Skidmore College is more than just that co-ed institution that peeks out from a wooded area at the end of North Broadway. It’s a hot-bed of creativity and intrigue—a higher-ed institution that some of the world’s greatest minds have chosen as their place to study. How do I know this? Well, for one, I grew up with a Skidmore professor father and administrator mother. But I also spent my childhood on campus (I even went to nursery school there!), and I know how special a place it is. (Ironically, I didn’t go there myself, but had I gone there, I would’ve definitely flourished.)
OK, so their may be another university in Texas that resembles the one on North Broadway, but they can’t lay claim to the laundry list of talented artists (and at least one Miss America), who matriculated to Skidmore at some point in their lives. (Whether they graduated is another thing altogether, as you’ll soon see.) Below, I’ve rounded up the most well-known Skidmore alums and what they’re best known for.
Jon Bernthal – If you blanched through the first few seasons of AMC’s The Walking Dead like I did—nothing says “blow chunks” like watching a zombie ravenously eat at a live person’s innards in the post-dinner hours—you would’ve been mesmerized by the performance of Jon Bernthal as gritty bad-boy policeman Shane Walsh, who played the “other man” in a saucy love triangle gone post-apocalyptic. Since then, Bernthal’s landed roles in the Oscar-nominated Wolf of Wall Street; Netflix superhero series Daredevil as Frank Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher), which has since been spun-off into its own standalone series; and 2017’s Baby Driver. Bernthal attended Skidmore for a jaunt, before dropping out and joining the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia.
Nathan Barr – When I was a kid studying the cello and taking lessons from Skidmore’s cello teacher, the great Ann Alton, the college student with the lesson after mine was always Nate Barr. He was super affable, and had a big smile for me every time; after all, I was sort of being forced to learn a stringed instrument by my parents and wasn’t too happy about being there most of the time. Barr, on the other hand, made the most of his musical talent; he built a successful career in soundtracking movies and TV shows in Hollywood. Starting out in the horror genre (see: Hostel and Cabin Fever), he eventually got gigs with HBO, composing the music for True Blood (everything except that title theme) and most recently, the inescapable, emotionally charged title theme (and music for) FX’s The Americans, in its final season on the cable network (see above).
Michael Zegen – This past winter, my wife and I sat down to watch Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, just hoping to find a series to fill the void of the one we’d just finished (PBS’ addicting period drama, Poldark). It’s entirely possible that we set a record for binge-watching speed; Mrs. Maisel is like one of those books you can’t put down. And Michael Zegen, who plays the title character’s down-and-out husband, is a big reason why the show’s so great. He has this old-world-type quality to him that you just can’t teach in a drama program. He graduated from Skidmore in 2001.
Lake Bell – It’s not a bad start when your first show is ER. From there, Bell appeared in a series of critically acclaimed dramas, including The Practice, its spin-off Boston Legal and How to Make It in America. A versatile actress, she’s also voiced multiple characters on Netflix toon comedy, BoJack Horseman, and appeared in both of Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer TV reboots. She attended Skidmore for a spell before transferring.
Evan Dando – Quite possibly the most ’90s musician of all time—the second most ’90s band, The Barenaked Ladies, name-dropped him in one of their own songs—Evan Dando is the frontman of Boston alt-rock band The Lemonheads, which has been churning out genius-level slacker rock for decades (see: It’s a Shame About Ray and Come On Feel The Lemonheads). Never one to be shy about all the drugs he was taking or the famous women he was dating, Dando is truly one of the last great rock stars of that era who’s still standing. He briefly went to Skidmore in the ’80s before dropping out due to horrendous grades.
Justin Henry – His résumé does not snake through the decades like many of his contemporaries, but rather reads like a master class in classy choices (he was a child actor, by the way; that’s him above): Kramer vs. Kramer, Fantasy Island, Sixteen Candles and ER. For the former-most film, he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, making him the youngest person in history nominated for a golden statue. Acting wasn’t his only gig; he got a BA in Psych from Skidmore in ’93.
G. Love – We put G. Love and Special Sauce on one of our most-shared lists of all time, because he got his start jamming at Caffè Lena. “Cold Beverage,” anyone? Sadly, he didn’t graduate from Skidmore, but thankfully, it helped launch his incredibly cool music career.
Tawny Godin – There she is…Miss America…at Skidmore College. Wait, what? Yes, Miss America 1976 was a Skiddie for awhile, but didn’t graduate.
Scott Jacoby – I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with and recording at Scott’s studio in New York City—and pretending to be cool in the corner of one of his cocktail parties. A Skidmore grad, class of ’93, Scott is a Grammy-winning record producer, who’s worked with an eclectic range of acts, such as Coldplay, John Legend, Sia and Vampire Weekend. (And my band at the time, Gun Gallery.) Prior to that, he was also “Big in Japan,” scoring a No. 1 single there.
Jane Roberts – How could we leave Jane—or should we say Seth—off this list? Another subject of a solid, newly relaunched saratogaliving.com feature, Roberts was a New Age movement guru, who went on to speak as “Seth,” a second “personality” that people have gone on to research for decades. She studied poetry at the college, but dropped out.