12 famous people you didn’t know went to UW-Madison

October 17, 2018 By Kayla Huynh

Homecoming is an occasion often involving food, friends and football — but it’s also a time to welcome Badger alumni back to campus. 

With more than 427,000 alumni living around the world, it’s no surprise that UW–Madison graduates often go on to do great things. And although it’s widely known that UW–Madison has a long list of notable alumni, some are unaware of who they actually are.

In honor of homecoming, here is a list of 12 famous people that were once students at UW–Madison — you may be surprised at what you find out!

Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh, a UW–Madison graduate and American fashion designer, created the design for the first-ever limited edition of The Red Shirt.

Before Virgil Abloh achieved legend status in the high-end fashion world as Kanye West’s creative director, designer for his brand Off-White, and most recently the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, he was a student at UW–Madison.

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009.

Yes, the former Vice President of the United States was a Badger! He started his doctoral studies at UW–Madison in 1968.

Laurel Clark

Laurel Clark was a NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle mission specialist.

Clark received both a bachelor and doctorate degree from UW–Madison. She was a NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle mission specialist, who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy. 

Joan Cusack

Who knew that the person behind the voice we always heard growing up — Jessie from “Toy Story” — is a former Badger? Cusack is another famous alumna of UW–Madison, who graduated in 1984.

Rich Dahm

While attending the university in the late ‘80s, Dahm was one of the first writers for what is now known as the satirical news site “The Onion.” Later, he worked as a co-executive producer and head writer for “The Colbert Report.”

Lorraine Hansberry

Attending UW–Madison in the 1950s, Hansberry was known to be politically active and helped to integrate one of the university’s dormitories. She later went on to write the famous play “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Anders Holm

UW alumni Anders Holm points to his plaque and quote at Alumni Park, which reads “Consider what people think of you, but don’t be afraid of what people think.” Photo by Emily Hamer

Holm graduated UW–Madison in 2003 and was even a member of the swim team. He was one of the stars in the raunchy “Comedy Central” show “Workaholics.” Making a visit to campus to screen his Netflix movie, Holm said “you can’t beat” sitting by the Terrace, especially when the sun comes out.

Jane Kaczmarek

Kaczmarek was a theater major at UW–Madison, who didn’t let her degree go to waste — she went on to play the character of Lois in the television series “Malcolm in the Middle.”

Kay Koplovitz

After receiving a degree in communication arts from UW–Madison in 1967, Koplovitz put her studies to good use. She became the first woman to head a television network as the founder and former CEO of USA Network.

Steve Marmel

Marmel is a television writer and producer of shows often familiar to the ‘90s generation, including “The Fairly Odd Parents,” “Danny Phantom,” “Family Guy,” “Yin Yang Yo!”  and “Sonny with a Chance.” He graduated from UW–Madison in 1988.

Jill Soloway

Jill Soloway’s show “Transparent” won two Emmy awards.

Jill Soloway — who identifies as non-binary and prefers the third-person plural pronoun — is a creator, writer, executive producer and director of “Transparent,” the widely praised Amazon series. The comedy-drama features three adult children responding to their father’s revelation that he’s transitioning from male to female. They graduated from UW–Madison in 1987.

Lev Spiro

Spiro is yet another Badger in Hollywood, who has a long list of shows that he has directed for television and has even won Emmy awards for. Some episodes he has contributed to are on shows like “Orange is the New Black,” “Modern Family, “Gilmore Girls” and “Arrested Development.”