The Famous And Not-So-Famous Of HISD's "Prominent Alumni" List

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You probably don't realize it, but the Houston school district's website has a page dedicated to prominent alumni, listed by high school.

Unfortunately, many of the "prominent" alumni are politicians, especially current and former HISD board members. Any definition of "prominent" that includes HISD board members is probably a little too loose for our taste, but we guess the people who put the list together like to keep board members happy.

With that in mind, here are Seven Things About HISD's List Of Prominent Alumni:

1. Austin High has four alumni prominent enough to make the list. But three are politicians and one is Ken Spain, who you probably didn't realize played in the American Basketball Association.

2. Furr High School has three: a politician (FAIL!), Carolyn Campbell, "TV Reporter for Channel 11" (Whose longtime stint with that station ended unceremoniously two months ago) and Anthony Young, "professional baseball player." (The list somehow doesn't mention that Young holds the major-league record for most consecutive losses.)

3. Lamar High has the longest list -- 18 alumni who have become famous enough to be called "prominent." These people include "Buddy" Brock ("much-loved local bandleader who kept Houstonians entertained for more than 40 years"), Hubert Bailey ("part-time NASCAR driver") and Jonathan Day, a partner at Andrews & Kurth. To be fair, the list also includes former Charlie's Angels star Jaclyn Smith and, ummm, Marvin Zindler.

4. Unlikely actors who make the list: Larry Hovis, who was Sgt. Carter in Hogan's Heroes (from Reagan High); Renee O'Connor, who played the blonde Gabrielle in the lesbo-fave Xena: Warrior Princess (HSPVA); Shelley Duvall, patient wife of Jack Nicholson in The Shining (Waltrip); Playboy and Red Shoes Diary star Joan Severance (Westbury) and Trey Wilson, the character actor most famed for playing furniture-store mogul Nathan Arizona in Raising Arizona (Bellaire).

5. Two Houston Chronicle people are deemed worthy:  Editor Jeff Cohen (Bellaire) and the late publisher Richard J.V. Johnson (the now-closed San Jacinto High).

6. The Saddest High School has to be Lee: Take away ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons and you're left with Melanie Hauser, "one of the most respected golf journalists in the country," Randy Lemmon, who hosts a gardening show on the local radio, and Ron Stone Junior, who is the son of TV icon Ron Stone (who would be considered prominent, but apparently did not attend Lee High).

7. Six people are listed with asterisks, denoting "the person attended but did not graduate from that school." They include former New York Giant Michael Strahan (Westbury), Beyonce (HSPVA), her bandmate Kelly Rowland (Lamar) and race-car driver A.J. Foyt (San Jacinto).

Bonus Question: Cosmetics queen Mary Kay, Racehorse Haynes and Dan Rather all attended the same high school. What was it? (Answer: Reagan.)

-- Richard Connelly

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