The 30 Most Famous Yale Students Of All-Time
Recently we ran the feature Wall St. Cheat Sheet’s Most Famous Harvard Students of All-Time.
It was begging for a follow-up. Our friends at Business Insider delivered with the 30 Most Famous Yale Students of All-Time …
Eli Whitney (B.A. 1792)
From Wikipedia: Eli Whitney (December 8, 1765 – January 8, 1825) was an American inventor best known for inventing the cotton gin. This was one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South. Whitney’s invention made short staple cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery. Despite the social and economic impact of his invention, Whitney lost his profits in legal battles over patent infringement, closed his business and nearly filed for bankruptcy.
Samuel F. B. Morse (B.A. 1810)
From Wikipedia: Samuel Finley Breese Morse (27 April 1791 – 2 April 1872) was an American contributor to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs, co-inventor of the Morse code, and a painter of historic scenes.
Harvey Williams Cushing (B.A. 1891)
From Wikipedia: Harvey Williams Cushing, M.D. (April 8, 1869 – October 7, 1939), was an American neurosurgeon and a pioneer of brain surgery, and the first to describe Cushing’s syndrome. He is widely regarded as the greatest neurosurgeon of the 20th century and often called the “father of modern neurosurgery”.
Thornton Wilder (B.A. 1920)
From Wikipedia: Thornton Niven Wilder (April 17, 1897 – December 7, 1975) was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, one for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and two for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and a National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day.
Benjamin Spock (B.A. 1925)
From Wikipedia: Benjamin McLane Spock (May 2, 1903 – March 15, 1998) was an American pediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the biggest best-sellers of all time. Its revolutionary message to mothers was that “you know more than you think you do.”
Spock was the first pediatrician to study psychoanalysis to try to understand children’s needs and family dynamics. His ideas about childcare influenced several generations of parents to be more flexible and affectionate with their children, and to treat them as individuals, whereas the previous conventional wisdom had been that child rearing should focus on building discipline, and that, e.g., babies should not be “spoiled” by picking them up when they cried.
In addition to his pediatric work, Spock was an activist in the New Left and anti Vietnam War movements during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. At the time his books were criticized by Vietnam War supporters for allegedly propagating permissiveness and an expectation of instant gratifications that led young people to join the these movements a charge Spock denied. Spock also won an Olympic gold medal in rowing in 1924 while attending Yale University.
George H. W. Bush (B.A. 1948)
From Wikipedia: George Herbert Walker Bush (born June 12, 1924) was the 41st President of the United States (1989–1993). He was also Ronald Reagan’s Vice President (1981–1989), a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.
Bush was born in Massachusetts to Senator and New York Banker Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, at the age of 18, Bush postponed going to college and became the youngest aviator in the US Navy at the time. He served until the end of the war, then attended Yale University. Graduating in 1948, he moved his family to West Texas and entered the oil business, becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.
He became involved in politics soon after founding his own oil company, serving as a member of the House of Representatives, among other positions. He ran unsuccessfully for president of the United States in 1980, but was chosen by party nominee Ronald Reagan to be the vice presidential nominee; the two were subsequently elected. During his tenure, Bush headed administration task forces on deregulation and fighting drug abuse.
In 1988, Bush launched a successful campaign to succeed Reagan as president, defeating Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis. Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency; military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf at a time of world change; the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later. Domestically, Bush reneged on a 1988 campaign promise and after a struggle with Congress, signed an increase in taxes that Congress had passed. In the wake of economic concerns, he lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton.
Bush is the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, and Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. He is the last president to have been a World War II veteran.
William F. Buckley (B.A. 1950)
William Frank Buckley, Jr. (November 24, 1925 – February 27, 2008) was an American conservative author and commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episode of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing style was famed for its erudition, wit, and use of uncommon words.
George H. Nash, a historian of the modern American conservative movement, believed that Buckley was “arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century”. “For an entire generation he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure.” Buckley’s primary change to politics was the fusion of traditional American political conservatism with laissez-faire economic theory and anti-communism, laying the groundwork for the modern American conservatism of U.S. presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan.
