Grinnell, IA

3 Hollywood stars who lived in Grinnell, Iowa

Anita Durairaj
Hollywood signPhoto by Dewi Jones on Unsplash

Grinnell, Iowa is a small city with a small population. It is mostly known for being a college town and the home of Grinnell College.

Grinnell College is one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation and it is also known for producing some famous alumni. Here are the 3 most famous people who once lived in Grinnell.

Gary Cooper

Classic Hollywood star Gary Cooper attended Grinnell College in 1922. Legend has it that although he became a famous actor years later, he couldn't land a single role in any of the college plays at Grinnell. His acting career stalled at Grinnell.

Cooper tried out for the drama club but was turned down. He had stage fright and would start stuttering. While Cooper had a rough start as an actor at Grinnell, he was popular in other ways. He dated one of the more popular girls at the college and spent time drawing artwork.

Cooper eventually left Grinnell in 1924 and headed to Hollywood. He started off working as an extra on a movie set and then climbed the Hollywood ladder quickly. Do you know that he turned down the role of Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind because he thought the movie would flop?

Walter Koenig

You would know Walter Koenig as the timeless and classic character of Chekov in the early Star Trek series and movies. Koenig is not just an actor. He is also a director, screenwriter, and producer.

Koenig lived in Grinnell when he attended Grinnell College. At Grinnell, Koenig was actually a pre-med major. Koenig did not graduate from Grinnell. Instead, he transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles, and pursued an acting career. Koenig lived in Grinnell from 1954 -1956.

Kumail Nanjiani

Kumail Nanjiani is a comedian who is known for his roles in Franklin and Bash, the Colbert Report, and the HBO series Silicon Valley. Nanjiani is a Pakistani-American and an actor with a bright future. In 2018, he was listed in Time magazine's 100 most influential people.

Nanjiani grew up in Pakistan but he lived in Grinnell when he arrived in the U.S. for college. Nanjiani attended Grinnell College and majored in computer science and philosophy. He graduated from Grinnell in 2001.

When Nanjiani was asked in an interview about his impression of the city of Grinnell, he replied,

Very small, very very quiet. I was surprised by how not a big city it was. Those were my first impressions. I'd never been in a town that felt like that. - Kumail Nanjiani

Do you know of any other Hollywood actors or celebrities who lived in Grinnell? Leave your comments in the section down below.

Sources: The Grinnell Magazine, Wikipedia-Walter Koenig,

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