Mike Pence: Politician
Career politician Mike Pence has represented Indiana’s 9th Congressional District in the U.S. Congress (2001–2013), served as Indiana governor (2013–2017), and was U.S. vice president under Donald Trump (2017–2021). A 1986 graduate of the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at IUPUI, the Columbus, Indiana, native has drawn controversy throughout his career.
In 1990, Pence admitted to using campaign funds from a failed bid for Congress to pay personal expenses, including his mortgage, groceries, and his wife’s car payments. As governor, he signed bills further restricting abortions and permitting certain types of discrimination on religious grounds.
Pence, an evangelical Christian, remained ever loyal to Trump, who placed him in charge of the
nation’s pandemic response. After he downplayed its severity, more than 400,000 people died on his watch.
Angelo Pizzo: Screenwriter
Bloomington-bred from age 3 until he graduated from IU as a political science major, Angelo Pizzo then enrolled in the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and began his career in the film and television industry.
Best known for authoring the screenplay for the film Hoosiers, which featured characters inspired by tiny Milan High School’s 1954 state championship team, Pizzo was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and given the “Sagamore of the Wabash” award—Indiana’s highest civilian honor for service to the state—which he shared with the film’s director, David Anspaugh.
Pizzo and Anspaugh, close friends from their IU days, also collaborated on Rudy, another major player in the lexicon of inspirational sports films.
Pizzo, who returned to Bloomington in 2005, has continued to write screenplays and serves on the board of the Heartland Film Festival. —Tracy Zollinger Turner
Ernie Pyle: War Correspondent
A pioneer of human-interest journalism, Ernie Pyle was renowned for telling straightforward, personal stories about people he met on his travels, and, most famously, on the front lines of World War II.
Pyle hailed from Dana, Indiana, and was already interested in becoming a journalist when he arrived at IU in 1919. He left school just shy of graduating, landing a reporting job in La Porte Indiana, and at the Washington Daily News in D.C. soon after, where he worked as a reporter and aviation columnist.
In the 1930s, he traveled throughout North and South America with his wife, Jerry, writing the stories of individual experiences during the Great Depression. His frank conversations with infantrymen as a war correspondent won him a Pulitzer Prize, but the work also ultimately claimed his life—he was killed while covering the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, in 1945. —Tracy Zollinger Turner
Dan Quayle: Politician
James Danforth Quayle, grandson of wealthy newspaper magnate Eugene C. Pulliam, chose politics over journalism and ascended to become the nation’s 44th vice president.
A native of Huntington, Indiana, Quayle got his B.A. from DePauw University in 1969. Six days before graduating and becoming eligible for the draft, he joined the Indiana National Guard. He earned a J.D. from the IU School of Law–Indianapolis in 1974 while still in the guard and despite not having met the school’s admission standards.
Quayle was elected to Congress in 1976 and to the U.S. Senate in 1980. In 1988, he was chosen as the vice-presidential running mate to George H.W. Bush and came under fire for his lack of political acumen, his military service, and
a controversial relationship with Paula Parkinson, a D.C. lobbyist and subject of a 1980 Playboy pictorial.
Quayle is also famous for not knowing how to spell “potato.” —Rodney Margison
Will Shortz: Puzzlemaster
Will Shortz is the only known person to hold a degree in enigmatology—the study of puzzles—which he created through Indiana University’s Individualized Major Program in 1974.
Shortz, who has authored or edited more than 100 books, has been puzzle editor for The New York Times since 1993. He founded the World Puzzle Championship
in 1992, is a director of the U.S. Puzzle Team, and hosts the Sunday Puzzle cooperative game on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Shortz also possesses the world’s largest private collection of puzzle books and magazines, which is comprised of more than 20,000 publications dating back to 1545.
His TV and media appearances include Oprah, The Daily Show, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, and Jeopardy! —Sophie Bird
Ranveer Singh: Bollywood Actor
Then-aspiring actor Ranveer Singh Bhavnani was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and came to the United States to attend IU, where he focused on creative writing and minored in theater. When he returned to India, he worked as an advertising copywriter and auditioned for Hindi films.
In 2010, he landed the lead role in a romantic comedy called Band Baaja Baarat, which led to a series of other Bollywood castings that cemented his celebrity. He is now one of the top- paid and most critically acclaimed actors in India.
He has earned five Filmfare Awards (the Hindi film industry’s most prominent honors), as well as International Indian Film Academy awards, Star Screen awards, and several others. —Tracy Zollinger Turner
Mark Spitz: Olympic Swimmer
Mark Spitz was already a two-time Olympic gold medalist and held numerous world swimming records when he decided to attend Indiana University in 1969 and train with legendary swim coach Doc Counsilman. Spitz later described the step as “the biggest decision of my life [and] the best.”
As a Hoosier, Spitz won eight individual NCAA titles, and in 1971 was named the top amateur athlete in the United States. The following year, he became a household name when he won seven gold medals at the Munich Olympics, setting a new world record in each event.
Spitz is one of just five Olympians to win nine or more gold medals in a career. He retired from competition following the 1972 Olympics at age 22 and eventually became a corporate spokesman, motivational speaker, Realtor, stockbroker, and entrepreneur. —Rodney Margison