Who lives here? 20 celebrities with homes in Sarasota-Manatee

From rock stars to celebrity authors, see who has a home in Sarasota or Manatee County.

Wade Tatangelo
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The sugary sand, warm winters and perpetual sunshine make Sarasota-Manatee quite the destination. Our robust arts, entertainment and dining scenes also make this an alluring locale along the Gulf of Mexico. Plus, for famous folks, paparazzi rarely stalk our beaches like they do in, say, Los Angeles or Miami.  

In recent years, we have been visited by the likes of pop star Pink, rock god Robert Plant and many more stars staying here while playing Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. But what about the celebrities who have bought homes here?

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Starting with circus king John Ringling and wife Mable in 1911, Sarasota-Manatee has attracted the rich and famous from all walks of life. Those 941 area residents no longer with us include Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Donna Summer (the disco queen had a home on Manasota Key Road), Donald "Duck" Dunn (Booker T. & the M.G.'s and The Blues Brothers’ bassist lived on Snead Island in Palmetto), and Jerry Wexler (producer of classic albums by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan lived on Siesta Key). 

Stephen King, who has a Sarasota County home on Casey Key,  shares his Oreo cookies with Dallis Bernabi, 10, of North Port, during King's visit to Bookstore1Sarasota for a sold-out book signing March 15, 2017, on Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota.

Pro wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage, cartoonist Dik Browne (“Hägar the Horrible” and “Hi and Lois”), abstract artist Syd Solomon and A&E “Biography” host Jack Perkins also called the area home before passing – along with a first-class roster of authors.

The Sarasota-based scribes we’ve lost includes John D. MacDonald (Travis McGee series; the novel “The Executioners,” which was filmed as “Cape Fear”), MacKinlay Kantor (the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Andersonville”), Walter Farley (“The Black Stallion”), Joseph Hayes (“The Desperate Hours”), and Stuart Kaminsky (Edgar Award-winning mystery writer, co-wrote the screenplay for “Once Upon a Time in America”). MacDonald, it should be noted, inspired a small army of famous Florida novelists and influenced at least one of them to relocate to Sarasota. 

Celebrities such as Paul Reubens and Carla Gugino grew up in Sarasota, and a host of other stars used to have homes here, including Rosie O’Donnell, Jane Lynch, Martina Navratilova and Terry Bradshaw, who sold his Bradenton home in August. Even more impressive, though, is the list of celebrities living here now, or who have recently purchased property in the area.

Presented in alphabetical order, here are the stars we could confirm with homes in Sarasota and Manatee counties. We’re not providing addresses for this story and request that readers respect their privacy. That means stay away from their property. Don’t bother them while they’re out dining, shopping or browsing at the local bookstore. And if you spot them at the downtown Sarasota Whole Foods, where I have seen at least two of the people listed below, please don’t be that rube asking for a selfie. 

Dickey Betts performs with his band May 15, 2018, at the White Buffalo Saloon near his Sarasota County home.

Dickey Betts

While lots of celebrities have relocated to Sarasota-Manatee over the years, Dickey Betts grew up here before co-founding the Allman Brothers Band, which were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. The writer and singer of hit songs like “Ramblin’ Man” and “Blue Sky,” as well as composer of the classic instrumentals “Jessica” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” Betts has called the area home his entire life. “Well, my family has been in Manatee County since like 1870, right after the Civil War,” Betts told me during a 2014 interview at his home on Little Sarasota Bay. “We homesteaded land in Myakka. All you had to do was put stakes down and prove the land and pay taxes on it and it was yours. In fact, they named the road Betts after us out there.”

Before retiring, Betts played numerous shows in the area, often for charity, with a sold-out 2018 performance at White Buffalo Saloon in Sarasota taking place ahead of a final national tour. In 2020, while staying at home in Osprey, Betts still made headlines. Bob Dylan mentioned Betts in his hit song “Murder Most Foul.” There were numerous stories to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the film “Almost Famous” that Betts helped inspire (including the story we did that was picked up by our sister publication USA Today). And then Betts could be heard in top form on the new Allman Brothers archival release “The Final Note,” which contains the last performance of his co-lead guitarist Duane Allman.   

Nick Bollettieri at IMG Academy near his home in Bradenton on June 30, 2014.

Nick Bollettieri

One of the most famous coaches in the world and founder of the pioneering Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, now home to IMG Academy in Bradenton, the 89-year-old Bollettieri has trained such stars as Boris Becker, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, and Serena and Venus Williams. The acclaimed 2017 documentary “Love Means Zero” stars Bollettieri, focusing on his rocky relationship with star pupil Agassi, with gripping interviews conducted at the old Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and began airing on Showtime the following year.

