Posts Tagged ‘Alumnus’

Bellisario: Bonded by the Blue & White

June 8, 2010

What do TV shows “JAG,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Quantum Leap,” and “NCIS” all have in common? You guessed it: Penn State.

More specifically, they were all created and produced by Executive Producer Donald P. Bellisario, who completed his undergraduate degree in Journalism at Penn State, class of 1961. Bellisario was honored in 2001 as a Distinguished Alumnus, which is the highest honor given to a graduate whose “personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the objectives of their alma mater.”

Bellisario's star on the Walk of Fame, unveiled March 2004.

Bellisario, 75, is a Pennsylvania native who grew up in Cokeburg, Pa., which he described as a “hardscrabble western Pennsylvania coal mining town,” in a Penn State Live article from October 2, 2006. When he was 20 he enlisted in the Marine Corps for four years, where he obtained the rank of Sergeant and received the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. After leaving the Corps, he attended Penn State where he obtained his degree while caring for two of his four children.

He then went to work as a copywriter before taking a chance on his career and moving to Hollywood to become a story editor for the show “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” which aired from 1976 to 1978. After five episodes he was promoted to producer, and was then hired as a supervising producer for the show “Battlestar Galactica.” During this time he started to develop several of his own hit series, the first of which was “Magnum, P.I.”

For all his fame and success, this TV producer with his very own Hollywood Star has not forgotten dear old State. Asides from being honored as a Distinguished Alumnus, Bellisario endowed a $1 million Trustee Matching Scholarship to the College of Communications in 2006, a scholarship that creates $100,000 a year in scholarship money. He also donated collections of his television works for Penn State students to study. Housed in the Carnegie building, they include over 200 episodes of “JAG” and “NCIS”, with scripts and either a VHS or DVD for each.

To learn more about this PSU alum, visit his page here, or check out the Penn State Live article.


Why The Face, Dear Old State?

May 17, 2010

Any fan of ABC’s recent hit sitcom “Modern Family” is familiar with TV’s latest “laugh out loud” character Phil Dunphy: the ultimate cool dad.  At first glance, viewers might recognize actor Ty Burrell from his roles in “Dawn of the Dead,” “The Incredible Hulk,” or even a couple episodes of “Law & Order.”  Those who know better, associate him with a long list of other notable Penn State University graduates.

Ty Burrell, 42, earned his M.F.A. from Penn State’s highly esteemed theatre department in 1997 after completing his undergrad at Southern Oregon University in 1993.  In an article written by Penn State graduate Vicki Glembocki for the Penn Stater Magazine, Penn State professor Barry Kur describes Burrell as having the “innate ability to deliver lines with a sense of truth.”

While comedy isn’t Burrell’s primary focus, it does seem to follow him in his daily life.  In Glembocki’s article, Burrell recounts his first tough audition: the University Resident Theatre Association audition for potential M.F.A.’s.  The day before the audition on a family ski trip, Burrell collided head first with a friend’s dog, leaving him with a black eye.  This proved to work out in his favor as Burrell stated, “it was such a lesson in auditioning; it’s so much better to have something wrong with you.”

Shaky confidence in hand, Burrell headed to Penn State in 1994 where he starred in Grapes of Wrath and Our Town, performed in a two-person show about AIDS called Lovely Planet, and also helped out with the intro-to-theatre class, Theatre 100.  He spent two summers on the professional side of things doing shows at the Pennsylvania Centre Stage.

A versatile actor who’s spent time on television, the silver screen, and off-broadway, Burrell is certainly a well-rounded scholar of his craft. His dedication has been recognized by Entertainment Weekly, who called Burrell this season’s break-out comic actor.  We wish Burrell the best of luck in the upcoming Emmy nominations and good wishes as he continues his way along the road to a long and successful career.

For more insight to Ty Burrell’s work as the endearing yet lovable Phil Dunphy check out this YouTube clip.

To continue reading about Ty’s personal background you can find Vicki Glembocki’s article here: