The man who built the House of Mouse has been declared the top entertainer in Illinois history. Voters in the Illinois Top 200 project put Walt Disney at No. 1, followed by comedians Bob Newhart, Jack Benny and Richard Pryor.
The list of top Illinois entertainers also includes Oprah Winfrey and behind-the-scenes figures in sports, music, movies and prime time television.
The Top 200 project lets Illinoisans vote every two weeks on the state's most inspiring leaders, greatest inventions, top businesses and much more. By the state's bicentennial on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories — the Illinois Top 200.
Voting in the next category, top scientists, is underway at www.IllinoisTop200.com. The nominees include physicist Enrico Fermi, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, geneticist James Watson and chemist Allene Jeanes.
Here are the top 10 Illinois entertainers chosen in online voting:
• Walt Disney — Disney was born in Chicago, drew cartoons at McKinley High School and studied at what is now the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He helped create the American animation industry and, later, the theme park business. As a film producer, he holds the record for most Academy Awards, with 22 wins and 59 nominations.
• Bob Newhart — Born in Oak Park, Newhart is a stand-up comedian and actor. He came to prominence in 1960 with the comedy album "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart" and later starred in the hit TV shows "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart."
• Jack Benny — Benny was a leading performer in vaudeville, radio, television and film. He is best known for portraying himself as a vain miser who loved to play the violin — badly. He was born in Chicago and grew up in nearby Waukegan.
• Richard Pryor — Pryor was one of the most successful and influential stand-up comedians in history. He was known for uncompromising — and profane — examinations of racism and modern life. Pryor grew up in Peoria and also had a successful film career.
• Oprah Winfrey — Winfrey's Chicago-based talk show was the highest-rated program of its kind in history. She received an Oscar nomination for "The Color Purple." Her production credits include "Selma," "Tuesdays with Morrie" and a Broadway version of "The Color Purple."
• Quincy Jones — The Chicago native wrote music for dozens of movies and television shows, and produced albums for Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. He has won 27 Grammys.
• John Hughes — Hughes grew up in the Chicago suburbs and set many of his popular movies there, including "The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles," and "Weird Science."
• Hugh Hefner — Hefner, a Chicago native, created Playboy magazine in 1953. He built on that success with clubs and television shows, all of which influenced American attitudes about sex and nudity.
• Bill Veeck — Veeck was a baseball owner who used wit and imagination to fill stadiums. He also integrated the American League by hiring Larry Doby for the Indians.
• Shonda Rhimes — Rhimes, who grew up in Chicago's south suburbs, is one of America's most successful television producers and writers. Her biggest hits include "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice" and "Scandal."
The Illinois Top 200 is a joint initiative of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.