Famous Mormons

Practically every church member I know likes to talk about famous Mormons. Of course, there aren’t a lot, and my experience has been once the discussion gets past a few well-known members — Steve Young, Orson Scott Card, Dale Murphy, Shawn Bradley, Danny Ainge, Donny & Marie — the conversation tends to skew towards the “I heard that xx was Mormon too!” direction.

However, I just noticed (via Rachel Woods About.com LDS) a web site that lists famous Mormons. How cool is that?

I must admit I was surprised by a few of the entries. Such as:

– Larry (the jock) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His most memorable moments included grabbing Buffy’s butt (and being promptly slammed to the floor), and later, in an extremely funny bit of miscommunication, coming out as gay. (That’s not the only LDS Buffy connection — it’s not on that website, but Eliza Dushku — aka Faith — was raised LDS, but is not currently active).

– Rick Schroeder (Silver Spoons, NYPD Blue)

– Jeff Kent (a very good baseball player). And so is Harmon Killebrew.

– I might have been surprised by Neil LaBute (director) or Matthew Modine, but I already knew about them.

And while on the subject, I also noticed this story, which confirms Schroeder and also Keri Russell (Felicity); discusses the persistent Alice Cooper legend (his family was part of a splinter group); and is inconclusive about the singer Jewel.

(Finally, I’ve seen another website which has a lengthy list of LDS actors and directors, but I can’t seem to locate it at the moment).

51 comments for “Famous Mormons

  1. (I’m spending way too much time here!)

    Neil LaBute was disfellowshipped and may have been excommunicated (I’m not sure) Given that he just did a photoshoot for Playboy, I have my doubts about his activity.

  2. Another surprising political Mormon: The wife of Chris Dodd, the very liberal democratic senator from Connecticut. Dodd is Catholic and has remarked that theirs is a “two cult” family.

  3. The movie one is http://www.ldsfilm.com . I emailed them quite awhile back to ask why Rick Schroeder wasn’t listed as he was on the “Famous Mormons” one. I got an email back saying that he wasn’t actually Mormon, just married to a Mormon. I forwarded this info to the “Famous Mormons” webmaster but he remains listed nonetheless.

    I give little creedence to either list as far as if someone is actually LDS. Many on the lists do not practice. So why list them at all? Same thing goes for LDS Blog lists. Some of last people you’d want representing themselves as LDS to the rest of the world have blogs on LDS lists and rings.

  4. Oops, forgot one additional comment. If said famous person isn’t calling themself Mormon, no one else should be either. I left the Lutheran church years ago, if I ever got famous (dear God I hope I never do), I wouldn’t want to be listed on a “Famous Lutherans” website just because my family is Lutheran.

  5. On alt.religion.mormon/soc.religion.mormon, the questions about “X is LDS?” would often be met with a permutation of the question. The start of this was a rumour that Steve Martin was LDS. The next post would then ask (for example) “Steven Wright is LDS?” which would begat “The Wright brothers were LDS?” which begat “The Wachowski brothers are LDS?” ad nauseum. Extra points given for the more obscure links.

  6. While I tend to agree with the comment that someone ought to be a professed Mormon to be tied in with the “famous LDS” list I think there are exceptions. For some their short period with Mormonism is intrinsically interesting. Eldridge Cleaver’s stint as a Mormon is one example. An other might be famous scientists like Kip Thorn or Paul Boyer who, while not Mormon for a long time, may have been influenced by their Mormonism. (And which always leads to the interesting discussion of whether Mormonism is “pro” science the way Judaism is)

    Regarding the many former LDS among Hollywood it always is impressive to me how many LDS there actually are. Most go inactive shortly after reaching Hollywood. Some survive for a few years (Glen Larson, the producer of Battlestar Galactica and the A-Team is a great example since he introduced many Mormon themes into his shows, including the famous trip of the Galactica to Kolob)

    I suspect this can be seen in part as Mormonism as a social/racial group as well as a religion. I mean lets be honest. How many famous *jews* are actually practicing jews?