“A Svengali of the tennis world gets his close-up in the diabolically well-titled ‘Love Means Zero,’ an on-its-toes documentary about the legendary and/or notorious tennis teacher and coach Nick Bollettieri,” reads the opening sentence of the glowing review by Todd McCarthy in the Hollywood Reporter.

Bollettieri, who lives in Bradenton, made headlines again in May when he spent a couple nights at Manatee Memorial Hospital after feeling ill while giving a lesson on the tennis court at IMG. “Tell everyone I am perfect,” Bollettieri told the Herald-Tribune. News of his hospitalization spread across the international tennis community. “You can’t believe it. I’ve had 239 texts,” Bollettieri said. “Serena, and so many others. It was terrific how all the people worldwide were so nice to me.”

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood perform "Garth & Trisha Live!" on CBS, April 1, 2020.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

Country music power couple Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood were in Bradenton in 2019 so Brooks could represent his Teammates for Kids charity while working out with the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training. Then, in October of the same year, the Herald-Tribune reported that a Nashville firm  representing Brooks acquired ownership of a beachfront resort on Anna Maria Island. 

The private retreat in Holmes Beach known as Lay-By sold for nearly $9 million. While it has yet to be determined if it will serve as a resort for paying guests or as a private getaway for the celebrity couple, there have been Brooks and Yearwood sightings reported on Anna Maria Island since the purchase. 

Dick Hyman at his home in Venice in 2017. Hyman will serve as musical director and honoree of this year's Sarasota Jazz Festival.

Dick Hyman

Keyboardist, composer and arranger Dick Hyman played piano in the groups of jazz greats such as Benny Goodman, has witnessed his pioneering solo work on the Moog synthesizer sampled by hip-hop royalty, and has provided the music for hit films including "Moonstruck" and numerous Woody Allen movies from the 1980s to 2000s. In 2017, Hyman received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award, the highest honor in jazz.  

Hyman and his wife Julia, a sculptor, are residents of Venice. They moved to the area in the 1980s because of his work with the Jazz Club of Sarasota, which produces the Sarasota Jazz Festival. 

Hyman's 1969 album “Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman,” which includes the Top 40 single “The Minotaur,” and its follow-up LP "The Age of Electronicus," feature the early techno and electronic sounds that would be sampled by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Beck, De La Soul and The Beastie Boys, whose track "Root Down" includes the line "‘cause I'm electric like Dick Hyman."

"Dick Hyman is a piano virtuoso who – Zelig-like – has been known for playing in any style he wants," reads his NEA Jazz Masters bio. "A masterful improviser, he is also a composer of concerti and chamber music, and the soundtrack composer/arranger for more than a dozen Woody Allen films (including, appropriately, 'Zelig')."

Mick Jagger and Melanie Hamrick bought a home in The Lake Club, an exclusive, fully gated community in Lakewood Ranch, which is part of Manatee County.

Mick Jagger and Melanie Hamrick

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, his ballet dancer girlfriend Melanie Hamrick and their 4-year-old son Deveraux Octavian Basil Jagger now have a place to call home at The Lake Club – an exclusive, fully gated community in Lakewood Ranch. The four-bedroom estate sits on roughly a third of an acre surrounded by lake views.

It was sold for nearly $2 million with the couple choosing the home to be close to Hamrick’s family, who live in the area, and for its privacy, which folks really should respect. The Manatee County house, which is in Hamrick’s name, was reportedly a Christmas present from Jagger. Following a small item in the New York Post’s Page Six, we broke the news on Dec. 17, and it was the biggest local entertainment story of 2020.

John and Rachel Jakes pose for a photo at The Library Foundation of Sarasota County’s Sixth Annual Author Luncheon featuring James Patterson at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium on Feb. 7, 2018.

John Jakes

Sarasota resident John Jakes is among the most successful and respected novelists in the country. Author of the New York Times bestselling, eight-volume Kent Family Chronicles, and the Civil War trilogy “North and South’ (made into the top-rated 1985 television miniseries starring Patrick Swayze), Jakes has been called “the godfather of the historical novel,” “the people’s author,” and “America’s history teacher.”

In 2017, the John Jakes Endowed Writing Scholarship at New College of Florida was established. Jakes cited one of the school’s founders, John D. MacDonald, as a major influence in his own work and as an inspiration for moving to Sarasota. “The area has always been a magnet for writers,” Jakes told the Herald-Tribune while at his Bird Key home. “I can’t exactly tell you why, but it has been.”  

AC/DC frontman and Sarasota resident Brian Johnson performs at the 2015 Coachella Music and Arts Festival on April 10, 2015, in Indio, Calif.

