It was August 1, 1946, that then-President Harry Truman signed the Fulbright Program into law. Suggested by Senator J. William Fulbright, the program was designed to use war surplus to allow students to experience and exchange ideas with other cultures.
Business has been booming ever since "“ more than a quarter of a million people have participated in the program, and a lot of those alumni have gone on to do some pretty big things. Here are a few of them!
1. Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22, was a Fulbright scholar who studied at Oxford from 1949-1950.
2. Stefan Sagmeister is the graphic designer responsible for the Rolling Stones' Bridges to Babylon album cover, David Byrne's Feelings album cover, and Lou Reed's Set the Twilight Reeling cover (among lots of other things). He arrived at Pratt Institute in New York in 1987 thanks to a Fulbright scholarship.
3. Milton Glaser is another graphic designer, although is work is decidedly different than Sagmeister's. He's the man who created the famous (infamous?) I Heart NY logo seen on 5-for$10 t-shirts everywhere. He studied at the Academy of Arts in Bologna during his Fulbright scholarship.
4. Melissa Block, the host of NPR's All Things Considered, studied at the University of Geneva for a year after she graduated from Harvard in 1983, thanks to her Fulbright.
5. Jonathan Franzen is the author of various books, including The Corrections, which you might remember from Oprah's Book Club several years ago. Or rather, from the fact that Franzen rejected Oprah's when she said that his book had been selected as her next pick. Franzen attended Berlin's Freie UniversitÃ¤t as a Fulbright fellow in 1982.
6. John Lithgow might seem pretty silly, but he's also pretty smart: he went to Harvard and was awarded a Fulbright grant upon graduation. He used it to study at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art, which has clearly served him well.
7. Sylvia Plath won a Fulbright scholarship in 1955 and used it to study at Cambridge. Cambridge is where she met fellow poet and future husband Ted Hughes, whom many fans credit with driving her to finally kill herself (after many attempts) in 1963, so depending on your point of view about that you could see the Fulbright as a blessing or a curse.
8. RenÃ©e Fleming, one of the greatest opera singers of our time (and probably ever), had the privilege of studying under sopranos Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Arleen Auger in West Germany from 1984-1985, thanks to her Fulbright.
9. Philip Glass, the composer, is sort of like a Super Fulbright Scholar. Not only did he win a scholarship in 1964 "“ he studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and liked it so much, he stayed in Europe for another 18 months. Just earlier this year, Glass was awarded the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, distinguishing him from all of the other Fulbright alumni with impressive careers.
10. And to prove that not all Fulbright scholars go on to do wonderful things, we have Joseph Corbett, Jr. Corbett earned himself a place on the FBI's Most Wanted list for kidnapping "“ and later murdering "“ Adolph Coors III, the 44-year-old heir to the Coors beer fortune. He had been a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oregon about 10 years prior to the 1960 kidnapping and murder.
And in an unrelated note (I'm certainly not a Fulbright scholar), if you were following me on Twitter, my name has changed "“ the old one got hacked so Twitter suspended it. If you're interested in my babble, I'm now going by the name of MadameLeota. I can't promise I'll entertain you, but I often entertain myself.