Buckley wrote first God and Man at Yale (1951); among over fifty further books on writing, speaking, history, politics and sailing, were a series of novels featuring CIA agent Blackford Oakes. Buckley referred to himself as either a libertarian or conservative. He resided in New York City and Stamford, Connecticut. He was a practicing Roman Catholic, regularly attending the traditional Latin Mass in Connecticut.
Paul Newman, (DRA 1954)
From Wikipedia: Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008) was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and auto racing enthusiast. He won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in the 1986 Martin Scorsese film The Color of Money and eight other nominations, three Golden Globe Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy award, and many honorary awards. He also won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing, and his race teams won several championships in open wheel IndyCar racing.
Newman was a co-founder of Newman’s Own, a food company from which Newman donated all post-tax profits and royalties to charity. As of October 2008, these donations had exceeded US $280 million.
Harold Bloom (Ph.D. 1956)
From Wikipedia: Harold Bloom (born July 11, 1930) is an American writer and literary critic, currently Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his construction of unique but controversial theories of poetic influence, and for advocating an aesthetic approach to literature against feminist, Marxist, New Historicist, poststructuralist (deconstructive and semiotic) literary criticism. Bloom is a 1985 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.
Tom Wolfe (Ph.D. 1957)
From Wikipedia: Thomas Kennerly “Tom” Wolfe, Jr. (born March 2, 1931, although his Who’s Who entry gives his date of birth as March 2, 1930) is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Wilbur Ross (B.A. 1959)
From Wikipedia: Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. is an American investor known for restructuring failed companies in industries such as steel, coal, telecommunications, foreign investment and textiles. He is also known for buying up the companies and selling them putting thousands of people out of jobs. He specializes in leveraged buyouts and distressed businesses. In 2005, Forbes magazine listed Ross as one of the world’s billionaires for the first time. He was ranked #346 the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $1.7B. According to a recent New York Times article, he has been bottom-fishing in mortgages and mortgage companies. He apparently commands far greater sums than his net worth would suggest.Ross was born November 28, 1937 in Weehawken, New Jersey and grew up well off in suburban New Jersey. His father was a lawyer and his mother a schoolteacher. He serves on the board of advisors of Yale School of Management. His second wife was former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey Ross, whom he divorced in 2000.
Dick Cheney (1963… transferred out of B.A. program)
From Wikipedia: Richard Bruce “Dick” Cheney (born January 30, 1941) served as the 46th Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 under George W. Bush. He briefly served as Acting President of the United States on two occasions during which Bush underwent medical procedures.
Cheney was raised in Casper, Wyoming. He began his political career as an intern for Congressman William A. Steiger, eventually working his way into the White House during the Nixon and Ford administrations, where he served the latter as White House Chief of Staff. In 1978, Cheney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming; he was reelected five times, eventually becoming House Minority Whip. Cheney was selected to be the Secretary of Defense during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, holding the position for the majority of Bush’s term. During this time, Cheney oversaw the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, among other actions.
Out of office during the Clinton presidency, Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company from 1995 to 2000.
Bob Woodward (B.A. 1965)
From Wikipedia: Robert Upshur “Bob” Woodward (born March 26, 1943) is regarded as one of America’s preeminent investigative reporters and non-fiction authors. He has worked for The Washington Post since 1971 as a reporter, and is currently an associate editor of the Post. While a young reporter for The Washington PostCarl Bernstein; the two did much, but not all, of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal. These scandals led to numerous government investigations and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon. Gene Roberts, the former executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and former managing editor of The New York Times, has called the work of Woodward and Bernstein “maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.”
