11 People You May Not Have Known Were Olympians

iStock
iStock

For many, competing at the Olympics is the dream of a lifetime. But these accomplished athletes found success both inside and far beyond the Olympic stadium, as movie stars, politicians, famed generals, and Darth Vader's stunt double.

1. DR. BENJAMIN SPOCK

 Dr Benjamin Spock, noted for his ideas on child-rearing, on a visit to Britain.
Keystone, Getty Images

Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998), author of the bestselling Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946), was the authority on child rearing in Baby Boomer America. But long before he became a pop culture icon, Spock rowed with Yale's crew team and made the men's eights team for the 1924 Paris Olympics. He won a gold medal at age 21 and continued rowing for the rest of his life—even placing third in a 4-mile contest at age 84.

2. HILLARY WOLF

Hillary Wolf of the United States moves in for the attack against San Hui Kye of Korea in the Womens 52 kg Judo match at the Sydney Exhibition Centre during the Sydney Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Andy Lyons, Getty Images

When she wasn't playing a teasing sister in 1990's Home Alone ("Kevin, you're completely helpless!"), Hillary Wolf was honing her judo skills. The child actress, who began practicing martial arts when she was 7, quit acting full time in 1991 to focus on her fighting career. The move paid off: Wolf became a four-time U.S. national champion, and made it to both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games in Atlanta and Sydney, Australia.

3. JOHNNY WEISSMULLER

American actors Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984), the most famous actor to play Tarzan, was a star in the pool long before he hit the big screen. Before cementing his place in the Hollywood beefcake hall of fame, Weissmuller was an Olympic swimmer who won five gold medals between the 1924 Paris and 1928 Amsterdam games (as well as a bronze with the men's water polo team). Playing Tarzan came naturally to him, he once said, because "there was swimming in it, and I didn't have much to say."

4. HAROLD T. SAKATA

Professional wrestler and actor Toshiyuki 'Harold' Sakata wearing a suit and bowler hat, walking down a street in London, March 10th 1965.
Keystone, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Harold T. Sakata's (1920-1982) steel rimmed hat and karate skills made him dangerous as the memorable James Bond villain Oddjob in 1964's Goldfinger, but in real life the Hawaiian-born athlete was a professional wrestler and weightlifter. He scored a silver medal for weightlifting at the 1948 London Olympics, years before Hollywood producers "discovered" him in the 1960s after catching one of his wrestling matches on television.

5. AND 6. CAMERON AND TYLER WINKLEVOSS

Oxford's Winklevoss twins, Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss of the USA (centre right) in action during Tideaway Week on The River Thames ahead of the Xchanging University Boat Race on March 30, 2010 in London, England.
Richard Heathcote, Getty Images

Perhaps most famous for being bitcoin billionaires and for suing Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss (known collectively as the Winklevoss twins) were also collegiate rowers at both Harvard and Oxford. In 2008, they competed in men's pair rowing at the Beijing Olympics, placing sixth overall.

7. SUMMER SANDERS

Summer Sanders attends the Woman's Day 8th Annual Red Dress Awards at Jazz at Lincoln Center on February 8, 2011 in New York City.
Neilson Barnard, Getty Images for Woman's Day

Summer Sanders spent four seasons sliming contestants on Nickelodeon's Figure It Out, but before getting gooey on national television, the host won four Olympic medals—including two gold—at the 1992 Summer games in Barcelona, Spain. Sanders retired from swimming when she was 22, paving the way for her future career as a game show host and sports commentator/reporter.

8. BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL

U.S. President George W. Bush shakes hands with Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House.
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the former Colorado senator who served two terms from 1993 to 2005, became the first Native American to serve in the U.S. Senate in more than 60 years following his election in 1992. But long before he became interested in politics, Campbell served as captain of the first American judo team at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Unfortunately he tore his ACL in the second round, which ended his athletic career but allowed him to pursue his other interests, like jewelry-making.

9. GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON

August 1944: General George S Patton (1885-1945), Head of the 3rd Army, talks to Allied war correspondents in Normandy.
Keystone, Getty Images

General George S. Patton (1885-1945), the storied World War II officer who led the U.S. Third Army on the Western Front, was famous for his foul mouth, rousing speeches, and tenacious leadership. He was also a great athlete who placed fifth in the inaugural modern pentathlon (swimming, riding, fencing, running, shooting) at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.

10. BOB ANDERSON

A Star Wars lightsaber battle
STAR WARS © & TM 2015 LUCASFILM LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

You likely don't know Bob Anderson's (1922-2012) name or face, but you certainly know his light saber skills. The British stunt double performed Darth Vader's fighting scenes in both The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and competed as a pro fencer when he wasn't wearing an electronic helmet. Right before representing Britain at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, Anderson got his big break in the film industry when he was recruited to work as Errol Flynn's fencing coach and stunt double opponent in the 1953 film The Master of Ballantrae. He spent much of career as the go-to Hollywood sword-fighting choreographer, working on films like The Princess Bride, The Mask of Zorro, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

11. TOM MCMILLEN

Former Maryland representative Tom McMillen and his wife,  Dr. Judith Niemyer.
Neilson Barnard, Getty Images

Tom McMillen, the Democratic U.S. Congressman who represented Maryland's Fourth District from 1987 through 1993, left a towering legacy: Standing at 6 feet 11 inches, he's believed to be the tallest person to ever serve on Capitol Hill. Not surprisingly, McMillen is also a former professional basketball player who competed with the U.S. team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. It was possibly the most controversial gold-medal event ever—the final three seconds were replayed over and over again until the Soviet team went ahead by one point. The U.S. team refused to accept their silver medals.

Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor

Dash/Keurig
Dash/Keurig

If you're looking for deals on items like Keurigs, BISSELL vacuums, and essential oil diffusers, it's usually pretty slim pickings until the holiday sales roll around. Thankfully, Amazon is starting these deals a little earlier with their Big Fall Sale, where customers can get up to 20 percent off everything from home decor to WFH essentials and kitchen gadgets. Now you won’t have to wait until Black Friday for the deal you need. Make sure to see all the deals that the sale has to offer here and check out our favorites below.

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Dash/Amazon

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HP/Amazon

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DEWALT/Amazon

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NECA/Amazon

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10 Fast Facts About Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph breaks the tape as she wins the Olympic 4 x 100 relay in 1960.
Wilma Rudolph breaks the tape as she wins the Olympic 4 x 100 relay in 1960.
Robert Riger/Getty Images

Wilma Rudolph made history as a Black female athlete at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. The 20-year-old Tennessee State University sprinter was the first American woman to win three gold medals at one Olympics. Rudolph’s heroics in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and 4 x 100-meter events only lasted seconds, but her legend persists decades later, despite her untimely 1994 death from cancer at age 54. Here are some facts about this U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member.

1. Wilma Rudolph faced poverty and polio as a child.

When Rudolph was born prematurely on June 23, 1940, in Clarksville, Tennessee, she weighed just 4.5 pounds. Olympic dreams seemed impossible for Rudolph, whose impoverished family included 21 other siblings. Among other maladies, she had measles, mumps, and pneumonia by age 4. Most devastatingly, polio twisted her left leg, and she wore leg braces until she was 9.

2. Wilma Rudolph originally wanted to play basketball.

The Tennessee Tigerbelles. From left to right: Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams, Wilma Rudolph, and Barbara Jones.Central Press/Getty Images

At Clarksville’s Burt High School, Rudolph flourished on the basketball court. Nearly 6 feet tall, she studied the game, and ran track to keep in shape. However, while competing in the state basketball championship in Nashville, the 14-year-old speedster met a referee named Ed Temple, who doubled as the acclaimed coach of the Tennessee State Tigerbelles track team. Temple, who would coach at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, recruited Rudolph.

3. Wilma Rudolph made her Olympic debut as a teenager.

Rudolph hit the limelight at 16, earning a bronze medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. But that didn’t compare to the media hype when she won three gold medals in 1960. French journalists called her “The Black Pearl,” the Italian press hailed “The Black Gazelle,” and in America, Rudolph was “The Tornado.”

4. After her gold medals, Wilma Rudolph insisted on a racially integrated homecoming.

Tennessee governor Buford Ellington, who supported racial segregation, intended to oversee the Clarksville celebrations when Rudolph returned from Rome. However, she refused to attend her parade or victory banquet unless both were open to Black and white people. Rudolph got her wish, resulting in the first integrated events in the city’s history.

5. Muhammad Ali had a crush on Wilma Rudolph.

Ali—known as Cassius Clay when he won the 1960 Olympic light heavyweight boxing title—befriended Rudolph in Rome. That fall, the 18-year-old boxer invited Rudolph to his native Louisville, Kentucky. He drove her around in a pink Cadillac convertible.

6. John F. Kennedy literally fell over when he invited Wilma Rudolph to the White House.

President Kennedy, Wilma Rudolph, Rudolph’s mother Blanche Rudolph, and Vice President Johnson in the Oval Office.Abbie Rowe/White House Photographs/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum // Public Domain

In 1961, Rudolph met JFK in the Oval Office. After getting some photos taken together, the President attempted to sit down in his rocking chair and tumbled to the floor. Kennedy quipped: “It’s not every day that I get to meet an Olympic champion.” They chatted for about 30 minutes.

7. Wilma Rudolph held three world records when she retired.

Rudolph chose to go out on top and retired in 1962 at just 22 years old. Her 100-meter (11.2 seconds), 200-meter (22.9 seconds), and 4 x 100-meter relay (44.3 seconds) world records all lasted several years.

8. Wilma Rudolph visited West African countries as a goodwill ambassador.

The U.S. State Department sent Rudolph to the 1963 Friendship Games in Dakar, Senegal. According to Penn State professor Amira Rose Davis, while there, Rudolph independently met with future Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah’s Young Pioneers, a nationalist youth movement. She visited Mali, Guinea, and the Republic of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) as well.

9. Denzel Washington made his TV debut in a movie about Wilma Rudolph.

Before his Oscar-winning performances in Glory (1989) and Training Day (2001), a 22-year-old Denzel Washington portrayed Robert Eldridge, Rudolph’s second husband, in Wilma (1977). The film also starred Cicely Tyson as Rudolph’s mother Blanche.

10. Schools, stamps, and statues commemorate Wilma Rudolph’s legacy.

Berlin, Germany, has a high school named after Rudolph. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp celebrating her in 2004. Clarksville features a bronze statue by the Cumberland River, the 1000-capacity Wilma Rudolph Event Center, and Wilma Rudolph Boulevard. In Tennessee, June 23 is Wilma Rudolph Day.