16. Cary Grant Was a Coney Island Stiltwalker

Named the second greatest male star of Golden Age Hollywood cinema by the American Film Institute (the first being Humphrey Bogart), Cary Grant started his path to fame in an unconventional way: as a Coney Island acrobat. George Tilyou, who founded Steeplechase Park, hired Grant to walk on stilts through the Bowery, which was the six-block-long segment of Coney Island lined with games and attractions. This stunt was part of Tilyou’s plans to advertise Steeplechase Park. Cary Grant’s other contribution to New York City: he rededicated the plaque to Bristol Basin, an area on the east side of New York City encompassing Waterside Plaza and part of the FDR Drive, built from Bristol rubble from WWII.

Another celebrity associated with Coney Island is Woody Guthrie. America’s iconic songwriter and musician penned several songs while living at 3520 Mermaid Avenue on Coney Island from 1946-1954. Music greats like Pete Seeger would also visit this house. His time here exposed him to Coney Island’s Jewish community, inspiring him to write songs associated with Jewish culture, like “Mermaid’s Avenue” and “Hanuka Dance.” When Guthrie died in 1967, his ashes were spread in the ocean off his favorite jetty.