After the U.S. Postal Service’s recent release of a President George H.W. Bush commemorative stamp, we got to thinking: Which other Houstonians deserve one? There’s no shortage of contenders, and thanks to a 2011 policy change at the USPS that allows the living to appear on stamps, the options are endless. Narrowing the list was tough, but then, someone had to.
Hilary Duff, Actor/singer
Millions of middle-schoolers in the early aughts saw themselves reflected in Duff’s Disney Channel character, Lizzie McGuire, as the preteen battled mean girls, annoying little brothers, and the utter nightmare of buying one’s first bra. Not only was the wholesome—and native Houstonian—Duff an icon by age 13, she also managed another extraordinary feat: growing out of childhood superstardom to become ... normal. For that alone she deserves a stamp.
Johnny Dang, Jeweler
It’s been nearly 15 years since Nelly and Paul Wall released their hip-hop homage to Houston jeweler-to-the-stars Dang’s blinged-out mouthpieces, and “TV Johnny” is still selling everybody grillz. Nary a rapper can step foot in the H without paying a visit to Dang at his massive Gulfton showroom to get fitted for a mouthful of custom diamonds. A Vietnamese immigrant who got his start repairing watches at local flea markets, the man made flashy orthodontia a prerequisite for hip-hop success, and in doing so put Houston on the map.
Maria “Mama Ninfa” Laurenzo, Restaurateur
If you’ve enjoyed fajitas in your lifetime, you’ve got Mama Ninfa to thank. The widowed mother of five went from slinging grilled skirt steak out of her tiny taco stand in the ’70s to taking the throne as the undisputed matriarch of Tex-Mex, running a chain of successful restaurants based on the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, where she introduced the city—nay, the country—to the glory of the fajita as we know it. She died in 2001, but her legacy lives on every time a skillet of sizzling beef is served tableside.
Richard “Bushwick Bill” Shaw, Rapper
Hip-hop culture mourned a major loss in June when Geto Boys rapper Bushwick Bill succumbed to pancreatic cancer at 52. A founding member of the iconic trio known for early-’90s hits like “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta” and “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” Jamaica-born Bill came to Houston by way of Brooklyn and originally joined the crew as a breakdancer and hype man. With their visceral verses bordering on the deranged, Bill and his peers introduced a whole new genre of rap—grisly, explicit “horrorcore”—that paved the way for so many of today’s stars. His untimely death is all the more reason to give him a stamp.