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View Full Version : Any geniuses in Hollywood?


magellan01
01-05-2009, 11:52 AM
I'm looking to see which actors or actresses might have credentials that would indicate a brighter star shining within. I recall that Geena Davis had Mensa credentials. anyone else. Also, Cindy Crawford was majoring in Physics before she got pulled into modeling. Is there anyone with say, an MIT degree, or something else that would be impressive from a science/math standpoint? I know that more than a few, like Brooke Shields graduated from an Ivy League school, but I'm looking for credentials in math and science, or something like Mensa.

Anyone?

Rube E. Tewesday
01-05-2009, 11:58 AM
Jill St. John has an IQ of 162.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_St._John

Dewey Finn
01-05-2009, 12:03 PM
Ashton Kutcher attended (but did not graduate from) the University of Iowa, in biomedical engineering. James Woods was a poly sci major at MIT but also did not finish his degree. "Dolph Lundgren graduated from the Royal Institute of Technology. He has a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney (1982), and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983 but quit after two weeks to pursue acting." (copied from Wikipedia)

Cluricaun
01-05-2009, 12:04 PM
Not Hollywood per se, but in the entertainment world Brian "Dexter" Holland, lead singer of the Offspring has a bachelors in biology and a masters in molecutlar biology as well as being a PhD candidate in molecular bio at one time at USC. Not too shabby for a punk rocker.

Dewey Finn
01-05-2009, 12:07 PM
Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years) was a math major at UCLA. And another non-acting one; Brian May, the lead guitarist of Queen, is a physicist and chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.

Queen Bruin
01-05-2009, 12:07 PM
What does a restriction to math/science have to do with being a genius?

And once again proving that UCLA beats 'SC at everything but football, Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin lectures in paleontology and life sciences in Westwood. He went to UCLA for his undergrad and holds a PhD in zoology from Cornell.

Gangster Octopus
01-05-2009, 12:12 PM
Here are some (http://gossip.celebritycowboy.com/15-smart-celebrities/). They don't all fall into the genius category, but they are all pretty smart.

Also, David Duchvny, graduated from Princeton and got a Master's degree in English Literature from Yale. He was working on a PhD but did not finish.

Exapno Mapcase
01-05-2009, 12:18 PM
I came in to say Charlie Chaplin. Maybe the Marx Brothers and W. C. Fields. D. W. Griffith and John Ford.

But a math degree? A Ph.D.? Mensa? They let anybody who can spell their own name into Mensa. Genius means a hell of a lot more than graduating college. Have you been out in the real world?

Queen Bruin
01-05-2009, 12:20 PM
He went to UCLA for his undergrad and holds a PhD in zoology from Cornell.

He also completed his masters in geology at UCLA.

And lest I forget, Vandals bassist Joe Escalante holds a degree in Old Norse from UCLA as well, and went to my husband's law school (where I met him a few years ago). He holds a JD with a specialization in anti-trust litigation (which I suppose is not very punk rock, but that's another discussion).

Moirai
01-05-2009, 12:22 PM
From the link-


James Woods scored 1580 in his SATs, including a perfect 800 on the verbal. He majored in Political Science at M.I.I. and is a member of MENSA with an IQ of 180.

Holy crap! I knew he was a bright guy, but day-um...

Then there's Danica McKeller from the Wonder Years- after that show ended, she went on to graduate Summa cum Laude from UCLA with a degree in Mathematics, and even proved a new math theorem, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem. She now writes books to encourage girls to be better at math.

magellan01
01-05-2009, 12:25 PM
I came in to say Charlie Chaplin. Maybe the Marx Brothers and W. C. Fields. D. W. Griffith and John Ford.

But a math degree? A Ph.D.? Mensa? They let anybody who can spell their own name into Mensa. Genius means a hell of a lot more than graduating college. Have you been out in the real world?

I'm interested specifically in those with a background in math or science. I'm not equating that with genius. I was just using the term very loosely. The Mensa angle is interesting as it is something people know and might indicate to the general populace, fairly or unfairly, someone who would do very well with math/science.

beowulff
01-05-2009, 12:29 PM
The deceased Hedy Lamar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr) co-invented spread-spectrum communications.

aldiboronti
01-05-2009, 12:45 PM
I think you'd find that anyone with a real genius for math, science, whatever, would hardly abandon it to make a career of acting. Geniuses are driven by the force of their insights to expand the sum of human knowledge.

Sure, some actors may have shined at other things and have degrees, etc. But geniuses? Nah.

The Tooth
01-05-2009, 12:46 PM
Peter Weller's an historian at Syracuse University. Is there nothing Buckaroo Banzai cannot do?

Mayim Bailik is working on her doctoral thesis as a neuroscientist. Is there nothing Blossom cannot do?

