Hollywood stars have it made and are living a life that most can only dream of. The question is, what did they do before they made it to all this fame and fortune? The idea of an unknown star being discovered at some seedy restaurant is romantic, but it isn’t exactly the realm of reality. The truth is that a large portion of the mainstream stars in Hollywood were doing what many young adults do, going to college. Many of these stars in the making did not even begin their college careers in drama. This goes to show that many of them were unsure as to where their aspirations may bring them. They chose to study topics that would give them a future. Of course, due to the fact that they have a large amount of talent, several of these future stars changed over to drama and performing arts prior to graduation.
These musings bring up an interesting question. What institution of higher learning has produced the most top stars? Is it a small college in some lost area? Can it be a large West Coast school nearby to where the film making action is? Is it a more exclusive school, perhaps an Ivy League institution? The answer sort of follows the path of any academic pursuits, the best universities tend to produce very competent individuals, regardless of their chosen profession. The rigors of high level academia seems to establish a drive within the students that pushes them to attain great heights. This is shown by the stars who are post-famous students. There is a plethora of stars who chose to attend high profile universities after they had made it in the entertainment industry. They made a choice to opt for the most rigorous, but likely most rewarding path. It must be noted that, although these stars did add to the mystique of the school in question, they were not allocated the same weight as those who entered the school prior to hitting it big. A school can not form a star if it is already shining.
This list is made up of the schools that accepted and educated future big screen kings and queens. The trouble with aspiring artists is that if a part for an interesting role happens to arise, they might feel tempted to drop their education. Therefore, we removed the criteria with regards to graduation; if you attended the school, it helped build your character. Its difficult to take ‘following one’s dream’ as something negative. If they had not taken these opportunities, who knows, maybe we would have never heard of them and maybe wouldn’t appear on a list like this one.
10) California Institute of Arts:
This school proves to have all the elements to qualify as one of the best school for artists. It is located in Los Angeles, was founded by a celebrity icon, Walt Disney, and the school is completely devoted to performing and visual arts. This is evident by the degree in puppetry, not a real popular subject with most schools. The only surprising thing about the school is that it has not produced as many stars as one would expect. The list is still impressive enough although, the fact that it is in the hub of movie making magic we would expect more.
9) Boston University:
Boston University has had some of the most important people in US history, both as students and faculty members. Martin Luther King Jr., received his PhD from BU, and Alexander Graham Bell and Isaac Asimov were once staff members at BU, all three have great historical importance. These famous individuals are not the only popular stars that BU has churned out. There is also a fair number of famous actors and celebrities that have spent some time at The Charles River Campus.
Geena Davis, Emily Deschanel, Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Leonard Nimoy, Mariel Hemmingway, Jason Alexander and Olympia Dukakis all attended the school; as did Howard Stern, the self proclaimed king of all media, definitely a list worthy of mention.
It is easy to imagine that because of their close proximity to Hollywood, California schools would have a high number of students who would go on to pursue careers in film. Surprisingly, most actors come from elsewhere, or at least decided to leave the state to pursue their education. UCLA is the one school that has enough graduate stars to warrant a place on the list.
Corbin Bernsten, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, George Takei, Sean Astin, Francis Ford Coppola, James Franco and the iconic James Dean all attended the school. This is an abundant number of stars, and ranks in at number 8 on our list.
7) Fordham University:
The first of our New York City based universities may not have produced as many celebrities as the other three in the city, but there are enough impressive alumni from Fordham to secure its place in our ranking.
For some time, the most famous celebrity to come out of the school was a clown turned children’s show host; Captain Kangaroo himself, Bob Keeshan. Hawkeye Pearce, AKA Alan Alda, was also a graduate. When you add names like Dylan Mcdermott, Susan Lucci, Hunter Tylo and 2-time academy award winner Denzel Washington to the list of stars, Fordham earns its place with distinction.
6) Juilliard School:
The name Juilliard is synonymous with performing arts. We have all seen movies and television programs where the main character has to prepare for an audition to this elite New York School. The school is, perhaps more recognizable as a dance and music school, but it has produced some fine stage and screen actors as well.
