Ethan and Joel Coen are two of St.
Louis Park’s most famous native sons. Information
about the filmmaker brothers varies widely on the Internet;
here's a go at it.
Joel Coen was born November 29, 1954. Joel attended
Cedar Manor Elementary School, and was President of the
Student Council (a half-year position) in the fall of 1966. Joel attended Westwood
Jr. High. Joel's last appearance in a school yearbook
was in 1971 as a sophomore at Park High.
Cedar Manor Student Council President
Joel announcing the UNICEF drive, October 1966
Joel attended Simon's Rock Early
College (now Simon's Rock College of Bard) in Great
Barrington, Massachusetts. Simon's Rock is designed for
bright students seeking to start their undergraduate
education earlier than is normal. Chances are good that he
spent his junior and senior years there.
After graduating from
Simon's Rock, Joel spent four years in the undergraduate
film program at New York University where he made a
30-minute thesis film called Soundings.
After graduating from NYU, Joel worked as a production
assistant on a variety of industrial films and music videos.
He developed a talent for film editing and met Sam Raimi,
who was looking for an assistant editor on his first feature
film, The Evil Dead (1981).
actress Frances McDormand in 1984 and they have an
adopted son named Pedro.
Ethan Coen was born September 21, 1957. Presumably
Ethan also attended Cedar Manor. He attended Westwood
Jr. High (pictured at right), and is pictured as a sophomore in the 1973 Park
After also graduating from Simon's Rock, Ethan went to
Princeton University and earned an undergraduate
degree in philosophy. His senior thesis was a 39-page essay
entitled, “Two Views of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy.”
Ethan is married to film editor Tricia Cooke.
When they were kids, Joel saved up enough money from mowing
lawns to buy a Vivitar Super-8 camera, and together they
remade movies they saw on television with a neighborhood
kid, Mark Zimering (a.k.a. Zeimers), as the star. For
example, Cornel Wilde's The Naked Prey (1966) became
Zeimers in Zambia, which also featured Ethan as a
native with a spear.
The brothers' first theatrical film was Blood Simple,
released in 1984.
For filmographies, see
It appears that the Coens moved to St. Louis Park in about
1958 or '59. Edward Coen is listed at 1430 Flag
(built in 1956) in the 1958 directory. We don't have
directories for 1959-'60. The family is not listed in
the 1961 directory, but from 1962 on, they are listed at
1425 Flag, which is shown as built in 1959.
the story goes that the brothers hung out after school
at the soda fountain at Mike Zoss Drugs at the Texa-Tonka
Shopping Center. Memories were so fond of the place
that they named their production company Mike Zoss
Father Edward Coen was a professor of economics at the
University of Minnesota. He walked to the bus every morning.
He passed away on August 27, 2012, at the age of 93. Mother
Rena Coen was a professor of art history at St. Cloud
State University for 27 years.
This information comes from a variety of sources: newspapers, books, yearbooks, phone directories, interviews, etc. Given the varied sources, we cannot guarantee that all of this information is correct, and welcome any additions and corrections. Please contact us with your contributions and comments.