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Ten Badgers You Didn’t Know Were Badgers

The UW has its fair share of prominent alumni whom we’re proud to claim as Badgers. Did you know that these 10 Badgers walked the same halls that you did?

UW-Madison campus aerial photo.

The UW has its fair share of prominent alumni that we’re proud to claim as Badgers. Did you know that these 10 Badgers walked the same halls as you?

1. Arthur C. Nielsen Sr.’18

Arthur Nielsen graduated as valedictorian in 1918, earning his degree in electrical engineering. He was also captain of the tennis team, and he and his wife later donated the Nielsen Tennis Stadium to campus. Just five years after graduating, Nielsen founded the A. C. Nielsen Company to assess machine performance. Eventually, he reinvented the firm to measure food and drug sales, which morphed into measuring radio and television audiences. Today the Nielsen Ratings are perhaps the most popular way to evaluate the viewership of television programs and commercials.

2. Walter Mirisch ’42

Walter Mirisch came to the UW from New York City. A member of Hillel, he graduated in 1942 with a history degree, and one year later, he graduated from Harvard’s Graduate School of Business Administration. He soon became a household name as a prominent filmmaker, producing such films as West Side Story, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Magnificent Seven. Mirisch has received an Oscar, a Golden Globe, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, to name a few. He is also a proud lifetime member of the Wisconsin Alumni Association!

3. Jerry Bock ’48

After growing up in Queens, New York, Jerrold “Jerry” Bock came to the UW, where he wrote his first musical: a show about Paul Bunyan called Big As Life that toured across the state and in Chicago. After graduating, Bock met lyricist Larry Holofcener while writing television revues, leading to Bock’s Broadway debut in 1955 with To Catch a Star. He later met lyricist Sheldon Harnick, with whom we wrote the Tony-winning Fiorello! (1959) and Fiddler on the Roof (1964).

4. Gena Rowlands x’51

Before Madison-native Virginia “Gena” Rowlands rose to stardom, she attended the University of Wisconsin. She left in 1950, just shy of graduating, to attend New York City’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Shortly thereafter, she starred on Broadway in The Seven Year Itch and made guest appearances on TV shows such as Robert Montgomery Presents and Studio One. She made her film debut in 1958 in The High Cost of Loving, then hit it big in 1967 on ABC’s Peyton Place. In total, she has been nominated for two Oscars, nine Emmys, and eight Golden Globes. She’s received numerous awards, including a 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and an Honorary Academy Award, also in 2015.

5. Dick Cheney PhDx’68

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wyoming, former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, moved to Madison to pursue their doctorates. Lynne earned a Ph.D. in English in 1970, but Dick Cheney was a dissertation short of finishing. Instead, he took a fellowship with Wisconsin Republican congressman Bill Steiger. Dick Cheney then moved to Washington, serving as Gerald Ford’s chief of staff, six terms in Congress, as secretary of defense under George H. W. Bush, and then as George W. Bush’s vice president.

6. Errol Morris ’69

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris left his East Coast roots to attend the UW. He earned his bachelor’s in history in 1969, then bounced among different graduate programs. He studied the history of science at Princeton until 1972, then enrolled as a philosophy Ph.D. candidate at Berkeley for a few more years. He started working on a documentary about Ed Gein, the notorious Wisconsin serial killer, but he never finished it. In 1981, Morris’s first film, Gates of Heaven, was released. Film critic Roger Ebert put it on his all-time bests list, and Morris launched into a successful career. In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate from UW–Madison.

7. Peter Greenberg ’72

Emmy-wining journalist Peter Greenberg credits his career success to UW–Madison. As a student, he wrote for the Daily Cardinal and was hired by Newsweek as a freelancer. Today Greenberg is the travel editor for CBS News and the host of Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio, a nationally syndicated show that’s broadcast from a different location each week. In 2013, he became a distinguished scholar for the UW, hosting special programs and guest lecturing within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

8. Greta Van Susteren ’76

Appleton, Wisconsin, native Greta Van Susteren, the former Fox News anchor and host of On the Record, double-majored in geography and economics at UW–Madison. Upon graduation, she earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center in 1979. She began her television career during the O. J. Simpson trial as a legal analyst for CNN. In February 2002, her show On the Record debuted on Fox News. Van Susteren hosted the show until her departure in September 2016.

9. Joan Cusack ’84

Born in New York City and raised in Evanston, Illinois, the award-winning actress Joan Cusack came to UW–Madison to study English. She began her film career while she was still a student, appearing in films that included Sixteen Candles (1984). After graduation, she moved back to New York City to join Saturday Night Live. She went on to have leading roles in films such as Working Girl, Runaway Bride, and the Toy Story series. She has been nominated for two Oscars, seven American Comedy Awards (won three), and five Emmys.

10. Anders Holm ’03

Anders Holm may be more well known as a Badger since he gave the university’s May commencement speech in 2013. Like Cusack, Holm was also raised in Evanston, Illinois. A member of the UW swim team, he majored in history and graduated in 2003. Alongside comedians Adam DeVine, Kyle Newacheck, and Blake Anderson, Holm created Comedy Central’s Workaholics, which is entering its seventh and final season. Holm has also starred in several movies, including The Intern and How to Be Single. In the fall of 2016, he returned to campus as the RED Talk speaker.

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