April 25, 2018


Most Influential in Entertainment


Jimmy Buffett
Palm Beach, 57, Entertainer
The over-the-hill pirate in James W. Buffett's song blew enough money to buy Miami, but not so the songwriter himself. The balladeer of Florida fun and rueful romanticism has a $12-million Ocean Drive mansion to show for the image of Florida he created in his hits and parlayed into Margaritaville cafes and merchandise. Buffett raises money for John Kerry and manatees: In 1981 he co-founded the Save the Manatee Club environmental group with then-Gov. Bob Graham, and still co-chairs it. "We think he's the cat's meow," says club Executive Director Judith Vallee. "Just the fact he lets us use his name and maintains his association with us is so incredibly helpful to us."

Clyde Butcher
Ochopee, 62, Photographer
The Ansel Adams of the Everglades uses his stature to advocate for the environment. His landscape photographs hang in homes and businesses from doctors' waiting rooms to corporate suites all over the state and beyond.

Gloria and Emilio Estefan

Miami Beach, 47 & 51, Entertainers, Estefan Enterprises
Miami's first couple "helped determine and transform the course of Latin popular music over the last two decades," the head of Sony once said. Key figures in the creation of crossover music, they have 3,000 songs to their writing credit, hits, awards, restaurants and hotels and have produced talents such as Thalia, Jon Secada and Shakira. Emilio, a visionary businessman in the mold of fellow Cuban Desi Arnaz, was a Bacardi office boy and accordion player. Things took off when fellow exile Gloria joined his Miami Latin Boys in 1976 to form the Miami Sound Machine. She's on her farewell tour. Contributions include raising $3 million for Hurricane Andrew victims and service on a U.N. Committee for Human Rights.

Carl Hiaasen
Islamorada, 51, Writer
The Keys resident and champion fisherman is less a force nowadays as a newspaper columnist (though the title of his "Paradise Screwed" compilation says it all for fans). But Hiaasen's potent as ever authoring satirical novels such as "Tourist Season" and "Skinny Dip." Outside magazine in its August issue called him "an icon of the peculiar craziness that is Florida, in some ways its troubadour, in more important ways its homegrown Old Testament-righteous scold."

Don King

Deerfield Beach, 73, CEO, Don King Productions
Aside from Muhammad Ali, King is probably the most influential figure in boxing of the last four decades. He's promoted some of the top fights in history, including the "Rumble in the Jungle" Ali-Foreman battle in 1974. A quiet philanthropist in southeast Florida, King is fighting attempts to regulate the boxing industry. He's counting on help from the GOP; he's endorsed George W. Bush and has raised more than $600,000 for the president. Republicans are hoping the relationship can translate into more African-American votes.

Rush Limbaugh
Palm Beach, 53, Talk-Show Host
Limbaugh's energetic delivery revived AM radio as a talk venue. The sultan of swatting liberals continues to shape opinion in Florida, where he relocated in 1997, as well as nationally. A legal case stemming from his addiction to painkillers may now shape Florida law. The ACLU joined his fight against Palm Beach County over the confidentiality of his medical records. ACLU Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said at the time, "The precedent set in this case will impact the security of medical records and the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship of every person in Florida."

Greg Norman
Jupiter Island, 49, Golfer/Entrepreneur
You know you're a big deal when the president busts his knee on your stairs in the middle of the night, as Bill Clinton did at the Shark's house in 1997. Norman was the first to top $10 million in tour earnings. His Jupiter-based Great White Shark Enterprises designs golf courses, licenses turfgrass, develops residential communities, markets sportswear, produces wines, runs restaurants and creates yachts.

Shaquille O'Neal

Miami Beach, 32, Miami Heat
Last season, demand for Miami Heat tickets was such that the highest section of American Airlines Arena was opened for sales for just one regular-season game. This year, not only is the section opened for each of 41 home games but also the team is selling season tickets in the first eight rows. Shaq, lately of the Lakers, before that of the Orlando Magic, demonstrates he's an impact player when it comes to revenue and the game's image.

Arnold Palmer
Orlando, 75, Owner, Arnold Palmer Enterprises
Palmer has proven he certainly knows how to drive for the green off the course as well as on. He's co-founder and chairman of the Golf Channel and principal owner of the Bay Hill Club & Lodge. His golf course design company has designed over 300 golf courses. He and his late wife, Winnie, played a major role in raising funds to start the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women in Orlando, and he served as honorary chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years. He's still sought-after as a product spokesman.

Keith R. Tribble

Miami, 49, CEO, Orange Bowl Committee
Tribble, a native Miamian, has run the OBC and its host of 50 football, basketball, baseball, tennis and other events since 1993. A 1997 deal handled by Tribble evolved into the current Bowl Championship Series, which places the FedEx Orange Bowl among the elite four post-season college bowl games. Last year, he served as chairman of the Football Bowl Association -- a group of 28 bowl game organizations -- and Sports Illustrated named him among its 20 most powerful people in college football. This year, the magazine ranked him among the 25 most influential minorities in sports.

Dick Vitale
Lakewood Ranch, Manatee County, 65, ESPN Analyst
Vitale is a member of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, ex-coach, analyst -- more than a quarter-century with ESPN -- columnist, author, cameo actor, personality and philanthropist, raising $1 million in six years with his "Sports Night" on behalf of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota, where he plays Santa at Christmas. "He's just unbelievable," says a grateful Mack Reid, club CEO.

Tags: Around Florida

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