ETHS boasts celebrity graduates

Grace Johnson

In the 125 years of Evanston Township High School’s existence, future celebrities, award-winners, chief executive officers and professional athletes have graced its hallways.

In fact, so many alums of ETHS, 1600 Dodge Ave., now carry the label “famous” in one form or another that in 2003, the Distinguished Alumni Award was created to acknowledge “alumni who are noted in their field of endeavour and/or recognized for their expertise and good works by their peers and others,” according to the school’s Web site.

“Winners have been spread all over the map in terms of their careers,” said Kathy Miehls, ETHS director of alumni and public relations.

Past honorees include George W. Ball, the under secretary of state for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson; Gordon Segal, the founder and CEO of Crate and Barrel; and Nancy Gustafson, an internationally-acclaimed opera singer.

While these names aren’t very recognizable, they do show the depth of success that ETHS has helped birth, Miehls said.

“This is a very vibrant, intellectual community,” she said. “University towns tend to attract interesting people. ETHS over the past 125 years certainly has been the beneficiary of that and has produced some really amazing people.”

ETHS has also produced plenty of alums famous in the entertainment world.

Siblings John and Joan Cusack are both ETHS graduates and went on to star in several movies together. John Cusack, who was in the class of 1984, is perhaps most famous for his role as a teenager in “Say Anything.” Joan Cusack, a 1980 graduate, was nominated for an Academy Award twice for her roles in “Working Girl” and “In & Out.”

Jeremy Piven, a friend of John Cusack since they attended ETHS together, has won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his role as Ari Gold on HBO’s “Entourage.”

Jeffrey Lieber, co-creator of the TV show “Lost,” graduated from ETHS in 1987.

With so much talent, it can be hard to recognize everyone, Miehls said.

“The length and breadth of talent of those who have been honored just scratches the surface,” she said.

Editor’s Note: As a preview of ETHS’s 125th anniversary festivities this weekend, this week The Daily will feature different aspects of the school’s history.

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