Famous Faces

A look at many of the famous faces that have passed through the Long Beach State Arts department.

Illustration of tuba player Alan Baer

 Tuba playerAlan Baer (1994) has played principal tuba for the New York Philharmonic since 2004. He was formerly principal tuba with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Though he didn’t finish, Baer completed coursework toward a master’s degree in music from CSULB, where he also directed the university tuba ensemble and brass choir.

Illustration of imagineer Tony Baxter

ImagineerTony Baxter enjoyed a 47-year career with Walt Disney Imagineering before retiring as senior vice president of creative development. Baxter began his Disney career in 1965 scooping ice cream and operating attractions while a college student at LBSU. His first job in Walt Disney Imagineering was as a “dimensional designer” working in the model shop. He later went on to rise in the ranks and lead creative design projects for major Disney attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Star Tours, Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones Adventure.

Illustration of Alan Brennert

Writer/producerAlan Brennert was a successful writer and producer for popular TV series such as “L.A. Law,” “China Beach” and “Simon and Simon.” He realized won an Emmy in 1991 for his work on the long-running hit, “L.A. Law.” Since graduating from LBSU in 1977, he has collected Golden Globe nominations and three bids for outstanding teleplay of the year from the Writers’ Guild.

Illustration of song writer John Bettis

Song writerJohn Bettis has written songs that have sold more than 250 million records worldwide that have been sung by some of the most loved artists of all time. As a LBSU student, he first met Richard Carpenter during a choral assignment for music professor Frank Pooler, forging a lasting relationship that resulted in Bettis writing songs for the Carpenters, among them, “Only Yesterday,” “Goodbye to Love,” “Yesterday Once More,” and “Top of the World.” He also wrote lyrics for Madonna (“Crazy for You”), Michael Jackson (“Human Nature”) and The Pointer Sisters (“Slow Hand”).

Illustration of guitarist Larry Carlton

GuitaristLarry Carlton is a four-time Grammy Award winner who worked as a studio musician for a wide range of artists including Joni Mitchell, Sammy Davis, Jr., Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt and Steely Dan. His credits also include commercial scores for a number of major corporations including 7-Eleven, McDonalds, Ford and Toyota.

Illustration of singers Richard and Karen Carpenter

SingersRichard Carpenter and Karen Carpenter rank among the most popular acts in recording history as the brother/sister duo the Carpenters, with worldwide sales exceeding 100 million units. While attending LBSU in 1968, Richard and Karen created their first demo featuring the Carpenters’ iconic sound and launched to fame soon after in 1970. Richard was founding benefactor of the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center at LBSU. He received an honorary doctorate in 2000, and was honored with the President’s Distinguished Service Award in 1994.

Illustration of film writer Chris Carter

Film writerChris Carter created the sci-fi television series “The X-Files” for FOX network. X-Files earned a cult following and high viewership ratings, fetching Carter eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Before becoming a television film writer, the Bellflower native spent over a decade working for Surfing Magazine after graduation from LBSU.

 Illustration of actress Linda DanoActressLinda Dano won an Emmy Award for her daytime television roles on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns” and “Another World.” Her character on “One Life to Live” also appeared on three other ABC soap operas: “All My Children,” “General Hospital” and “Port Charles.” Dano also guest-starred on television series “Desperate Housewives” and “What I Like About You.”

Illustration of special effects artist John DykstraSpecial effects artistJohn Dykstra is an Oscar Award winner who pioneered the use of computers in filmmaking. One of the founding members of Industrial Light & Magic, Dykstra is known for leading special effects on the original “Star Wars,” creating visuals for the lightsabers and epic space battles. For “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” he designed and built the first computer-controlled motion control system dubbed the “Dykstraflex” for which he won an Academy Award for Technical Achievement. He also led special effects for other movies including “Batman Forever,” “Stuart Little,” and “Spider-Man.”

Illustration of visual effects manager Steve GawleyVisual effectsSteve Gawley was the 13th employee to be hired by motion picture visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) when it opened its doors in 1975. During his 32-year career, Gawley worked on 64 of ILM’s 200-plus visual effects in film, television and commercials and for theme park ride projects. Gawley built models for 11 of ILM’s 15 feature film projects awarded Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.  His film credits include “Star Wars: A New Hope,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Mission Impossible.”

Illustration of UAM founder Constance GlennMuseum directorConstance Glenn was the founding director of LBSU’s University Art Museum, then called “Art Galleries,” in 1973 – a time when there were only a handful of female museum directors in the country. Over the next three decades, she led the growth of the small, department-based program into what is now the celebrated University Art Museum, a nationally recognized contemporary art museum and the first accredited museum in the CSU system. In 1984, she was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award, the school’s highest academic honor.

