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Famous People With Accounting Degrees

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/18/2011

Late night talk show host David Letterman once said, “There’s no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting." Surprisingly, there are many famous folks who studied accounting and even passed the prestigious CPA exam. Here we take a look at ten of them!

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    Bob Newhart on Balancing the Books

    Bob Newhart on Balancing the Books 

    Actor/comedian Bob Newhart (born George Robert Newhart in 1929) did have a go at the accounting world and was employed for a short time by U.S. Gypsum in 1954 after his discharge from the U.S. Army. Officially, Newhart worked in U.S.. Gypsum’s engineering department. In 2003 during an interview he told CPA, Dr. William E. Huffman of The CPA Journal:

    “My theory of accounting was that as long as you got within two or three bucks of it, you were all right." When balancing his books each day, Newhart discovered, “I’d be there for three or four hours trying to figure out where the last dollar or dime went to. So finally, I’d just take it (money) out of my pocket and I’d put it in."

    Always the funny man and ultimately wise, Newhart also said of balancing the books, “You’re paying me five dollars an hour to find two cents—it doesn’t make sense." He also held a job as an unemployment clerk making $55 per week and told PBS (American Masters Series), “Upon learning the weekly unemployment benefits were $45 a week, I quit and only had to come in to the office one day a week to collect it."

    Newhart went on to much fame garnering three Grammys for his comedy albums and is best known for his two successful television sitcoms, The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart.

    One might say just from looking at Newhart—he sort of looks (and acts) like an accountant, making this a good initial choice, but most fans are glad he didn’t stick to the profession!

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    John Grisham Uses an Abacus

    John Grisham Uses an Abacus 

    Long before the world awaited each bestselling book from author John Grisham, he too was part of the financial accounting world, albeit it in a small way. Born in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1955, Grisham came to call Mississippi his home when his family moved to the state in the late 1960s.

    Grisham didn’t possess the baseball sporting skills (he dreamed of a career as a major league player) but in 1977 he did receive a Bachelor of Science accounting degree from Mississippi State. Perhaps from the start, this soon to be bestselling author used his abacus to determine where the real bucks were—personal injury law. A law degree obtained in 1981 led him to his PI career but in 1987 after watching a young girl testify in a rape case, Grisham determined writing was his real dream.

    Although he received many rejections for his first novel, A Time to Kill, Grisham went on to write such bestsellers as The Firm, The Chamber, The Client and The Runaway Jury.

    We bet his accounting degree comes in hand for his current community efforts—he enjoys being a little league official, and as far as counting those statistics, he’s probably right on the mark each and every time!

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    G-Men Trade Calculators for Guns

    G-Men Trade Calculators for Guns 

    A fun fact here: Approximately 1,400 FBI special agents have accounting degrees! Former Deputy Director Thomas J. Pickard is included in this group. Although he retired from the FBI in 2001, he was instrumental in anti-terrorism efforts after the World Trade Center bombing.

    Born in Queens, New York in 1950, Pickard received his accounting degree from St. Francis College in Brooklyn in 1972 and remains a licensed certified public accountant (CPA) in New York state. His accounting degree was useful during the ABSCAM investigations (he was an undercover agent) and we’re wondering here at Bright Hub if his public service began with a dream of working for the Internal Revenue Service as a number cruncher (he also gained an MBA in taxation from St. John’s University). Or do all those “numbered" streets in Washington DC just make our dedicated public servants want to get to the bottom of those numbers, figure them out and share the knowledge of numbers fun?

    In any event, the next time you see a G-man (or woman), is that a gun he's packing or a calculator?

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    Kenny G Loves Numbers

    Kenny G Loves Numbers 

    Jazz musician Kenny G (aka Kenneth Bruce Gorelick) was born in 1956 in Seattle, Washington. As he told blogger Ted Panken on majoring in accounting, “Well, I’m a numbers guy. I like numbers. I like studying things and I enjoyed the learning process. I took calculus and economics and all that stuff. I just enjoy those subjects."

    A saxophone player since the age of ten, Kenny G finally broke out in 1982 and to date has sold more than 75 million albums—so those accounting skills must come in handy when deciphering those mind-blowing numbers!

    The musician is known for his cool and contemporary jazz. As far as setting the romance scene goes, he’s on the top of the list for many wannabe suitors. It may surprise some fans to learn Kenny says he doesn’t listen to much music and but loves the game of golf thanks to brother Brian. And yes—those accounting skills probably also help keep track of the handicaps of his opponents when he’s on the course.

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    The Singing Accountant - Tim Dubois

    The Singing Accountant - Tim Dubois 

    Born in Missouri in 1948, Dubois became a CPA in 1970 and traveled from Missouri to Texas, finally ending up in Nashville where he remains a standard in the music industry. Known as “The Singing Accountant" he wrote songs such as The Bluest Eyes in Texas and Love in the First Degree.

