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Who Wants to Play Northwestern Trivia?

Find out how well you know the University.

by Paul Nebenzahl

Northwestern University has a storied history as a locus for quiz show mania, having participated in the first televised GE College Bowl on Jan. 4, 1959. Northwestern beat Brown University that day; a rematch nine years later went to Brown.

Universities are still a treasure trove for trivia quizzes, and Northwestern is no exception. With its prominence in theater arts, law and letters, its legendary sports teams and stars, its accomplished alumni base and honored faculty, Northwestern seems ready for an updated look at trivia.

How well do you know your alma mater? Are you ready to play? Do you want to be a millionaire? (Sorry, no prizes!) Good luck! Our readers are encouraged to search for clues and answers using the Internet, the Northwestern University Library and the Evanston Public Library, as the writer did. The answers are at the bottom of the page.

1. Which famed jurist reportedly achieved the highest grades of any student in the history of the Northwestern University School of Law?
a. David Boies
b. Harold Washington
c. John Paul Stevens
d. Kenesaw Mountain Landis

2. Which actor did NOT graduate from the theater department in the School of Communication?
a. Tony Randall
b. Marg Helgenberger
c. Zach Braff
d. Richard Benjamin

3. Which alumnus was nominated for U.S. president on multiple occasions?
a. George McGovern
b. Richard Gephardt
c. Dale Bumpers
d. William Jennings Bryan

4. Who was the first African American elected Associated Student Government president?
a. Darnell Autry
b. Kwame Holman
c. Eva Jefferson Paterson
d. John H. Johnson

5. Which Northwestern graduate's company has catered the World Series, the Super Bowl and the U.S. Open?
a. Joseph H. Levy Jr.
b. Larry Levy
c. Martha Lavey
d. Rick Barger

6. Which gridiron star played quarterback with President Gerald Ford as his center in a Chicago Charities College All-Star Game?
a. Mike Adamle
b. Irv Kupcinet
c. Don Stonesifer
d. Otto Graham

7. Which popular hangout for Northwestern students no longer exists?
a. Unicorn Café
b. Buffalo Joe's
c. Amazingrace Coffeehouse
d. Dave's Italian Kitchen

8. Which Northwestern student founded a great corporation that collapsed in scandal?
a. Edwin G. Booz
b. Arthur Andersen
c. Hugh Hefner
d. Elbert Henry Gary

9. Which organization is NOT a current student group at Northwestern?
a. Boomshaka
b. Aural Fixation
c. Mee-Ow
d. Willies

10. For which Northwestern alumnus is the Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor Americone Dream named?
a. Stephen Colbert
b. Brad Hall
c. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
d. David Schwimmer

11. Which Northwestern alumnus performed the first-ever open-heart surgery?
a. Charles Mayo
b. Daniel Hale Williams
c. Daniel Skarzynski
d. Kermit Krantz

12. Which graduate was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature?
a. Robert Olen Butler
b. Margaret Walker
c. Marge Piercy
d. Saul Bellow

13. Which bandleader's composition "Bee Hive Beat" simulated a stroll through the music building while it was full of practicing musicians?
a. Rufus Reid
b. David Sanborn
c. Paul Winter
d. Patricia Barber

14. In 1972 students voted to change the name of the football team to what name?
a. Cubbies
b. Purple Haze
c. Hawks
d. Evanstones

15. What famous 19th-century evangelist attended and coached baseball at Northwestern?
a. Father Divine
b. Billy Sunday
c. Dwight Moody
d. Billy Graham

16. The boat on the TV show Gilligan's Island is named after what media expert, now on the University's Board of Trustees?
a. Keith Olbermann
b. Newton N. Minow
c. Frank Rich
d. Roger Ebert

17. Which graduate is best remembered as being the middle square in the television game show Hollywood Squares?
a. Paul Lynde
b. Charlotte Rae
c. Claude Akins
d. Jeffrey Hunter

18. What Major League Baseball owner served as an assistant football coach for Northwestern in 1955?
a. Bud Selig
b. William Bartholomay
c. George Steinbrenner
d. Bill Veeck

Is that your final answer?
Answer Key: 1. c, 2. a, 3. d, 4. c, 5. b, 6. b, 7. c, 8. b, 9. d, 10. a, 11. b, 12. d, 13. c, 14. b, 15. b, 16. b, 17. a, 18. c

What's your score?
To rank yourself, use the following measurements: 14 to 18 correct, you will be admitted to Deru, Northwestern's mysterious honor society; 9 to 13 correct, we'll help you get tickets on the 50-yard line at the coldest home football game; 4 to 8 correct, you get to go to Howard Street to pick up the beer; 0 to 3 correct, your parents will get that dreaded letter from the dean of undergraduate admission — time to pack up and return home! (Just kidding!)

Paul Nebenzahl is a management consultant, multi-instrumentalist and baseball card collector who lives in Evanston.

What's our score? Did you enjoy this quiz? If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail the editors at

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