Latter-day Saints and Hollywood: 40 Fascinating Facts

9. Dean Jagger, who depicted the title character in the 1940 film Brigham Young, joined the Church later in life.

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Image from imdb.com

Until Jagger starred in Brigham Young, he was a little-known actor. He went on to star in White Christmas (1954) and Twelve O'Clock High (1949), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Jagger joined the Church in his late 60s after marrying Etta Mae Norton, who was a Mormon.


For the making of Brigham Young, Twentieth Century Fox consulted with Church historians and leaders, including President Heber J. Grant.

10. Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger, whose inspirational story was told in the 1993 Hollywood movie Rudy, joined the Church in 2017.

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Images from Facebook and imdb.com

The movie captures Ruettiger's tenacious battle to become a football player for Notre Dame's Fighting Irish. At 5'6" and 165 pounds, the possibility of Ruettiger becoming a Fighting Irish football player was minuscule, but that never deterred Ruettiger, who worked many long, grueling hours to make it onto the Notre Dame scout team.

In what would be his last chance to play at a home game, Ruettiger's coach, Dan Devine, had him dress and play in one of the last plays of the game as a defensive end. With just 27 seconds left on the clock, Ruettiger sacked Georgia Tech's quarterback in one of the most memorable underdog stories in football history. After the game, Ruettiger's teammates carried him off the field, making him one of the only players in Notre Dame history to be carried off the football field.

Several years ago, BYU Coach Bronco Mendenhall invited Ruettiger, now in his 60s, to attend a fireside the night before Ruettiger's Fighting Irish took on the BYU Cougars. Despite growing up attending Catholic schools and rooting for a Catholic college team, Ruettiger was impressed by the testimony of the football players from this Latter-day Saint school, and he began asking questions, wanting to know more. "The Spirit touched his heart, and he knew where he needed to be," a Facebook post by United Latter-day Saints shares.

That initial curiosity soon grew within Ruettiger as he continued to investigate the Church, and on January 21, 2017, Rudy Ruettiger was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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