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Notable Alumni in the Arts

Rakoff, David (1964 - )

Rakoff has published two New York Times bestselling collections of his of sharp, humorous autobiographical essays (Fraud (2002) and Don't Get Too Comfortable (2006)). He is a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine and has written for other magazines including GQ, Vogue, and Salon. Rakoff presents many of his essays on NPR's This American Life. He describes his writing as a mix of journalism and storytelling. Rakoff also works in theater, as he did in his Columbia days, often collaborating with David and Amy Sedaris. Learn more.

Rau, Michael
Graduate of SoA, MFA (Playwriting)

Rebhorn, James (1948 - )
Film, Theater

Rebhorn has demonstrated his versatility on stage and screen with countless roles. A stellar villain, Rebhorn has also been a shipping magnate (The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999) and a doomed restaurateur (Scotland, PA, 2001). He has performed alongside America's biggest names, including Meryl Streep (Silkwood, 1983), Anthony Hopkins (Desperate Hours, 1990), Harrison Ford (Regarding Henry, 1991), and Woody Allen (Shadows and Fog, 1992). Rebhorn's Broadway career includes the 1996 Tony-winning Best Play I'm Not Rappaport (1985), Gregory Mosher's Tony-winning 1988 revival of Our Town, the 1992 revival of Arthur Miller's The Man Who Had All the Luck, the 2002 revival of Dinner at Eight and the Drama Desk Award-winning revival of Twelve Angry Men. Learn more.

Reinhardt, Ad (1913 - 1967)
Visual Arts

Reinhardt became known among Abstract Expressionists as "Mr. Pure" for the severe minimalism of his style. An early follower of Cubism, Reinhardt rejected the representative art and pioneered Hard Edge painting. His "Twelve Rules for a New Academy" mandated the complete avoidance of texture, brushwork, drawing, form, design, color, light, space, time, size and scale, movement, and objects and symbols. His late work consists entirely of "black paintings"-black patterns on blacks with subtle hues of deep violet, olive or red. His work has been shown in several retrospectives, most recently at the Museum of Modern Art (1991). His paintings hang in the collections of MoMA, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Smithsonian and the Tate Gallery, among others. Learn more.

Renwick, Junior, James (1818 - 1895)
1836CC, 1839GSAS

Though he never received formal training, Renwick ushered in America's Gothic revival and Second Empire architectural movements. His first commission, at the age of twenty-five, was New York's Grace Episcopal Church at Broadway and Tenth Street. Renwick's New York legacy also includes Saint Patrick's Cathedral (1879) at 51st Street and Fifth Avenue, the largest Catholic cathedral in the United States. Renwick designed the red sandstone, many-turreted Smithsonian Institution in the Romanesque style (completed 1855). Among his other works are the Main Hall of Vassar College (1865), the Corcoran (now Renwick) Gallery in Washington (1871) and the façade of the New York Stock Exchange (1982). Renwick designed nearly twenty churches in New York and its boroughs, and he was the supervising architect for New York's Commission of Charities and Correction. Learn

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Rivers, Joan (1937 - )
Film, Television, Theater
Actress, Comedian

Entertainment icon Joan Rivers was born and raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Barnard with a degree in English and anthropology. She toured as a comedian and a member of Chicago's Second City improv troupe before making her first guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965. Rivers hosted her own nightly program, The Late Show (1986) and several daytime shows, including The Joan Rivers Show (1988), for which she won a Daytime Emmy. Rivers is best known, however, as the fashion queen of E! Entertainment Television, where she has interviewed stars at the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes since 1995. She has numerous Broadway and movie credits, and among her honors is the American Guild of Variety Artists' 1975 Georgie Award for best comedian. Learn more.

