SPRINGFIELD -- 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.
The top 10 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." He 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 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, who grew up in Peoria, 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, from "In Cold Blood" to "Sanford and Son" to "The Color Purple." He 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. His hits include "The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles," "Weird Science" and, as scriptwriter, "National Lampoon's Vacation."
• 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 -- by having a dwarf bat for one of his teams, for instance, and installing an exploding scoreboard at Comiskey Park. 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 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.
The Illinois Top 200 is a joint initiative of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
Future categories include athletes, trailblazing women and unforgettable moments. Everyone is invited to suggest possible nominees in each category by using the hashtag #ILtop200 on social media.
The presidential library and museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln's life and times. Visitors can see ghosts come to life on stage, watch TV coverage of the 1860 Presidential election, roam through the Lincoln White House, experience booming cannons in a Civil War battle and come face to face with priceless original Lincoln artifacts.
The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.
For more information, visit www.PresidentLincoln.illinois.gov. You can follow the ALPLM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
ABOUT ILLINOIS BICENTENNIAL
On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration of what has been BORN, BUILT & GROWN in the state and a reminder of why we are #IllinoisProud. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the celebration by visiting www.illinois200.com and using the hashtag #IllinoisProud. Partners and event and project managers planning activities in 2018 can apply to become an official part of Illinois Bicentennial by visiting the PARTICIPATE page at www.illinois200.com.