“This is the place that formed me, and yet it was the beginning of a profound metamorphosis
way in that I was ready to go out into the world. And that’s what this place did,”
This Pittsburgh-area native gave life to death.
John Russo, BS '61, English Education, co-wrote "Night of the Living Dead,"
the 1968 horror classic and genesis of the zombie genre.
Russo worked on the film with legendary director George Romero, and you can
credit Russo with concocting the not-so-dignified characteristics of zombies
– they rise from the dead to seek human flesh.
Since then, he has written, produced or directed more than 20 films.
Read our Q&A with him from 2015.
The name Antoine Fuqua probably doesn't ring a bell for any WVU basketball diehards
The 6-foot point guard came to WVU on a basketball scholarship and to study
electrical engineering in the 1980s.
But he's not known for basketball or engineering.
Rather, as an ESPN article put it, he's like "the Phil Jackson of Hollywood."
As a director and producer, Fuqua has coached some of Tinseltown's finest from
Denzel Washington ("Training Day," "The Equalizer," "The Magnificent Seven")
to Bruce Willis ("Tears of the Sun").
Photo courtesy of CBS
Born in Charleston, W.Va., Conchata Ferrell has earned two Primetime Emmys for
her role as Berta the housekeeper on "Two and a Half Men."
She attended WVU but later graduated from Marshall University (which we'll
forgive her for) with a degree in social studies in education.
Before becoming a household name on the small screen, Ferrell made a splash
for herself as a supporting actress in films such as "Mystic Pizza," "Edward
Scissorhands," "Erin Brockovich" and "Mr. Deeds."
Another Mountaineer who made his name primarily as a TV star ("Falcon Crest," "Flamingo Road") also appeared in several films.
Morgantown's own David Selby earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees at WVU. His film credits include "The Social Network" and as the voice of Commissioner Gordon in the animated "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns."
In 1998, he received the first Life Achievement Award from WVU's College of Creative Arts.
This Mountaineer Marching Band alumnus was also a force behind the television
industry, particularly as a composer for the Star Trek television franchise.
He'd even won an Emmy for composing the score of the series finale of "Star
But Jay Chattaway has worked on his share of films, too. On his list are Chuck
Norris flicks "Missing in Action" and "Braddock: Missing in Action III," and
slasher cult classic "Maniac."
Chattaway, on a music scholarship, graduated from WVU with his bachelor's and
master's degrees. In 2013, he donated sheet music he composed for Star Trek
to the University Libraries.
Paul Dooley's resume includes playing on-screen dad to the likes of Molly Ringwald
("Sixteen Candles"), Helen Hunt ("Mad About You") and Julia Roberts ("Runaway
Younger audiences may pick up on his voice – he's Sarge in Disney's "Cars"
The Parkersburg, W.Va., native's roles in entertainment have been wide-ranging,
as he co-created groundbreaking children's show "The Electric Company" and
has worked as a cartoonist, magician, clown and standup comic tryin' to make
Dooley, BA '52, Speech and Drama, has also appeared in the films "Popeye" and
We'll try to claim Cheryl Hines, too, because she attended WVU but graduated
from the University of Central Florida.
Hines is mostly recognized as Larry David's wife Cheryl on "Curb Your Enthusiasm,"
though she's had a few major film roles co-starring opposite Robin Williams
in "RV" and as a waitress in … wait for it …"Waitress" with Keri Russell.
As a digital matte artist, Tim Mueller, BFA '00, Graphic Design, has crafted
unreal worlds for several major motion picture blockbusters. Through computer graphics, he produces backdrops,
from lush forests to otherworldly planets, for movies and TV shows that would otherwise be impossible to film.
He's worked on films including "Avatar," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's
End" and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."
How could this list be complete without Morgantown's favorite son and America's
favorite bumbling deputy?
Although we tend to picture Barney Fife at the mere mention of Don Knotts, the
comedic actor's presence in film is vastly underrated.
He starred in "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," "The Apple Dumpling Gang" and "The
Incredible Mr. Limpet," in which he famously voiced a talking fish for much
of the film.
Knotts earned his bachelor's degree in education with a minor in speech at WVU
in 1948. A statue honoring him was unveiled in the summer of 2016 in front
of the Metropolitan Theatre on High Street in Morgantown.
Alright, alright, alright
Matthew McConaughey must have a thing for West Virginia football as much as
he does for Lincoln cars.
Two of his major motion pictures have had ties to Mountaineer pigskin.
The more obvious of the two is the 2006 biopic "We Are Marshall," which chronicles
the 1970 Marshall University plane crash that killed 37 football players
along with several coaches and staff members. McConaughey played Marshall
head coach Jack Lengyel, who rebuilds the team from the tragedy. The Mountaineers
and then-head coach Bobby Bowden are depicted in the film.
More than a decade later, McConaughey tapped back into the Mountain State for
inspiration. For his latest movie "Gold," McConaughey credits WVU football
coach Dana Holgorsen's hair for his look.
He told the
Austin American-Statesman, "I haven't told anyone else this. I went to the hair lady, said, 'It's
this guy's hair,' and handed her a picture of Dana Holgorsen."
Holgorsen's frazzled mane is often the butt of jokes, especially as it warps
and takes on new forms as a result of the weather or just his downright intensity
on the sidelines.
But one of the world's sexiest studs asked for Holgs' hairdo. Who's laughing
Also, our friends over at
The Smoking Musket have pitched the perfect sequel to McConaughey's "Gold."
Illustration courtesy of Michael Miller/The Smoking Musket