Tom Berenger was born on May 31, 1949 in
Chicago, Ill. He came to the University of Missouri planning to
pursue journalism, but changed his mind when he was cast in a university
production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He graduated with a
Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971.
Berenger began working in theater through regional repertory productions
and then landed roles on soap operas. He has sustained a decades-long television acting career and in 2012 won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Hatfields & McCoys on the History Channel.
His film career includes many roles spanning nearly half a century. Some of his better known films include The Big Chill, Platoon, Major League and Inception. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role of Sergeant Barnes in Platoon in 1986.
Berenger remains a strong supporter of Mizzou to this day, and the Tom Berenger Acting Scholarship Fund was established in 1988 to award theater students for excellence.
Bloodworth-Thomason was born on April 15, 1947 in Poplar Bluff,
Mo. She graduated from Mizzou with a bachelor’s degree in English
literature in 1969.
Bloodworth-Thomason is the creator/writer of Designing Women and Evening
Shade, two of CBS Television's most successful comedy series. She also
served as executive producer, along with her husband Harry Thomason, on
three other series, Hearts Afire, Women of the House and Emeril.
To honor her late mother, Bloodworth-Thomason created The
Claudia Foundation, which provides scholarships for girls in
Arkansas and Missouri who would otherwise not be able to attend college. She has personally donated over $1 million to these
scholarships, which has helped nearly 100 women attend colleges across
A proud Tiger, she returned to Mizzou to serve as the
Homecoming Grand Marshal in 1983.
Neal E. Boyd, known internationally as "The
Voice of Missouri," grew up in Sikeston, Mo. He discovered
operatic music in junior high school when his older brother did a school project involving classical music and brought home a CD
of the Three Tenors.
A creative seed was planted and Boyd went on to
study speech communications, political science and vocal music at
Mizzou and Southeast Missouri State University, graduating from both in May 2001.
America's Got Talent in 2008 and was awarded the $1 million prize and a
headline show in Las Vegas. He signed to Decca Records and released
his debut album, My American Dream, in 2009. The album debuted at No. 195 on the
Billboard 200 and No. 3 on the Top Classical Albums Chart.
In 2010, Boyd
performed for President Barack Obama when the president visited Missouri. Boyd has also performed for Presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
|JAMES LEE BURKE
Though he spent years in the oil industry, journalism and social care, James Lee Burke found that his true calling was writing mysteries. Born and raised in Texas, Burke earned a B.A. from Mizzou in 1959 and an M.A. in the following year.
Best-known for his Dave Robicheaux series, Burke has won Edgar Awards for Black Cherry Blues (1990) and Cimarron Rose (1998). The Robicheaux character has been portrayed on screen by renowned actors Alec Baldwin and Tommy Lee Jones.
Today, Burke resides in Montana with his wife, Pearl. They have four children, including their daughter Alafair Burke, who is a prominent crime writer in her own right.
Capshaw was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1953. She came to Mizzou in 1971 and was a member of Alpha Delta Pi while on campus. She earned an
education degree in 1975 and taught special education classes at Rock Bridge High School in Columbia after graduation.
Her desire to be an actress led her from Columbia to New York, where she landed a role
on the soap opera The Edge of the Night. Her first starring role came in 1984's Dreamscape and some of her other films include Just Cause, How to Make an American Quilt, The Locusts and Space
Perhaps her biggest role also came in 1984 when she beat out 120 other actresses for the female lead in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was during filming that she met her future husband,
director Steven Spielberg.
She has been married to Spielberg since 1991, and their family includes seven children.
was born in Kansas City, Mo. on July 9, 1951. After serving in the
Coast Guard Reserve and studying ballet at Stephens College in Columbia, he graduated from Mizzou in
1976 with degrees in agriculture and theater.
Cooper first achieved success on the stage when he appeared in the 1980 Broadway production of Of the Fields Lately followed by several off-Broadway shows. He rose to fame on the silver screen in the late 1990s and has appeared in many major Hollywood films.
His more notable films include The Patriot, October Sky, American
Beauty, The Horse Whisperer, Seabiscuit and Adaptation, for which he won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best
Candice Crawford was born and raised in Texas with her brother Chace Crawford of Gossip Girls
fame. She studied journalism and business at Mizzou, was a member of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women
and appeared as a sports reporter and anchor at KOMU.
In 2008, she won
the title of Miss Missouri and went on to compete in the Miss USA
pageant, where she placed in the top ten. She graduated from MU the next year and went on to report on the Dallas Cowboys on CBS's The Blitz and later on CW affiliate KDAF.
