From actors to politicians, from writers to tech moguls, the famous alumni of Princeton University are as varied as they are successful. So which famous faces were at Princeton before they went stratospheric?
When it comes to Princeton’s famous alumni, Jeff Bezos may need no introduction, but we’ll give it a go anyway. The founder and CEO of Amazon, Bezos is one of the richest people in the world, with a net worth of over $100 billion. What many people don’t know is that Bezos studied at Princeton University in the early 1980s, where he majored in electrical engineering and computer science.
While at Princeton, Bezos was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and graduated summa cum laude in 1986. He also served as the president of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space chapter at Princeton. Bezos has credited his time at Princeton as being instrumental in his success, stating that the skills he learned there have helped him throughout his career.
TV Stars Are Among Princeton’s Famous Alumni
Wentworth Miller is an actor, screenwriter, and producer who is best known for playing Michael Schofield in the television series Prison Break. Before streaming, the prison show was one of the first examples of truly binge-worthy TV, running for four seasons. Miller studied English literature at Princeton University, where he was a member of the a cappella group The Princeton Tigertones.
In addition to his acting career, Miller has also worked as a screenwriter and producer, and has been nominated for several awards for his work.
From one screen star to another, Brooke Shields is an actress, model, and author who got her start as a child model in the 1970s. She later went on to become a successful actress, starring in a number of popular movies and television shows including the Look Who’s Talking franchise and Cheers.
Shields studied at Princeton University in the late 1980s, where she majored in French literature. While there, Shields was a member of the Cap and Gown Club, one of the university’s oldest eating clubs. After graduating in 1987, Shields continued to pursue her acting career, and has since become one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood.
Susie Dent is an English lexicographer and etymologist who is a stalwart of UK TV show Countdown. Dent studied modern languages at Oxford University before going on to earn a master’s degree in German from Princeton.
While in the US, Dent focused on the history of the German language and wrote her thesis on the origins of the Germanic dialects. She later went on to become an expert in the field of lexicography and has published several books on the subject.
Former US president Woodrow Wilson studied at Princeton University in the late 19th century, where he majored in political science.
After graduating from Princeton, Wilson went on to earn a law degree from the University of Virginia and a PhD in political science from Johns Hopkins University. In short, he did the rounds. He later became a professor of political science at Princeton before entering politics and eventually becoming President of the United States.
Wilson’s tenure as President was marked by a number of significant accomplishments, including the establishment of the Federal Reserve System and the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
MacKenzie Scott is a philanthropist and the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Scott attended Princeton University in the 1980s and graduated with a degree in English literature. After her divorce from Bezos in 2019, Scott became one of the world’s wealthiest women, with a net worth of over $60 billion.
In 2020, Scott made headlines when she donated more than $4 billion to various charitable organizations across the United States. This massive donation was made as part of Scott’s ongoing commitment to give away a significant portion of her wealth to those in need. In total, Scott has donated more than $8 billion to charity, making her one of the most generous philanthropists in history.
Great Minds Were Molded At Princeton
John Nash was a brilliant mathematician and a Nobel laureate who attended Princeton University in the 1940s. Nash is best known for his work in game theory and his contributions to the field of economics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for his groundbreaking research in this area.
Nash’s life and career were also the subject of the critically acclaimed film A Beautiful Mind, which was released in 2001. The film, which starred Russell Crowe as Nash, chronicled his struggles with mental illness and his eventual recovery.
Alan Turing was a computer scientist and mathematician who attended Princeton University in the late 1930s. Of all Princeton’s famous alumni, Turing has arguably had the biggest impact on world events. Turing is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of computer science, and his work laid the groundwork for the modern-day computer.
During World War II, Turing played a crucial role in breaking the German Enigma code, which helped to shorten the war and save countless lives. Despite his contributions to the war effort, Turing was later persecuted for his homosexuality, which was illegal at the time. He was eventually convicted of gross indecency and forced to undergo chemical castration. Turing tragically took his own life in 1954 at the age of 41.
Ellie Kemper is an actress and comedian who attended Princeton in the early 2000s. Kemper is best known for her roles in popular television shows like The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
During her time at Princeton, Kemper was involved in various extracurricular activities, including improv comedy and theater. She also wrote for the university’s humor magazine, the Princeton Triangle Club.
Since graduating from Princeton, Kemper has gone on to become one of the most successful comedians in Hollywood. She has received multiple Emmy nominations and has also appeared in several films, including Bridesmaids and 21 Jump Street.
This list only scratches the surface when it comes to Princeton’s famous alumni. But we hope it shows you just what a broad range of people studied – and continue to study – there.