BootLeg Betty

Celebrities who were valedictorians

Hits: 15

Newsday
Celebrities who were valedictorians
Updated April 5, 2018 5:31 AM

Alicia Keys, Conan O’Brien and more people with fame and brains. Find out which stars graduated at the top of their class, either in high school or college.

David Duchovny

David Duchovny graduated valedictorian of the prestigious Collegiate
Photo Credit: AP / Omar Vega

David Duchovny graduated valedictorian of the prestigious Collegiate School in Manhattan in 1978. He later went on to attend Princeton.

Tiffani Thiessen

Tiffani Thiessen graduated first in class from Valley
Photo Credit: AP / Scott Roth

Tiffani Thiessen graduated first in class from Valley Professional High School in Studio City, Calif., in 1992. “Of course, there were only 50 kids!” she told Us Magazine in 2011.

Mare Winningham

Mare Winningham was co-valedictorian with actor Kevin Spacey
Photo Credit: AP / Frank Micelotta

Mare Winningham was co-valedictorian with actor Kevin Spacey when they graduated Chatsworth High School in Los Angeles in 1977.

Natalie Portman

Actress Natalie Portman was valedictorian of the Syosset
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Actress Natalie Portman was valedictorian of the Syosset High School Class of 1999. While she was a senior, she reached superstardom as Queen Amidala in “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.” During that time, Portman famously skipped the movie’s premiere to study for finals. She went on to study psychology at Harvard, and once said: “I don’t care if [college] ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”

Bette Midler

Bette Midler graduated valedictorian from Radford High School
Photo Credit: AP / Rich Fury

Bette Midler graduated valedictorian from Radford High School in Honolulu in 1963, according to CNN.

Troian Bellisario

Photo Credit: AP / Jordan Strauss

“Pretty Little Liars” star Troian Bellisario graduated top of her class from Campbell Hall High School in North Hollywood, Calif., in 2005.

Cody Simpson

Singer Cody Simpson graduated at the top of
Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Alberto E. Rodriguez

Singer Cody Simpson graduated at the top of his class from an Atlanta high school in 2014.

Jeff Bezos

When Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos graduated
Photo Credit: Getty Images / David Ryder

When Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos graduated as valedictorian from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in 1982, he told the Miami Herald he wanted to “build space hotels, amusement parks, yachts and colonies for two or three million people orbiting around the earth.”

Cindy Crawford

Illinois native Cindy Crawford graduated from DeKalb High
Photo Credit: AP

Illinois native Cindy Crawford graduated from DeKalb High School in 1984, not only with the best grades in her class, but also with an academic scholarship to Northwestern University to study chemical engineering.

Conan O’Brien

Conan O'Brien was valedictorian of Brookline High School's
Photo Credit: AP / Ben Margot

Conan O’Brien was valedictorian of Brookline High School’s Class of 1981. Speaking at the suburban Boston school in 2003, he told students, “I wasn’t sure where I fit into high school. I wasn’t a good athlete, I sucked in math, I wasn’t very good in science.”

Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was
Photo Credit: AP / Cliff Owen

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was valedictorian of the Wellesley College Class of 1969, and the school’s first student commencement speaker. She was profiled that June (with graduating student speakers from other colleges) in a Life magazine story titled “The Class of ’69.”

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys was just 16 when she graduated
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Toth

Alicia Keys was just 16 when she graduated at the top of her class at Manhattan’s prestigious Professional Performing Arts School in 1997.

Weird Al Yankovic

Grammy-winning parody artist

Grammy-winning parody artist “Weird” Al Yankovic was two years younger than his classmates when he topped the class at Lynwood High School in California. “Weird Al” was only 16 when he started college at California Polytechnic State University, where he eventually earned an architecture degree.

Jodie Foster

Straight-A student Jodie Foster was valedictorian of her

Straight-A student Jodie Foster was valedictorian of her class at Los Angeles’ rigorous, bilingual school Lycée Français. When she graduated in 1980, Foster went on to study literature at Yale — though she also had her pick of Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley and Stanford, since those prestigious universities accepted the actress as well.

Chevy Chase

After he was kicked out of Riverdale Country
Photo Credit: Getty Images

After he was kicked out of Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, future “SNL” comedian Chevy Chase graduated valedictorian from Massachusetts’ progressive Stockbridge School.

Emmylou Harris

Country singer Emmylou Harris graduated first in her
Photo Credit: AP / Mark Humphrey

Country singer Emmylou Harris graduated first in her class from Gar-Field Senior High School in Dale City, Virginia in 1964.

Ben Stein

Television personality Ben Stein's law school classmates actually
Photo Credit: AP

Television personality Ben Stein’s law school classmates actually voted him valedictorian of Yale’s Class of 1970 — a title he earned not because he had the best grades, but because he was popular, the “Ferris Bueller” actor once said.

Share A little Divinity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •   
  •  

2 thoughts on “Celebrities who were valedictorians

  1. Awesome list and love this site (hooray for the Divine Miss M!). Just a correction and fact-check on the names though.
    Natalie Portman was not valedictorian of her high school; we went to the same school she did, Syosset High, and graduated a couple years after her class so many of us attended her graduation year and just had our own 20-year reunion, or whatever passes for it during COVID. Natalie was very bright and got all A’s and B’s, but that class had a lot of academic superstars with the top class rank, and the valedictorian of Natalie’s class was named Michael Ma. Plus there were two salutatorians, Robert Wong and Ian Yohai. Here’s the article on the graduation if you’re interested, by Brad Barth in the Syosset Jericho Tribune newspaper (Anton News): http://web.archive.org/web/20020515013948/http://www.antonnews.com/syossetjerichotribune/1999/07/02/news/
    Here’s the passage from the article: “Valedictorian Michael Ma, and salutatorians Robert Wong and Ian Yohai attempted to allay these commonplace concerns with some encouraging advice, emphasizing the importance of not just finding one’s purpose in life, but enjoying it.”

    As we recall, Natalie Portman (her real name is Natalie Hershlag) was in the top 20 percent of the graduating class at Syosset but again, there were a lot of top students and Michael was undoubtedly the valedictorian; we heard his address and it was very inspiring. He may not be as famous a name as Natalie, but he also went to a top university and has done well for himself, and he worked very hard to get that valedictorian recognition, so it’s only fair to give people their due and report accurately. In fact it looks like this error came from a Newsday article which is a little surprising. This was a topic at our reunion partly because a lot of us were journalism grads and work in the news business, and this is normally one of the key details the reporters and their researchers fact-check to get right. Things slip through sometimes but our old boss at our first newspaper was a tough cookie who would fire us for making a mistake like this. Hopefully Newsday can make a correction soon. Otherwise keep up the great work, love this blog!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.