46 famous (and infamous) University of Washington graduates and one-ti…

Named the eighth best university in the world by U.S. News and World Report, Seattle’s University of Washington has done it’s fair proportion of cranking out high-achieving students.

Some have gone on to be great researchers, astronauts and inventors, while others have found fame and fortune in Hollywood as actors or musicians. And then there’s some who attained notoriety for less, shall we say, “positive” careers or endeavors.

But overall, Husky alumni are nevertheless in good company.

From local celebrities to noticeable government figures and successful restaurateurs, here’s a look at 45 of the most famous UW students who might have graduated in your class or your parent’s class.

Ken Jennings attends the ABC Television’s Winter Press Tour 2020 at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 08, 2020 in Pasadena, California.

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1. Ken Jennings

While born in Edmonds, Jennings attended UW during his freshman year before heading off to Brigham Young University.

There, he was a member of the Quiz Bowl team, which likely prepared him to become the most successful contestant ever on the game show “Jeopardy!” in 2004, when he won 74 games in a row. In all, Jennings has taken in more than $3 million in “Jeopardy!” winnings.

He briefly served as a guest great number for the show following the death of Alex Trebek.

Rainn Wilson attends the “Blackbird” premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 06, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.

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2. Rainn Wilson

Famous for playing Dwight Schrute on “The Office,” Wilson was born in Seattle and attended Shorecrest High School and the University of Washington where he studied drama. He graduated in 1986.

He remains a devoted Seahawks fan and already discussed the 2020 draft with fellow Seattle native and UW alum Joel McHale.

Hope Solo #1 of the United States looks on after winning a match against Germany in the 2016 SheBelieves Cup at FAU Stadium on March 9, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida.

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3. Hope Solo

Former Husky star Hope Solo has gone on to be the goalkeeper for the Seattle Reign and play for the United States in the World Cup and Olympics. She attended the university from 1999 to 2002.

Saxophonist Kenny G performs during his turn up at Starlight Bowl on July 12, 2019 in Burbank, California.

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4. Kenny G

Known as Kenny Gorlick — to his mother, at the minimum— this sax master might just be the Emerald City’s most prolific musician. Ironically enough, he had his first jazz solo — and first kiss — on Franklin High School grounds and later earned a degree from UW in 1978.

He took the smooth-jazz world by storm with his serene saxophone stylings.

Fred MacMurray (1908-1991) and Frances Farmer (1914 – 1970) characterize in a scene from the newspaper drama ‘Exclusive’, directed by Alexander Hall for Paramount.

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5. Frances Farmer

Born in Seattle, Farmer graduated from UW in 1935 with a degree in drama and launched into a career in theater.

While she found success in films like “Toast of New York” and “Rhythm on the Range,” her career was plagued with scrutiny over her struggle with mental illness. In a memoir she alleged harsh physical and sexual abuse happened to her while she was at Western State Hospital.

She’s been forever immortalized in the biopic “Frances,” and the Nirvana song, “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee addresses a news conference about the coronavirus sudden increase Monday, March 16, 2020, in Seattle.

Elaine Thompson/AP

6. Jay Inslee

The current three-term governor of Washington, Inslee attended Seattle’s Ingraham High School and played basketball and football. While he began his studies at Stanford, he ultimately moved back Washington to study economics at UW.

He graduated in 1973 and went on to serve in the state house, then U.S. House before being elected a governor in 2012.

Anna Faris attends the premiere of Lionsgate and Pantelion Film’s “Overboard” at Regency Village Theatre on April 30, 2018 in Westwood, California.

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7. Anna Faris

Faris grew up in Edmonds and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in English literature in 1999. She attained acclaim for her role as Cindy Campbell in “Scary Movie” (and its sequels), and went on to earn awards for that and roles in many other films.

She currently stars in the CBS sitcom “Mom.”

Actor Kyle MacLachlan speaks onstage at Comic-Con International 2017 “Twin Peaks: A Damn Good Panel” at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2017 in San Diego, California.