Brian Johnson

Of all our local celebrities, no one had a bigger 2020 than Bird Key resident Brian Johnson. The iron-lunged singer reunited with AC/DC for their raw and rocking comeback album "Power Up." The band's first new full-length in six years, it reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 while topping a staggering list of additional pop charts worldwide. A huge triumph for the group, it was particularly sweet for Johnson. He joined AC/DC in time for the writing and recording of their massive 1980 hit "Back in Black" and had been lead singer for each subsequent album before departing because of hearing problems in 2016. Then, bordering on miraculously, Johnson regained his aural faculty and returned to his frontman role with that high and mighty voice as fierce as ever.

While a post-pandemic AC/DC world tour seems likely, for now we hope Brian and wife Brenda Johnson can enjoy some time around Sarasota, perhaps with food from one of their favorite local restaurants like Darwin Peruvian Eatery on South Tamiami Trail. Yes, the Johnsons have been spotted around town quite a bit over the years, at venues like the Van Wezel, backstage numerous times at the old Sarasota Blues Festival and, my personal favorite, Brian Johnson performing with Dickey Betts back in the early 2000s during a jam-packed fundraiser at the old Five O’Clock Club

In 2019, the Johnsons donated property they owned to Sarasota nonprofit organization All Star Children’s Foundation. The property sold for net proceeds of $335,000.

Stephen King, who lives in Maine and on Sarasota County’s Casey Key, visited Bookstore1Sarasota for a sold-out book signing on March 15, 2017, on Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota.

Stephen King

After being struck by a van in 1999 while walking near his Maine home and suffering various injuries including a collapsed lung, broken ribs and numerous pelvic, hip and leg fractures, Stephen King rented a condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico on Longboat Key. King and his wife, Tabitha, who have three children, then bought a waterfront home on Casey Key in 2001. The sale price, $8.9 million, was reportedly a record for a house in Sarasota County. The couple bought a second Casey Key home, for $2.2 million, in 2007.

About eight months later, King published “Duma Key,” his first novel set in Florida. The Herald-Tribune noted the book included numerous local references including Palm Avenue art galleries and “an art critic bearing a striking resemblance to former Herald-Tribune critic Joan Altabe.” It wouldn’t be the last time King used a Sarasota public figure as a character in one of his novels.

“We liked Sarasota because it was funky,” King told the Herald-Tribune in 2009. “We liked Pineapple Street and all the art on Palm Avenue. The town was terrific and we loved it .... I just go around and hang out and people generally don’t bother me, and if they do they’re pleasant. I’m sort of dedicated to the idea of living a life. I’m not a museum exhibit or a department store dummy or any of those things. I’m just a guy.” 

In January 2016, King contributed a brilliant and charming essay to our “John D and me” series and then about a week later shared a stage in Bradenton with fellow bestselling author John Grisham to raise funds for The Manatee County Library Foundation. King gave an exclusive interview to the Herald-Tribune in 2017 before a Bookstore1Sarasota signing. “I love to come to this place because they have everything, they hand-sell, it’s well-lighted, you can browse,” King said. “I can’t browse as freely as I used to because people come up and say, ‘Are you him?’”

King’s 2019 novel “The Institute” features a cameo by Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. “It was almost like winning an award,” DiPino, who is also Sarasota’s first female police chief, told the Herald-Tribune. “The only thing that tops this is maybe being a main character that’s killed off by a monster or something.”

Audrey, Judy and Ruth Landers hang with the guys, including Judy's husband, retired Major League Baseball pitcher Tom Niedenfuer, second to left, during the 9th Annual Dick Vitale Gala on May 16, 2014 at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota.

Audrey, Judy and Ruth Landers

In the late '90s, sisters Audrey and Judy Landers, along with their mom Ruth Landers, relocated from Hollywood to Sarasota after their hit PBS children’s show, “The Huggabug Club,” hit the road for a tour that included a Van Wezel performance.

“Audrey and Judy set foot on Siesta Key, at the beach, and were sold,” Ruth Landers told the Herald-Tribune in 2006. “They said, ‘Oh my God, we have to live here.’”

Audrey Landers most famously played Afton Cooper on “Dallas” and Val Clarke in the film version of "A Chorus Line." Judy Landers' long list of television credits includes “L.A. Law,” “The Love Boat,” "B.J. and the Bear" and "Vega$." Ruth Landers is a manager and television/film producer whose credits include "The Huggabug Club," "Club Fed" and "Ghost Writer." Together, they own Landers Productions.

