Celebrities who participated in the Olympic Games

Which people who have become famous in other fields participated in the Olympic Games? I know of General Patton who competed in the modern pentathlon 1912 and King Olav of Norway who had won a gold medal in Sailing 1928 before he became king. Prince Albert II of Monaco competed several times in the bobsled. Ralph Metcalfe won several medals in running before serving in the Congress. There are surely other nobles who participated but I’m curious about any people who are famous in other fields.

Well, Cathy Rigby (1972 Olympian) and Mary Lou Retton both starred in Peter Pan on Broadway. In fact, quite a few people went from the Olympics to acting (nothing new about this; Sonja Henie did it in the late 1930s), although it’s hard to find anybody that did anything other than cameos.

How about the other way around? Hillary Wolf, who played Kevin’s sister in the first two Home Alone movies, later represented the USA in judo in 1996 (and I think 2000 as well).
(Before anyone says “Geena Davis did the same thing in archery,” Davis attempted to qualify, but never actually made an Olympic team.)

Dr. Benjamin Spock (the pediatrician, not the Vulcan) was a member of the 1924 U.S. gold medal winning Olympic rowing team.

Actor, Robert Stack. Olympic Skeet Shooting gold medalist.

Bruce Jenner: World’s Greatest Athlete to reality TV doormat on The Kardashians.

And now I remember of course Johnny Weissmuller who played Tarzan in several movies and won quite a few medals in the 1920s.

Princess Anne participated in equestrian and it was remarkable because she did not have to undergo any sex determination tests.

Before or after acting? Plenty of Olympic athletes have gone on to fame in entertainment, sports, and other activities.

Also, it would make a big difference how well they did. As you go back in time, the average collegiate athlete had a much better chance of making an Olympic team than now where you often need a lifetime of training to make the grade.

Former Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell competed in judo at the 1964 games in Tokyo. He got injured and did not medal. He was s U.S. champion in 1961, 1962, and 1963.

They did, however, have to test to rule out her being a horse…

NFL running back Herschel Walker competed in two-man bobsled in the 1992 Winter Olympics (while he was an active NFL player).

Walker also tried out for, but failed to make, the Olympic track team (relay), I think while he was in college.

Roger Bannister participated in the 1952 Olympics, but didn’t actually win anything. He broke the four-minute-mile barrier at an intercollegiate meet.

After winning two medals in swimming in 1928 and 1932, Buster Crabbe became a famous actor.

In Canada, Otto Jelinek took part in the figure skating competition in 1960 and later became a minister in the federal cabinet.

As a teenage boy, I spent many hours alone in my bedroom, shooting skeet.

That reminds me: British Olympian distance runner Seb Coe has been in Parliament since 1992.

The team captain was one of the (lesser-known) Rockefellers:


Bill Bradley was a pretty famous basketball player and Olympic Gold Medalist, but he was also pretty famous as a politician.

He also delayed going to the NBA because he thought being a Rhodes Scholar was pretty important.

Geena Davis made the 2000 Sydney Olympics team in archery.

See post #2 - she did not actually make the team. Per Wikipedia, she placed 24th out of 300 in semifinals competition.

Another olympic non contestant. Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden fame almost made it to the British fencing team.