Are there any Hollywood celebrities with a PhD?

Last Modified Jan 19, 2023 17:46 GMT
Source: Official Facebook Page of Ken Jeong

Brian May, Mayim Bialik, Haing S. Ngor, William Sanderson, Harold Gould, Robert Vaughn, Don S. Davis, Graham Chapman, Shaquille O'Neal, and Ken Jeong are the top ten most well-known Hollywood celebrities with a PhD.

Since actors spend the majority of their time studying theatrics or attending auditions, it is typically assumed that they are poorly educated. This may be the case, but a select few actors and actresses have demonstrated academic excellence while still making the decision to pursue acting as a career out of a strong desire to accurately portray a role and become successful. The list of actors and actresses with doctorates is as follows:

Brian May

Brian May, one of the all-time great guitarists, serves as a major inspiration for all aspiring rock stars out there. The guitarist, who is now 76 and was also a founding member of Queen, still performs for the band. May, known as the "genius one," met Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury while he was still a student.

He majored in physics and mathematics for his BSc (Hons) degree at Imperial College London, where he received an upper second-class honors diploma in 1968. He pursued a PhD at the same institution from 1970 to 1974, with a focus on the reflected light from interplanetary dust and the dust's velocity in the plane of the solar system.

He joined the band "Smile," which also featured Roger Taylor, during his academic career. He ultimately decided to turn down Sir Bernard Lovell's invitation to work at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in order to stay close to "Smile." He put off finishing his astrophysics PhD because of his time with "Queen," much to his father's disapproval.

Source: Official Facebook Page of Brian May

However, he re-registered for his PhD in October 2006, and his thesis was submitted in August 2007 and accepted in September 2007. Finally, 37 years after beginning his PhD, Brian May finished it.

Haing S. Ngor

Haing S. Ngor was born in March 1940 in Cambodia and he received medical training before transitioning to surgery, with a focus on gynecology and obstetrics. He also had his own practice. Ngor, along with millions of others, was compelled to flee the city after the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh in 1975, and he was forced to portray a taxi driver. Even his glasses had to go; otherwise, the guerrillas might have thought he was an intellectual, which was a "crime" that warranted execution.

Ngor endured four years of gruesome torture, including being crucified, having a finger amputated, and witnessing his wife die after being beaten. He was made to work as a slave laborer.

He was freed by North Vietnamese forces in 1979, crossed into Thailand, and eventually made it to the US in 1980. Despite the fact that Ngor's medical credentials were not accepted in the United States, he quickly discovered acting as a new profession.

In 1985, he received recognition for his supporting performance as Dith Pran in the 1984 film The Killing Fields by receiving a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, and two BAFTAs.

Mayim Bialik

The best-known performance of Mayim Bialik is that of Blossom, the title character in the US sitcom that aired from 1991 to 1995. She has also acted in a number of films, such as Beaches from 1988, and on the television series The Secret Life of the American Teenager as a guidance counselor. She also portrayed Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory on CBS.

Bialik graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience, Hebrew, and Jewish studies in 2000. Following a brief hiatus to resume her acting career, Bialik earned her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA seven years later, with a focus on hypothalamic activity in Prader-Willi syndrome patients.

Source: Official Facebook Page of Mayim Bialik

A motivating biology teacher helped Bialik develop a passion for science. "She was an amazing, amazing teacher," says Bialik. "I think having that one-on-one experience and having a female role model really gave me the confidence to fall in love with science."

William Sanderson

William Sanderson, a character actor from Tennessee, has appeared in a plethora of film and television projects since his debut in 1976. He has also made appearances in the Emmy Award-winning series True Blood, but his roles in the films Blade Runner, Deadwood, and Newhart are probably what have made him most well-known.

Sanderson studied at the University of Memphis, where in 1968 he earned a degree in business. He continued his education, earning his doctorate in law in 1971. "Once I was in my last year of law school, I started doing plays," Sanderson said in an interview from 2009. "And I got hooked." "I did a play called Marat/Sade, and I never had so much fun in my life."

Source: Official Instagram Account of William Sanderson

Harold Gould

Harold Goldstein, better known by his stage name Harold Gould, was a well-known actor who had a successful and lengthy career in theater, television, and film. Gould appeared in well-known movies like The Sting, Love and Death, and Mel Brooks' Silent Movie. He is best known for his roles in Rhoda and The Golden Girls, two television comedies.

Gould attended Cornell University to study speech and drama, graduating with a master's in 1948 and a doctorate in theater in 1953. Prior to pursuing a full-time acting career, he worked as a teacher at the University of California, Riverside, and at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he taught drama, literature, and speech while a graduate student.