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8. Kyle MacLachlan

Born in Yakima, Washington, MacLachlan is probably one of the most successful actors to have earned a degree at UW, graduating cum laude in 1982.

Before he hit it big by playing Special Agent Dale Cooper on the cult-typical “Twin Peaks”, he paid homage to UW student Frank Herbert by playing Paul Atreides in the 1984 adaptation of “Dune.”

He has since gone on to star in successful franchises like “Sex and the City,” “Desperate Housewives” and “How I Met Your Mother,” and also played the eccentric mayor of Seattle’s competitor in Comedy Central’s “Portlandia.”

Victor Steinbrueck Park is where the Washington State National Guard Armory was built about 1909. That was slightly destroyed in a 1962 fire and in 1982 the area was redesigned as Market Park. Three years later it was renamed for Steinbrueck, who led efforts to save the Market when others wanted to demolish it for office buildings. (seattlepi.com file)

9. Victor Steinbrueck

Steinbrueck was an architect and preservationist who spearheaded the movement to save Pike Place Market. He was also a faculty member at UW.

You’ll know the name from Victor Steinbrueck Park, which is the small strip of green next to the market usually packed with tourists.

Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Washington Wizards looks on in the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at Capital One Arena on January 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

10. Isaiah Thomas

Tacoma-born Thomas attended UW from 2008 to 2011 and was a three-time all-conference selection in the Pac-10. The last pick in the 2011 draft, Thomas rose to become one of the NBA’s most clutch players, named second-team All NBA in 2016-17 after averaging 28.9 points per game with the Boston Celtics.

He is currently a free agent and suited up for USA basketball in February, priming him for an NBA reappearance after a hip injury.

Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil performs on stage at the Soundwave Festival at the Melbourne Showgrounds on February 22, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.

Paul Rovere/Getty Images

11. Kim Thayil

Known for his rare guitar styles as a member of famed grunge band Soundgarden, Thayil graduated from UW with a degree in philosophy in 1985. He also worked as a DJ at KEXP.

Joel McHale is seen on January 12, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

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12. Joel McHale

Seen here repping the Seahawks, the “Community” and “The Soup” star grew up on Mercer Island and also attended the University of Washington, graduating in 2000. He’s known to be a huge Seahawks fan in addition.

Actor and martial artist Bruce Lee poses for a Warner Bros publicity nevertheless for the film ‘go into the Dragon’ in 1973 in Hong Kong.

Michael Ochs Archives

13. Bruce Lee

While commonly mistaken as a Seattleite given that he is buried here, Lee was truly born in San Francisco. He studied philosophy and kinesiology courses at UW, though he didn’t earn a degree.

His fame derived not only from his roles acting in martial arts movies, but also for his development of Jeet Kune Do, a fighting style derived from Chinese Kung Fu.

Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire speaks before signing marriage equality legislation February 13, 2012 at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington.

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14. Chris Gregoire

Graduating in the class of 1969, Gregoire was Washington’s attorney general before being elected to serve as governor in 2004, where she served two terms and was the second woman to keep up the office.

She was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority during her time at UW.

Captain Suzanna Darcy-Henneman poses in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-200LR upon arrival at London’s Heathrow airport 10 November 2005, after breaking the world record for the longest flight for a commercial jetsetting.

strange ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

15. Suzanna Darcy-Henneman

Darcy-Henneman was not only the first woman to be hired as a test pilot at Boeing, but also set a world record for the longest commercial jet flight in 2005 when she flew a Boeing 777 from Hong Kong to London (12,000 miles). The past record was 10,823 miles — also set in a Boeing 777.

She graduated from UW in 1981 with a degree in aeronautical engineering.

