Top ten celebrities with a History degree
Study History and you’ll tackle some of the most controversial topics humans have dealt with. These celebrities prove it’s good training for many careers.
Filmmaker, author, broadcaster and journalist Louis Theroux kicks off our list of famous History graduates. The famously awkward yet inquisitive documentary-maker earned a first-class degree from the University of Oxford. His documentaries have covered abstract subjects, often focusing on the sordid and surreal, and he has gained numerous awards for his films.
Appointed to the Supreme Court by Barack Obama, Elena Kagan was the first woman to serve as Solicitor General for the United States. She graduated sum cum laude from the prestigious Princeton University with, you guessed it, a History degree. She also graduated from University of Oxford and Harvard Law School, and became the first female dean of the latter.
Graduating in 1970 from Cambridge with a 2:2, the Prince of Wales holds a degree in Archaeology, Anthropology and History, and was the first-ever heir apparent to gain such a qualification. A philanthropist and environmentalist, he spends a lot of time working with charitable organisations, including the youth charity he founded himself: the Prince’s Trust.
Ellen Barkin has acted in many films including Sea of Love and This Boy’s Life, where she’s worked alongside names such as Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. She won an Emmy for her performance in Before Women Had Wings and has tried her hand at production with films like Letters to Juliet. Before this, Barkin studied a dual major in History and Theatre at Hunter College, New York.
Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen may love to play morally and intellectually flawed characters (see the film Borat for more information), however, his genuine intelligence and guile are evident, with his being a History graduate of the University of Cambridge.
Ayn Rand is famous for writing books such as lengthy the Fountainhead (311,596 words) and Atlas Shrugged (561,996 words). She developed Objectivism, a political philosophy about immutable moral truths and the benefits of Laissez-faire capitalism. The Russian-American writer and philosopher was educated in History at Petrograd State University.
Comedy icon Steve Carell has won favour through an increasingly funny performance in 'The Office' and as the dimwitted 'Brick Tamland' in the Anchorman films. Along with these achievements is his History degree from Denison University in 1984. It goes to show, one day you could be studying the domestic policy of the USA, the next you could be winning a Golden Globe!
The first BAME woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons, Dianne Abbott, studied History at Cambridge. Before becoming an MP for Labour – which she has been for over 30 years – Abbott worked for the civil service and the media. More recently she has founded London Schools and the Black Child initiative, which aims to improve the achievement levels of black children in education.
Esteemed novelist and essayist, Salman Rushdie, also read History at Cambridge. He has gone on to become a prolific author, winning the Booker Prize in 1981 with Midnight's Children, as well as being a controversial figure in the world of religion. Hailed as a progressive wordsmith by some and maligned as a blasphemer among others, Rushdie divided opinion with his book the Satanic Verses.
Shakira has been a celebrity for most of her life. She’s had top ten hits since she was thirteen, so, unlike many others on this list, she never got the chance to experience student life. That changed, however, when she took time out of a tour to study Ancient History at UCLA for a month, dressing up as a boy so none of her classmates recognised her.