Hollywood is a melting pot of diverse, talented people who find joy in entertaining others. What you may not know is that a number of well-known actors were once students at WVU. In addition to the school’s expansive list of professional athletes, we have an assortment of graduates who made a career in the entertainment industry. Check out these actors you may not know were WVU alumni.
Don Knotts is a five-time Emmy winner best known for his roles as Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show and Ralph Furley in Three’s Company. Knotts was born right here in Morgantown, West Virginia, and he graduated from Morgantown High School. He went into the military after graduation, but when he returned, he began attending WVU. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1948 and moved to Hollywood soon after. He did not start his role as Barney Fife until 1960, but his quirky personality and comedic timing made him an unforgettable entertainer.
Cheryl Hines is a two-time Emmy nominee best known for her work as “Cheryl” on the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. She has also been in movies like RV with Robin Williams and The Grand, which puts a comedic twist on the World Series of Poker. Ironically, Hines is an avid poker player who has won over $50,000 in tournaments and table play. She attended WVU before heading to Hollywood, but she did not graduate from here. Instead she earned her degree at the University of Central Florida.
Some people know Billy Mays from the Discovery Channel show PitchMen, but most know him for his work advertising As Seen on TV products. He was the face of several products that became popular in the early 2000’s, including OxiClean, Kaboom, and the Awesome Auger. During his two years here at WVU, he was a walk-on linebacker for the Mountaineer football team. Unfortunately, the salesman with the brilliant beard passed away in 2009 after an incident related to his heart disease.
You may not know Chris Sarandon’s face, but chances are you’ve heard his voice. He provides the ominous-yet-upbeat vocals for Jack Skellington in the Disney and Tim Burton classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, along with the reprisal of the character in the video game Kingdom Hearts. He also played the role of Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride, and he has been in many Broadway productions. He was born in Beckley, West Virginia, and he graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in performing arts. He went on to earn his master’s in theater from The Catholic University of America, where he met his wife – the ever-famous Susan Sarandon. The couple split in 1979, but Susan continues to act using Chris’s last name.
“Hey Berta, want to see my armpit hair?” “Only if you wanna see mine…” Conchata Ferrell is mostly known for playing the sassy housekeeper Berta in CBS’s Two and a Half Men. She has been nominated for two primetime Emmy Awards for that role, in addition to the nomination she received for playing Susan Bloom on L.A. Law. She played some minor supporting roles in Edward Scissorhands, Erin Brockovich, Mr. Deeds, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, along with many other films and television shows. She was born in Charleston, WV and she attended West Virginia University, but she officially earned her social studies education degree from Marshall University.