SGN Co-Founder and CEO/Myspace Co-Founder Chris DeWolfe speaks onstage during day two of TheWrap TheGrill 2014 at Montage Beverly Hills on October 7, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

David Buchan/Getty Images

16. Chris DeWolfe

It might not be the hottest social media platform anymore, but Myspace does have some roots in Seattle: co-founder DeWolfe graduated from UW in 1988. He was also a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Boeing executives Malcolm Stamper and Joseph Sutter show off the first Boeing 747 whose development was their project.


17. Joseph Sutter

Graduating in 1943, Sutter was an aerospace engineer who headed the design team for the Boeing 747. For his role, he is known as the “father” of the 747.

Former NFL Player Warren Moon attends the 8th Annual Unstoppable Foundation Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.

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18. Warren Moon

Moon led the Huskies football team to a Pac-8 title and Rose Bowl win in 1978 — the first in 17 years. During his specialized career, which covering both the NFL and Canadian Football League, he held several passing records and was the first quarterback in pro football history to throw for 5,000 yards in one season.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and served as a Seahawks broadcaster until 2017.

Jean Smart attends the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.

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19. Jean Smart

Smart attended Ballard High School and later graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in performing arts. She was also a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority on campus.

She began her career acting at the Seattle Repertory Theater before making it big on Broadway and landing the role of Lana Gardner in the typical Emerald City sitcom “Frasier” — which is was picked up for a reboot next year — for which she would win two Emmy’s.

Since then, she’s appeared in “24,” “Fargo” and most recently in HBO’s “Watchmen.”

Former Governor Dan Evans speaks to other guests during a Celebration of Life event for former Governor Mike Lowry, who died earlier this month, May 31, 2017, at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton.GENNA MARTIN, SEATTLEPI.COM

20. Dan Evans

Evans served as a Republican governor of Washington from 1965 to 1977 —three terms — and then as a U.S. senator from the state from 1983 to 1989.

Theodore Bundy, charged with the killings of FSU coeds Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy who were beaten and strangled at the Chi Omega House in January, is shown in this photograph.

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21. Ted Bundy

The notorious serial killer enrolled in UW twice, first in 1966 and again in 1969 studying psychology. After graduating in 1972, he worked on the re-election campaign for Dan Evans.

It is unknown whether he began murdering young women during his time as a student. He was said to have often frequented Dante’s, a U-District bar that burnt down.

After his final capture in 1978, he later admitted to 30 killings, though inconsistent accounts by him in interviews suggest he may have killed many more. He was executed in 1989.

Author Frank Herbert and wife Theresa Shackelford attend the ‘Dune’ Washington DC Premiere on December 3, 1984 at the Eisenhower Theatre, Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Ron Galella / Contributor / Getty Images

22. Frank Herbert

Although he didn’t graduate from UW, Herbert did attend classes at the school in 1946 and later worked as an education writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

He is most famous for his “Dune” series which sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and earned a very confusing movie adaptation directed by David Lynch in 1984. It’s up for another adaptation this year, with Timothée Chalamet playing Paul Atreides.

Actress Dyan Cannon attends the LA Premiere of Renee Taylor’s “My Life On A Diet” Night 2 at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on April 06, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

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23. Dyan Cannon

While born in Tacoma, Cannon is another actress who grew up in West Seattle and attended West Seattle High School and the University of Washington, although she did not graduate from the school.

She would go onto receive three Academy Award nominations.

Bill Gates, Sr. attends Bill Gates: A Conversation with My Father at the 92nd Street Y on June 2, 2010 in New York City.

Andy Kropa/Getty

24. Bill Gates Sr.

Father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the senior Gates served as the President of both the Washington and Seattle-King County Bar Association. He attended UW under the G.I. bill and graduates with a J.D. in 1950.

He died in late 2020.

Tacoma-born artist Dale Chihuly adjusts one of several bright orange, rippled forms. Chihuly uses blown glass as the dominant medium for his large-extent sculpture installations and environmental artwork, 1993.


25. Dale Chihuly

With colorful blown glass art all throughout the Pacific Northwest, Tacoma-born Chihuly is likely the school’s most famous sculptor. He received a degree in interior design from UW in 1965.

