Celebrities who are (or were) JWs – Part 3

July 6th, 2009

Reading about celebrities who have either been Jehovah’s Witnesses or may have had some connection the religion during their lifetimes has become even more popular with the recent passing of Michael Jackson. Everyone seems to want to know what other famous people have been JWs, especially movie or rock stars, even if they have only been inside a Kingdom Hall a time or two.

This time we will dig a little deeper and highlight five people that you may not have been aware were Witnesses or they may have faded into obscurity before their time. All were well known when they were in the limelight and excelled in their professions.

Here is our third set of five celebrity JWs (or close enough to be considered):

  • Joyce Holden (actress)
  • Terrence Howard (actor)
  • Margaret Keane (artist)
  • Patti Smith (singer)
  • Lou Whitaker (athlete)

  1. Joyce Holden (1930 – ), 1950s blond leading lady of horror and crime movies, a former Universal Pictures starlet. She went to Hollywood High School and attended UCLA for two years. Was Miss Southern California and Miss KTLA (a Los Angeles television station). Appeared in the Milk Man with Donald O’Connor in 1950, in one of the Ma and Pa Kettle movie series, and The Werewolf (1956). Appeared frequently in TV anthology shows and was a talk show host on CBS-TV’s “Morning Show” (Barbara Walters was her assistant producer). Appeared in Disney’s “Spin and Marty” series and two episodes of “Science Fiction Theater.” (Link to video biography by her daughter) She became a Jehovah’s Witness in 1954 and reportedly spent some time at Bethel. Married for over fifty years, she and her husband live in California and are still active Witnesses. [Status: Active]
  2. Terrence Howard (1969 – ), Academy Award nominated American movie actor noted for his roles in Mr. Holland’s Opus, Crash, Lackawanna Blues, and Pride. His 2005 Academy Award nomination was for playing a down-and-out pimp trying to become a song writer in Hustle & Flow. He is most recently famed for his role as Col. Rhodes in the movie Iron Man. In a 2007 NPR interview he explained, “I’m like most people in the world. I’m a little selfish in what I want. I like doing my thing, my way. In my heart, I wanted to be a Witness. If it wasn’t for the smoking of cigarettes and all, I would be a Witness.” According to that interview, Howard is not ready yet to commit himself, but he plans to pursue his desire to become an active Jehovah’s Witness sometime in the future. He was the host for the PBS documentary, “Knocking,” that presented a favorable treatment of the Witness religion and culture. [Status: Undetermined]
  3. Margaret Keane (1927 – ), Known for her painting of delicate girls with big eyes, Keane is a fixture in popular culture. Some of her well-known fans over the years have included actresses Joan Crawford and Natalie Wood, for whom she painted portraits. Filmmaker Tim Burton, who commissioned Keane to paint Lisa Marie and borrows Keane’s style for many of his cartoon characters. Animator Craig McCracken’s characters “The Powerpuff Girls” are based on Keane’s “waifs.” Margaret herself attributes her deep respect for the Bible and inspirations of her artwork to the relationship with her grandmother. In 1955 she became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she said changed her life most definitely for the better. Her works while she was living in her husband’s shadow were dark and sad, but after she divorced him, moved to Hawaii, and became a Jehovah’s Witness, she painted in a much happier and brighter style. Currently Margaret and her second husband make their home in Northern California. [Status: Active]
  4. Patti Smith (1946 – ), American singer–songwriter, poet and visual artist who was a highly influential component “punk rock” movement and has been called the “Godmother of Punk.” Her most widely known song is “Because the Night”, which was co-written with Bruce Springsteen. In 2007 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Raised by a Jehovah’s Witness mother, she left organized religion as a teenager because she felt it was too confining. The opening line, “Jesus died for some body’s sins, but not mine,” of her cover version of Them’s “Gloria” is her response to this experience. [Status: Unaffiliated]
  5. Lou Whitaker, (1957 – ), ‘Sweet Lou’ Whitaker is best known as part of one of the most successful double play combinations in baseball’s history. With the Detroit Tigers, and alongside Alan Trammel, Whitaker excelled as a second baseman. In 1978, Whitaker won the Rookie of the Year award, hitting .285 with 138 hits and 58 RBIs. A career .276 hitter, Lou hit 244 home runs, drove in 1084 RBIs, 143 stolen bases. A 5-time All-Star, Whitaker was best known for his defensive skills with a .984 fielding percentage and 1,527 double plays. He and Chet Lemon refused to stand for the National Anthem before games because of his Jehovah’s Witness religious beliefs. [Status: Active]

