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September 08, 1977 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-09-08

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Thursday; September 8, 1977

THE MICHIGAN DAiLY Thursday, September 8, 1977

It's a little hard to believe.,
In 160 years, the University of Michigan's
greatest claim to alumnal fame rests securely
on the shoulders of one 1935 economics major,
who waited on tables to put himself through
school, and wisely turned' down the oppor-
tunity to amble across the pro gridirons, only
{to ascend through the political ranks to be-,
come the first non-elected president to occupy
the Oval Office.
GERALD FORD, the Wolverines' Most Valu-
able Player in 1934, and 38th President of the
United States, surely occupies the uppermost
position among the many celebrities who have
attended the 'U'. And among his famed peers
are racing car drivers, actors, authors and the
occasional tough cookie who has called him
and his political compatriots to the carpet.
Like one Myron Wallace, a 1939 alumnus who
entered cpllege with the idea of becoming an
English teacher or a lawyer, but ended up an
acerbic and highly acclaimed broadcaster-
Mike Wallace-on CBS' 60 Minutes.
In his four years here, Wallace's political
experiences included a defeat in the class
treasurer's election. He also made an acting
debut on the Lydia Mendelssohn stage, valu-
able experience no doubt, as he was later to
star, simultaneously, as a breezy talk-show co-
host and in "The Reclining Figure" on Broad-
WALLACE'S BIG break came in 1956, when
he hosted the controversy-provoking Night
Beat, dubbed "Brow Beat," because of his
tendency to submit guests to the third degree,
which became a national hit, making Wallace
as big a celebrity as any of his guests.
Another celebrated video visage who claims
Michigan as her alma mater is Ann Bradford
Davis, '48, the zany and energetic actress/co-
medicine who has endeared herself to two
generations of tube viewers-in the Fifties as
"Schultzy," the man-crazy secretary in "Thee
Bob Cummings Show," and as the problem-
solving pillar of strength domestic, Alice on
"The Brady Bunch."
Davis entered the University as a pre-med
student, but switched over to the speech and
dramatics department when she hit a snag
in her studies.
CHEMISTRY, she says, was her downfall.
'I was good in high school zoology and the
sciences, but when I got to the University, oh,
that chemistry!"
But the Med School's loss was the stage's
gain, and Ms. Davis, who was twice awarded
Emmys for her work on the Cummings show,
appeared in student productions of "I Remem-
ber Mama" and "Of Thee I Sing," often re-
turning to the area to perform in summer
* stock in the late Fifties and early Sixties.
The Mendelssohn Theatre floorboards also
supported the formidable heavyweight talents





of the highly acclaimed black actor James
Earl Jones, a 1953 graduate.
"I'D ALWAYS been a frog in a small pond
... because I was a rural person . .. but the
size of the University of Michigan gave me a
sense of the scope of humanity," said the
prestigious actor who was heralded for his
portrayal of prizefighter Jack Johnson in The
Great White Hope.
Jones' desire to overcome a boyhood stutter
led him into the theatre, and while at the
University he performed in such plays as
"Deep Are The Roots," before a short stint in
the Army, further acting training in New York
and, finally, a distinguished professional ca-
reer on stage and screen.
Other actors have had less lengthy tenures
in the academic environment, and, among
them, Jean Peters, a Twentieth Century Fox
star- and the last wife of Howard Hughes, at-
tended the University for her first term,
only to switch, ironically, to Ohio State, where

she was launched on her Hollywood career in
a photo contest that was sponsored by Fox
IN ADDITION to the accomplished actors on
the alumni rolls, the University has the dis-
tinction of graduating a Pulitzer Prize winning
playwright, Arthur Miller, class of '38, whose
credits include "The Crucible" and "The
Death of A Salesman." While on campus, Mil-
ler, who was initially rejected because of a
substantial academic, record, kept busy by
reporting for the Daily and winning two Hop-
wood Awards.
Gayle Green, a design student, foreign cor-
respondent and Mademoiselle guest college edi-
tor, as well as a Daily reporter, is coming
into her own as a literary figure, with four
books in print and a regular column in New
York magazine. The celebrated restaurant
critic, a 1955 graduate, also served as a fea-
ture writer for the New York Post, and studied
art at the Sorbonne.

Another Daily reporter and editor to rise to
a more controversial niche in the national
limelight is political activist Thomas Hayden,
class of '61, who organized the Students for a
Democratic Society (SDS). Arrested during
the Chicago demonstrations in 1968, Hayden
eventually saw his and the Chicago Seven's
convictions overturned. Recently he made
headlines in an unsuccessful bid for the Demo-
cratic nomination to the post of U.S. Senator
from California.
THE UNIVERSITY has graduated locally
famous Democrats, among them, a 1936 law
school graduate, Gerhard M. Williams, better
known as G. Mennen, or just plain "Soapy,"
has maintained an impressive political career
in Michigan and as an international diplomat.
Williams, famed for his green and white polka-
dot ties, also served an unprecedented six
terms.,as governor of Michigan and currently
holds a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court.
From politics to palettes, the 'U' has also
unleashed a self-confessed "problem child"
and celebrated cartoonist on the world-George
Lichty, founder of Grin and Bear It. Maurice
Lichtenstein, his name at birth, 'dr'opped out of
the Chicago Institute of Art, enrolling at the
University in 1925 and distinguishing himself
as an acclaimed cartoonist with early work
as art editor of the campus humor magazine,
Space freaks will be a bit surprised to find
the following words: "I really don't like
heights," attributed to 1959 engineering grad
James A. McDivitt. McDivitt, who received
a degree in aeronautics, is best known for his
NASA activities which include commanding
both the Gemini 4 and Apollo 9 Missions in
1965 and1969.
THOUGH BEING a University of Michigan
alumnus doesn't guarantee such unique travel
opportunities in a later career, as McDivitt en-
joyed, there is yet another distinguished alu-
mnus who has drawn circles around the trans-
portation world.
Janet Guthrie, who earned a Bachelor of
- Science degree. here in 1960, has captured
national attention and garnered feminist sup-
port for her two attempts in the prestigious
Indianapolis 500."
In 1976, she tried, unsuccessfully to become
the first woman ever to compete in the speed-
way event-an accomplishment achieved this
past May, when Guthrie made the starting
field and finished ahead of several racing
Passing through town on a promotional ap-
pearance recently, she commented on her aca-
demic experiences at the University, "Yes
there are a few good professors here-but. it
is those teaching fellows you have to put up
And then, perhaps purposely ironically she
added, "I saw one of my English teaching
fellows in Ypsilanti selling used cars."

G. Mennan Williams,

Ann B. Davis, '48

Gayle Green, '55

Tom Hayden, '61

Photos from Michiganensian Archives
University lif e circa 1938

J anet; Guthrie, 60


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