Occidental College Notable Alumni

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Occidental College boasts a diverse range of alumni who, throughout history, have achieved remarkable achievements in public service, economics, the arts and sciences. The notable alumni list includes award-winning journalists, business leaders and many others.

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Emmy Award winning and five-time Tony Award nominee James Earl Jones, actor and voice artist, is proud to call Occidental College his alma mater . Born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, he was an All-American football player at the college until he was drafted into the army during the Korean War. When the war ended, he returned to Occidental and continued his studies as a political science major. Upon graduating in 1955, he moved to New York City to pursue acting. His career has spanned over 50 years in theater and on television. Some of his most famous television roles include the title character of Gabriel Byrne’s show In Treatment , Morgan Freeman’s show Under Suspicion , Ivan Drago from Rocky IV , Darth Vader in Star Wars , and The Emperor in The Emperor ‘s New Groove . He also had a recurring role on 24 as Curtis Manning.

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Occidental Occidental College Notable Alumni

Notable graduates and attendees

Business and industry

  • John Branca (entertainment industry lawyer)
  • Norton Clapp (an original owner of Space Needle)
  • Stephen Cooper (CEO of Warner Music Group)
  • W. Don Cornwell (CEO of Granite Broadcasting)
  • Marsha J. Evans (CEO of American Red Cross, Navy admiral)
  • Frank Hershey (automotive designer)
  • Arthur Peck (CEO of Gap Inc.)
  • Linda Bradford Raschke (commodities and futures trader)

Entertainment And The Arts

  • Ben Affleck (actor, director, screenwriter)
  • Stephen Beal (visual artist)
  • Ashly Burch (actress)
  • John Callas (writer, director, producer)
  • August Coppola (academic, author, film executive and advocate for the arts)
  • Glenn Corbett (television actor)
  • Gabriela Cowperthwaite (documentary filmmaker, Blackfish)
  • Will Friedle (actor)
  • Terry Gilliam (animator and comedian in Monty Python comedy troupe; filmmaker: Brazil12 Monkeys, others)
  • Joanna Gleason (actor)
  • Mike Hoover (cameraman, journalist, documentarian, winner of Academy and Emmy Awards)
  • Terry Kitchen (musician)
  • Loren Lester (actor)
  • Thomas Murray (organist)
  • George Nader (actor)
  • Marcel Ophüls (filmmaker)
  • Emily Osment (actress; Class of 2015)
  • Joe Rohde (Imagineer)
  • Peter Scolari (actor)
  • Ashly Burch (actor, writer)
  • Jake Shears (lead singer of Scissor Sisters)
  • Anna Slotky (actress)
  • Dan Slott (comic book writer)
  • Kirsten Smith (screenwriter, Ten Things I Hate About YouLegally BlondeThe Ugly Truth)
  • Roger Guenveur Smith (actor)
  • Rider Strong (actor)
  • Taku Takahashi (musician)
  • Maurissa Tancharoen (actress, singer, dancer, television writer and lyricist)
  • Jesús Salvador Treviño (television director)
  • Tui St. George Tucker (composer)
  • Luke Wilson (actor)

Government, Diplomacy, and Law

  • Kathy Augustine (U.S. politician from Nevada)
  • Alphonzo E. Bell, Jr. (U.S. Congressman)
  • David S. Cunningham, Jr. (Los Angeles City Council member, 1973–87)
  • Gloria Duffy (President and CEO of The Commonwealth Club, former Deputy Asst Sec Def, and Special Coordinator for Cooperative Threat Reduction)
  • Richard Falkenrath (former deputy homeland security advisor)
  • Robert Finch (Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare 1969—1970, Lieutenant Governor of California 1967—1969)
  • U. Alexis Johnson (U.S. diplomat)

Jack Kemp

  • Jack Kemp (AFL and NFL player from 1958–1970, U.S. Representative from New York 1971-1989, U.S. Secretary Department of Housing and Urban Development 1989-1993, Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 1996) Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2009.
  • David M. Louie (Attorney General of Hawaii)
  • Pete McCloskey (U.S. Representative 1967-83)
  • Jacqueline Nguyen (federal judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)
  • Chris Norby (California State Assemblyman)

Barack Obama

  • Barack Obama (44th President of the United States)
  • Dennis R. Patrick (Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, 1987 – 1989)
  • Thomas M. Rees (U.S. Congressman)
  • Janette Sadik-Khan (commissioner, New York City Department of Transportation)
  • Janis Lynn Sammartino (federal judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of California)
  • Mark S. Scarberry (professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law)
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Occidental College Ranking

See where this school lands in our other rankings to get a bigger picture of the institution’s offerings.

  • #42 in National Liberal Arts Colleges 
  • #64 in Best Undergraduate Teaching 
  • #66 in Best Value Schools
  • #80 in Top Performers on Social Mobility 

Occidental College Ranking Factors

Occidental College is ranked #42 in National Liberal Arts Colleges. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence.

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Occidental College Acceptance Rate

Occidental admissions is selective with an acceptance rate of 37%. Students that get into Occidental have an average SAT score between 1300-1480 or an average ACT score of 28-32. The regular admissions application deadline for Occidental is January 10. Interested students can apply for early decision

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