It’s probably an almost unbreakable law of American life that you never escape high school. The squeaky voice, the uncertain complexion, the devastating wardrobe misjudgment, the raw outbreak of ambition, the clever remark that did a shocking backflip on your tongue and came out utterly idiotic-all those calamities remain buried in your character, and, worse, embedded in the memories of your high-school classmates. You are what you were.

With that fundamental truth in mind, we thought we would check into the high-school lives of a number of Chicagoans who have gone on to fame-were they standouts even back then? Did any break the rule and grow into a swan, dripping glamour, despite membership in the hopelessly twitty model railroad club? (It happened to at least one of them.) Did some close-to-annoying high-school habit emerge as the building block of a lucrative career? (Yes, in a surprising number of cases.)

A sociologist would no doubt deride our research, but we found that for the most part the famous were on their way in high school. Anyway, the details are amusing-and at least now you’ll know not to challenge Harold Ramis to a duel.


Lara Flynn Boyle, Mae Jemison, Hugh Hefner, Herbie Hancock

David Hasselhoff, Nancy Reagan, Harrison Ford, Mike Krzyzewski

Donovan McNabb, Donald Rumsfeld, Jenny McCarthy, Liz Phair

Sandra Cisneros, Suze Orman, Dan Castellaneta, Harold Ramis, Dave Eggers