Oliver Stone (circa 1965… transferred out of B.A. program)
From Wikipedia: William Oliver Stone (born September 15, 1946) is an American film director and screenwriter. Stone came to prominence in the late 1980s and the early 1990s as a director with a series of films about the Vietnam War, in which he had participated as an American infantry soldier, and his work continues to focus frequently on contemporary political and cultural issues, often controversially. His work has earned him three Academy Awards. His first Oscar was for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978). He won Academy Awards for Directing Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), both of which were centered on the Vietnam War.
A notable feature of Stone’s directing style is the use of many different cameras and film formats, from VHS to 8 mm film to 70 mm film. He sometimes uses several formats in a single scene, as in Natural Born Killers (1994) and JFK (1991).
Stephen A. Schwarzman (B.A. 1969)
From Wikipedia: Stephen Allen Schwarzman (born February 14, 1947) is an American businessman and investor and the chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, the private-equity and financial advisory firm.
Ben Stein (JD 1970)
From Wikipedia: Benjamin Jeremy “Ben” Stein (born November 25, 1944) is an American actor, writer, lawyer, and commentator on political and economic issues. He attained early success as a speechwriter for American presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Later he entered the entertainment field and became an actor, comedian, and Emmy Award-winning game show host.
Stein has frequently written commentaries on economic, political, and social issues, along with financial advice to individual investors. He is the son of noted economist and writer Herbert Stein, who worked at the White House under President Nixon. His sister, Rachel, is also a writer. He is well known for his dry, monotonous way of speaking.
Meryl Streep (circa 1972 MFA)
From Wikipedia: Mary Louise “Meryl” Streep (born June 22, 1949) is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television, and film. She is widely regarded as one of the most talented and respected movie actors of the modern era.
Streep made her professional stage debut in 1971’s The Playboy of Seville, and her screen debut came in the made-for-television movie The Deadliest Season in 1977. In that same year, she made her film debut with Julia. Both critical and commercial success came soon with roles in The Deer Hunter (1978) and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), the former giving Streep her first Oscar nomination and the latter her first win. She later won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Sophie’s Choice (1982).
Streep has received 16 Academy Award nominations, winning two, and 25 Golden Globe nominations, winning seven, more nominations than any other actor in the history of either award. Her work has also earned her two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, four New York Film Critics Circle Awards, five Grammy Award nominations, a BAFTA award, an Australian Film Institute Award, and a Tony Award nomination.
Bill Clinton (J.D. 1973)
From Wikipedia: William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III, August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. At 46 he was the third-youngest president; only Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were younger when entering office. He became president at the end of the Cold War, and as he was born in the period after World War II, he is known as the first baby boomer president. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is currently the United States Secretary of State. She was previously a United States Senator from New York, and also candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Both are graduates of Yale Law School.
Clinton was described as a New Democrat and was largely known for the Third Way philosophy of governance that came to epitomize his two terms as president. His policies, on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and welfare reform, have been described as centrist. Clinton presided over the longest period of peace-time economic expansion in American history, which included a balanced budget and a federal surplus, a situation similar to the Roaring Twenties (the Coolidge administration) and the Fabulous Fifties (the Eisenhower administration) both comparable booms happened after each of the two world wars. The Congressional Budget Office reported a surplus of $236B in 2000, the last full year of Clinton’s presidency. On the heels of a failed attempt at health care reform with a Democratic Congress, Republicans won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. Two years later, in 1996, Clinton was re-elected and became the first member of the Democratic Party since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second full term as president. Later he was impeached for obstruction of justice, but was subsequently acquitted by the U.S. Senate.
Clinton left office with an approval rating at 66%, the highest end of office rating of any president since World War II. Since then, he has been involved in public speaking and humanitarian work. Clinton created the William J. Clinton Foundation to promote and address international causes such as treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and global warming.
