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Famous Northern Illinois University Alumni

Updated July 22, 2019 16.2k views116 items

List RulesPeople on this list must have gone to Northern Illinois University and be of some renown.

List of famous alumni from Northern Illinois University, with photos when available. Prominent graduates from Northern Illinois University include celebrities, politicians, business people, athletes and more. This list of distinguished Northern Illinois University alumni is loosely ordered by relevance, so the most recognizable celebrities who attended Northern Illinois University 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 Northern Illinois University.

Alumni include Maria Kanellis, Robert Zemeckis and more.

This list answers the questions “Which famous people went to Northern Illinois University?” and “Which celebrities are Northern Illinois University alumni?”
  • 1
    Wrestler, Singer-songwriter


    BirthplaceOttawa, Illinois, United States of America

    Mary Louis Kanellis-Bennett (born February 25, 1982) is an American professional wrestler, professional wrestling manager, actress, model and singer currently signed to WWE under the ring name Maria...  more
  • 2
    Comedian, Television producer


    BirthplaceOak Park, Illinois, USA

    Daniel Louis Castellaneta (; born October 29, 1957) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian and screenwriter, best known for his long-running role as Homer Simpson on the Fox Broadcasting Company...  more

    #204 of 349 The Best TV Actors And Actresses Of All Time#8 of 133 The All-Time Best Voice Actors#49 of 76 All The Celebrities Who Call Chicago Home

  • 3
    Publisher, Political writer


    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

    Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (; born September 11, 1971), often known by his username and former military nickname "Kos" ( KOHZ), is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos, a blog focusing on liberal and...  more
  • 4
    Record producer, Songwriter


    BirthplaceJoliet, Illinois, United States of America

    James Joseph Chamberlin (born June 10, 1964) is an American drummer and record producer. He is best known as the drummer for the alternative rock band The Smashing Pumpkins. Following the 2000...  more
  • 5
    Pilot, Television director


    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, United States of America

    Robert Lee Zemeckis (; born May 14, 1952) is an American director, film producer and screenwriter frequently credited as an innovator in visual effects. He first came to public attention in the 1980s...  more

    #16 of 250 The Greatest Living Directors, Ranked#13 of 120 The Best Comedy Directors in Film History#85 of 149 The Greatest Hollywood Screenwriters Of All-Time, Ranked

  • 6
    American football player

    AgeDec. at 60 (1950-2010)

    BirthplaceBerwyn, Illinois

    Tom Wittum (January 11, 1950 – January 22, 2010) was an American football player. He had a 5-year career in the National Football League from 1973 to 1977 as a punter. He played in two Pro Bowls as a...  more
  • 7


    BirthplaceRochelle, Illinois, United States of America

    Joan Allen (born August 20, 1956) is an American actress. She began her career with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1977, won the 1984 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play for And a...  more

    #49 of 188 The Greatest Actresses Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)#245 of 253 The Best American Actresses Working Today#168 of 322 The Greatest American Actresses Of All Time

  • 8
    American football player


    BirthplaceManitowoc, Wisconsin

    Douglas Free (born January 16, 1984) is a former offensive tackle in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Northern Illinois University and was drafted by...  more
  • 9

    AgeDec. at 58 (1945-2004)

    BirthplacePark Ridge, Illinois, USA

    Caroline Louise "Carrie" Snodgress (October 27, 1945 – April 1, 2004) was an American actress. She is best remembered for her role in the film Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970), for which she was...  more
  • 10


    Roger Margason, who used the pseudonym of Dorien Grey, was an openly gay American author, (born in Northern Illinois). Margason served in the U.S. Navy and graduated from Northern Illinois University...  more
  • 11


    BirthplaceRockford, Illinois

    John P. Sall (born 1948) is an American billionaire businessman and computer software developer, who co-founded SAS Institute and created the JMP statistical software. Sall grew up in Rockford,...  more
  • 12
    Software Engineer


    BirthplacePeoria, Illinois

  • 13
    Commentator, Public intellectual


    BirthplaceIndependence, Missouri

    Will Wilkinson (born 1973) is an American writer who currently serves as Vice President of Policy at the Niskanen Center. Until August 2010, he was a research fellow at the Cato Institute where he...  more
  • 14
    American football player


    BirthplaceWaukegan, Illinois

    Michael Turner (born February 13, 1982) is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round of the...  more

    #889 of 1,323 The Best Football Players Ever#130 of 206 The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time#20 of 176 The Best Atlanta Falcons of All Time

  • 15
    American football player


    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Garrett Wolfe (born August 17, 1984) is a former American football running back. He was drafted by the Bears in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played his college football at Northern...  more
  • 16
    American football player


    BirthplaceEvanston, Illinois

    Justin Morgan McCareins (born December 1, 1978) is a former American football wide receiver in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL...  more
  • 17
    Speed Skater

    AgeDec. at 80 (1929-2009)

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Kenneth "Ken" Charles Henry (January 7, 1929 – March 1, 2009) was a speed skater from the United States....  more
  • 18
    Politician, Lobbyist


    BirthplaceAurora, Illinois, United States of America

    John Dennis Hastert (; born January 2, 1942) is a former American politician who represented Illinois's 14th congressional district from 1987 to 2007 and served as the 51st Speaker of the United...  more
  • 19
    Military Historian, Soldier

    AgeDec. at 65 (1946-2011)

    BirthplaceAldridge, Staffordshire, England, UK

    Edward Richard Holmes, CBE, TD, VR, JP (29 March 1946 – 30 April 2011), known as Richard Holmes, was a British military historian, known for his many television appearances. He was co-director of...  more
  • 20
    American football player


    BirthplaceAbilene, Texas

    Hollis Thomas, Jr. (born January 10, 1974) is a former American football defensive tackle. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 1996. He played college football at...  more
  • 21
    American football player


    BirthplaceCarol Stream, Illinois

    Ryan Edwin Diem (born July 1, 1979) is a former American football offensive lineman who played his entire professional career for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League. Diem was...  more
  • 22
    American football player


    BirthplaceSan Antonio, Texas

    Samuel George Hurd, III (born April 24, 1985) is a former American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears. He played college football at...  more
  • 23
    Editor, Civil engineer


    BirthplaceEvergreen Park, Illinois

    Timothy Patrick Marshall (born October 17, 1956) is an American structural and forensic engineer as well as meteorologist, concentrating on damage analysis, particularly that from wind and other...  more
  • 24
    American football player


    BirthplaceLong Grove, Illinois

    Bradley Ryan Cieslak (; born July 1, 1982) is a former American football tight end. He was signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He played college football at Northern...  more
  • 25

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    George O'Meara is Senior Vice President of Cisco Services for the US and Canada. He leads a diverse organization with responsibilities for technical and advanced services sales, field marketing,...  more