Barbie has some important roots in Denver. Additional photos and more below.
Barbie has some important roots in Denver. Additional photos and more below.

Photos: Ten Most Famous DU Attendees, Including Barbie's "Mom"

A few months back, we shared with you the top ten CSU attendees as listed by the Ranker website — and among those who made the cut was a porn star, Juli Ashton.

Sorry, but no one with that particular profession is on Ranker's roster of the ten most famous attendees at the University of Denver.

However, the woman who gave birth to the Barbie doll — creatively, anyhow — receives her just due, along with an eclectic collection of actors, comics, writers, diplomats, radio personalities, politicians and sports stars.

Note that even though Ranker identifies everyone as an alumni, not everyone emerged from DU with a degree — but before they were famous, they roamed the halls of the venerable institution.

Count down the photo-illustrated list below, supplemented by text from Wikipedia and other sites.

Michelle Kwan.
Michelle Kwan.

Number 10: Michelle Kwan

Michelle Wingshan Kwan (born July 7, 1980) is an American figure skater. She is a two-time (1998 and 2002) Olympic medalist, a five-time (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2003) World champion and a nine-time (1996, 1998–2005) U.S. champion (the all-time record, as tied with Maribel Vinson-Owen)....

Kwan attended Soleado Elementary School in Palos Verdes, California, but left public school to be homeschooled in 1994, when she was in the 8th grade. After graduation from Rim of the World High School in 1998, Kwan attended UCLA for one year. In the fall of 2006, she transferred to the University of Denver.  In June 2009, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in international studies and a minor in political science from Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies.  In 2009, she began graduate studies in international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and graduated in 2011.On May 8, 2010, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College....

Lowell Thomas.
Lowell Thomas.

Number 9: Lowell Thomas

Lowell Jackson Thomas (April 6, 1892-August 29, 1981) was an American writer, broadcaster, and traveler, best known as the man who made Lawrence of Arabia famous....

Thomas was born in Woodington, Darke County, Ohio, to Harry and Harriet (Wagner) Thomas. His father was a doctor, his mother a teacher. In 1900, the family moved to the mining town of Victor, Colorado. Thomas worked there as a gold miner, a cook, and a reporter on the newspaper.

In 1910, Thomas graduated from Victor High School, where one of his teachers was Mabel Barbee Lee. The following year, he graduated from Valparaiso University with bachelor's degrees in education and science. The next year he received both a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Denver and began work for the Chicago Journal, writing for it until 1914....

Reggie Rivers.
Reggie Rivers.

Number 8: Reggie Rivers

From ReggieRivers.com: Reggie Rivers is a renaissance man whose talents and achievements have spanned many different disciplines. Among his accomplishments:

• He played six seasons as a running back with the Denver Broncos.
• He was a two-time Broncos NFL Man of the Year.
• He earned a Master’s Degree in Global Studies from the University of Denver.
• He was a radio talk show host.
• He was a television sports anchor.
• He was a newspaper columnist.
• He has published five books.
• He was a four-time All-American football player at Texas State University.
• He was a Southland Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year.
• He was inducted into the Texas State University Hall of Honor.
• He was inducted into the Southland Conference Hall of Honor.
• He has been a motivational speaker, MC, auctioneer and/or presenter at thousands of events.

Josh Taylor.
Josh Taylor.

Number 7: Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor (born September 25, 1943) is a long-time American comedy and dramatic television actor. He is best known for playing the roles of Chris Kositchek (he originated in 1977) and Roman Brady on the long-running American dramatic serial Days of Our Lives and as Michael Hogan, the father figure on NBC's long running situation comedy The Hogan Family....

Born in Princeton, Illinois as Tommy Tim Taylor and known as "Timmy", Taylor moved with his family to Chillicothe, Illinois when he was two years old. His dad became athletic director of Chillicothe Township High School (now Illinois Valley Central High School) as well as a respected football coach, and both Josh and older brother Ron played quarterback under him. Heavily recruited for his football skills, Josh chose Dartmouth College, where he was a member of two Ivy Championship teams and graduated from there with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. He then received a full scholarship to the University of Denver law school, where he earned his juris doctor degree. After earning his law degree, he moved to the West Coast....

Mary Cheney.
Mary Cheney.

Number 6: Mary Cheney

Mary Claire Cheney (born March 14, 1969) is the second daughter of Dick Cheney, the former Vice President of the United States, and his wife, Lynne Cheney. She is politically conservative and is involved with a number of political action groups....

Cheney attended McLean High School in McLean, Virginia, graduating in the class of 1987. Following that, she attended Colorado College, her mother's alma mater, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated in 1991. She earned a graduate business degree from the University of Denver in 2002....

Neil Simon.
Neil Simon.