  7. Along those lines, there was an article in the last Dialogue championing Neil LaBute as a Mormon artist in idea and sensibility, regardless of his current status with the church.

  8. why does it matter? does having famous people in the church make it more true? more cool? it seems a shallow, petty thing to talk about.

  9. this whole thing reminds me of the singles ward (2001) where kirby haybornes character said all these people were lds. and finally the jonathan jordan character says “justin timberlake is lds he’s taeching the disscussions to christina agulara” youd think the writer is telling these famous mormon sites to shut up. and eliza dushku even thought she doesnt go to church according to interviews with magazines she keeps chuch standerds in her contract she has a no nudity no sex cluase and she says every script she gets her mom reads it to make sure its moraly sound.

  10. Rick Schroeder is LDS. He is in my old ward in Scottsdale Arizona. He converted a few years ago, his wife was raised LDS.

  11. So I was watching the gripping, insightful, and ultimately cathartic “Goldie and Kate” documentary on “E” over the weekend, and noticed that Goldie Hawn’s second husband (Kate Hudson’s dad) showed up in a bunch of old footage wearing a Brigham Young University t-shirt. Any theories?

  12. Well done, Kaimi, that works for me; I will finally get a full night’s sleep again.

  13. Hi nicholle, These are always tough questions. My understanding is that Jacobsen was baptized but does not attend. This is from an old article on ESPN (http://espn.go.com/magazine/curry_20020211.html):

    “Ironically, the Jacobsen parents are both Mormons who attended Brigham Young University for varying periods at varying times. They didn’t meet until after college, when Von was beginning his construction career at the Mammoth Mountain ski resort following his basketball playing days at San Diego State and in Europe. ‘I was working at my dad’s hamburger stand at Mammoth, a place called The Barking Spider,’ says Becky. ‘We were both Mormon but we don’t really identify ourselves like that. We both left BYU and went elsewhere. Actually, after we got married and started raising the boys … playing all those basketball games on Sundays, the church really frowned on us.'”

  14. The most famous mormon that turns heads has got to be CHRISTINA AGUILERA. No joke here. Her parents actually met at BYU. They were even married in the Washington DC LDS temple. Obviously she doesnt practice, but some of her family does.

  15. I think its cool that on the tv show, Tru Calling, there are 2 Mormons. Eliza Dushku and AJ Cook. Eliza staring and AJ co-starring.

  16. Jewel – well, sort of.

    She’s from Homer, Alaska – where I’m from so I knew her growing up.

    Basically, her parents were LDS. Her father went to BYU. However, about the time her parents divorced, the whole family also left the church. The family’s names are no longer on the church rolls.

  17. Hello,

    Great job on the site! I have a couple to add. The first is Mike Weir, the famous golfer from Canada. (http://www.mikeweir.com)

    Also, I just saw this today on http://www.billboard.com. Arthur Kane, bass player for the legendary New York Dolls, passed away today. In the article (http://www.billboard.com/bb/daily/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000578007) it says, “A memorial service will be held Saturday at the Westwood chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Thanks!

  18. My mom lives in AZ. She had heard Rick Schroeder was LDS, but didn’t believe it until she saw him in the AZ Temple one day.

  19. I have always wondered if Alice Cooper was LDS. I heard his syndicated radio show tonight and he was asking for questions via email ([email protected]) so I just straight out asked him if he was LDS. If he replies, I’ll update. I doubt he’ll “confess” if he is. That would bring up a lot of questions that many of us want to know like the red costume we’ve all heard about in the legend. . .

  20. According to something a Folklore professor read in class. Alice Cooper is not Mormon, and that the stories circulating are simply urban legands.

  21. Vincent Fournier (aka Alice Cooper)’s family had an affiliation with a very obscure LDS splinter group of some sort. I don’t believe he continued with that at all in adulthood. However, he grew up in Phoenix in a neighborhood with many LDS (there was a stake center next to his old high school) and he knew many regular Mormons in school and the neighborhood.