In 2004, he released his autobiography My Life, and was involved in his wife Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign and subsequently in that of President Barack Obama. In 2009, he was named United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Clinton teamed with George W. Bush to form the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (J.D. 1973)
From Wikipedia: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton (pronounced /ˈhɪləri daɪˈæn ˈrɒdəm ˈklɪntən/; born October 26, 1947) is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. In the 2008 election, Clinton was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
A native of Illinois, Hillary Rodham attracted national attention in 1969 for her remarks as the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. She embarked on a career in law after graduating from Yale Law School in 1973. Following a stint as a Congressional legal counsel, she moved to Arkansas in 1974 and married Bill Clinton in 1975. Rodham cofounded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families in 1977 and became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978. Named the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979, she was twice listed as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992 with husband Bill as Governor, she successfully led a task force to reform Arkansas’s education system. She sat on the board of directors of Wal-Mart and several other corporations.
In 1994 as First Lady of the United States, her major initiative, the Clinton health care plan, failed to gain approval from the U.S. Congress. However, in 1997 and 1999, Clinton played a role in advocating the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act. Her years as First Lady drew a polarized response from the American public. The only First Lady to have been subpoenaed, she testified before a federal grand jury in 1996 due to the Whitewater controversy, but was never charged with wrongdoing in this or several other investigations during her husband’s administration. The state of her marriage was the subject of considerable speculation following the Lewinsky scandal in 1998.
After moving to the state of New York, Clinton was elected as a U.S. Senator in 2000. That election marked the first time an American First Lady had run for public office; Clinton was also the first female senator to represent the state. In the Senate, she initially supported the Bush administration on some foreign policy issues, including a vote for the Iraq War Resolution. She subsequently opposed the administration on its conduct of the war in Iraq and on most domestic issues. Senator Clinton was reelected by a wide margin in 2006. In the 2008 presidential nomination race, Hillary Clinton won more primaries and delegates than any other female candidate in American history, but narrowly lost to Senator Barack Obama. As Secretary of State, Clinton became the first former First Lady to serve in a president’s cabinet.
Clarence Thomas (J.D. 1974)
From Wikipedia: Clarence Thomas (born June 23, 1948) is an American jurist who has served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1991. Thomas is the second African American to serve on the Court, after Thurgood Marshall, whom he succeeded.
Thomas grew up in Georgia and was educated at the College of the Holy Cross and at Yale Law School. In 1974, he was appointed an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri and subsequently practiced law there in the private sector. In 1979, he became a legislative assistant to Missouri Senator John Danforth and in 1981 was appointed Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. In 1982, Thomas was appointed Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and served in that position until 1990, when President George H. W. Bush nominated him for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
After one year of service on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Bush nominated Thomas to fill the seat on the United States Supreme Court being vacated by Thurgood Marshall. Thomas’s confirmation hearings were bitter and intensely fought, centering around accusations that he had made sexually harassing comments to a subordinate at the EEOC, attorney Anita Hill. Thomas was ultimately confirmed by a vote of 52–48.
Since joining the Court, Thomas has taken a textualist approach to judging, seeking to uphold what he sees as the original meaning of the United States Constitution and statutes. He is generally viewed as among the most conservative members of the Court. Thomas has often approached federalism issues in a way that limits the power of the federal government and expands power of state and local governments. At the same time, Thomas’ opinions have generally supported a strong executive branch within the federal government.
Francis S. Collins (Ph.D. 1974)
From Wikipedia: Francis Sellers Collins (born April 14, 1950), M.D., Ph.D., is an American physician-geneticist, noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP) and described by the Endocrine Society as “one of the most accomplished scientists of our time”.  He currently serves as Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Collins has written a book about his Christian faith and founded, and was president of, the BioLogos Foundation before accepting the nomination to lead the NIH. On October 14, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Francis Collins to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Paul Krugman (B.A. Economics, 1974)
From Wikipedia: Paul Robin Krugman (pronounced /ˈkruːɡmən/; born February 28, 1953) is an American economist, columnist and author. He is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his contributions to New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography. He was voted sixth in a 2005 global poll of the world’s top 100 intellectuals by Prospect.
Jim Chanos (B.A. 1980)
From Wikipedia: James S. Chanos (born 1958 in Milwaukee) is an American hedge fund manager, and is president and founder of Kynikos Associates, a New York City investment company that is focused on short selling.