Illustration of singer Bobby HatfieldSingerBobby Hatfield was a member of The Righteous Brothers band and produced hits, such as “Unchained Melody” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” – the most programmed song in radio history, according to USA Today. Hatfield pursued his love of music at LBSU, but left to perform full time after he met partner Bill Medley. Their first No. 1 hit, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” was produced by Phil Spector in 1964. The Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall in 2003.

Illustration of writer/director Mark S. JohnsonWriter/directorMark S. Johnson’s credits include “Daredevil,” “Ghost Rider,” “Simon Birch,” “Jack Frost” and “Grumpy Old Men” (his first screenplay). In an interview with the Daily 49er in 2007, Johnson said he wrote “Grumpy Old Men” while working as a secretary for a company that went bankrupt. He spent two years at a small college in Minnesota and a year at Arizona State before attending LBSU.

Illustration of designer Bob KeeneDesignerBob Keene was one of the most prolific production designers in live television. He is credited in the Art Directors Guild (ADG) Hall of Fame for having designed “over 700 television programs dating back to his first design for NBC New Chicago in 1975.” According to ADG, Keene got a taste of production design as a student at LBSU when he visited industry expert E. Jay Krause, who was then designing a number of shows for NBC including the “Bob Hope Show.” Krause hired Keene part-time to sort draperies and stack furniture. After graduating, he joined Krause’s art department as an assistant, and took over after Krause’s retirement in 1977.

Illustration of sound editor Karen Baker LandersSound editor Karen Baker Landers’ work has appeared in nearly 100 movies, including “The Gladiator,” “Braveheart,” “Blade Runner,” “Ray,” and “Black Hawk Down.” She is half of a sound editing duo at Soundelux in Hollywood, where she and her partner Per Hallberg won Academy Awards in sound editing for “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Skyfall.” Landers is the first and only woman to win two Oscar awards in the sound category. Landers credits her time at LBSU for helping to start her career.

Illustration of screenwriter J.F. LawtonScreen writer | J.F. Lawton wrote the 1990 romantic comedy “Pretty Woman” starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. His credits also include “Under Siege,” “DOA: Dead or Alive,” “Chain Reaction” and the TV series, “V.I.P”

Illustration of designer Phillip LimFashion designerPhillip Lim is co-founder and creative director of 3.1 Phillip Lim designer fashion label worn by the likes of former FLOTUS Michelle Obama. Lim was awarded the coveted 2007 Emerging Talent in Womenswear award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and 2012 Swarovski award for menswear. His company has 16 freestanding stores around the globe, and his pieces are sold in high-end department stores such as Barneys New York and Bloomingdales.

Illustration of comedian Steve MartinComedianSteve Martin, who starred in “Parenthood,” “Father of the Bride,” “Roxanne,” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” has earned credits as an actor, comedian, author, screenwriter, producer and musician. He won an Emmy Award for his writing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Martin attended LBSU from 1964-1967 as a philosophy major, transferring to UCLA and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from LBSU in 1989.

Illustration of actress Wendi McLendon-CoveyActressWendi McLendon-Covey current star of television’s “The Goldbergs,” gained worldwide acclaim after her breakout performance in the 2011 comedy film “Bridesmaids.” The actress also appeared in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, “The Single Moms Club”, “Think Like A Man, Too” and “Hello, My Name is Doris.”

Illustration of choreographer Robert MosesChoreographerRobert Moses is also the founder of dance company, Robert Moses’ Kin, which opened in 1995 and has premiered more than 80 works. Moses has choreographed for film, theater and opera, including the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, New Conservatory Theater and San Francisco Opera. Moses is the five-time recipient of funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Illustration of bassist John PatitucciBassistJohn Patitucci has played on countless albums with B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Natalie Cole, Bon Jovi, Sting, Queen Latifah and Carly Simon. In 1986, he was voted National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences MVP on acoustic bass. He’s won two Grammy Awards.

Illustration of composer Basil PoledourisComposerBasil Poledouris scored more than 80 films and television shows, including the 1989 TV miniseries “Lonesome Dove” which earned him an Emmy Award. His movie scores include films such as “Conan the Barbarian,” “Free Willy,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “RoboCop,” “The Jungle Book” and “For Love of the Game.” In 1996, he composed music for the Atlanta Olympics opening ceremony.

Illustration of voice actor Jamieson Price Voice actorJamieson Price is known for his work in feature films, video games and Anime series. He’s lent his voice to shows like “Westworld,” “Pokemon,” “Digimon” and “Bleach,” and popular video games such as “World of Warcraft,” “Halo,” “Final Fantasy,” “Tekken,” “Call of Duty” and “Mortal Kombat.”

Illustration of costume designer Aggie Guerard RodgersCostume designerAggie Guerard Rodgers is an Oscar-nominated designer known for her work on “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” “The Fugitive” and “Beetlejuice.” After graduating from LBSU, Rodgers was hired as costume designer for George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” despite having no experience in film costuming. After work on that film, she was hired to do the costume design for “The Conversation” starring Gene Hackman, and her career was born. Rodgers received an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design for her work on “The Color Purple” and received the Saturn Award for Best Costume for her work on “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.”

Illustration of designer Raul RodriguezDesignerRaul Rodriguez is said to be the most famous of Rose Parade float designers, with more than 500 floats to his credit and a number of awards, including 30 Sweepstakes Trophies for most beautiful entries. His creations were seen throughout the nation on television, and he was often spotted riding his floats with a pet macaw on his shoulder. According to the L.A. Times, who ran a tribute to Rodriguez after his passing in 2015, the art alumnus designed his first float at the age of 15 for the 1960 parade. In addition to the Rose Parade, Rodriguez also did design work at Las Vegas hotels, and created floats year-round for clients such as Macy’s, Kaiser Permanente, China Airlines, Dole Food Packaging and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Illustration of director Steven SpielbergWriter/directorSteven Spielberg is the Academy Award-Winning filmmaker that produced blockbuster hits “Jaws”, “E.T.”, “Jurassic Park”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Schindler’s List”, and the “Indiana Jones” franchise inspired a generation of students when he returned to LBS after successfully working in Hollywood for almost 30 years to complete his degree in 2002.

Illustration of writer/director David TwohyWriter/directorDavid Twohy is best-known for“The Fugitive,” starring Harrison Ford, and writing and directing “The Chronicles of Riddick” and its sequel “Riddick,” both starring Vin Diesel. “The Fugitive” went on to receive seven Academy Award nominations and earned Tommy Lee Jones best performance as a supporting actor. Born in Long Beach and raised in Palos Verdes, Twohy also is wrote screenplays for “Terminal Velocity” and “Waterworld.”

Illustration of actor Robert S. WoodsActorRobert S. Woods won an Emmy Award for his work as Bo Buchanan on ABC’s long-running soap opera “One Life to Live.” He later pursued other acting opportunities, landing roles “War and Remembrance” and “Stitch and Eubie.”

Illustration of screenplay writer Linda WoolvertonScreenplay writerLinda Woolverton has enchanted and entertained generations of movie-goers with her screenplays for iconic animated Walt Disney Co. features, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.” More recently, she wrote the screenplay for 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” featuring Johnnie Depp, and 2014’s “Maleficent” starring Angelina Jolie. After completing her theatre arts degree at LBSU, Woolverton took a job at CBS as a development executive for children’s and late-night programming while writing young adult novels on her spare time.

Illustration of director Jennifer Yuh NelsonDirectorJennifer Yuh Nelson, best known for her directorial debut for “Kung Fu Panda 2,” is the first woman to solely direct an animated feature from a major Hollywood studio. She was introduced to animation as a student at LBSU when a veteran storyboard artist visited campus to speak at one of her classes.

People to Watch


Portrait of actress Jessica WilliamsActress
Jessica Williams majored in theory and practical cinema in the Film and Electronic Art department before moving on to become the youngest (at 22 years old) and first African-American female correspondent on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” During her college days, she studied improvisation at the Upright Citizens Brigade and would often go on auditions.

Portrait of cinematographer Giacun Caduff

Cinematographer | Giacun Caduff was recognized for his production and cinematography work on critically acclaimed French-language short film “La Femme et le TGV” starring Jane Birkin. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 89th Academy Awards in 2017.

Portrait of writer Travon FreeWriterTravon Free is known for his writing work on “Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons” on HBO and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Comedy Central for which he won an Emmy Award in 2015. 

Portrait of Choreographer Patrick McCollumChoreographer | Patrick McCollum is making a name for himself on Broadway as a choreographer and movement associate. His Broadway credits include “Rocky” (associate fight choreographer), “Wicked” (dance supervisor), “Peter and the Starcatcher” (movement associate) and “The Last Ship” (associate choreographer.)

Portrait of singer VJ RosalesSingerVJ Rosales has appeared in “Pitch Perfect 2” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden” performing with acapella group The Filharmonic. VJ and the Filharmonic recently opened for Fifth Harmony at their concert in the Philippines.