REI Chief Executive Officer Sally Jewell (R) delivers remarks after being nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next Secretary of the Interior in the State Dining Room of the White House February 6, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

26. Sally Jewell

After receiving her degree in mechanical engineering from UW in 1978, Jewell would go on to be the CEO of REI and later the Secretary of the Interior during the Obama administration.

She was the second woman to keep up the position, and her alma mater honored her with the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

already Ivar Haglund couldn’t resist feeding the gulls on the waterfront.

27. Ivar Haglund

Haglund was the son of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants who would later go on to establish the seafood eatery that nevertheless produces his name to this day. He graduated from UW in 1928 and already did stint as port commissioner in Seattle after running as a prank.

He died with no direct heirs, and bequeathed his restaurant empire to the UW School of Business.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Perform On NBC’s “Today” at Rockefeller Plaza on June 23, 2016 in New York City.

John Lamparski/WireImage

28. Ryan Lewis

Graduating in 2009, Lewis climbed to the top of the charts later in 2010 after he started working with Seattle rapper Macklemore.

Rick Steves, one of the country’s most visible advocates of marijuana legalization, speaks during an interview in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.

Don Ryan/multiple

29. Rick Steves

Growing up in Edmonds, Steves earned a degree at UW before he started teaching classes on travel. He published his first travel guide in 1980 and then went on to create a world-renowned business around travel guides and public TV specials.

He is also an advocate for marijuana legalization.

Amanda Knox speaks during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Thursday, September 29, 2016.

Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

30. Amanda Knox

Knox was working on a degree at UW when she headed off to Italy for an academic year there. She attained notoriety in 2007 after Italian prosecutors accused her of involvement in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher.

Knox spent four years in Italian jail before her 2011 release and was finally, definitively acquitted of the murder and other charges in 2015.

Gilligan’s Island cast member Dawn Wells (as Mary Ann Summers), for episode: “Two on a Raft.” Image dated July 21, 1964.

CBS Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images

31. Dawn Wells

Known for her role as Mary Ann Summers on the typical sitcom “Gilligan’s Island,” Dawn Wells is a notable Husky alum who called the Emerald City home during her college years.

She graduated from the University of Washington in 1960 with a degree in theater arts and design, and was also a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

Wells died on Dec. 30, 2020 at the age of 82 from COVID-19 related causes.

US President George W. Bush (C) stands with recipients of the National Medal of Arts in the Oval Office of the White House 12 November 2003 in Washington, DC. From left are: blues musician Buddy Guy; dancer and artistic director Suzanne Farrell; Bush; children’s book author Beverly Cleary; and actor-director Ron Howard.

TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images

32. Beverly Cleary

An acclaimed children’s author, Cleary graduated from UW with a degree in library sciences and later went on to be a children’s librarian in Yakima, Washington.

Her beloved “Ramona” series earned her a 1981 National Book Award and a National Medal of Arts in 2004.

Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on August 5, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

33. Tim Lincecum

Lincecum didn’t finish college, but was a pitching star for the Huskies before getting drafted in the first round to start for the San Francisco Giants in 2007. He’s a three-time World Series champion, two-time Cy Young Award winner and a four-time MLB All-Star.

Author Robin DiAngelo during an interview on June 17, 2020.

NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

34. Robin DiAngelo

While she got her bachelor’s degree from Seattle University, DiAngelo later went on to receive her PhD from UW. Her book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” was propelled to the New York Times bestseller list following the police killing of George Floyd.

She is planning a follow-up book that will be released later this year.

Mark Arm, vocalist for the band Mudhoney, performs on the Sub Pop Stage during Bumbershoot on Sunday, August 2, 2012 at the Seattle Center. The Labor Day weekend music festival brought tens of thousands of music fans to the Seattle Center.JOSHUA TRUJILLO

35. Mark Arm

Arm went to UW, but seems to have done all right without the degree as he and friend Steve Turner — a UW student at one time — would form first Green River, with musicians who would later be part of Pearl Jam, then Mudhoney, a band that was the biggest grunge act until Nirvana broke big in late 1991.

