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 December 3rd, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories to make up the Illinois Top 200.

This time, the focus is all on entertainers from the Land of Lincoln. You may find yourself surprised that some of the folks making up the list are actually from Illinois, but they all are.

Here's who the voters at IllinoisTop200 chose as the top ten Illinois entertainers:

Movie studio head Walt Disney sitting in front of
The LIFE Picture Collection, Getty Images

1) 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.

NBC, Getty Images
NBC, Getty Images

2) 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.” He later starred in the hit TV shows “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart.”

Jack Benny On The Set
Getty Images

3) Jack Benny – Benny was a leading performer in vaudeville, radio, television and film. He is best known for portraying himself as vain miser who loved to play the violin – badly. He was born in Chicago and grew up in nearby Waukegan.

Richard Pryor
Getty Images

4) 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, who grew up in Peoria, also had a successful film career.

Premiere Of OWN's "Love Is_" - Arrivals
WireImage, Getty Images

5) 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.”

Rounding out the top 10:

6) Quincy Jones

7) John Hughes

8) Hugh Hefner

9) Bill Veeck

10) Shonda Rhimes

The nominees who did not make the top 10 were Broncho Billy Anderson, the Chess brothers, Del Close, Katherine Dunham, Bob Fosse, Chester Gould, Oscar Micheaux, William Paley, Elzie Segar, Hal Wallis and Florenz Ziegfeld.

Voting in the next category, top scientists, is underway at IllinoisTop200. The nominees include physicist Enrico Fermi, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, geneticist James Watson and chemist Allene Jeanes.


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