“We fell in love with everything at that time that Sarasota had to offer,” Audrey Landers told the Herald-Tribune in 2018. “So much of it has changed since then. I thought it would be a wonderful place to raise my kids, who were very young at the time, and it did turn out that way.”

Sarasota-based circus stars Bello and Annaliese Nock greet visitors at the Sarasota Fairgrounds on Dec. 12, 2020.

Bello and Annaliese Nock

Celebrity comic, daredevil and Sarasota native Bello Nock has been making national headlines for the past 20 years with stunts such as a Guinness World Record-earning high-wire walk over a cruise ship and rappelling off of Madison Square Garden.

During a 2017 appearance on “America’s Got Talent,” Nock was shot out of a cannon and flew over the speeding blades of a helicopter. Judge Heidi Klum called Nock a “daredevil on steroids,” and Simon Cowell praised Nock for “walking the walk” and following through on his promise to perform the dangerous stunt after his initial audition failed to impress Cowell. Guest judge Laverne Cox called it “death defying. You literally risked your life. I can’t say I enjoyed it because I was so scared.”

In 2020, Bello Nock and his daredevil daughter Annaliese appeared as a duo on “America’s Got Talent,” with Annaliese performing a Wheel of Death stunt solo after Bello suffered “an acrobatic injury” during rehearsal. Annaliese is the Guinness World Record Holder for most somersaults on a Wheel of Death in one minute.

Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and his wife, Billie, participated in a Sarasota area reef clean-up on July 11, 2009. The couple has a beachfront condo on Longboat Key.

Joe Perry

The lead guitarist and co-songwriter behind Aerosmith classics such as “Walk this Way,” “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and “Crazy,” Joe Perry’s website mentions that when he and his wife, Billie, are not globetrotting, they spend their time between “Vermont, Massachusetts, Florida and Los Angeles.” That Sunshine State home happens to be a waterfront condominium on Longboat Key, which they purchased in 2001.

While the Herald-Tribune previously reported that Perry has been spotted participating in Sarasota beach cleanups and walking around St. Armands Circle, his most famous Sarasota appearance took place alongside his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bandmates on Feb. 1, 2003. Several hundred attendees at the Sarasota Film Festival’s “Late Night UnWrap Bash” (myself included) witnessed a rather historic performance. 

The event honored Aerosmith’s longtime record producer Jack Douglas, and before it ended we were treated to a surprise performance by the band inside the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. They played “Walk This Way,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Walking the Dog” and “The Train Kept A-Rollin’” to a crowd that can only really be described as hysteric. Yeah, it was a helluva night. 

Dick Smothers and his fiancée, Marie Kropp, attend Florida Studio Theatre’s annual fundraising event “The Dangerous Ladies Shindig” at FST’s Hegner Theatre Wing in downtown Sarasota on Feb. 24, 2020.

Dick Smothers

When the iconic comedy duo The Smothers Brothers decided to appear on stage together for the first time in about a decade, the event took place on Dick Smothers’ home turf of Sarasota, downtown at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre. Billed as “An Evening with The Smothers Brothers: Stories from Their Legendary Lives in Comedy,” the 2019 event sold out in seconds, nearly crashing the ticketing system, with proceeds benefiting All Star Children’s Foundation.

“It was a magical night, they were as funny as ever,” Les McCurdy recalled during a recent phone interview. McCurdy, who co-hosted the event, has owned the Sarasota theater that bears his name since its opening more than 30 years ago. He’s booked shows by stars such as Chris Rock, Jeff Foxworthy and Amy Schumer. “But never anything as special has ever happened before in our four walls as that night,” McCurdy said of The Smothers Brothers reunion. 

Dick Smothers told the Herald-Tribune in 2019 that he splits his time between Sarasota and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where his fiancee, Marie Kropp, has long resided. Smothers noted, though, that he considered Sarasota his first real home after a long time on the road.

“I just think Sarasota has everything,” Smothers said. “It’s small, it has all the arts, it has great restaurants, great water, golf, community. You go around town and you run into people you know. When you’re in big towns, you don’t know anybody.”

Jerry Springer, famed TV talk show host and former mayor of Cincinnati,  gave a sold-out talk titled “Politics ... The New American Circus” at Bookstore1Sarasota in downtown Sarasota on March 16, 2017.

Jerry Springer

Star television personality (and former mayor of Cincinnati) Jerry Springer has lived in Sarasota for the past two decades. The Bird Key resident might be seen at the many restaurants he favors on St. Armands Circle and Main Street, or attending a show at the Van Wezel, but the man best known for “The Jerry Springer Show” rarely makes local public appearances. In 2013, though, Springer made his professional debut on the Van Wezel stage as host of “The Price is Right Live!”