She also hosted the Cowboys' weekend sports show, Special Edition, where she met Cowboys
quarterback and her future husband, Tony Romo. The couple
married in 2011 and had their first child, Hawkins, in April 2012.
Sheryl Crow was born in 1962 in the small town of Kennett, Mo. Coming from a musical family, Crow pursued music composition, performance and education at Mizzou, earning her B.A. in 1984.
Mizzou, Crow was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, Sigma Alpha Iota, the ODK secret society and the Homecoming Steering
Committee. She also served as a Summer Welcome leader. After graduation, Crow moved to St. Louis to work as a music teacher for autistic children. She performed with a
band and recorded advertising jingles on the side, but moved to Los
Angeles in 1986 to try her luck in the music business.
break came when she was selected as a back-up singer for Michael
Jackson’s international Bad tour. After the tour, she worked with a
number of different artists as a session vocalist and songwriter, and eventually released her self-titled debut album in 1996.
The album went triple-platinum and Crow brought home Grammys
for Best Rock Album and Best Female Rock Vocals. Since then, she has
recorded other hit albums, including C’mon C'mon, Detours and, most recently, Feels Like Home.
Crow returned to Mizzou in 2002 to perform a concert and again in 2003 to serve as the Homecoming Grand Marshal.
Jeffery Deaver, author of such bestselling crime novels as The Bone Collector and the latest James Bond installment, Carte Blanche, was born May 6, 1960.
A native of Glen Ellyn, Ill., Deaver received his bachelor's of journalism from MU in 1972 and went on to attend Fordham University for his law degree.
Although Deaver briefly worked as a journalist, folksinger and attorney, he soon found his calling writing novels and published his first book, Manhattan is My Beat, in 1988. His novel The Bone Collector, was later made into a film, and two of his books became TV films as well.
In addition to haappearing on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Los Angeles Times amongst others, this Mizzou alum has won numerous writing awards and sold books in 150 countries.
Today, Deaver is still writing thrillers, but also spends his times speaking publicly about books, writing and literacy at various conferences around the world.
| HOPE DRISKILL
Although Hope Driskill seems most comfortable in the limelight, the model and reality TV actress calls Missouri her home and proudly wore black and gold as an undergraduate.
This Missouri graduate was born in Jefferson City, Mo. and is best known for her appearance on Survivor: Carmoan (Fans vs. Favorites) in 2012. She was also crowned Miss Missouri in 2011, going on to compete in Miss USA.
Driskill received her B.A. in political science from MU in 2012; additionally, she graduated summa cum laude and with general honors. Like all true pageant girls, Hope was heavily involved in extracurriculars during her time on campus. As a college junior, she worked as an intern in the Missouri Governor’s office at the state Capitol, and she was also a Chi Omega sister and a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society and Phi Alpha Delta Pre-law Fraternity.
Survivor may seem like a far cry from the world of pageants, but in interviews, Driskill said that she grew up enjoying outdoor activities and felt that her social graces would help her in the competition. Unfortunately, she was the third contestant to be voted off in her season.
Television writer and producer William Froug was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1922 and grew up with his adoptive parents in Little Rock, Ark. Known for producing such classic series as the Twilight Zone, Gilligan’s Island and Bewitched, Froug graduated from the MU School of Journalism in 1943.
After Froug graduated and then served in the U.S. Navy, he pursued his passion for writing and published his first novella in 1946. He then turned to radio writing and was CBS Radio Hollywood’s vice president of programs by 1956. It wasn’t long, however, before Froug decided to focus his energies on the new frontier that was television writing.
In the years that followed, Froug gained recognition as a top-notch television writer and producer. He won his first Emmy and a Producer of the Year award in the late 1950s and went on to write for such shows as Charlie’s Angels and Bonanza.
Although he received numerous screenwriting and producing awards throughout his career, Froug eventually retired from writing and moved on to teach screenwriting at UCLA and author several books on the subject.
He died August 2013 at the age of 91.
| DAVID KOECHNER
We all know him as Champ Kind from Anchorman and Todd Packer from The Office, but funnyman David Koechner started out as a Missouri native and briefly studied political science at the University of Missouri. His college try was short-lived, however, and Koechner decided to pursue a career in improvisational comedy instead.
After moving to Chicago, he studied at ImprovOlympic and graduated from Second City in 1994. His time at Second City prepared him for a year-long stint on SNL followed by numerous minor roles in TV shows and films such as Wag the Dog, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Man on the Moon.
Koechner got his big break in 2004, when he landed the supporting role of Champ Kind in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The role opened up larger roles for him, and he went on to appear in comedic hits like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
The comedian has appeared in too many films and TV series to count, but this year, he completed production of an upcoming Anchorman sequel.