Number 5: Neil Simon

Marvin Neil Simon (born July 4, 1927) is an American playwright and screenwriter. He has written more than thirty plays and nearly the same number of movie screenplays, mostly adaptations of his plays. He has received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer....

He began creating comedy for which he got paid while still in high school, when at the age of fifteen, Simon and his brother created a series of comedy sketches for employees at an annual department store event. And to help develop his writing skill, he often spent three days a week at the library reading books by famous humorists such as Mark Twain, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman and S. J. Perelman.

Soon after graduating high school he signed up with the Army Air Force Reserve at New York University, eventually being sent to Colorado as a corporal. It was during those years in the Reserve that Simon began writing, starting as a sports editor. He was assigned to Lowry Air Force Base during 1945 and attended the University of Denver from 1945 to 1946....

Sinbad.
Sinbad.

Number 4: Sinbad

David Adkins (born November 10, 1956) — known by his stage name Sinbad — is an American stand-up comedian and actor. He became well known in the 1990s from being featured on his own HBO specials, appearing on several television series, and starring in the films Necessary Roughness, Houseguest, First Kid, Jingle All the Way and Good Burger....

Sinbad was born David Adkins in Benton Harbor, Michigan on November 10, 1956,[1][disputed – discuss] the son of Louise and the Baptist Rev. Dr. Donald Beckley Adkins. He has five siblings, named Donna, Dorothea, Mark, Michael, and Donald.[5] Sinbad attended Benton Harbor High School, where he was in the marching band as well as the math club. He attended college from 1974 to 1978 at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, where he lettered two seasons for the basketball team....

Ruth Handler.
Ruth Handler.

Number 3: Ruth Handler

Ruth Marianna Handler (née Mosko; November 4, 1916-April 27, 2002) was an American businesswoman and inventor. She served as the president of the toy manufacturer Mattel Inc., and is remembered for her role in marketing the Barbie doll.

Handler was born as Ruth Marianna Mosko in Denver, Colorado to Polish Jewish immigrants Ida Mosko (née Rubenstein) and Jacob Mosko....

From JWA.org: In 1932, she fell in love with a poor art student named Izzy Handler. Her family was terrified the teenagers would marry. During her sophomore year at the University of Denver, Handler vacationed in Los Angeles and landed a job at Paramount Studios. Izzy soon joined Ruth in California, and in 1938 the two married in Denver, with her family’s reluctant blessing. Returning to California, Handler encouraged her husband to drop the stereotypical “Izzy” in favor of his middle name, Elliot.

Condoleezza Rice.
Condoleezza Rice.

Number 2: Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza "Condi" Rice (born November 14, 1954) is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush. Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state, as well as the second African American secretary of state (after Colin Powell), and the second female secretary of state (after Madeleine Albright). Rice was President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to serve in that position. Before joining the Bush administration, she was a professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999. Rice also served on the National Security Council as the Soviet and Eastern Europe Affairs Advisor to President George H.W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification....

In 1967, the family moved to Denver, Colorado. She attended St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, and graduated at age 16 in 1971. Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father was then serving as an assistant dean.

Rice initially majored in Music, and after her sophomore year, she went to the Aspen Music Festival and School. There, she later said, she met students of greater talent than herself, and she doubted her career prospects as a pianist. She began to consider an alternative major. She attended an International Politics course taught by Josef Korbel, which sparked her interest in the Soviet Union and international relations. Rice later described Korbel (who is the father of Madeleine Albright, then a future U.S. Secretary of State), as a central figure in her life....

Alan Berg.
Alan Berg.

Number 1: Alan Berg

Alan Harrison Berg (January 1, 1934-June 18, 1984) was an American attorney and Denver, Colorado, talk radio show host. Berg was notable for his largely liberal, outspoken viewpoints and confrontational interview style.

On the evening of June 18, 1984, Berg was fatally shot in the driveway of his Denver town home by members of the white nationalist group, The Order due to being Jewish. He died immediately. Ultimately, two members of The Order, David Lane and Bruce Pierce, were convicted for their involvement in the case, though neither of homicide....

Alan Berg was a native of Chicago, Illinois. His family was Jewish.[1] He attended the University of Colorado Denver before transferring to the University of Denver. At age 22, Berg was one of the youngest people to pass the Illinois state bar examination and he went into practice in Chicago. However, he began to experience neuromuscular seizures and he had become an alcoholic. His then-wife, Judith Lee Berg (née Halpern), convinced him to quit his practice to seek help. They moved to Denver, her hometown, and he entered rehabilitation voluntarily. Although he completed his treatment, he continued to be plagued by seizures. He was ultimately diagnosed with a brain tumor. After it was surgically removed, he made a full recovery. For the rest of his life, Alan Berg wore a long fringe to hide the surgical scars....

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >