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The List: Famous Mormons
With two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) running for president, the LDS, known colloquially as the Mormon Church, has been in the news of late. The List this week looks at noted members of the Mormon faith and the church’s impact in today’s world.
- Presidential candidates — Mitt Romney was a Mormon missionary in France in his youth. He was the CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Games and in 2003 became the 70th governor of Massachusetts. John Huntsman Jr. served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan for two years. In 2005 he became the 16th governor of Utah, and in 2009 he was named the ambassador to China.
- Sports figure — Steve Young, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1992 and 1994 and the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX, graduated from Brigham Young University. His wife, Barbara, went against the church’s position on gay marriage by opposing Proposition 8 in California.
- Actors — Jon Hederwas brilliant in as an alienated teenager in “Napoleon Dynamite.” The final dance scene in the movie is hilarious. In his youth, Mr. Heder spent two years in Japan on the traditional proselytizing mission for the LDS. Aaron Eckhart recently starred alongside Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” and starred in the science-fiction film “Battle: Los Angeles.” He did his two-year missionary work in France and Switzerland.
- Actress —Katherine Heigl, who starred in “Knocked Up,” “27 Dresses,” “Killers” and “Life As We Know It,” grew up in a Mormon family after her parents converted to the faith. She chose not to live with husband Josh Kelley before they were married, saying, “I think I just wanted to save something for the actual marriage.”
- Noted politicians — Harry Reid, the Democratic senator from Nevada, has been the Senate majority leader since January 2007. Mr. Reid converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while he was a college student. He has said that his Democratic values mirror Mormon values. Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatchof Utah has been in the Senate since 1977. He is an accomplished songwriter. One of his songs was featured in the 2004 film “Ocean’s Twelve.”
- Singers — Donny and Marie Osmond. Donny was a teen idol in the 1970s, with a number of huge hit songs. He and his sister Marie host a show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. The “Empress of Soul,” Gladys Knight, is also a member of the LDS and helps organize a gospel choir.
- Rock band — Brandon Flowers, the lead singer and co-founder of the rock band the Killers,is a member of the Mormon faith. The Killers’ first album, “Hot Fuss,” sold 7 million units worldwide. Mr. Flowers grew up in Utah and Nevada. He named the oldest of his three sons Ammon after a Book of Mormon prophet.
- Television/media — Conservative talk-radio hostGlenn Beckbecame a national phenomenon on the Fox News Channel, earning stunning ratings in the 5 p.m. slot. Now he hosts a two-hour show on his subscription-based Internet TV network, GBTV. Mr. Beck became a Mormon after meeting his future wife, Tania. “My wife is, like, hot, and she wouldn’t have sex with me until we got married,” Mr. Beck said. “And she wouldn’t marry me unless we had a religion.”
- Quiz show champion — Ken Jennings won 74 “Jeopardy!” games before he was defeated by challenger Nancy Zerg on his 75th appearance in 2004. His total earnings on “Jeopardy!” were $3,172,700. Mr. Jennings did his two-year missionary work for the LDS in Madrid before attending Brigham Young University to study computer science.
- Famous business — Founded by John Willard Marriott, Marriott International has about 3,400 lodging properties in the United States and 67 other countries and territories. Marriott began his business career running a root-beer stand with his wife in Washington, D.C., where he had been a Mormon missionary. The couple later expanded their enterprises into a chain of restaurants and hotels.
- Famous business leaders — Dave Checketts, 55, is the chairman of SCP Worldwide and owner of the soccer club Real Salt Lake. Bill Marriott, 79, is the chairman and CEO of the hotel chain Marriott International. Gary L. Crittenden,59, is the former chief financial officer of Citigroup and American Express. He is the managing director of Huntsman Gay Global, a $1.1 billion private equity fund. David Neeleman,52, is the founder and CEO of JetBlue Airways.
- Vampire author — The idea for her vampire romance novels came in a dream. Stephenie Meyer‘s”Twilight” books have sold more than 100 million worldwide. Ms. Myer, 37, says she did not intend her novels to be Mormon-influenced or to promote the virtues of sexual abstinence and spiritual purity but admits that her writing is shaped by her values.
- Self-help guru — Stephen R. Covey’s self-help book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has sold more than 15 million copies in 38 languages since first publication. Mr. Covey did his two-year missionary work in England. He later served as the first president of the Irish Mission of the church in 1962.
- Popular culture — HBO aired a show called Big Love, about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon sect, from 2006 to 2011. The Mormon church said in a statement that the show was preoccupied with “sex, coarse humor and foul language” and was “indulgent entertainment that does nothing for our society and will never nourish great minds.” A religious satire musical called The Book of Mormon,which has won nine Tony awards,is running on Broadway. It was written by the creators of the irreverent animated sitcom “South Park.” The Mormon Church’s response to the show stated: “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever.”
Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: famousmormons.net, Newsweek, Salt Lake City Deseret News and Wikipedia.
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