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Famous Grinnell College Alumni

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Updated October 13, 2018 6.9k views 76 items

List Rules People on this list must have gone to Grinnell College and be of some renown.

List of famous alumni from Grinnell College, with photos when available. Prominent graduates from Grinnell College include celebrities, politicians, business people, athletes and more. This list of distinguished Grinnell College alumni is loosely ordered by relevance, so the most recognizable celebrities who attended Grinnell College are at the top of the list. This directory is not just composed of graduates of this school, as some of the famous people on this list didn't necessarily earn a degree from Grinnell College.

This is a list that features graduates like Gary Cooper and Herbie Hancock.

This list answers the questions “Which famous people went to Grinnell College?” and “Which celebrities are Grinnell College alumni?”
1
Gary Cooper is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Actor

Age: Dec. at 60 (1901-1961)

Birthplace: Helena, Montana, United States of America

Gary Cooper (born Frank James Cooper; May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American actor. Known for his natural, authentic, understated acting style and screen performances, Cooper's career ...more

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#448 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #597 of 2,835 The Most Influential People of All Time #111 of 330 The Coolest Actors Ever

2
Herbie Hancock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Film Score Composer, Jazz Pianist, Songwriter

Age: 78

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Herbert Jeffrey Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an American pianist, keyboardist, bandleader, composer and actor. Hancock started his career with Donald Byrd. He shortly thereafter joined the ...more

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The Best Herbie Hancock Songs #1,225 of 2,179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,112 of 2,211 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

3
Robert Noyce is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Businessperson, Physicist, Inventor

Age: Dec. at 63 (1927-1990)

Birthplace: Burlington, Iowa

Robert Norton Noyce (December 12, 1927 – June 3, 1990), nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley," was an American physicist who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel ...more
4
Fred Hersch is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Jazz Pianist, Pianist, Composer

Age: 63

Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio

Fred Hersch (born October 21, 1955) is an American jazz pianist and educator. He has performed solo and led his own groups, including the Pocket Orchestra consisting of piano, trumpet, voice, ...more

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#77 of 163 The Greatest Jazz Pianists of All Time #39 of 77 The Best Jazz Pianists in the World

5
Walter Koenig is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Television director, Film Producer, Actor

Age: 82

Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois

Walter Marvin Koenig (; born September 14, 1936) is an American actor, writer, teacher, and director, known for his roles as Pavel Chekov in Star Trek and Alfred Bester in Babylon 5. He wrote ...more
6
Theodore E. Burton is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni

Age: Dec. at 78 (1851-1929)

Birthplace: Jefferson, Ohio, United States of America

Theodore Elijah Burton (December 20, 1851 – October 28, 1929) was a Republican politician from Ohio. He served in the United States House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
7
Edward Hirsch is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Poet, Literary critic, Essayist

Age: 69

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

Edward M. Hirsch (born January 20, 1950) is an American poet and critic who wrote a national bestseller about reading poetry. He has published nine books of poems, including The Living Fire: New ...more
8
James Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Politician, Lawyer

Age: Dec. at 85 (1835-1920)

Birthplace: Ayrshire, United Kingdom

James "Tama Jim" Wilson (August 16, 1835 – August 26, 1920) was a Scottish-American politician who served as United States Secretary of Agriculture for sixteen years during three ...more
9
Peter Coyote is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Screenwriter, Author, Actor

Age: 77

Birthplace: New York City, Manhattan, USA, New York

Peter Coyote (born Robert Peter Cohon; October 10, 1941) is an American actor, author, director, screenwriter and narrator of films, theatre, television and audiobooks. He is known for his work ...more

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#5 of 20 The Best Documentary Narrators #388 of 465 Celebrities You Didn't Know Use Stage Names #253 of 432 Famous Tall Men Over 6'2

10
Walter Jacobson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Journalist, Newsreader, TV Journalist

Age: 81

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Walter David Jacobson (born July 28, 1937) is a former Chicago television news personality and a current Chicago radio news personality. He currently provides opinion segments for WGN Radio AM ...more
11
Nathaniel Borenstein is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Businessperson, Entrepreneur, Computer scientist

