where she attended The College Preparatory School. Also, her older brother is internet entrepreneur Jonah Peretti, who founded BuzzFeed and co-founded The Huffington Post.


Zendaya was born in Oakland in 1996. No wonder she's such as badass.


Rapper, producer, and festival darling G-Eazy—who you'll no doubt recognize from his performance at last year's Outside Lands and at the MTV Video Music Awards alongside Britney Spears—grew up in Berkeley and Oakland. He's also a frequent collaborator with other Bay Area favorites including E-40, Too $hort, and Kehlani.

Gertrude Stein

The American novelist, poet, and playwright, was raised in Oakland before moving to Paris in 1903, where she became famous for her Sunday evening salon frequented by Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemmingway.

(John Lee Hooker memorialized at Chapel of Chimes in Oakland)

John Lee Hooker

In the 1970s, blues legend John Lee Hooker was living in Oakland, where he teamed up with local bands such as Canned Heat and Van Morrison. In 2001, his funeral services were held at the Chapel of the Chimes, and he is buried in Oakland.

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