There seems to be a bit of a lull in the award winners coming out of the school. Perhaps the heyday of the program has passed, but there is still a drama program and the next big star could easily be graduating this year. Award winners like Kevin Spacey, Robin Williams, William Hurt, Kevin Kline and Kelsey Grammer are all a part of the elite Juilliard alumni.
5) Northwestern University:
This Chicago institution seems to attract many artistically inclined people. The high academic standards of the school seems to reflect the high level of competence of the actors who have gone through their programs. There is a veritable wealth of popular stars that have come out of their communications program. These are not only limited to the big screen, they also include some of the biggest television stars.
Notable alumni include: Zooey Deschanel, Stephen Colbert, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Cloris Leachman, Warren Beaty, David Schwimmer, Charlton Heston, Ann Margret and even Jerry Springer. The quality of the actors is grand, and the diverging style interesting. Whether you enjoy biblical drama, mainstream movies, satirical comedy, sitcom tv, or trailer park reality television, there definitely is a graduate from Northwestern to suit your needs.
The oldest, most prestigious school in the US has not only been the school of the founding fathers, but it has also educated some of the most accomplished performers on stage and on screen. With the depth and scope of the actors talent, it is easy to see how they got accepted into one of the most difficult of US universities.
Now, who were these stars who frequently visited Harvard Square? The list is extensive, and these elites have made their mark in the entertainment world in more ways than one. They transcended the acting realm and have seen success as directors, writers and producers as well. Some notable mentions include, Matt Damon, Mira Sorvino, Tommy Lee Jones, John Lithgow, Conan O’Brien, Natalie Portman, Stockard Channing and Jack Lemmon. Apparently a Harvard degree is a ticket to success.
The New Haven school has always had a slight inferiority complex when compared to its Cambridge counterpart. In terms of star power, however, it outstrips its Massachusetts rival. There is a wealth of talent among the University, and it should be celebrated just as much as a win in the annual Harvard-Yale Regatta.
Much like the other Ivy League schools on the list, the artists are diverse in their talent, scope and style. Here is a list of some of the top stars that attended Yale; Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, David Allen Grier, Claire Danes, Jodie Foster, John Turturro, Sam Waterston, Henry Winkler, Jessica Beals and Vincent Price. Additionally, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver went back to get their Masters degrees from the school. The list of the alumni is much longer, but a list that includes Fonzie, from Happy Days and Ripley, from Aliens is tough pretty tough.
2) Columbia University:
The last Ivy league entry on our list is Manhattan university. It surely has done its part in populating Hollywood with major stars. New York is a mecca for entertainment and it seems only natural that aspiring artists would congregate in the city. The fact that Broadway and its major stage productions are just blocks away definitely adds to the allure of the city. Whether you want to be in films, television or on stage, New York is the place to be.
The actors and entertainment icons that decided to make Columbia their home for education is lengthy, and contains many award winners. Among the award winners are Kathryn Bigelow, James Cagney, William Goldman, Oscar Hammerstein, Anna Paquin and the Mankiewicz brothers. This is just the award winners, when you add names like Brian Depalma, Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, Brian Dennehy and Ed Harris you can notice why this school ranks so high on our top 7 list.
1) New York University:
Although not an Ivy League School, New York University dominates the landscape when talking about great stars who have attended institutes of higher learning. The Greenwich Village school takes its creative surroundings to heart and has helped in educating some of the most creative and talented celebrities in the world today.
The list of award winners having graced the halls of NYU is immense. These awards were given over all forms of entertainment media. Whether you were as aspiring actor, stage performer or singer, NYU provided the necessary tools to help you excel in your trade. Here is a list of some of the school’s elites: Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese, Joel Coen, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Ang Lee and Burt Lancaster to name a few. To this list, names like Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, M. Night Shyamalan, Morgan Spurlock and Neil Simon can be added. Talk about top end talent. This makes the star power emanating from NYU really impressive