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 graduated valedictorian of the prestigious Collegiate School in Manhattan in 1978. He later went on to attend Princeton.
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 was co-valedictorian with actor Kevin Spacey when they graduated Chatsworth High School in Los Angeles in 1977.
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 graduated valedictorian from Radford High School in Honolulu in 1963, according to CNN.
“Pretty Little Liars” star Troian Bellisario graduated top of her class from Campbell Hall High School in North Hollywood, Calif., in 2005.
Singer Cody Simpson graduated at the top of his class from an Atlanta high school in 2014.
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.”
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 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.”
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 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 “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.
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.
After he was kicked out of Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, future “SNL” comedian Chevy Chase graduated valedictorian from Massachusetts’ progressive Stockbridge School.
Country singer Emmylou Harris graduated first in her class from Gar-Field Senior High School in Dale City, Virginia in 1964.
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.