Kobal2
01-05-2009, 12:50 PM
Not Hollywood per se, but in the entertainment world Brian "Dexter" Holland, lead singer of the Offspring has a bachelors in biology and a masters in molecutlar biology as well as being a PhD candidate in molecular bio at one time at USC. Not too shabby for a punk rocker.

In the same vein : Queen guitarist Brian May also happens to be a renowned astrophysicist (holding PhDs in both math and physics) and has recently been appointed chancelor of a university in Liverpool. I hope at the end of the year, he hands students their diplomas with one hand and melts their faces with the other, otherwise what's the point ?

Stephe96
01-05-2009, 12:51 PM
The deceased Hedy Lamar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr) co-invented spread-spectrum communications.

"That's Hedley!"

(Oh, come on...someone had to do it!):D

WarmNPrickly
01-05-2009, 01:16 PM
... Also, Cindy Crawford was majoring in Physics before she got pulled into modeling. ...

It should be pointed out that majoring in physics does not mean intelligent. In fact a PhD in physics does not mean intelligent although it does mean a willingness work hard to acheive a goal and a basic understanding of science. I've known many chemistry PhD's that I would not label as particularly intelligent. I wouldn't label my own supervising professor as intelligent. He basically memorized thousands of reactions but has no idea about science behind the goal he is trying to accomplish. He publishes pretty MO pictures regularly, then one day asked me to tell our computational chemist to find out what direction the electrons were moving. Obviously the only reason he publishes pretty MO pictures is because they fill space and look smart, but he clearly doesn't know anything about the calculations behind them.


My point is that degree doesn't mean anything beyond the fact that they accomplished a goal that doesn't require genius, and not finishing a degree (as in the case of Cindy Crawford) is considerably less interesting.

Lightray
01-05-2009, 01:35 PM
It should also be pointed out that Cindy Crawford didn't study Physics -- she was a Chemical Engineering major.

Who apparently didn't even complete her first year. So she'd've been taking introductory math and chemistry courses, but likely hadn't had physics yet (still usually in the 2nd year in most ChemE programs I know of).

panache45
01-05-2009, 01:46 PM
I think you'd find that anyone with a real genius for math, science, whatever, would hardly abandon it to make a career of acting. Geniuses are driven by the force of their insights to expand the sum of human knowledge.

Sure, some actors may have shined at other things and have degrees, etc. But geniuses? Nah.

It's entirely possible to be quite gifted in certain areas, even on a "genius" level, yet develop an interest in a different area entirely. Especially if that person is talented in more than one area. When I was a kid, I was considered "gifted" in math and music and abstract thinking (1600 SAT), and I can still hold my own in these disciplines, among others. But professionally, a career in art was more suited to my personality, and after several false starts, that's the career I wound up in. It's possible to be gifted in more than one discipline, and to take a few decades to find the most compatible path; that doesn't diminish the paths not taken.

Robot Arm
01-05-2009, 01:48 PM
The two dumb blondes in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion; Lisa Kudrow has a degree in Biology from Vassar, and Mira Sorvino graduated magna cum laude in East Asian Studies from Harvard.

Peter Weller's an historian at Syracuse University. Is there nothing Buckaroo Banzai cannot do?I was channel surfing and came across a show with some academic talking about ancient Rome; and I thought "that guy looks like Peter Weller." Then they cut to some footage of ruins and other people talking and then the same guy with his name on-screen. "That is Peter Weller!"

Robot Arm
01-05-2009, 01:50 PM
And David Duchovny has a masters in English Literature from Yale.

Pyper
01-05-2009, 02:01 PM
The deceased Hedy Lamar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr) co-invented spread-spectrum communications.

From that link:

She later related that even though (her husband) Mandl was part-Jewish, he was consorting with Nazi industrialists which infuriated her. In 1937, she convinced Mandl to allow her to attend a party wearing all her expensive jewelry, later drugged him with the help of her maid, and made her escape out of the country with the jewelry.

Damn, Hedy Lamarr was awesome!

Doesn't make him a genius, but porn star Ron Jeremy has a master's degree in Special Education, which (being in special ed myself) I think is quite cool.

Sigmagirl
01-05-2009, 02:04 PM
I don't know where this "Celebrity Cowboy" outfit gets its info, but it's BS. James Woods is not a member of Mensa, nor Quentin Tarantino, Steve Martin, or Sharon Stone. I have no doubt that any of them qualifies, but that is not the same thing as being a member. Geena Davis is a member. You have to either pass the test or send in evidence that you have taken another test that qualifies you, and then pay your fargin' dues.

