5- Wes Craven. The man knows how to scare people:  A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left…. sorry, we’ll stop before we give you any more nightmares. I like to think his time spent studying philosophy and writing as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins is what taught him how to make the average movie goer’s heart beat just a little faster. Can you imagine the commencement speech this guy would give? Someone sign him up.

4- Alger Hiss. Okay, maybe “cool” isn’t exactly the right adjective to describe Hiss, the State Department official who spent the 1940s secretly spying for the Communists. On the other hand, if spies are cool, doesn’t that make double-agents cooler? In any case, Hiss is a Baltimore native who graduated from Baltimore City public schools before attending Hopkins, where he was voted “most popular student” and named Phi Beta Kappa. I’ve always said you can’t trust the popular ones.
3- Tori Amos. My inner middle schooler is swooning over this one. Amos, the  singer-songwriter responsible for “Cornflake Girl,” “Silent All These Years,” and plenty of other sensitive-girl anthems is another Baltimore native. Her first songwriting success actually came with a song called “Baltimore,” (co-written with her brother, Mike) which won a contest sponsored by the Orioles. Including her on the list is a bit of a stretch, since Amos, a piano prodigy, attended Peabody, not Hopkins proper, starting at a very young age… and was asked to leave at age 11. Precocious!

2- Gregory House. He rock climbs, dabbled in dark matter, treasure hunts in Egypt. He pops Vicodin like it’s no big thing. He was voted the second-sexiest TV doctor ever. Who cares if he’s fictional? According to television lore, House attended Hopkins as both an undergraduate and a medical student, but was kicked out after he was caught cheating (see Season 2, Episode 12). He also has an incredibly long Wikipedia page, considering he doesn’t even exist.

1- Gil Scott-Heron. RIP! It’s been almost a year since the death of this jazz poet, whose seminal work “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” had a huge influence on the development of hip hop and neo-soul. Scott-Heron was just as much a writer as he was a musician, and got a master’s in writing from Johns Hopkins in 1972. You can check out his master’s thesis, entitled “Circle of Stone,” from the Hopkins library, if you’re so inclined.

4 replies on “The Five Coolest Johns Hopkins Alumni You Don’t Know About”

  1. Happy you included Gil Scott-Heron! His record “1980” is currently in heavy rotation at my house!

  2. Hi Rachel — Are you the same Rachel Monroe I spoke with on the phone yesterday about a job prospect? If so — I am smiling widely!!!


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