Natalie, Sharon, Jodie, Steve, James...Who are the Brightest Bulbs in Tinseltown?
By Erick Johnson
Beauty and brains in Tinseltown, now there's something you don't usually hear in the same sentence. But contrary to the egotistical bimbo image of some of Hollywood's biggest names, there are plenty of famous actors with amazing assets between their ears. Take Sharon Stone, for instance, who is in the midst of a career comeback at age 45, with big screen projects, a television berth on David E. Kelley's revamped "The Practice" -- and an upcoming cable movie in which she's to play none other than political brainiac Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sharon is a member of MENSA, the organization for those with genius IQ. She's widely reported to have an IQ of 154.
Stone's not the only MENSA member who also belongs to Hollywood's A list. Try playing Steve Martin, Geena Davis or Jodie Foster in a game of Trivial Pursuit and something tells us all three MENSA members are likely to come out on top.
Davis is not only an overachiever in her on-screen career, having won the Oscar for "The Accidental Tourist," as well as snagging a nomination for her performance in "Thelma & Louise," she also has an IQ of 140. And while that's smart of enough to be a neurosurgeon, she decided to marry one, Dr. Reza Jarrahy instead. The 47-year-old, Swedish-speaking actress -- who was also a semi-finalist for the 2000 U. S. Olympic Archery team -- was also smart enough to negotiate a salary of $200,000 per episode for her short lived ABC sitcom "The Geena Davis Show."
Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Jodie Foster graduated in 1980 as the class valedictorian from the private academy Lyc?e Fran?ais in Los Angeles. And she then went on to major in literature at Yale and graduated magna cum laude in 1985. She even received and honorary Doctorate from her alma mater in 1997.
Foster was one who showed signs of an extreme intelligence at an early age as well, reading by time she was 3 years old and speaking French fluently by age 14. As a matter of fact, by 14 Foster had taken Hollywood by storm with her performance as a young prostitute opposite Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorcese's "Taxi Driver."
If Foster's dazzling intelligence makes her abnormal, that's just fine with her. The actress was even quoted as saying, "Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from." Perhaps this is why she likes to decorate her Christmas tree with baby doll heads.
Of course Foster isn't the only high IQ thespian with habits those swimming in the mediocrity end of the intelligence pool might call strange.
Take James Woods for instance, whose is alleged to have an IQ tipping the scale at 180. The same Woods also scored a perfect 800 on his verbal SATs and a 779 on the math section and is an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And the same Woods, for relaxation, will do things like making a game of calculating the number of coffee cups in a restaurant he happens to be in, which we'd imagine not be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to having fun.
Speaking of MIT, Will Smith won a scholarship to that hallowed institution, but turned it down to pursue music.
There are many stars who are Ivy leaguers: Claire Danes attends Yale, as did Kellie Martin from "Life Goes On" and "ER," and Sara Gilbert of "Roseanne." Natalie Portman -- who reportedly aced her SATs while appearing on Broadway in "The Diary of Anne Frank" -- has been achieving A's at Harvard, alma mater of Elisabeth Shue and Matt Damon. David Duchovny earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton and a master's from Yale. Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton.
"The Wonder Years" star Fred Savage, and his brother and "Boy Meets World" star Ben, are Stanford grads.
Fred's puppy love from "Wonder Years," Danica McKellar, is a bonafide math phenom. She graduated summa cum laude from UCLA, co-authoring a highly-respected paper on "Percolation and Gibbs State Multiplicity for Ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller Models in Two Dimensions."
And whoever thought "Blossom" star Mayim Bialik would end up in neuroscience? She's taken it all the way to the doctoral level at the University of California, Los Angeles.