St. Louis native Jon Hamm got his start in acting in first grade when he played Winnie the Pooh in a school play. Audiences today, however, know him better as Don Draper from Mad Men.
Hamm began college at the University of Texas but moved home to attend Mizzou after his father's death. At MU, he answered an ad from a theater
company looking for players in a production of A Midsummer Night's
Dream. He was cast in the production and went on to secure several other roles.
After graduating in 1993 with a degree in English, Hamm returned to his high school to
teach eighth-grade drama. One of his students was Ellie
Kemper, the actress best known for her role on The Office.
For much of the mid-1990s, Hamm lived
in Los Angeles as a struggling actor appearing in small parts in
multiple television series. In 2000, he made his feature film debut in Clint
Eastwood's Space Cowboys. It wasn't until 2007, however, that Hamm's career took off.
Hamm gained global recognition for
playing advertising executive Don Draper in the AMC drama series Mad
Men, which premiered in July 2007. His performance earned him a
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series in 2008.
Born January 3, 1930 in
New York City, Robert Loggia is an Oscar-nominated actor and director. Originally intending to be a journalist, he graduated from MU's Missouri School of Journalism in 1951.
After graduation, Loggia served in the U.S. Army before leaving his plans for a journalistic
career to study at the New York Actor’s Studio.
Loggia has played dozens of roles since 1956, but he's best
known for his roles in the films An Officer and a Gentleman, Scarface, and Big. He has received both Academy Award
and Emmy nominations for his various supporting roles.
In 2011, Loggia was given an honorary degree from Mizzou for his career and humanitarian efforts. He also served as Homecoming Grand Marshal in 1999.
|WILLIAM LEAST HEAT MOON
William Trogdon, who
writes under the name William Least Heat Moon, was born in Kansas City,
Mo in 1939. He is an accomplished travel writer known for his bestselling trilogy of topographical U.S. travel writing.
Heat Moon earned bachelor’s, master's and PhD degrees in English as well as a bachelor's degree in photojournalism from Mizzou. He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon during school and went on to serve as an English professor.
His book, Blue Highways, spent 32 weeks on the New
York Times bestseller list. He also wrote Prairyerth, an epic
evocation of the American tallgrass prairie country; and River-Horse,
an account of his travels along America's interior waterways.
Today, Heat Moon resides in Rocheport, Mo., just a few miles west of Columbia.
| RICHARD MATHESON
Richard Burton Matheson came to the University of Missouri from New Jersey in hopes of becoming a journalist; the writing that became his legacy, however, was of a different variety.
After graduating in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, the screenwriter and novelist gained fame for combining fiction, horror and fantasy genres into thrilling stories. He not only authored several episodes of The Twilight Zone, but some of his books were also adapted into films, including The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Box and I Am Legend.
Matheson published his first short story, “Born of Man and Woman,” in a 1950 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. His stories appeared in various magazines over the next few years, and he released his first novel, Someone is Bleeding, in 1953. Matheson received a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, a Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.
In total, the author wrote 28 novels, 22 film screenplays, 53 TV episodes and almost 100 short stories before his death on June 23, 2013. Matheson was 87.
| MARIJANE MEAKER
Many writers have graduated from Missouri, but few have had as many pen names as Marijane Meaker. The author and pioneer of “lesbian pulp fiction” has written upwards of 50 novels across four genres and under no less than seven different names.
Before starting her prolific career as a writer, Meaker spent her childhood in Auburn, N.Y. She went to Vermont Junior College in 1945 and then transferred to Mizzou, where she completed her degree in 1949. As a student, she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi and sold her first story to Ladies Home Journal.
Under her first pseudonym, Vin Packer, Meaker wrote several psychological crime novels as well as the groundbreaking romance novel, Spring Fire. In the mid ’50s, she broke into the lesbian nonfiction genre and was published under the name Ann Aldrich; next, she wrote the bulk of her work, young adult fiction, as “M.E. Kerr.” Her readership became even younger when, in the 1990s, Meaker wrote children’s books including Shoebag, The Shuteyes and Frankenlouse.
Meaker’s children’s books have won a host of awards and been on numerous “best books” lists. Some of her honors include a Golden Kite Award and School Library Journal’s Book of the Year Award.
| JONATHAN MURRAY
Jonathan Murray’s journalism degree from Mizzou prepared him for the real world—quite literally. The Mississippi-born TV producer graduated from Mizzou in 1977 and went on to co-create the legendary reality TV series The Real World, which pioneered the reality television genre as a whole.
