The Almost-Dentists

April 29, 2019

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg all famously dropped out of school before graduating. As it turns out, tech entrepreneurs aren’t the only celebrities who quit school. And a handful of notable stars even considered careers in dentistry! Here we have listed four well-known almost-dentists, who either considered or enrolled in dental school before being pulled elsewhere.

4. Mark Spitz


That’s right- America’s mustachioed Olympic wonder was originally destined for the dental office. Spitz was a pre-dental student at Indiana University (in fact, Indiana’s dental program is in part why he chose Indiana), and was accepted to dental school in 1972. But the Munich Olympics quickly foiled his long-held plans.

In Spitz’s own words: “I always wanted to be a dentist from the time I was in high school, and I was accepted to dental school in the spring of 1972. I was planning to go, but after the Olympics there were other opportunities. I did some television and speaking engagements, and things just went from there.”

After the 1972 Olympics, Spitz capitalized on endorsement deals, found his way onto the speaking circuit, and began a successful career in real estate. He never became a dentist, and never looked back.

3. Robert Smigel

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Robert Smigel is a renowned comedian and humorist. His work has been frequently featured in Saturday Night Live skits, including TV Funhouse. He also co-wrote You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, which officially marked peak comedy in the United States, and is the voice of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, which is worth a watch for those unfamiliar.

Born to a dentist, Smigel naturally found himself in a pre-dental track at Cornell, before transferring to New York University to study communications. As Smigel explained to Vice: “I went to Cornell and the entire time I knew that I really didn’t want to be a dentist. Science-related stuff, in general, gave me the most trouble, so I dreaded going through pre-dental and I sucked at it. I failed so badly at what I was doing that my parents felt sorry for me. I transferred to NYU to study communications.”

Good thing Smigel found comedy.

2. Steven Hauschka

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Steven Hauschka is an NFL kicker for the Buffalo Bills. He graduated from Middlebury College in 2007 before nearly attending dental school. The son and brother of dentists, dental school seemed to be a natural fit for him, but his talent as a football kicker was pulling him in another direction.

Hauschka tried to keep playing football by enrolling in North Carolina State for graduate school but was soon approached by NFL scouts.  “That’s when I realized that I should give this a shot and see if I could make a career out of this,” Hauschka explained. “I put dental school on hold and started training for combine-type stuff.”

Hauschka is still playing in the NFL- he signed a four-year contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2017. Dentistry doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Hauschka anytime soon.

1. Sofia Vergara

The daughter of a cattle rancher, Vergara seemed set for a career as a dentist, before a role in a Pepsi advertisement opened new opportunities for her. Vergara studied several years of dentistry at a school in Colombia but left a destabilizing Colombia behind for a career as an actress before finishing.

In Vergara’s words: “I wanted to be a doctor, but being a doctor takes so much time, years of studying. It’s difficult. So the next best thing for me at that time was to be a dentist. So I went to dentist school, but I didn’t finish.” Vergara has since had an incredibly successful career, playing roles in movies ranging from Hot Pursuit to Emoji Movie. Her runaway hit has undoubtedly been her role as Gloria in the TV show Modern Family.

Admittedly, not all dentists can achieve the stardom of Modern Family’s Gloria. But those that do finish school can help those in the limelight maintain picture-perfect teeth. And what could be a higher calling than that?

If we’ve left any famous almost-dentists off this list, please let us know!

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