    As long as we’re stretching to include obscure family affiliations, Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)’s family is LDS although she never was.

  22. Eldridge Cleaver was LDS?

    I thought Rick Schroeder lived in Colorado.

    I think this is an interesting topic.

  23. No, Eldridge Cleaver was not LDS. He was a disciple for a while of Cleon Skousen, and may have investigated the church for a while, but he never joined.

    Frankly, I’d take his Soul on Ice days over his Cleon incarnation.

  24. Mark B.

    My History of Civ. professor at BYU related to us his personal acount of being at Berkely and seeing a Black Panther rally and then encountering and speaking with Eldridge Cleaver on the stand at Stake conference years later.

    See here for published references about his activity with the Church.

  25. You will be interested to know that Alice Cooper’s father’s name was Ether. Hmmm…

  26. Well, Ben, whattya know! I guess I never got the updated story, or else I forgot it.

  27. My kids got BOM story books in their stockings last year, so I’m thinking Santa Claus is LDS. Or at least he’s not antagonistic towards the church. If this gets out the SBC may ban Christmas next year, or have their annual conference at the North Pole.

    I heard once that Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Schnooka is LDS.

  28. I think Alice Cooper was affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonites). Alice Cooper’s autobiography, Me, Alice, has some information on his religious background. (The book’s introduction was written by Ether Moroni Furnier, Alice’s father.) Here are some relevant passages from the book:

    I was born Vincent Damon Furnier in a hospital they call the “Butcher’s Palace” in Detroit and I was lucky I made it out of there because a lot of people didn’t. They didn’t do such a bad job on me, except that I was born with eczema (which means I looked like a two-day-old pizza stepped on by football cleats), and infantile asthma. The asthma was hereditary, but I think the eczema was a sign, like the mark of Cain. My dad, Ether Moroni Furnier (a Mormon name), also had asthma. The Furniers brought these bad tubes with them all the way from France, where in some distant way I was related to General Lafayette (the French will all be delighted to know.)

    My grandfather, Thurmond, and his wife, Birdie May, lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Thurmond was a telegraph operator for the railroad in his spare time. In his full time he was a minister and president of the Church of Jesus Christ, which he presided over for sixty-three years until his death in 1974. My dad had two older brothers, Lonson, and Vincent, affectionately known to the Detroit bar circuit as Lefty and Jocko, who were dedicated church members until they were teenagers. Then they bolted, went into the “real world” and made Thurmond angry as hell at them. By the time my dad was a teenager he was out of it, too.

    Alice’s family became active in the church when he was around eleven or twelve.

    The church was suddenly everything to us, a religion, a social life, a new family. My father’s devotion was inspiring. It affected my mother so deeply that within a month she stood up in church one day and asked to be baptized. My father did the same things a few weeks later, and after that our lives changed completely. A real conversion took place in all of us, my father the most dramatically. He stopped everything bad he was doing – cold turkey. He stopped it all, from booze to tobacco. He was incredibly strong and determined, and the entire family had renewed respect for him.

    From then on I was in church with my father seven days a week! God, you wouldn’t believe it. We studied the Bible and the Book of Mormon backward and forward. I even had entire scriptures memorized. In a year I was a religious whiz kid. We went to every sort of meeting and church conference or social even in the West. Soon we knew ministers and church members from all the neighboring states and made little pilgrimages on the weekends.

  29. Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Schnooka is LDS. His son was in my ward in Ridgefield, WA.
    Here’s an interesting on. A member of my ward returned from being mission president in Los Angeles area mission, and he spoke of not only Rick Schroeder converting, but also Kelly Packard of “Bay Watch” fame.
    Rick Schroeder owns a ranch near Grand Junction, Co. I don’t know if he lives on it though.

  30. Forgetting Neil LaButte’s actor friend–Aaron Eckhardt. They met at BYU and have corresponded on a few films. Aaron was the biker dude in “Erin Brockovich”, and is a B-list star getting closer to the “A” list.

