6 Degrees of Ursinus

You may not expect to run into a celebrity while on campus, but on occasion, you might just run across the filming of a tv show or a best-selling author signing their latest release. From actors and actresses to musicians and authors, we’ve had some pretty impressive sightings over the years. Check them out below!

Looking for more? Visit our friends at the Collegeville Italian Bakery. They are a magnet to celebrities, athletes and authors passing through Collegeville!

Name Connection
Viola Davis, actress  
Viola Davis In 2014, Ursinus was the location for the pilot episode of ABC’s hit show How to Get away With Murder with Viola Davis. Filming took place in Olin Hall. They eventually reconstructed an identiccal match to Olin Auditorium in Hollywood to continue the season’s filming. This iconic photo above is actually the Olin Auditorium chalk board!
Wynton Marsalis, musician  
Wynton Marsellis The Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center opened on the Ursinus campus on April 26, 2005 with a performance by this jazz legend.
Bruce Springsteen, singer  
springsteen

Just before Time Magazine named Bruce Springsteen “Rock’s New Sensation” in 1975, the singer was touring college campuses in Pennsylvania, a short trip away from his home town in New Jersey – and one of the stops was Ursinus College.

The show, held on April 20 in Helfferich Hall. At the time of the show, Springsteen had released “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J,” which included “Blinded by the Light,” “Spirit in the Night,” “Lost in the Flood,” and “For You,” and “The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle,” which featured “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” and “The E Street Shuffle.”

Dr. Jonas Salk, polio vaccine

Jonas Salk

Dr. Salk spoke at Ursinus’s Founder’s Day Convocation in November 1991 in Bomberger Hall.

Salk, who was working on a vaccine to combat the AIDS virus, vowed months prior that he would inject himself with the experimental AIDS vaccine before the end of this year. He spoke about world health issues.

President Richard P. Richter confered honorary doctor of science degree on Salk.

In 2013, his son, scientist Peter L. Salk M.D. spoke in the Lenfest Theater and led a screening of a film about the polio vaccine and his father, entitled ‘The Shot Felt ‘Round the World.’

Elin Hildebrand, author  
Elin Hilderbrand Elin Hilderbrand is an American writer mostly of romance novels. Hilderbrand’s novels have all been set on and around Nantucket Island, however she was born and raised in Collegeville. Hilderbrand is a supporter of the local Towne Bookstore located at Providence Towne Center. Ursinus has long valued a strong relationship with Towne Bookstore (formerlly known as Trappe Bookstore). When authors of Elin’s status came to town to do a summer event in July 2019, Bomberger Auditorium was the choice location.
Tony Danza, actor  
tony danza

Actor Tony Danza (Taxi, Who’s the Boss?) came to Ursinus College campus in 2012 to promote his book, I Would Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High.

Cuba Gooding Jr., actor  
shadowboxer

Shadowboxer, a 2005 crime thriller film directed by Lee Daniels and starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Helen Mirren, and Mo’Nique. It opened in limited release. In 2004, the campus was contacted by the Philadelphia Film Office and asked to be a location for several scenes of the film, including a full Commencement scene outdoors. Unfortunately, the UC scenes were cut during post-production!

David Spade, comedian  
David Spade

David Spade of SNL fame and movies like Tommy Boy did his standup routine to a packed Helfferich Gymnasium audience at the Spring Fling in 1993.

Jennifer Weiner, author  
 jennifer weiner

Towne Book Center once again partnered with Ursinus who hosted best-selling author, Jennifer Weiner in June 2019 in Bomberger Auditorium. Weiner spoke about her newest book, Mrs. Everything. Jennifer Weiner is an American writer, television producer, and journalist. She is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her debut novel, published in 2001, was Good in Bed. Her novel In Her Shoes was made into a movie starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine.

Queen Noor of Jordan  
Queen Noor of Jordan Queen Noor (born Lisa Najeeb Halaby in the United States to an Arab-American family), widow of Jordan’s King Hussein, addressed 307 graduates and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2003. It was Noor’s connection to a Jordanian school, the Jubilee School, that resulted in her being speaker. Jordan’s minister of tourism attended Ursinus in the late 1990s and the college’s director of admissions visited the country and offered Ursinus scholarships to two Jubilee students a year.
Joyce Carol Oates, writer  
 Joyce Carol Oates Author Joyce Carol Oates came to Collegeville in 1996 as the commencement speaker and received an honorary doctor of humane letters. She addressed 430 graduates, the Ursinus’s largest class since just after World War II, when returning veterans enrolled in the college.
Dan Brown, author  

Dan Brown, author

Fans of New York Times best-selling author Daniel James Brown filled Bomberger Auditorium to hear him speak about his book “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” in 2016. He also met with fans and signed books.

Andrew Wyeth, artist  

Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeth, prominent watercolor artist, was one of three persons active in the arts who will receive an honorary doctoral degree from Ursinus College on November 7, 1971, according to an announcement by Dr. William S. Pettit, President. Wyeth received a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree (L.H.D.) at the annual Founders Day ceremonies on the Ursinus campus,
Carrot Top, comedian  

Carrot Top
The comedian—and his trunks filled with props—performed in Ursinus’s Wismer Lower Lounge twice in the early-1990s.