Elendil's Heir
01-05-2009, 02:06 PM
Some interesting linkages here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacon_erdos_number

Natalie Portman, mentioned in Gangster Octopus's link, has published papers on psychology and is, by all accounts, quite smart. No dumb actress she.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-05-2009, 02:14 PM
Whoopie Goldberg has a PhD in English. Not really "Hollywood," but the singer from the Offspring has a PhD in physics.

Also, appropo of nothing, I just want to obeserve that in addition to being a math nerd, Danika McKellar also grew up to be smoking hot (just do a Google image search). Smoking hot + math nerd is pretty much an unbeatable combination.

Xan
01-05-2009, 02:31 PM
Not Hollywood per se, but in the entertainment world Brian "Dexter" Holland, lead singer of the Offspring has a bachelors in biology and a masters in molecutlar biology as well as being a PhD candidate in molecular bio at one time at USC. Not too shabby for a punk rocker.

Greg Graffin from Bad Religion has a PhD in zoology.

Xan
01-05-2009, 02:35 PM
Greg Graffin from Bad Religion has a PhD in zoology.

and Queen Bruin beat me to it.

In my defense I didn't read the whole thread.

minlokwat
01-05-2009, 02:45 PM
Since we've opened up the discussion to include musicians, Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter, lead guitarist know for his work with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, is a self-taught expert on missile defense. (From the Wiki article) he has formally served as a U.S. defense consultant and chairs the Congressional Advisory Board on missile defense.

It's Not Rocket Surgery!
01-05-2009, 02:50 PM
Glenne Headly and Alan Rachins are Mensans. So is Asia Carrera, although I don't see her listed here:

http://us.mensa.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Search&section=Media_Kit1&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentFileID=21614

sciurophobic
01-05-2009, 02:52 PM
Robert Vaughn has a PhD in communications from USC.

Queen Bruin
01-05-2009, 02:54 PM
In my defense I didn't read the whole thread.

It's OK, neither did DtC. :p

MrPeabody
01-05-2009, 02:57 PM
I came in to say Charlie Chaplin. Maybe the Marx Brothers and W. C. Fields. D. W. Griffith and John Ford.

But a math degree? A Ph.D.? Mensa? They let anybody who can spell their own name into Mensa. Genius means a hell of a lot more than graduating college. Have you been out in the real world?



Cite on the Mensa slam?

Sounds like someone who did not get in. You never said what real world criteria you would use.

Projammer
01-05-2009, 02:58 PM
Not sure if this qualifies as, but I believe that Alice Cooper is a Juilliard graduate. No small feat in itself.

JohnT
01-05-2009, 02:59 PM
I haven't the slightest as to his IQ, but obviously Steven Spielberg is a "Hollywood genius". To quote Rob Cohen, a Universal executive in the 1970s, "He's a master at choreographing the elements of the business. He didn't get to be 'Steven Spielberg' just by being a good director."

He's likely not what you're asking, since you're looking for people with IQ's above a certain number, but as has been mentioned, there is more to being a true genius than by achieving certain scores on certain tests in favored subjects.

Cluricaun
01-05-2009, 03:51 PM
Not sure if this qualifies as, but I believe that Alice Cooper is a Juilliard graduate. No small feat in itself.

I don't know if that's the case, I can't find any reference to back that up anywhere.

Cardinal
01-05-2009, 04:34 PM
the singer from the Offspring has a PhD in physics.From wikipedia:

Holland was the class valedictorian at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California and was a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California; however, he abandoned his Ph.D. in favor of focusing on The Offspring. He has a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University of Southern California.

Holland is also a licensed Airline Transport Pilot and has made a solo trip around the world in 10 days

Cerowyn
01-05-2009, 04:38 PM
It should be pointed out that majoring in physics does not mean intelligent. In fact a PhD in physics does not mean intelligent although it does mean a willingness work hard to acheive a goal and a basic understanding of science.A "basic" understanding of science? That seems somewhat at odds with the need to produce a doctoral thesis, no? I mean, unless you're attending Rubber Stamp U, or bribe the thesis committee or something.

Annie-Xmas
01-05-2009, 05:19 PM
Jodie Foster graduated magna cum laude from Yale, and is fluent in German and French. She has to have some serious brain power.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-05-2009, 05:25 PM
From wikipedia:

Holland was the class valedictorian at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California and was a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California; however, he abandoned his Ph.D. in favor of focusing on The Offspring. He has a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's degree in Molecular Biology, both from the University of Southern California.

Holland is also a licensed Airline Transport Pilot and has made a solo trip around the world in 10 days
I don't know when that entry is dated, but I heard him in a radio interview a couple of years ago saying he'd gone back and finished his PhD.