Jeff Van Gundy (circa 1980… transfered out of B.A. program)
From Wikipedia: Jeffrey W. “Jeff” Van Gundy (born January 19, 1962) is an American former basketball head coach. He coached most recently with the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets. Van Gundy attended Yale University, where he was cut from the basketball team. He transferred to Menlo College and ultimately graduated from New York’s Nazareth College (1985).
Jodie Foster (B.A. 1985 in literature, magna cum laude)
From Wikipedia: Alicia Christian “Jodie” Foster (born November 19, 1962) is an American actress, film director and producer.
Foster began acting in commercials at 3 years old, and her first significant role came in the 1976 film Taxi Driver as the preteen prostitute, Iris, for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1989 for playing a rape survivor in The Accused. In 1991, she starred in The Silence of the Lambs as Clarice Starling, a gifted FBI trainee, assisting in a hunt for a serial killer. This performance received international acclaim and her second Academy Award for Best Actress. She received her fourth Academy Award nomination for playing a backwoods hermit in Nell (1994). Other popular films include Maverick (1994), Contact (1997), Panic Room (2002), Flightplan (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Brave One (2007) and Nim’s Island (2008).
Foster’s films have spanned a wide variety of genres, from family films to horror. She has also won three Bafta Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a People’s Choice Award, and has received two Emmy nominations.
Anderson Cooper (B.A. 1989)
From Wikipedia: Anderson Hays Cooper (born June 3, 1967) is an American journalist, author, and television personality. He currently works as the primary anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360°. The program is normally broadcast live from a New York City studio; however, Cooper often broadcasts live on location for breaking news stories. He also frequently guest hosts on Live with Regis and Kelly.
Jennifer Connelly (circa 1990… transferred out of B.A. program)
From Wikipedia: Jennifer Lynn Connelly (born December 12, 1970) is an American film actress and former child model. Although starring as early as a teenager in films such as Once Upon a Time in America, Labyrinth and Career Opportunities, she gained critical acclaim following her work in the 1998 science fiction film Dark City, 2000 drama Requiem for a Dream, and the 2001 biopic A Beautiful Mind, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards.
Edward Norton (B.A. 1991)
From Wikipedia: Edward Harrison Norton (born August 18, 1969) is an American film actor, screenwriter and director. In 1996, his supporting role in the courtroom drama Primal Fear garnered him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Two years later, his lead role as a reformed white power skinhead in American History X earned a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor. His other films include period dramas such as Kingdom of Heaven (2005), The Illusionist (2006), and The Painted Veil (2006); and other notable films such as Rounders (1998), Fight Club (1999), 25th Hour (2002), Red Dragon (2002), and The Incredible Hulk (2008).
In addition to acting, Norton is also a writer and director. He made his directorial debut with the film Keeping the Faith (2000) and is slated to direct the film adaptation of the novel Motherless Brooklyn. Norton did uncredited work on the scripts for The Score, Frida, and The Incredible Hulk.
In his private life, Norton is an environmental and social activist. He is a member of the board of trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, a non-profit organization for developing affordable housing, founded by his grandfather, James Rouse. Norton is president of the American branch of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. He ran in the 2009 New York City Marathon to raise money for the Trust. He also raises money for charity through Crowdrise; a social networking community for volunteers and a micro-donations fundraising platform.
Claire Danes (circa 2000… transferred from B.A. program)
Claire Catherine Danes (born April 12, 1979) is an American actress, known for her role as Angela Chase in the television series My So-Called Life, and for starring in films such as Romeo + Juliet (as Juliet) and Stardust (as Yvaine). She has received a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination for My So-Called Life, and has also worked in theater and as a voice actor (Princess Mononoke).
Sarah Hughes (B.A. 2008)
From Wikipedia: Sarah Elizabeth Hughes (born May 2, 1985) is an American figure skater. She is the 2002 Olympic gold medalist and the 2001 World bronze medalist.