Warren Beatty's life is the stuff of Hollywood legend, and not just because his career spans more than six decades. After studying with the famed acting teacher Stella Adler, Beatty was 22 when he got his big break with his three-episode TV debut in "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." Although his film debut in "Splendor in the Grass" (1961) was widely acclaimed by critics and viewers alike, it was not until he produced "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) that he gained artistic credibility in the entertainment industry. The film became a colossal hit and a milestone in cinema history. Later, he was nominated for four Oscars for "Heaven Can Wait" and won one for directing the epic drama "Reds," which he also starred in. Since then, he has written, directed, and starred in many more films—resulting in his being nominated for a total of 15 Academy Awards so far. One of the most iconic names in Hollywood, in 1999, Beatty was awarded the Academy's highest honor, the Irving G. Thalberg Award. In addition, he has been nominated for 18 Golden Globe Awards, winning six, including the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment,” with which he was honored in 2007.

Heading to Northwestern University as a freshman in 1954, Beatty certainly had a lot going for him. Not only had he been President of his high school class, but he was also a football star who turned down 10 scholarship offers from schools around the country. Instead, he chose Northwestern, where he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity and began working on his drama degree. However, after only a year, the budding actor decided to drop out and move to New York City to pursue his dreams.

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In a 1999 profile piece for The Guardian, Beatty explained that his decision to leave Northwestern would have been much more difficult had his family lacked higher education. But they didn't, and Beatty felt like his family supported his decision to leave school early. "I think my father secretly admired it. He was happy that I would ‘do’ something," Beatty said, before explaining how his father was a PhD who spent most of his life surrounded by books. "My father spent so much of his life thinking, that he would never have encouraged me to stay in school!"

And yet, while Beatty was quick to leave university life, he was just as quick to return. In 1956, approximately one year after withdrawing from classes, the young actor was back on campus. This time it was to perform at Northwestern’s Waa-Mu Show, a campus-based musical revue that dates back to the 1920s. So, well before he established himself as a leading man in major films, Beatty was at his alma mater: donning a cowboy hat, a Native American headdress, and even buckskins for his 1956 appearance in the show, which continues to serve as an important launching pad for many of the school's most talented performers.