From Olympic athletes to Nobel Laureates to Academy Award winners, UC Berkeley has seen them all. Cal seems to be a hotbed of talent and promise, and these notable celebrities will make anyone proud to call themselves Golden Bears. Keep reading for 15 notable UC Berkeley alumni.
1. Gregory Peck
The to Kill a Mockingbird (1962) actor graduated from Cal in 1939 with a BA in English. Later in his life, he reminisced about UC Berkeley, saying, “it was a very special experience for me and three of the greatest years of my life. It woke me up and made me a human being.”
2. George Takei
Famous for his catchphrase “oh my!” and his portrayal of Sulu in the television show Star Trek, George Takei studied architecture at Cal. Eventually, he transferred to UCLA, but we still hope he lives long and prospers. The Japanese-American actor has been a huge proponent of the LGBTQ movement and Japanese-US relations. He is known as quite a character on Twitter.
3. Steve Wozniak
Before he was ever “Steve Jobs-ed,” the Apple co-founder and original Apple computer inventor began his very extended education at Cal. He transferred to Cal for his third year of college in 1971. After completing one year, he intended on taking a year off for financial reasons. Because of his career’s dramatic take-off, he didn’t return to UC Berkeley until 1981. Even though he had already made his fortune, he still saw the priceless value of education. But at the end of his fourth year, he lacked enough credits to graduate. Eventually, he graduated in 1986 with a degree in computer science.
4. Nicolle Wallace
Nicolle Wallace graduated from Cal in 1994 with a degree in mass communication. After obtaining her master’s in journalism from Northwestern, Wallace went on to be the Communications Director for Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and the Senior Advisor for John McCain’s 2008 campaign. She was a host on the View, and now works as a correspondent for NBC.
5. John Cho
John Cho is a very well known actor, possibly most famous for his role in the rebooted Star Trek movies, in which he reprises George Takei’s character, Sulu. Born in Korea, his family moved all over the United States until settling in Los Angeles. In 1996, he obtained his degree in English from UC Berkeley. Before making his break in the 1999 film American Pie, Cho taught English in Los Angeles while working with the East West Players theater company on the side.
6. Paula Patton
Paula Patton began attending Cal in 1993 but transferred to USC’s film school, where she would graduate in 2007. Her career as a vocalist began when she provided backup vocals on Usher’s 2004 album Confessions. She has many songwriting credits on Robin Thicke’s albums, who she would later marry and then infamously divorce from. She began acting with a small role in the 2005 comedy, Hitch. More recently, she has had large roles in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Warcraft.
7. Chris Pine
I know what you’re thinking: the Star Trek directors must cast directly from Cal! Pine graduated from Berkeley in 2002 with a B.A. in English. Not only is he famous for his role as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot, but has been in countless other movies, such as the Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Into the Woods, and the Finest Hours. Recently, he starred in the smashingly successful film, Wonder Woman, alongside Gal Gadot.
8. Aaron Rodgers
Now-Quarterback of the Greenbay Packers, Rodgers started as Quarterback of the California Golden Bears. He played for two seasons with Cal but was drafted by the NFL his senior year in 2005. Since then, he has been awarded NFL’s most valuable player twice, he lead the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV, and won Super Bowl XLV MVP.
9. Adam Lamberg
Although he may no longer be acting, all 90’s kids know and love Lamberg as Gordo, Lizzie McGuire’s adorable best friend in the television show Lizzie McGuire. After the show wrapped in 2004, Lamberg graduated from Cal in 2006 with a degree in geography.
10. Marshawn Lynch
Lynch, otherwise known as “Beast Mode,” played football at Cal for three seasons, until he was drafted by the NFL in 2007. With 17 100-yard rushing games, Lynch holds the Cal school record. In 2013, he helped his team, the Seattle Seahawks, win Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos.
11. Ki Hong Lee
Lee is a newly popular actor, most recently in the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the Maze Runner. He earned his degree in psychology from UC Berkeley in 2008. Like John Cho, he began his acting career with the East West Players.
12. Hannah Hart
Hannah Hart is a YouTuber with more than two million subscribers, and is known for her segment “My Drunk Kitchen.” After a difficult childhood in the Bay Area, she moved to Japan for a time after high school. Upon returning, she attended UC Berkeley. She graduated in 2009 with degrees in English literature and Japanese language.
13. Brenda Song
Although London Tipton may not be the brightest, Brenda Song certainly is. Throughout her filming for Disney Channel on the Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, and the Suite Life on Deck, Song was earning her degree online from UC Berkeley. In 2009, she graduated with a major in psychology and a minor in business. In case you didn’t already think Song is amazing, she holds a black belt in taekwondo, so she did most of the stunts in Wendy Wu herself. The role was initially intended for a male (Kenny Liu), but the directors couldn’t find an actor with a perfect combination of wit and martial arts training. Song was initially auditioning for the role of the monk, but the directors pictured her as their lead. She landed the role by breaking a brick with her hand during her screen test.
14. Laci Green
MTV host, YouTuber, and one of Time’s 30 most influential people on the internet, Green graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and education. Her YouTube channel has more than a million subscribers, and she uses her platform for sex education and political activism.
15. Missy Franklin
At 17, Missy Franklin won four gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics. As she was going to attend UC Berkeley in the fall and wanted to swim for the Golden Bears, she refused all sponsorship offers to maintain her amateur status. While studying to earn her degree in psychology, Franklin won 4 individual NCAA titles, won 8 gold medals in two World Championships, and won another gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. In 2017, Franklin graduated from Cal.