10 Celebrities Who Have Weird Relationships With Academia

Image credit: 
Getty Images

Colleges are notoriously weird; celebrities are equally strange. Sometimes, when the two are combined, magic happens.

1. Brad Pitt // University of Missouri

Like many actors, Brad Pitt dropped out of college early to jump start his acting career. Pitt was so anxious to start said career that he left the University of Missouri only two weeks before graduation. He had one paper left to write in order to complete his final two credits, which he ditched to move to LA. University of Missouri student newspaper The Maneater has a different version of the story in which Pitt’s failed project for Journalism 336, a “hunk calendar,” was the reason for his early departure.

2. Paul Newman // Ohio University

Paul Newman attended three colleges: Ohio University, Yale University, and Kenyon College. He’s somewhat of a legend at OU, though, and it’s not because they use his pasta sauce at the dining halls. There’s a campus rumor that Newman got kicked out of school because he rolled a keg down a hill ... and right into the University president’s car.

3. Howard Stern // Boston University

Howard Stern is also somewhat of a campus legend at his alma mater, Boston University. In 1973, he had an on-campus radio program with his friends called the “King Schmaltz Bagel Hour.” They were fired during their first show right in the middle of a comedy sketch called “Godzilla Goes to Harlem.” There’s still a persistent rumor on campus that Stern once tried to donate a new radio station facility to BU, but they turned him down because they didn’t want his name on the building.

4. Samuel L. Jackson // Morehouse College

In 1969, Samuel L. Jackson was part of a group of students at Morehouse College in Atlanta who held some trustees hostage on campus for two days. The students were protesting the board, which had very few African American members, despite the school being a historically black university. One of the men who the group held hostage was Martin Luther King, Sr.

5. Natalie Portman // Harvard University

Natalie Portman once told the New York Post, “I don’t care if college ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.” She didn’t always take her college career so seriously, though, like when she famously parodied her time at Harvard on SNL. Plus, she has admitted to smoking weed in college. Yet her Harvard mentor claimed that Natalie was “inherently bright” with a lot of “intellectual horsepower.” Portman actually sounds like the perfect college student...

6. Claire Danes // Yale University

Claire Danes’s grandfather was once the Dean of Art and Architecture at Yale University, which may have had something to do with her decision to attend the school, even after achieving fame as a teen on My So-Called Life. She regrets her decision to leave after two years, claiming, “In an ideal world, it would have been nice to have graduated ... But in the end, I didn’t really need to go further than I did.” But, hey, maybe those two years pursuing a psychology degree helped with her future career as Agent Carrie Mathison.

7. John Lennon // Liverpool College of Art

John Lennon was expelled from the Liverpool College of Art because he failed his final exams. He later said of his teachers, “I’ve been proved right. They were wrong and I was right. They’re all still there, aren’t they, so they must be the failures.” You can now visit the John Lennon Art and Design Building at the university (now known as Liverpool John Moores University), which Yoko Ono helped develop. She referred to the school as “the springboard for so many influential aspects of his life.”

8. David Letterman // Ball State University

At Ball State University, the David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship is affectionately referred to as “The David Letterman Scholarship for Average Students.” Of course, the truth is way less fun. The scholarship doesn’t require a certain GPA, but instead, an application in the form of a creative project. But Letterman does have a plaque in the Department of Telecommunications that reads, “Dedicated to all ‘C’ students before and after me!”

9. Jennifer Garner // Denison University

Speaking of Letterman, Jennifer Garner once went on the Late Show and told Dave about her days at Denison University. She used to break into the theater department with her roommate in the middle of the night. But their criminal act was fairly mundane. They would borrow university sewing machines to make scrunchies. Then, the pair would go to dorms and sell them for $3 a piece.

10. Debra Messing // Brandeis University

Debra Messing has admitted to her “complicated experience” at Brandeis University. After high school, she wanted to pursue an acting career, but her parents insisted that she continue her education. She was accepted to the musical theater program at Syracuse University, but went to Brandeis where she recalled there was both a lot of “competition” and “rejection.”

Did any celebrities attend your alma mater? What were the campus stories about them? Let us know in comments!

More from mental_floss...

January 28, 2014 - 11:00am
webby
submit to reddit