“We love the area but we are pretty private; this is very rare I do anything public in Sarasota,” Springer told me by phone in 2013 from his show’s studio in Stamford, Conn., shortly before taping another episode. “(Sarasota) is the one place I want to have a private life and try to keep pretty much to ourselves. This is family time to me, a place where I can be a regular person and not be involved with show business. If this wasn’t ‘The Price is Right,’ I wouldn’t be doing it.”

In 2020, two years after he ended his hit talk show, Springer launched the second season of his latest show, “Judge Jerry.” 

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik speaks to the media before an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 28, 2015, in Tampa.

Jeffrey Vinik

New Jersey native and billionaire investor Jeffrey Vinik, owner of the reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, purchased the hockey team in 2010 and about five years later began work on a St. Armands Circle mansion to serve as a weekend retreat.

Neighbors dubbed it the “S.S. Magellan,” the Herald-Tribune reported in 2015, because of Vinik’s tenure as manager of the Fidelity Magellan mutual fund in the 1990s and “the fact that it is as big as a small ship.” The structure occupies most of two large lots (with teardown houses), for which Vinik paid a combined $7.75 million.

Pop singer and actor Bobby Vinton has a home on the Sarasota County side of Manasota Key.

Bobby Vinton

A former teen idol, Bobby Vinton has been called "the all-time most successful love singer of the 'rock-era'," topping the Billboard Hot 100 with his 1960s singles "Roses Are Red (My Love)," "Blue Velvet," "There! I've Said it Again," and "Mr. Lonely," which he co-wrote. Vinton acted in several major Hollywood movies, including the 1970s John Wayne films "Big Jake" and "The Train Robbers," before having a huge comeback hit in '74 with "My Melody of Love," which he co-wrote.

Vinton's recording of "Blue Velvet" would go on to inspire David Lynch's 1986 film of the same name and be featured on the soundtrack. The recording returned to Great Britain's pop chart in 1990, reaching No. 3, after being used in a Nivea skin cream commercial. “This is something I really can’t comprehend. It is really something. It’s just one of those songs,” Vinton told the Associated Press. “It was released over there in 1964, and it went into the Top 10.”

Vinton lived on Lido Key, at the famed "Hiss-Baughman House" that came to be known as the “Bobby Vinton House,” before relocating to the Sarasota County side of Manasota Key, where there's a home listed under a limited liability company in the names of two of his children. 

Dick Vitale, a Manatee County resident, is seen here in 2019 accepting “Payton’s Hero” award from The Payton Wright Foundation in Sarasota.

Dick Vitale

A head college and NBA coach in the 1970s, Lakewood Ranch resident Dick Vitale remains best known for his current job as a college basketball broadcaster for ESPN, a gig he’s had since ’79. Locally, though, “Dickie V” is probably most famous for his charity work. 

The latest annual Dick Vitale Gala raised a record $7.4 million despite being held virtually because of the pandemic. In its 15-year history, the annual event typically held at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota has generated $37 million, with all money raised going to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, named in honor of former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano.

“It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” the now 81-year-old Vitale told the Herald-Tribune in September when asked about the total dollar amount raised in the gala’s history. “It will affect the lives of kids with cancer for many, many years to come.”

Sarasota circus star Nik Wallenda contemplates his wirewalk across Nicaragua’s Masaya volcano shortly before the nationally televised event took place March 5, 2020.

Nik Wallenda

Circus royalty since birth, Sarasota native Nik Wallenda is a member of the legendary Flying Wallendas family, forming his own troupe about 15 years ago. Most famous for his nationally televised high-wire walking stunts, Wallenda traversed Niagara Falls in 2012, the Little Colorado Gorge near the Grand Canyon in 2013, and then tightrope walked between skyscrapers in Chicago in 2014 for another TV special.

In 2020, the 41-year-old multiple Guinness World Record holder donned a gas mask to walk over Nicaragua’s Masaya volcano, spending more than 30 minutes crossing the lake of lava 1,800 feet below as part of ABC’s “Volcano Live! With Nik Wallenda.”  

Wallenda also released the book “Facing Fear” in 2020, which addresses the tragic 2017 rehearsal accident he was involved in that found five of its eight performers falling about 30 feet to the floor. In November, it was announced that Wallenda will be inducted into the Circus Ring of Fame.

“I’ve been recognized on so many levels over the years, but nothing compares with being honored this way by your peers,” Wallenda told the Herald-Tribune. “Now to be standing alongside my great-grandfather (Karl Wallenda) – that’s just tremendously humbling and exciting.” 

Wade Tatangelo is the Herald-Tribune’s entertainment editor. Email him at wade.tatangelo@heraldtribune.com.