Murray is also responsible for The Real World spinoffs such as Road Rules, and his production company, Bunim/Murray Productions, helped produce other reality programs including The Simple Life, Project Runway and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
The producer’s run with reality TV has been so successful that, in 2012, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
was born on December 18, 1963 in Shawnee, Okla. and grew up in Springfield, Mo. Following his graduation from Kickapoo High School, he enrolled at the
University of Missouri in 1982 and majored in journalism with an emphasis in advertising.
While at Mizzou, Pitt was a member of Sigma Chi, acted in several fraternity shows and was on the Homecoming
Steering Committee. As graduation loomed, Pitt wasn't ready to settle down and took off for Los Angeles to start his
acting career, just two
credits shy of earning his degree.
Pitt's onscreen career began with a two-episode role on the soap opera Another World, and he made his film debut in the low-budget
thriller Cutting Class. He gained wide recognition for his role as
J.D. in 1991’s Thelma and Louise and his career took off in the early '90s. Pitt was named People Magazine’s
“Sexiest Man Alive” in 1995, after starring in Legends of the Fall.
He has since played leading roles in major films including Se7en, Snatch, Ocean’s Eleven (and sequels) Fight Club, Inglourious Basterds and many more. He has been nominated for four Academy Awards and five Golden Globes, winning once.
Born James Paul Czajkowski, James Rollins is a bestselling author of action-adventure, thriller and fantasy fiction. He has also written under the pen name James Clemens for many of his fantasy novels.
Rollins earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Mizzou in 1985 but gave up his practice in Sacramento to pursue writing full-time.
Known for writing high-octane adventures on a scientific foundation, Rollins' work often explores how advancing technology can impact society. A prolific writer, the author has released at least one book a year since his first novel, Subterranean, was published in 1999. His books have been translated into several languages and sold in 32 countries outside of the United States.
|SALLY ANN SALSANO
Love it or hate it, MTV’s The Jersey Shore was a massive hit when it debuted in 2009. What you probably didn’t know was that it was created and produced by a Missouri graduate.
Mizzou alum Sally Ann Salsano was born and raised in Farmingdale, N.Y., a part of Long Island. She graduated from college in the mid-’90s and propelled herself into reality TV fame as a finalist on The Real World: Miami in 1996.
After graduating, Salsano interned for TV and radio personalities Howard Stern and Sally Jessy Raphael and later assisted with the production of shows such as The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Extreme Makeover: Wedding Edition. It wasn’t until 2006, however, that Salsano launched her production company, 495 Productions, which produced infamous hits like The Jersey Shore, Disaster Date and A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila.
|GEORGE C. SCOTT
Born on Oct. 18, 1927 in Wise, Va., George C. Scott grew up with aspirations of becoming a writer like his idol, F. Scott Fitzgerald. After serving in the U.S. Marines, he entered the
University of Missouri as a journalism student. At Mizzou he became interested in drama instead and graduated in 1953
with degrees in English and theater.
Scott spent seven years in regional repertory theater and taught a drama
course at Stephens College before moving to New York City. He was best known for his stage work but also had roles in television, and film productions. His most successful film roles were in A Christmas Carol, Dr. Strangelove and Patton, for which he won an Academy Award for his performance as General George S. Patton.
Scott died on Sept. 22, 1999, leaving behind his wife, Trish, and daughter, Michelle.
was born in 1923 in El Dorado, Kan. He published his first comic
when he was 11, and, at 18 he became chief editorial designer at Hall
Bros. He helped usheri in a light, playful style for the company's Hallmark
In 1943, Walker was drafted into the Army. He was discharged as a first
lieutenant four years later and graduated from the University of
Missouri in 1948. While at Mizzou, he was a member of Kappa Sigma and an
editor of the school magazine.
Walker then went to New York City to pursue his cartooning career. In order
to survive, he worked as editor of three magazines for Dell Publishing
Company. His first 200 cartoons were rejected, but he persisted, and
editors started to recognize his talent. His big break came in 1950, when King Features picked up Beetle
Bailey for syndication, and in two years, he was the
top-selling magazine cartoonist.
King Features now distributes the comic
to roughly 1,800 newspapers and astatue of Beetle Bailey sits in front of
Reynolds Alumni Center in recognition of Walker’s talents. Walker and
his wife, Catherine, have 10 children between them.
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright but also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs.
Williams attended the University of Missouri from 1929 to 1931. There, he took journalism courses and was briefly a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. After failing a military training course during his junior year, Williams was forced to leave the university by his father and to work at a shoe factory instead.
The height of Williams' career came between 1947 and 1959 when he had seven plays on Broadway including A Streetcar Named Desire. By 1959 he had earned two Pulitzer Prizes, three New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards, three Donaldson Awards and a Tony Award.
Williams died on February 25, 1983 in New York at age 71. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.