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9 famous FIU connections: Brad Pitt, Indiana Jones, Disney and more


FIU has nearly 200,000 alumni. We’re the 7th largest university in America. So it might stand to reason that we are in some way connected to some incredible people and places. While they’re not all direct connections, some may surprise you. So next time one of these people or entities come up in conversation by the water cooler, you will be armed with some conversation on the FIU connection. Happy Friday!

1. Disney

FIU and Disney? Yep. There may be more connections, but we found the FIU Wall of Wind at Epcot Center in a ride known as StormStruck at Innoventions. There is also a class called Rhetoric of Cinema (ENG 4135) at FIU that focuses heavily on Disney Films. And then there is this guy who was playing Disney music on the piano in GC.

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2. Brad Pitt

This one may be a bit of stretch. You see, Miami artist and FIU alumnus Orestes De La Paz has an art exhibit that involves turning human fat into soap. And Brad Pitt plays Tyler Durden in Fight Club; Durden also makes soap from human fat waste from a lipo clinic. Was that too much of stretch? O.K, fine. Brad also starred in Ocean’s Eleven with FIU alum Andy Garcia.

3. Louvre Museum in Paris, France

The architect who designed our Frost Art Museum, Yann Weymouth, was also the chief designer of the Louvre’s glass pyramids.

4. Indiana Jones

FIU Religious Studies Professor Tudor Parfitt has been compared to Indiana Jones on various occasions.  He even went looking for the Ark of the Covenant. Most recently, he took some students to Papua New Guinea to study tribes practicing Judaism. These tribes were at one point cannibals, but now they use rugby to settle their differences.

5. Michael Jackson

Just type “Michael Jackson FIU” and the connection will be clear. FIU alumnus, musician and composer Tony Succar created a tribute album to the late King of Pop and even performed right here at the inaugural TEDxFIU.

6. Clint Eastwood

Dennis Lehane MFA ’01 is the author of some amazing best-selling books including Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island. He also happens to be an FIU Creative Writing Program alumnus. Dennis connects FIU to Martin Scorsese, Ben Affleck and Clint Eastwood. They directed the movies based on his novels.

7. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leo was, of course, in Shutter Island as well, but he is also connected to FIU by being a Horatio Alger Award Recipient. On the same night that he was honored, our very own Dr. Herbert Wertheim was recognized as well. Dr. Wertheim is a long-time supporter of FIU. Our performing arts center, the conservatory and, most recently, the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine are all named after him.

8. Alfred Hitchcock

There is a small town called Bodega just off California’s Pacific Coast Highway. Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was filmed there and the original Bodega Country Store now belongs to FIU alumnus Michael Fahmie. It boasts the largest collection of Hitchcock’s The Birds memorabilia ever.

9. President Obama

President’s Obama second term started with a poem by Richard Blanco ’91 MFA ’97, America’s first Hispanic inaugural poet and a two-time FIU alumnus from the College of Engineering and the Creative Writing Program.