Department of English at Illinois State University

Famous English Majors

  • Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
  • Alan Alda (actor, writer)
  • Russell Baker (journalist)
  • Dave Barry (humorist, writer, actor)
  • Joy Behar (writer, comedienne, co-host of "The View")
  • Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (television writer/producer "Designing Women", "Evening Shade")
  • Gwendolyn Brooks (“We Real Cool”)
  • Carol Browner (head of the Environmental Protection Agency)
  • Edward Burns (actor, director, producer, writer)
  • Brett Butler (actress, writer, comedienne)
  • James Cameron (director, editor, producer, screenwriter of "Titanic")
  • Johnny Carson (talk show host)
  • Chevy Chase (comedian, actor, writer)
  • Tom Clancy (writer)
  • Mario Cuomo (former governor of New York)
  • Joan Cusack (actress)
  • Matt Damon (actor, screenwriter)
  • Vin Diesel (actor, director, producer, screenwriter)
  • David Duchovny (actor, "X-Files")
  • Michael Eisner (Walt Disney CEO)
  • Harrison Ford (actor)
  • Jodi Foster (actress, filmmaker)
  • Kathryn Fuller (World Wildlife Fund CEO)
  • A. Bartlett Giamatti (President, Yale University and Commissioner of Baseball)
  • Allen Ginsberg (“Howl”)
  • Heather Graham (actress, model)
  • Cathy Guisewite (cartoonist of "Cathy")
  • Mary Hart (co-host of "Entertainment Tonight")
  • Joseph Heller (Catch 22)
  • Don Henley (singer, songwriter, musician, environmental activist)
  • David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly)
  • Chris Isaak (songwriter, singer)
  • Famke Janssen (actress, model)
  • Catherine Keener (actress)
  • Stephen King (novelist)
  • Kris Kristofferson (singer, songwriter, musician, actor)
  • Tommy Lee Jones (actor)
  • John Mahoney (actor, Marty on "Frasier")
  • Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman)
  • Toni Morrison (Beloved)
  • Paul Newman (actor, food entrepreneur)
  • Joyce Carol Oates (You Must Remember This)
  • Conan O'Brien (talk show host, writer)
  • Randy Owen (singer, songwriter, musician)
  • Joe Paterno (football coach, Penn State)
  • David Hyde Pierce (actor who plays Niles on "Frasier")
  • Christopher Reeve (actor, writer, director)
  • Sally Ride (astronaut)
  • Geoffrey Rush (actor, director, playwright, musician)
  • Susan Sarandon (actress)
  • Fred Savage (actor from "The Wonder Years")
  • Diane Sawyer (broadcast journalist)
  • Martin Scorsese (director)
  • Marty Shottenheimer (Former coach of Kansas City Chiefs)
  • Paul Simon (songwriter, singer)
  • Sting (singer, songwriter, musician, actor, environmental activist)
  • Steven Spielberg (filmmaker)
  • Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Geisel (children's author)
  • Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club)
  • Brandon Tartikoff (television executive)
  • Clarence Thomas (U.S. Supreme Court Justice)
  • Emma Thompson (actress, producer, screenwriter)
  • Grant Tinker (TV Executive and Producer)
  • John Updike (Witches of Eastwick, Rabbit at Rest)
  • James Van Der Beek (actor from "Dawson's Creek")
  • Harold Varmus (Nobel laureate in medicine, Director of National Institute of Health)
  • Barbara Walters (broadcast journalist)
  • Sigourney Weaver (actress)
  • Eudora Welty (“A Worn Path”)
  • Pete Wilson (former governor of California)
  • Reese Witherspoon (actress)
  • Bob Woodward (journalist, writer of All the President’s Men)
  • Renee Zellweger (actress)

Source Note - This list was compiled in 2006 by Mark Vegter from the following sources: English Department of Mississippi State University, English Major's Hall of Fame at California State University, Bakersfield, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.