Norm Rice, Constance Williams Rice, and Mian Rice, after Mayoral swearing-in, Seattle, January 2, 1990.


36. Norm Rice

Rice served as Seattle’s first and only elected Black mayor, from 1989 to 1997, serving two terms. For his career in public service, he recied UW’s Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus — the highest honor a graduate can receive.

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to William Foege, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who helped rule the effort to eradicate smallpox, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 29, 2012.


37. William Foege

Representing the university’s top-rated epidemiology and infectious disease programs, Foege is credited with helping to eradicate smallpox in the late 1970s.

Minoru Yamasaki shown in 1958 file photo with the form of the Education Building he designed for Wayne State University.

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38. Minori Yamasaki

Yamasaki was an architect who designed the original World Trade Center in New York. He graduated with a degree in architecture in 1934.

Ann Rule is one of Amerca’s acknowledged masters of the true-crime genre, in addition as one of the most popular and prolific writers living in the Seattle area.Mike Urban/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

39. Ann Rule

Rule graduated in 1953 and earned fame for her true crime book, “The Stranger Beside Me,” a biography about Ted Bundy and based on her experience working alongside him at a suicide crisis center. She would go on to write many other true-crime books.

David Horsey/seattlepi.com

40. David Horsey

Horsey became a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist during his long career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which began in 1979. He left the P-I in 2011 and is now at the Seattle Times.

Ivan Doig is best known for his 1980 debut, “This House of Sky,” an account of his youth on a ranch in Montana that has come to be regarded as a typical Western memoir.Mike Urban/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

41. Ivan Doig

Doig is best known for his 1980 debut book, “This House of Sky,” an account of his youth on a ranch in Montana that has come to be regarded as a typical Western memoir.


Wikimedia Commons/Getty Images

42. Tim Paterson

Paterson wrote the first version of MS-DOS, which became Microsoft’s first operating system.

The iconic Seattle Space Needle is shown by the rain drop-covered windshield of a car on Wednesday, February 4, 2015.JOSHUA TRUJILLO/SEATTLEPI.COM

43. Howard Wright

Wright is best known for his company’s involvement in building the Space Needle. But Howard S. Wright Construction also built the Columbia Tower, among other sizable projects.

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., interviewed in his Rayburn office.

Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

44. Norm Dicks

Dicks served in the U.S. Congress for 36 years, representing Washington’s 6th District as a Democrat. With a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee, he secured dollars to restore the Nisqually River estuary, tear down salmon-destroying dams on the Elwha River, and restore Puget Sound.

NASA astronauts (left to right) Charles Conrad Jr. (Commander), Richard Francis Gordon Jr. (Command Module Pilot) and Alan L. Bean (Lunar Module Pilot) during a spacecraft checkout at the North American Rockwell Space Division in Downey, California, 29th September 1969. The Apollo 12 mission is due for set afloat on 14th November 1969 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA/Getty Images

45. Richard Francis Gordon Jr.

Gordon Jr. achieved great heights in his career. As a NASA astronaut, he became the command module pilot for the Apollo 12 mission, the sixth manned flight to the moon and the second to land astronauts there, though Gordon stayed aboard the command module in orbit during the trip.

Renee Erickson Chef and Co-Founder, Sea Creatures prepares food as WeWork and the James Beard Foundation great number dinner and discussion about sustainability and food choices, bringing together Seattle’s top leaders in food, sustainability, public policy, business, tech, and media at We Work on June 24, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.

Mat Hayward/Getty Images for WeWork

46. Renee Erickson

With successful cookbooks and acclaimed Seattle restaurants like The Walrus and Carpenter and The Whale Wins, Erickson is a well-known name in the Seattle food scene, already winning a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest in 2016. She graduated from the UW in 1995.

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