    His love for numbers has encouraged many students throughout his career as a professor at Vanderbilt, Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee.

    The website All Access reported in January of 2011 that Dubois will team up with Nashville’s Entrepreneur Center to offer mentoring to those interested in digital media startup companies. Kudos to this accountant, singer, teacher and now mentor! Who says you can’t go far with aughts and naughts?

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    Arthur Blank Crunches Numbers All the Way to the Top

    Arthur Blank Crunches Numbers All the Way to the Top 

    Born in 1942, this Queens, New York native left Babson College in 1963 with a business/accounting degree in hand and worked his way up the ladder at Handy Dan Hardware. Always looking forward, in 1978, Blank and fellow Handy Dan co-worker Bernie Marcus founded the second largest retailer in the United States—the Home Depot. He remained CEO until 2001 when he flew in and purchased the Atlanta Falcons NFL football team in 2002.

    The Arthur M Blank Family Foundation was formed in 1995 with a mission to “…seek innovative solutions that enable young people, families and communities to achieve results beyond what seems possible today."

    Grants awarded by Blank’s foundation have funded programs in and around Atlanta. Most aid youth, education, and healthy sports and exercise programs for kids. Not bad for an accountant from Queens.

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    Marcus O'Sullivan: Olympian / Villanova Coach

    Marcus O'Sullivan: Olympian / Villanova Coach 

    Born in 1961 in Cork, Ireland, Marcus O’Sullivan came from humble beginnings but found his way to Villanova University in 1980 to hone his distance running skills. He represented his homeland in four Olympics and is a three-time indoor world champ in the 1500 meters. O’Sullivan competed professionally for 15 years!

    He received his MBA in 1989, passed the CPA exam in Pennsylvania and worked for the marketing department at his Alma Mater. In 2004 he became “Coach Sullivan" for Villanova’s men’s track and field team where he has led the team to seven NCAA championships.

    Winner of many coach of the year titles (including the prestigious NCAA award), Sullivan more than likely used his accounting skills to master the stopwatch, his magic feet and now, for those he coaches, to preach education and sports go hand in hand.

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    Ray Wersching Kicks for Forty-Niners: Accounting Kicks Sideways, However

    Ray Wersching Kicks for Forty-Niners: Accounting Kicks Sideways, However 

    Sometimes even famous CPAs tumble down the ladder as did Ray Wersching, former NFL placekicker for the San Francisco 49ers who applied his accounting skills during NFL off-seasons helping teammates with tax returns and other accounting-type jobs. While his NFL career spanned from 1977 to 1987 and he was awarded two Super Bowl rings playing with the “Niners," trouble hit this former football star in 2006.

    Wersching was indicted and accused of “misappropriating premiums that should have been paid to the Farmers Insurance Group from 1997 to 2000" according to However, in 2008, charges were dropped when it was discovered the co-owner of the insurance agency was the real culprit (Mary Anne Locke) of the embezzlement. Wersching did spend six months under house arrest and two years’ probation—this as a result of his failure to file and pay taxes. also reported that today Wersching works as a bookkeeper. We’re betting here, if he could still placekick, he would.

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    The Iceman Cometh and He Can Count!

    The Iceman Cometh and He Can Count! 

    Chuck “The Iceman" Liddell is a champion fighter in the mixed martial arts and has battled throughout his career to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) light heavyweight champ title. Born in 1961 in California, this Iceman’s two nemeses proved to be Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz (he beat both slinging out legal, but very painful, eye injuries).

    He received a business/accounting degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo but his real achievements came in college wrestling which he says helped him prepare for his career in mixed martial arts.

    Some say this Iceman/accounting major plays it nasty with the eye pain, but at least he can count to two—maybe future opponents should wear some protective goggles!

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    Wrestler D'Lo Brown "Aced" the CPA Exam

    Wrestler D'Lo Brown  

    Many fans of WWF Wrestler D’Lo Brown may not know his given name was Ace Conner. They may also not know he’s a Certified Public Accountant, passing the CPA exam after graduating from Miami University.

    D’Lo hails from New Jersey (born in 1972) and has fought in the WWF since 1998. A one-time WWF Intercontinental Champ, a four-time WWF European Champ and a one-time NWA World Tag Team Champ for TNA must make his parents proud. But we bet his wife Jennifer and two daughters are happier as of 2009 when D’Lo returned to wrestling, only as an agent for Impact Wrestling—it’s much safer!

    Here’s one famous celebrity accountant who’s an ace in the hole—literally.

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    If you know of a famous celebrity in the arts, sports world or even the political arena who studied accounting, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a comment with your picks.