Roach, Janet
'66BC, '67Journalism

Janet Roach is a faculty member of the Film Division of the School of the Arts and a veteran writer for television and film. She collaborated with Richard Condon on the screenplay for Prizzi's Honor (1985), which won Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, the British Academy Award for screenwriting, and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay. Other screenplays include Mr. North (1988), written for ABC television based on a Thornton Wilder novel, The Three Stooges (2000), and Over my Dead Body (2001). Roach contributed to the PBS series A Walk Through the Twentieth Century with Bill Moyers and the Emmy Award-winning Creativity with Bill Moyers. In the late 1970s, Roach was writer and director of a number of CBS reports, including "Too Little, Too Late" (1979), the Emmy Award-winner for Outstanding Achievement in Television Production. Learn more.

Roberts, Dorothy James (1903 - 1990)

Roberts is remembered for historical romances inspired by Arthurian, Irish and Icelandic myths. Her most popular work was a retelling of Tristan and Isolde, The Enchanted Cup, which was selected for the Book of the Month Club in 1953. Among Roberts' other novels are Man of Malice Landing (1943), Lancelot, My Brother (1954), Fire in the Ice (1961)-based on the Icelandic Njal Saga, and Kinsmen of the Grail (1963). Roberts' mystery novels, published under the pseudonym Peter Mortimer, include If a Body Kill a Body (1946).

Robeson, Paul (1898 - 1976)
Music, Theater
Actor, Singer, Civil Rights Activist

Robeson left law for the stage in the 1920s, citing rampant racial discrimination at his firm and within his field. He soon gained lead roles with the Provincetown Players for Eugene O'Neill's The Emperor Jones and All God's Chillun Got Wings. Robeson was the first black actor to play Othello in London in 1930 and in the United States in 1943. He performed folk music and Negro spirituals instead of opera and gave the first concert of African American music ever performed at Carnegie Hall. Robeson's bass-baritone became familiar around the world via radio broadcasts and international tours with musicals such as Showboat-he is best known for his rendition of Gershwin's "'Ol Man River." Robeson performed groundbreaking, stereotype-defying roles in the movies Song of Freedom (1936) and The Proud Valley (1940). Robeson was an open critic of American racism and an early admirer of Soviet Socialism. The House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities labeled Robeson a communist, revoked his passport and brought his entertainment career to a tragic close. Among his honors are the NAACP's Spingarn Medal and the 1943 Donaldson Award for Best Actor of the Year. Learn more.

Rodgers, Richard (1902 - 1979)
Music, Theater

Rodgers composed his first piano melodies at age nine. His 1920 collaboration with Lorenz Hart on The Varsity Show, Fly with Me, caught the attention of Broadway producers. The two became one of the country's premiere songwriting teams for Broadway and Hollywood, collaborating with choreographer George Balanchine and writers George Abbott, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Rodgers is best known for his work with Oscar Hammerstein II, which produced the musical Theater classics Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949), The King and I (1951) and The Sound of Music (1959). Rodgers and Hammerstein set new standards for musical theater with their innovative integration of song, dialogue and complex characters. Among Rodgers' honors are two Pulitzer Prizes, seven Tony Awards, an Oscar, and the Kennedy Center and Lawrence Lagner Awards for lifetime achievement. Learn more.

Rogovin, Milton (1909 - )
Visual Arts

Milton Rogovin, who calls himself a "social documentary photographer," became politically active because of his impoverished childhood in New York City. After studying optometry at Columbia, Rogovin began practicing in Buffalo, New York. He purchased his first camera in 1942 and began to take snapshots. His photographs of storefront churches were first published in Aperture magazine, with an introduction by W.E.B. Du Bois. Among the other "Forgotten Ones" that Rogovin has photographed are coal miners in France, Scotland, Spain, China, and Mexico, as well as people from the Appalachians, Native Americans, and poor communities in Upstate New York. In 1952, Rogovin was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee for his activist photography. In 1999, the Library of Congress acquired 1,130 of Rogovin's master prints. Rogovin's photographs are in the permanent collections of over two dozen prominent museums around the world, including the Biblotheque Nationale in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Learn more.

Rosand, David (1938 - )
Historian & Critic

David Rosand joined the Columbia faculty in 1964, and has served twice as chairman of the Department of Art History and Archeology, as director of Art Humanities, and as chairman of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities; he currently chairs the Department's Wallach Art Gallery Committee. His areas of special interest include the history of painting, especially the Renaissance tradition, painting and poetry, the graphic arts, modern art and criticism. His most recent books are Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State (2001) and Drawing Acts: Studies in Graphic Expression and Representation (2002). Professor Rosand has received the Great Teacher Award of the Society of Columbia Graduates. Learn more.

Rosencrans, Robert (1927 - )
'49CC, '52Business

Rosencrans grew up on Long Island during the Great Depression. He developed an interest in the budding cable industry while serving as Vice President of TelePrompTer. He founded Columbia Cable in 1962, which later merged with United Artists Cablevision. Rosencrans' vision brought diverse local and national offerings to home televisions for over two decades. His model for subscriber fees and advertising became the standard for cable across the country. In 1977, Rosencrans worked on the first nationwide satellite cable broadcast, a sporting event at Madison Square Garden. The company continues to operate the successful USA network. Rosencrans was also behind the development of C-SPAN and Black Entertainment Television. His second entrepreneurial endeavor, Columbia International, sold for an estimated $600 million when he retired in 1995. Rosencrans was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame in 2000, and he received Columbia College's John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement in 2000.

Rothman, Tom (1955 - )

Rothman was an entertainment lawyer for such Hollywood stars as Al Pacino and Kathleen Turner before moving into production. As the first head of Fox Searchlight Pictures, and President of Production for Twentieth Century Fox and the Twentieth Century Fox Film Group, Rothman has produced such popular and critical successes as William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1996), Titanic (1997), Cast Away (2000) and Moulin Rouge! (2001). In 2000, Rothman and colleague Jim Gianopulos became Co-Chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment. In February of 2006, Rothman and Gianopulos were promoted to Co-Chief Executive. Among the studio's recent successes are Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), Fantastic Four (2005), the second Star Wars trilogy (1999, 2002, 2005), and Walk the Line (2005).

Rottenberg, Mika (1976 - )
Visual Arts
Video Installation Artist

A female wrestler mechanically transforming painted fingernails into maraschino cherries is a characteristic example of Mika Rottenberg's video art, which playfully challenges assumptions about women's bodies and the value that can be extracted from them. New York magazine describes her work as "light, funny, and visually seductive," offering a creative take on "some of the most exhaustively fraught terrain of contemporary art-gender politics, post-Marxism." The Harlem-based artist's video installations have been featured at London's Tate Modern and in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Learn more.

Rudner, Sara (1944 - )
Dancer, Choreographer

Sara Rudner was a founding member of Twyla Tharp Dance in the 1960s. The Brooklyn-born daughter of Russian immigrants, she graduated from Barnard with a bachelor's degree in Russian studies. While at Barnard, she was first exposed to Paul Sanasardo's avant-garde school of dance. She made her professional debut in a concert choreographed by Sanasardo, and joined Tharp's dance company shortly afterwards in 1965. She started her own dance ensemble in 1976 and was widely acclaimed for her choreography. She was named Director of Dance at Sarah Lawrence College in 1999. Learn more.

Russell, Karen

A native of Miami, Karen Russell has been featured in both The New Yorker's debut fiction issue and New York magazine's list of twenty-five people to watch under the age of twenty-six. She also received the 2009 National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35 Young Writer Honoree.” She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program and is the 2005 recipient of the Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation Award; her fiction has appeared in Conjunctions, Granta, Zoetrope, Oxford American, and The New Yorker and The Best American Short Stories.

Ryan, Maureen

Maureen Ryan has a taste for films that chronicle the sensational. Her award-winning features and documentaries include Man on Wire (2008), the story of Philippe Pettit's high wire walk between the World Trade Center towers in 1974; The Gates (2008), about the creation of Christo and Jean-Claude's 2005 art installation in Central Park; and Wisconsin Death Trip (2000), a depiction of a 19th century Wisconsin town's bout with insanity and murder. Her films have premiered at the Tribeca, Cannes, and Hampton International film festivals, and Man on Wire won the Sundance film festival's World Cinema Jury Prize for a Documentary. Ryan teaches at Columbia's Graduate Film Division and at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Learn more.

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