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Comments Feed6 Comments

  1. Epidi justice O.

    only GOD can judge an individual.

  2. Editor

    As far as I know, no one here is judging these people for their connection to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In or out, they’re all the same to us. We provide this information only for educational and entertainment value. What we do know is that despite their statements to the contrary, the Watchtower is very cognizant of the notoriety and public attention that JW celebrities bring to the Organization. The WT is also thankful for the huge monetary contributions that some of these celebrities send to Watchtower headquarters.

  3. crisso

    wow as just JW would be thankul for monetary contributions, take a look at other religions and do some comparings in general in between religions, to higher your objectivity in your reports. it is so obvious that you just try to put the jw in a bad light. i am not a jw, but i know that jw don’t sell their books, so it is a bad economical strategy to produce books and donate them to people. honestly I am suprised that you don’t realize how ridiculous your comment is.

  4. Ed

    Books and magazines were once offered at a set price, until February 1990, when the “donation arrangement” was instituted. There are often reminders to the congregations that publishers cover the costs of any literature that they obtain for use in the field service. That, in addition to any donations that are made by the householder, insure that there are enough funds for the Society to continue printing.

    As far as “JW celebrities” contributing large sums of money to the Society, I don’t believe any financial information has been released in general, must less specifics regarding sizable contributions. I would welcome any evidence if it can be provided.

  5. for real though?!

    Do you really have to list celebs as a reason to be a witness? a Lot of A-list celebs believe in cabala I wouldn’t rush to join them. If you really are trying to win converts let the Lord Jesus or do you just believe in yourselves????????????

  6. Editor

    Try reading the rest of this website. We are not promoting the idea of anyone becoming a Jehovah’s Witness on the basis of anything having to do with celebrities. We present the background stories of famous people for basically three reasons:

    1. To acknowledge that the reach of the Watchtower has touched even the most famous among us. Maybe they have been converts. Maybe they have been born or raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Maybe their spouses were Witnesses, so they have had the influence within their family relationships.

    2. To report that many famous persons who were raised as JWs – or were for a time converts – have left the religion after they realized that they could not live under its cultish guidelines. Some may still identify themselves as Witnesses, but their reported or documented statements or public activities are in conflict with Jehovah’s Witness guidelines and teachings. Mickey Spillane continued to write racy murder mysteries. One of the Williams sisters (tennis stars) cursed out and threatened a line judge and has had revealing photos published in men’s magazines. There are many examples, but the point is that these people, due to their fame and large monetary contributions to the Watchtower Society, are given special treatment not afforded to rank and file JWs. Other celebrities have just made a break and have announced that they are no longer JWs.

    3. We also publish the articles just for the entertainment value. Admit it – it’s fun to find that a favorite rock star or movie actor had some connection to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s also fun to find out that someone as infamous as Rodney King was raised a JW. Ouch!!

    Our famous celebrity articles bring many new readers to Ex-JW.com that might never pay us a visit. But while searching for the Wayans Brothers or George Benson on Google are directed to our site – and are therefore exposed to the truth about the Watchtower Society and its teachings.

    We do not want anyone to become a Jehovah’s Witness – unless and only if they have completely researched the background of the religion and fully understand what they are facing in terms of life style, limited personal growth, and the potential for living with permanently damaged relationships with their friends and family members.

    You need to spend more time reading this website before criticizing our editorial policies and article selections.

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