The town of Yakima is not only the self-proclaimed “Palm Springs of Washington State” – but it’s also the hometown of some remarkable and famous people. A partial list includes the late Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.
The great short story writer and poet, Raymond Carver, grew up there.
One of the most-admired writers for kids spent time in Yakima – and was the author of Pat Cashman‘s favorite books about Henry Huggins and his dog, Ribsy. She was Beverly Cleary… who died in 2021 at the age of 105.
Remember the big Indian guy from the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“? His name was Will Sampson… he grew up in Yakima – and, frankly, could have cashed in on his gum endorsement in that ‘Cuckoo’ movie. (“Juicy Fruit“)
The legendary movie stuntman and actor, Yakima Canutt, took his first name from the Yakima River Valley where he grew up.
The skiiers, Phil and Steve Mahre are from Yakima.
And perhaps… most notable of all… Floyd Paxton was from Yakima. Who is Floyd Paxton? Only the inventor of the Kwik Lok Bread Clip.
But there’s another Yakima native whose name you might not know… but should. She was, after all, the very first executive producer of Almost Live! She’s Dana Dwinell.
After high school in Yakima, she graduated from the University of Washington… from which other Almost Live! alum like John Keister, Nancy Guppy, Bob Nelson and Joel McHale also graduated. It is considered a super easy college.
But after Dana graduated, she soon got her first TV gig at KING in Seattle as a part-time production assistant – eventually working her way up to be the associate producer of KING’s longtime morning show, Seattle Today.
She got stuck in that gig until a new station program director came along with some new ideas. One idea was a local music video show called REV – an acronym that stood for ‘Rock Entertainment Videos. Dana became the co-producer of that – a show that introduced a new face to TV in a recurring segment called The Rocket Report. That new face? A guy named John Keister.
But the new program director had another big idea: Starting up a never-before-tried local comedy show. After a couple of not-so-good pilot shows… it eventually became Almost Live! Dana Dwinell was tapped to be the executive producer.
A couple of years later, she moved on. Really moved. To produce a morning show in Philadelphia – staying for three years. Later she went on to San Francisco for another TV opportunity.
There were other stops along the way – but she and her husband eventually made the decision to move back… to Yakima. It would be a new career – in advertising. Today, she runs her own very successful company: D2 Communications. D2, see? Because her name starts with two D’s? That’s a cool idea using the first letter of your first and last name to form a business acronym. Unless your name is Pete Peterson.
Not far from Ellensburg – the Oxnard of Washington state…