With many of the most memorable FSU alumni being remembered for their time as a Seminole, many others went on to accomplish incredible feats in places from Hollywood to outer space. FSU’s alumni network runs deep, but here are 15 of our most memorable.
Famous Alumni of Florida State University
15. Norman Thagard
As the first American to ride a Russian ship into space, Norman Thagard logged over 140 days in space and became the dean of public relations at FSU’s College of Engineering.
14. Charlie Crist
Charlie Crist served as the Governor of Florida from 2007-11 and is currently the U.S. Representative from Florida’s 13th congressional district. During his time at FSU, Crist was elected student body vice president.
13. Barry Jenkins
The Oscar-winning movie Moonlight was co-written by FSU alumni Barry Jenkins, a director, producer, and screenwriter. Alongside several FSU filmmaking graduates, Jenkins and his ‘Noles created If Beale Street Could Talk, which received numerous nominations and wins at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
12. Reubin Askew
The importance of Florida State University can be measured by Reubin Askew, who served as the Governor of Florida from 1971 to 1979. He was offered the position of Vice President on the George McGovern ticket in 1972 and ran for President of the United States in 1984. He served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War.
11. Paul Gleason
Known best as the teacher in The Breakfast Club, Paul Gleason became a successful actor after attending Florida State and playing football for the Seminoles. Gleason later signed with the MLB’s Cleveland Indians and enjoyed a short stint in minor league baseball.
10. Sara Blakely
As one of the richest women in the world, Sara Blakely became famous due to her creation of the company Spanx, an undergarment business. She also became a part-owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks back in 2015.
9. Tony La Russa
Best known for his run as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa attended the Florida State University College of Law after the end of his baseball playing career. In 33 seasons as an MLB manager, he won six pennants and three World Series Championships, as well as four Manager of the Year awards.
8. Faye Dunaway
A famous actress who broke through in the late 1960s, Faye Dunaway began acting after her big break in 1967 when she co-starred alongside Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde as Bonnie Parker. She’s won an Academy Award, three Golden Globes, a BAFTA, and an Emmy. She attended FSU, the University of Florida, and the University of Boston for theater.
7. Ron Simmons
He may not be remembered for his time as a football player, but Ron Simmons played football for the Florida State Seminoles and was a two-time Consensus All-American in 1979 and 1980 and had his number 50 retired by the program. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1981 NFL Draft and later played in the USFL until 1985.
His most famous accomplishments came after his football career ended. Simmons’ time in the World Wrestling Federation under the in-ring name Faarooq. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2002.
6. Cheryl Hines
An actor and director, Cheryl Hines is best known for her role in Curb Your Enthusiasm alongside Larry David, where she was nominated for two Emmy Awards. Hines grew up in Tallahassee and is a long-time supporter of FSU athletics.
5. Lee Corso
The face of ESPN College GameDay, the Miami Jackson Senior High School product was not only a star quarterback at Florida State, but he played baseball and was roommates with the legendary Burt Reynolds. Any casual fan of college football is going to know who the Sunshine Scooter is from his headgear selections every Saturday morning.
4. Jim Morrison
As the lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison gained worldwide fame. He didn’t finish school in Tallahassee, but the rock star is seen as one of the most famous faces of a band in history, especially after his early death at the age of 27 in Paris.
Morrison was famously arrested during a FSU football game in 1983 for “disturbing the peace by being drunk.”
3. Richard Simmons
Easily the most famous fitness instructor in the world, Richard Simmons is one of the greatest Florida State University alumni, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in art. He has been working on his fitness since the 1970’s and produced videos like “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.”
2. Deion Sanders
Easily the most famous athlete out of FSU, Deion Sanders became one of the most famous athletes in the world. “Prime Time” is maybe the best cornerback in the history of football, both in college and at the professional level. If that wasn’t enough, he was one of the game’s most electric kick returners. Plus, Sanders was played professional baseball for nine seasons.
1. Burt Reynolds
It is nearly impossible to be more famous than Burt Reynolds. Every man wanted to drive that black Trans Am with a cowboy hat, and every girl wanted to be with him. And before his time as the most famous actor in the world, Reynolds played running back for the Seminoles and was roommates with none other than Lee Corso.
This article was originally published November 7, 2019.