Beware of Doug
01-05-2009, 05:27 PM
Besides being one of the most beautiful (and underappreciated) actresses in the industry, Alicia Witt has an IQ of 180. She also has a degree in piano, and once performed professionally.

BrainGlutton
01-05-2009, 05:35 PM
Ellen Muth, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Muth) the star of Dead Like Me, is a member of Mensa and of Intertel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertel_(group)) (and my future wife).

BrainGlutton
01-05-2009, 05:38 PM
Doesn't make him a genius, but porn star Ron Jeremy has a master's degree in Special Education, which (being in special ed myself) I think is quite cool.

:mad: Thank you. I am now trying very hard not to think about how the Hedgehog might combine his two distinctive skill-sets.

Exapno Mapcase
01-05-2009, 06:17 PM
Whoopie Goldberg has a PhD in English.

She doesn't. She never even went to college. I knew that the Ph.D. is reported on a lot of sites, but it seems to have no rationale, not even an honorary degree. No major site, like Wikipedia or IMDb, reports it. Goldberg rewrites her life story every year so she may have invented this at one time, I suppose. Note that Wiki has her birth year as 1949 and IMDb as 1955. The older year is apparently correct.

Cite on the Mensa slam?
Here (http://faqs.org/faqs/mensa/join/) are the Mensa qualifications. They seem to be before the change in the SAT, but they're the ones I knew back in the old days. Yes, I qualified easily.

Run the numbers on Mensa. They take the top 2%. That's about 4,000,000 adults in the U.S. Maybe 80,000,000 worldwide.

Harvard graduates about 1500 people per year. There may be 100,000 living graduates. Does anybody believe that every single Harvard graduate is a genius? Even if you did, you'd get to 5% of Mensa qualifiers. So you'd have to take the equivalent of every single living graduate of the top 40 colleges just to fill up the slots.

Smart people are a dime a dozen. There are literally millions of them. It's not a terribly exclusive group. Mensa doesn't impress anybody. That's probably why only 100,000 of those 80,000,000 are members.

Invisible Chimp
01-05-2009, 06:22 PM
Jeff Foxworthy of "You might be a redneck..." fame, has a degree in engineering from Georgia Tech.

WarmNPrickly
01-05-2009, 06:39 PM
A "basic" understanding of science? That seems somewhat at odds with the need to produce a doctoral thesis, no? I mean, unless you're attending Rubber Stamp U, or bribe the thesis committee or something.

I guess it depends on how low you set the bar for genius. I don't see a PhD and assume genius, and I don't expect anyone to assume that much with me. Many PhD's study a very narrow region of their field, beyond which you really can't expect anything more than what I would call a basic understanding of science.

Wendell Wagner
01-05-2009, 09:43 PM
Whoopi Goldberg doesn't have a Ph.D. in anything. The last time we did a thread like this we checked out that story. It's probably somebody confusing her with one of the characters she did in her early one-woman shows. One character was supposed to be something like an English Ph.D. who ended up homeless. Somebody got the confused idea that this was really true of Goldberg.

Neither Alicia Witt nor James Woods has an I.Q. of 180. 180 is an absurdly rare I.Q. It's too high to be measurable by any reliable I.Q. test. There's a lot of attributing ridiculously high I.Q. scores to people. These are examples of this.

joyfool
01-05-2009, 11:18 PM
I don't know if that's the case, I can't find any reference to back that up anywhere.

Yeah, I've never read that anywhere either. According to STUK (http://sickthingsuk.co.uk/timelines/t-pre-cooper.php) (Sick Things UK -- about a little bit before the half way mark):

Sept. `66 Vince enters Glendale community College as an Art major. He drops out in spring `67 as more gigs start to come their way. At Glendale they met Mike Allen (who roadied for the band for the next four years), Dick Christian (who became their unofficial manager) and Charlie Carnel (also ex-Cortez who would do the lights for the next five years and actual become an equal member of the band with an equal share of money).

Airblairxxx
01-06-2009, 12:58 PM
Dylan Bruno plays Colby, the jock FBI agent, on "NUMB3RS". So it's kind of ironic that he has a degree in environmental engineering from MIT.

Projammer
01-06-2009, 02:11 PM
I don't know if that's the case, I can't find any reference to back that up anywhere.

It may not have been Cooper. I do remember hearing once that one of the more controversial shock rockers was Juilliard schooled. Which was uprgaded from hearsay to confirmed when I later looked it up. Just drawing a complete blank at the moment as to who it was. I thought it was Alice Cooper, but it'll bug me until I work it out now.

aruvqan
01-06-2009, 02:23 PM
Jeff Foxworthy of "You might be a redneck..." fame, has a degree in engineering from Georgia Tech.

anybody else thinking that is the basis for a Hey Bubba, watch this joke?

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