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A list of notable Michigan college graduates and dropouts 

School's out

It's long been said that one of Michigan's biggest exports are its graduates — and, in fact, many of Michigan's college graduates have gone on to become household names, both at home and nationally. Some stuck around, some got the hell out of here, and some of the state's biggest luminaries never even finished college. Here's a brief overview of some names you should know.

A number of notable actors graduated from U-M. Ann B. Davis ('48) played The Brady Bunch's Alice, James Earl Jones ('55) is perhaps better known as the voice of Darth Vader, we loved Lucy Liu ('90) in Kill Bill, and Darren Criss ('09) plays Blaine Anderson on Glee.

It's nearly impossible to do anything on a computer without interacting with something a U-M graduate helped make. Larry Page ('95) co-founded of Google, Jim Buckmaster ('90) is CEO of Craigslist, Richard Costolo ('85) is CEO of Twitter, Tony Fadell ('91) invented the iPod, and Thomas Knoll ('84) was one of the original developers of Adobe Photoshop.

In literature and the media, notable U-M graduates include author Arthur Miller ('38), Onion editor-in-chief Rob Siegel ('93), CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta ('90), and right-wing asshole Ann Coulter ('88).

President Gerald Ford ('35) attended U-M, as did Gov. Rick Snyder ('77). Some infamous U-M graduates include Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian ('52) and Theodore Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber ('67).

All three of the astronauts on 1971 Apollo 15 lunar landing attended the University of Michigan. Many U-M alums will proudly state that the crew left a U-M flag on the moon, but this is, unfortunately, a common misconception.

U-M has some great dropouts, too — Saturday Night Live's Gilda Radner, rocker Iggy Pop, Queen of Pop Madonna, New Yorker editor William Shawn, and Dave Coulier (aka Full House's Joey) among them. Filmmaker Michael Moore attended U-M's Flint campus for one year. Real estate developer Alfred Taubman, the inventor of the modern mall, dropped out of U-M Ann Arbor — but he must have had fond memories of his time there, as he pledged $56 million to the school in 2012.

Wayne State alums include Quicken Loans top brass Dan Gilbert ('87), Arrested Development patriarch Jeffrey Tambor ('69), former Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson ('49), former Detroit mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. ('88), radio personality and voice actor Casey Kasem ('58), film critic Elvis Mitchell ('80), lawyer Sam Bernstein ('68), actor Chad Everett ('60), musician Sixto Rodriguez ('81), and anchor Hugh Downs of ABC's 20/20 ('41) — among many others.

Notable WSU dropouts include actress Lily Tomlin, Third Man Records' Ben Blackwell, and SNL actor Tim Meadows.

Michigan also has plenty of important citizens who never even went to college — among them Henry Ford, Berry Gordy, Jr., Jimmy Hoffa, Mike Ilitch, Eminem, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker, Malcolm X and Stevie Wonder.

Who'd we miss? Sound off in the comments.

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April 8, 2020


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