Seemingly "Ignorant" Celebrities With Advanced Degrees

A friend recently announced that he had “heard” that Dolph Lundgren, who is usually perceived as a slab of barely literate beef, to whom language seems foreign, actually has an advanced degree in Physics.

Is this true?

The friend further stated that that kid from “Dude, Where’s My Car?” (Goddamn my sieve-like memory for current “actors”) is a lettered Chemistry BIGSHOT, or somesuch title.

Hmm, is Keanu Reeves actually second only to Crick and Watson after all?

Does David Lee Roth hold a degree in some ancient literature?

Will Vanilla Ice’s research into molecular biology change the 21st century?

The last three are nonsense, of couse, but do name some seemingly “dumb” celebrities who are actually secretly quite bright in real life.


Sir Rhosis

Phoebe Buffay - Lisa Kudrow’s dumb blonde character. Kudrow graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.

I don’t know if he qualifies as seemingly ignorant, but Queen’s Brian May holds an honorary PhD in astronomy.

Ashton Kutcher does have a degree in Chemical Engineering, but speaking as someone who has one of those as well, I can vouch for the fact that it doesn’t neccesarily make you smart.

(Aside: I think Keanu Reeves is much smarter than he comes across. I don’t think he’s a particularly good actor, but he gets a bad rap as being dumb when I think he’s just reserved)

You laugh, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t hold any advanced degrees, but DLR is an incredibly intelligent, knowledgable, and articulate guy. Check out some of his writing if you ever get a chance–it has always surprised me.

Ray and Tom Magliozzi (AKA Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers) from NPR’s Car Talk both hold degrees from MIT: Ray has a degree in General Science, and Tom has degrees in both Chemical Engineering and Economics.

Actually, I just posted Roth’s name because he is perceived as dumb. I saw him on Carson or Letterman years ago, and was likewise blown away by his articulate, thoughtful persona away from the music stage.

Sir Rhosis

Actually, I don’t think Ashton Kutcher completed his undergraduate degree.

Dolph Lundgren received a master’s in chemical engineering. He had a Fulbright scholarship to attend MIT but began acting and never went to Boston.

David Duchovny has a master’s in English literature from Yale. His undergraduate degree was from Princeton.

Bob Denver’s “Gilligan” castmates have often asserted that unlike the hapless “little buddy,” he was a bookworm, knowledgeable in a wide variety of topics.

Sir Rhosis

Al Lewis (Grandpa on The Munsters) earned a Ph.D. in child psychology from Columbia University.

And yet when he was on celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, he couldn’t correctly identify which city the Duomo was located in. This floored me.
Cheech Marin, while I’m not sure he has a degree, is an extremely intelligent and well read person totally unlike his stoner alter-ego. (Tommy Chong seems to greatly resent Cheech’s transformation in recent years to a middle-aged Hispanic intellectual persona and in a bitchy comment on Dennis Miller last week stated that before he appears with him at a comedy festival later this year he’ll need to take a few days to “teach him how to be a Latino”- ah, Tommy- Cheech is from the L.A. barrio and is fluent in Spanish- he knows how to be Latino- it’s just not the alpha and omega of his existence.)

Porn star Ron Jeremy has a master’s in special education and actually worked as a teacher in New York.

I really shouldn’t have included the “advanced degrees” bit in my OP. Ignore it, and list very intelligent celebrities with dumb public personas.

Sir Rhosis

Morgan Fairchild apparently has an IQ of 154. I think Geena Davis is way up there as well.

Jayne Mansfield, the perennial dumb blonde, supposedly had a genius level IQ (though my source for that is Jayne Mansfield).

I’ve corresponded with Bob Denver before and he really is very intelligent and well read. So is the still beautiful Dawn Wells (though her character wasn’t stupid on the show so much as naive).

Carroll O’Connor was very intelligent and from a large family of well to do intellectuals. His “dingbat” on-screen wife Jean Stapleton is also well read, incredibly dignified and an operatically trained singer.

Uma Thurman often plays stoner and loser characters but is in fact the daughter of two Ph.D.s (her father Frank being a world renowned scholar on Buddhism). Renee Zellwegger has played crass coarse dim characters (most notably in Chicago & Nurse Betty but is the daughter of a Nobel prize nominee and by all accounts a brilliant person.

What’s cool about it is that it doesn’t even seem like there are two different “personas” at work, like the rock star is just a part that he plays or something. He’s genuinely an intellectual and genuinely a horny overindulged rock star, and somehow it’s all seamless, if that makes any sense.

He’s a fascinating guy, [sacrelige]even though I like Van Halen better with Sammy[/sacrelige].

Sorrell Booke, who played “Boss” Hogg on the Dukes of Hazzard as a stereotypical corrupt southern politician, graduated from high school at 16, went to Columbia University, then received an MFA from Yale, and was fluent in 5 languages, including Japanese and Russian, which came in handy during his two years of counter-intelligence work during the Korean War.

I’d actually prefer a criteria of some sort – it doesn’t have to be an advanced degree, but some sort of accomplishment. Appearing to be smart or articulate or, well, anything, is something a really good entertainer should be able to pull off. It doesn’t mean (but does not exclude) that they could actually become accomplished in some non-entertainment field.

Without meaning to hijack, I’d be interested in entertainers that are accomplished (not just articulate or knowledgeable) outside of entertainment. We can start a new thread if anyone is interested. …?

Kutcher studied biochemical engineering, not chemical engineering. I don’t know if there is a major difference but i’d assume the biochemical eng. stuff is more pharmacology and physiology oriented while chemical eng. is more industry oriented. I don’t know if it matters, but there you go.

Mike Judge, who created Beavis & Butthead has a B.A. in Physics.

Anthony Quinn, best remembered as a tough guy or as an illiterate but earthy Greek peasant (he was Mexican Irish in real life), was offered a scholarship to study architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright in his youth.

Will Smith frequently plays smartass homeboys but turned down a full scholarship to MIT to pursue music and acting.