    Also, the girl from the tv show “Roswell”, now on that Sunday night medical show(forgot the name) Kathryn Heigl was raised LDS, and I think practiced up until a few years ago. Recent interviews indicate she is not practising now.

    And lets not forget that the guy from the Fast and the Furious, and Time-whatever–Paul Walker–is an RM. Not sure if he practices now though.

    Lots out there. More than you think. Good for them, I say. But matters little to me, unless they use their fame to put the church in a good light. If not, don’t want to know.

  31. Kingsley, good point.

    I just read a book about the Sudan (fiction) called Acts of Faith, one of the main character’s mother was Mormon. I love reading how non-Mormons see us.

  32. Funny story – My nephew (age 6) once brought my father to church and asked him to come to sharing time. Walking through the halls at church everyone waved and said hello to my father (who is not in that ward/or stake I might add). Come to find out my nephew used his grandpa for his sharing time, stating that he has someone famous in his family, in which my father had to explain that he wasn’t famous, which the teacher promptly dispelled by hearty greetings to my father, then my nephew replied, see, everyone knows you! My Father is an OBGYN. So moral of the story – being “famous” really depends on who you ask.

  33. I’ve heard the rumours…everyone from Lionel Ritchie to Alice Cooper. I suppose that it may be nice to know from a trivia point of view. Does anyone know of openly active, successful celebrities? That seems to me more relevant!

  34. What an old thread, but have to throw in that Gladys Knight is LDS, she has attended our ward when in town and recently did a series of very well attended missionary musical firesides in our stake.

  35. Let’s dispell some legends. Paul Walker is not a Mormon. This was conjured up by a fake interview done a few years ago where he was allegedly quoted as stating he was a Mormon and currently practicing. We simply know he is not practicing so that makes that interview a farce, thus destroying any thought of him being a Mormon.
    Christina Aguilera is NOT a mormon. She was not baptized. It is true that her parents are. Her grandmother is a practicing Mormon who had her blessed in the church in Michigan but she had little contact from there.
    For information on Eliza Dushku (Faith and Buffy the Vampire slayer), read her interview on Maxim. She is a Mormon and was baptized as such. She told the reporter as much while taking a drag on her cigarrette mentioning “well, I am obviously not practicing it.” She said nothing bad about the church. Her Parents broke up and she went with her mom who seemed to only be in the church in the first place because of her husband. When that relationship ended, so did all ties to the church.
    My question is to confirm if Lionel Ritchie is an active member. You wouldn’t think so with his daughter being quite of the world.

  36. Mike Weir is not a Mormon though he did play Golf at BYU. Alice Cooper was a fundamentalist Mormon. I served my mission in Phoenix Az. where he lives. I had a Companion that tracted into him but He (Cooper) refused to sign an autograph unless he could sign it in the Book of Mormon. Needless to say this elder didn’t get an autograph. If sin smelled the church would be a stinky place. We shouldbn’t judge these celebrities just because the smoke or swear dosent mean they are bad people.

  37. Rick Schroeder is LDS and went to the Snowflake Temple to do some temple work shortly after it was dedicated a few years ago.

  38. My friend told me the director of Bend it like Bekham and Bride and Prejudice was Mormon – Gurinder Chadha – I told her that I hadn’t heard that – I thought she was Hindu, but researching all of the articles on her, I can’t find ANYTHING on religion – can someone dispell this?

  39. I did not know that Jimmy Superfly Snooka was LDS. I think we should also baptise George “The Animal” Steele. While teaching an elders quorum lesson, he can eat the turnbuckle and get smashed with a folding chair because he gets distracted by Miss Elizabeth.

  40. Paul Walker is a mormon. His parents are in my friends ward in California, and he has also attended there. I do not believe that he is very active.

  41. “I did not know that Jimmy Superfly Snooka was LDS.”

    Neither did I. When I was a kid, he and Dusty Rhodes were my heroes.

  42. I can confirm that Kelly Packard of Baywatch, California Dreams, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not fame comes from an LDS background. One of my mission companions Elder Robbie Packard is her first-cousin and told me about it.

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