Age: 61

Nathaniel S. Borenstein (born September 23, 1957) is an American computer scientist. He is one of the original designers of the MIME protocol for formatting multimedia Internet electronic mail ...more
12
Tom Cole is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Professor

Age: 69

Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, United States of America

Thomas Jeffery Cole (born April 28, 1949) is the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma's 4th congressional district, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party serving as Deputy ...more
13
James Norman Hall is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Memoirist, Novelist

Age: Dec. at 64 (1887-1951)

Birthplace: Colfax, Iowa

James Norman Hall (22 April 1887 – 5 July 1951) was an American writer best known for the Bounty Trilogy, three historical novels he wrote with Charles Nordhoff: Mutiny on the Bounty (1932), Men ...more
14
David Maxwell is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni

Age: 74

Birthplace: New York City, New York

David Maxwell (born December 2, 1944, New York City) served as the 12th president of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa from 1999 until 2015. He is the son of jazz trumpeter Jimmy Maxwell.
15
Mary Sue Coleman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Professor

Age: 75

Mary Sue Coleman (born October 2, 1943) is the President of the Association of American Universities (AAU). She was the 13th President of the University of Michigan. In 2009, she was named one ...more
16
Hap Moran is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
American football player

Age: Dec. at 93 (1901-1994)

Birthplace: Belle Plaine, Iowa

Francis Dale "Hap" Moran (July 31, 1901 – December 30, 1994) was a collegiate and professional American football player. He played mainly at halfback for Carnegie Tech (1922), Grinnell ...more
17
Zander Cannon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Zander Cannon Cartoonist

Age: 46

Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts

Alexander Cannon (born November 1, 1972) is an American cartoonist, known for his work on books such as Top 10, Smax and Kaijumax.
18
John Garang is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Politician, Rebel

Age: Dec. at 60 (1945-2005)

Birthplace: Jonglei, South Sudan

John Garang de Mabior (23 June 1945 – 30 July 2005) was a Sudanese politician and revolutionary leader. From 1983 to 2005, he led the Sudan People's Liberation Army during the Second Sudanese ...more
19
Thomas Cech is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Chemist

Age: 71

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

Thomas Robert Cech (born December 8, 1947) is an American chemist who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Sidney Altman, for their discovery of the catalytic properties of RNA. Cech ...more
20
David Mura is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Performer, Poet, Novelist

Age: 67

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

David Mura (born 1952) is an American author, poet, novelist, playwright, critic and performance artist whose writings explore the themes of race, identity and history. In 2018, Mura published a ...more
21
Paul Gardner is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Legislator

Age: 52

Birthplace: Glen Cove, New York

Paul Gardner (born 1967) is a Minnesota politician and a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who represented District 53A, which includes all or portions of the northern ...more
22
Harry Hopkins is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Politician

Age: Dec. at 56 (1890-1946)

Birthplace: Sioux City, Iowa

Harry Lloyd Hopkins (August 17, 1890 – January 29, 1946) was an American social worker, the 8th Secretary of Commerce, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's closest advisor on foreign policy ...more
23
Jesse Macy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Historian, Political Science

Age: Dec. at 77 (1842-1919)

Birthplace: Indiana

Jesse Macy (June 21, 1842 – November 2, 1919) was an American political scientist and historian of the late 19th and early 20th century, specializing in the history of American political ...more
24
Alan Wheat is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni

Age: 67

Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States of America

Alan Dupree Wheat (born October 16, 1951) is an American politician from the state of Missouri.
25
Joseph N. Welch is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Grinnell College Alumni
Actor, Lawyer

Age: Dec. at 70 (1890-1960)

Birthplace: USA, Primghar, Iowa

Joseph Nye Welch (October 22, 1890 – October 6, 1960) was an American lawyer who served as the chief counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation for Communist activities ...more