E’ville Fame: Celebrities, Athletes and Musicians that have crossed paths with our city

3 mins read

The sad and unfortunate passing of Robin Williams led to an interesting conversation with longtime Councilwoman Nora Davis at the last National Night Out event. Known for filming many of his movies in his Bay Area home, apparently much of his 1993 classic Mrs. Doubtfire was filmed at this Warehouse on 45th at Doyle behind Pixar (Now used by Pixar and Head over Heels Athletic Arts). This led to a broader conversation about the celebrity status of our town and many other stories ensued. A lot of these are second-hand telling of the stories and cannot be 100% confirmed but I invite the E’ville Eye readers to support, deny … and share your own unique stories of brushes with fame within our 1.2 mile boundary.



The Northern California Toyota Prius commercial “Half Smile” was recently filmed in my own Park Avenue District neighborhood (apparently the 30 second segment took the entire day and inconvenienced neighbors). The Artist Co-op, old Sherwin Williams Factory, PG&E building and even the Pacific Park Plaza can all be clearly seen in it.

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A sequence of the 1971 classic romantic black comedy Harold & Maude was of course filmed at the Emeryville Mudflat sculptures to the Cat Stevens song “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out”. Cars can be seen whizzing by Highway 80 and the frontage road:

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[Addendum] Apparently the Paulding & Company Building on 62nd was not only used in the first season of Top Chef, but also in the 2010 Clint Eastwood film “Hereafter” (Thanks Robert!).


This Scion website image is taken in front of the Doyle St. organic community garden (And a pretty bad “Photochop” might I add ;):


The Oscar Grant Biopic “Fruitvale Station” was filmed almost entirely in the East Bay including this sequence at Emery Point where Oscar ponders his future:
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Counting Crows and Berkeley born frontman Adam Duritz used to practice at the Emeryville Warehouse Lofts before its late 90’s renovation and I was told they even played a final concert before being evicted. Other less notable bands whom used the “Warehouse Co.” as practice space such as punk band Flipper can be seen on the Survivors of the Emeryville Warehouse Facebook Page.



Mike Dirnt of Green Day (center) is of course the part-owner of Emeryville original Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe (and a frequent diner there as well). Many locals have spotted him there throughout the years.


Alternative Tentacles, the record label of the legendary Punk Band The Dead Kennedys and founded by its frontman Jello Biafra is located on Horton St. They also helped launch the careers of other seminal punk bands The Butthole Surfers, NoMeansNo & D.O.A although most of it prior to moving to Emeryville from S.F. in 2002.


12-time Olympic USA Swim team medalist Natalie Coughlin is listed as having been born here on Facebook (and we know everything on Facebook is true!). Unfortunately, after contacting her agent, this was determined to be erroneous … but she did live here after college!


Four-time National Road Race Champion “Fast Freddie” Rodriguez was my neighbor at the Warehouse Lofts and also lived at Icon on Park prior to settling in Berkeley.


Famed Tennis Player Billie Jean King used to live at the Watergate (referred to as “Watergate West” here) according to the 1973 Rome News-Tribune article below. King won 39 Grand Slam titles over her career and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990.


I’ve spotted Superbowl winning Seahawks Running Back and Cal Alum Marshawn Lynch at Andante Condominiums near his native home of North Oakland. Lynch popularized the term “Beast Mode” for his intense style of play and inviting fans to shower him with Skittles when he breaches the Endzone. His career was punctuated by this epic 73 yard TD run against the Saints in the playoffs. I was told he in fact lives in Emeryville.

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I once randomly (and surprisingly as evidenced by the look on my face) bumped into Giants Hall of Famer Orlando “The Baby Bull” Cepeda in my building lobby. Turns out he was visiting his Godson whom I speek with regularly.


Oakland A’s star pitcher Dave Stewart, who won 20-games in four consecutive years, lived at the Pacific Park Plaza. Several Golden State Warriors players apparently live at Bay Street I’ve been told.

Other Celebrities

[Addendum] Financial advice author and television personality Suze Orman apparently branched out on her own in Emeryville after beginning her career with Merrill Lynch & Prudential. According to Wikipedia, she founded the Suze Orman Financial Group in 1987 where she was director until 1997.


Surely the presence of Pixar has drawn some famous folk within our borders. Pixar & Apple CEO Steve Jobs was active with City Council during their initial move from Richmond in the late 1990’s. The main building within Pixar was rededicated in his honor after his passing in 2012.


Bay Street hosts musical events and premiers from time-to-time that draw some marginally famous performers including a recent performance by Nickelodeon’s Drake Bell (I personally am way too old to actually know who he is).

Surely I’ve missed some really obvious ones. Do you have any other stories to share? Can you support or refute any of these? Use our comment tools below to tell your own accounts of a sighting, story or legend.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. You forgot star pitcher Dave Stewart of the Oakland A’s ‘bash brothers’ era who lived at Pacific Park Plaza (while he was an A) and financial guru Suze Orman who lived at Watergate.

  2. I know this is outdated but your info was confused concerning celebrities (Marshawn Lynch) in Emeryville CA Phoenix is not close to Emeryville or his North Oakland! You wrote: I’ve spotted Superbowl winning Seahawks Running Back and Cal Alum Marshawn Lynch at Andante Condominiums near his native home of North Oakland. Lynch popularized the term “Beast Mode” for his intense style of play and inviting fans to shower him with Skittles when he breaches the Endzone. His career was punctuated by this epic 73 yard TD run against the Saints in the playoffs. I was told he in fact lives in Emeryville.

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