Acting was all about exploration and remaining active for Gould. "Acting is something I enjoy, and the alternative is doing what—sitting and letting your mind go dead?" he said in 2003. "You've got to keep your mind occupied and active; otherwise, fungus begins to grow, and it obscures everything else."

Robert Vaughn

Robert Vaughn, an Emmy Award-winning actor, is probably best known for his roles as Frank Flaherty in Washington: Behind Closed Doors and Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Vaughan also had a more recent role, appearing in the British TV drama Hustle from 2004 to 2012.

Source: Official Facebook Page of Robert Vaughn

Despite his success in the entertainment industry, Vaughan never gave up on his academic goals. In 1960, the same year he made his film debut in The Magnificent Seven, he graduated with a master's degree in theater from the Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences. He then combined his acting career with his studies in the 1960s, earning a doctorate in communications from the University of Southern California in 1970.

Two years later, his dissertation was turned into the book Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting. Vaughan expressed his gratitude to USC, calling it "very kind" for accommodating his demanding acting career. "They allowed me some flexibility, which was certainly alright with me, and I was able to complete the work," Robert says.

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O'Neal is one of the heaviest NBA players in history, standing 7'1" and weighing 325 pounds. However, his rundown as a rapper and actor is much less noteworthy. O'Neal has appeared in 12 films to date, including Adam Sandler's 2011 comedy Jack and Jill, Scary Movie 4, and Kazaam. O'Neal even received the honor of a Razzie Award nomination for his role in the 1997 movie "Steel.”

Source: Official Facebook Page of Shaquille O’Neal

O'Neal also obtained an online master's degree from the University of Phoenix in 2005, though, to keep his options open. Interestingly, the star was quoted as saying, "It's just something to have on my resume for when I go back to reality.” “Someday I might have to put down a basketball and have a regular 9-to-5 like everybody else."

O'Neal earned his education doctorate in human resource development from Barry University in 2012; his thesis was titled "The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles." O'Neal told ABC News that he wants to attend law school and pursue a career as a motivational speaker.

Ken Jeong

Comedy actor Ken Jeong's portrayal of Leslie Chow in the Hangover series had moviegoers laughing into their popcorn. But this witty guy has a lot more tricks up his sleeve. He graduated from Duke University in 1990 before continuing his education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned his medical degree in 1995. He has a California medical license and has practiced medicine for a while.

While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Duke, Jeong caught the acting bug. "I was just hooked," says Jeong. "I just had to perform in some capacity, and while I did love medicine, acting was my destiny."

Source: Official Facebook Page of Ken Jeong

When Jeong was 36 years old, his wife gave him the motivation and assistance he needed to resign from his position as a doctor and devote himself entirely to acting.

Without her support, Jeong claims he wouldn't have had the courage to switch. "I tried to be realistic because medicine is a hard skill to learn and acting can be a volatile career," he says. Fortunately for Jeong, everything turned out well.

Don S. Davis

Don S. Davis, who was born in Missouri, appears to have always been deeply passionate about acting and the arts. He double majored in theater and art at Southwest Missouri College, where he received his Bachelor of Science in 1965. Following that, he served in the Army for three years on active duty before earning a master's in theater from Southern Illinois University (SIU) in 1970.

After that, Davis began to teach, and he later went back to SIU to complete his doctorate in theater, which he earned in 1982. At this point, he began landing TV roles, allowing him to combine his acting and teaching careers. He made the decision to focus solely on film and television in 1987, though. His most well-known performances are as General George S. Hammond in Stargate SG-1 and Major Garland Briggs in Twin Peaks.

Graham Chapman

Graham Chapman, a star of Monty Python, attended Emmanuel College in Cambridge in 1959 to study medicine. Although he had previously been rejected by the group, Chapman joined the Footlights dramatic club while he was there and began his journey toward becoming an actor. John Cleese, a fellow Monty Python performer and collaborator, whom Chapman met at his audition, ended up becoming his new writing partner.

Chapman enrolled in St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School after receiving his degree in 1962. He received his medical degree from St. Bartholomew's in 1966, and he then started working as a doctor.

However, his research didn't appear to be motivated by a genuine passion for the medical field. In fact, he is reported to have said, "There wasn't really a long-term ambition in this, just as long as I made progress in my education."


Q. Are there any Hollywood celebrities with PhDs?

A. There are many well-educated Hollywood celebrities, but most of them, such as Mayim Bialik, Ken Jeong, and others, don't need to brag about their academic credentials because their acting careers do.

Q. What is the net worth of Mayim Bialik?

A. The net worth of Mayim Bialik is estimated to be $25 million, as of 2023.

Q. What is the net worth of Shaquille O’Neal?

A. The net worth of Shaquille O’Neal is estimated to be $400 million, as of 2023.