June is the month for graduations and weddings. This week we will take a look at a sampling of some of the notable Connecticut university and college graduates who have made it big in the entertainment world. Among the Yale University grads who have made it big include Mary Louise (“Meryl”) Streep (Class of 1972), Alicia Christian (“Jodie”) Foster (Class of 1985), and Paul Leonard Newman (Class of 1954). Streep has won two Oscars and seven Golden Globes. Her numerous nominations in both of those categories are more than any actor in history! Paul Newman won an Oscar and three Golden Globes in his career. Jodie Foster has won two Golden Globes and has received two Emmy nominations. Edward Norton (Class of 1991) was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1996 for his role in Primal Fear. Norton has also appeared in more than 20 other films.
Numerous Wesleyan University grads have struck gold in the entertainment world. Miguel Arteta (Class of 1989) is a film and television director (Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl, Youth in Revolt, Cedar Rapids. Michael Bay (Class of 1986) is also a film producer and director (The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, The Island, Transformers.) Carter Bays (Class of 1997) is co-creator and writer of television show How I Met Your Mother. Well-known author and Durham resident, Amy Bloom, (Class of 1975) (Love Invents Us, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, Away); is also the creator and writer of the television show State of Mind. Well-known Emmy Award-winning actress Dana Delaney’s credits (Class of 1978) include television shows (China Beach, Desperate Housewives, Body of Proof) and films (Tombstone, Fly Away Home.) Thomas Kail (Class of 1999) has made an impact as a director, most notably this past year as the director of the acclaimed Broadway play, Lombardi.
Another Wes grad who has had a major impact in the entertainment world is Laurence Mark (Class of 1971). Mark is a film producer (Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets, Dreamgirls, Julie and Julia). Tony Award-winning theater producer Jeffrey Richards (Spring Awakening, August: Osage County, Hair, The Merchant of Venice) was a member of the Class of 1969. Another film producer from Wesleyan is Paul Schiff (Class of 1981) whose credits include My Cousin Vinny, Rushmore, Mona Lisa Smile, Solitary Man. Craig Thomas (Class of 1997) is co-creator and writer of television show How I Met Your Mother. Matthew Weiner of the Class of 1987 is the Emmy Award-winning creator, writer, and executive producer of Mad Men. Another film director is Paul Weitz (Class of 1988) whose credits include In Good Company, American Dreamz, Little Fockers (and with brother Chris Weitz, American Pie, About a Boy) and as a playwright (Privilege, Show People, and Trust). Josh Whedon (Class of 1987) is an Emmy Award-winning creator, producer, director, and writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog [Emmy Award], and a screenwriter for Speed and Toy Story. Finally, many will remember Bradley Whitford (Class of ’81) from his Emmy Award-winning role on the popular TV series The West Wing as well as many other films and TV roles.
Connecticut College in New London, mainly through its accreditation of the National Theater Institute (NTI), has had a big impact on the entertainment industry. Perhaps the most famous NTI grad is Jennifer Garner, famous for many roles on TV and in the movies. Another NTI grad, Jack Coleman, starred in the Dynasty series and in the NBC show Heroes. Saturday Night Live star Chris Elliott is also an NTI graduate. Another SNL star and NTI grad is Rachel Dratsch. John Krasinski is famous for his role in The Office and has appeared in many other shows including CSI. Emmy Award-winning actor Jeremy Piven of Illinois is perhaps best known for his role in the HBO series Entourage but was also in Black Hawk Down and The Family Man.
Marin Ireland of the University of Hartford won the 2009 Theater World Award and was nominated in 2009 for a Tony Award for her performance in reasons for being pretty. The two best-known University of Connecticut grads who have left their mark on the entertainment industry are Tony Todd and Meg Ryan. Todd grew up in Hartford and went to UConn. He has credits in over sixty movies and parts in over fifty TV episodes! Platoon and Night of the Living Dead are among his better-known movies. He has also appeared in TV shows such as Boston Public, Law and Order, 24, Criminal Minds, and Chuck. Meg Ryan of Bethel is perhaps best known for her romantic comedies opposite Tom Hanks: Sleepless In Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. She also played a major role in Top Gun and in many TV shows.
Connecticut is among the smallest of the 50 states; nevertheless, thanks to the high quality of its many colleges and universities, graduates of schools in the Nutmeg State have made a big impact on the entertainment industry.