7 Astonishing LDS (Mormon) Converts

Review What These Famous People Did Before Becoming LDS!

Church members such as Donny Osmond, Ken Jennings, Stephenie Meyer and Torah Bright emerge onto the scene carrying their Mormon identity with them. However, there is a small subset of people who make their mark in the world before becoming Mormon.

These high profile converts often cause us to rethink our idea of what a potential member looks like. They explode every stereotype we function with in our missionary efforts. So review this list and consider how the gospel can work miracles in anyone's life!

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LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 8: Singer David Johansen, guitarist Johnny Thunders, drummer Jerry Nolan, bassist Arthur Kane, and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain of the rock and roll group 'The New York Dolls' pose for a portrait with host Don Steele on 'The Real Don Steele Show' on KHJ channel 9 on September 8, 1973 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Arthur "Killer" Kane was bass guitarist for the New York Dolls, a glam rock group formed in New York City and an early influence on punk and mainstream rock. Rolling Stone listed him as one of the top 10 rockers who found God. He died July 14, 2004, soon after the band had reunited for two concerts.

He converted to the LDS faith after requesting a free Book of Mormon from a television commercial. The book was delivered to his hospital room by sister missionaries.

His life as a Mormon revolved largely around family history work. He reportedly did temple work for his deceased band mates. His early life and later life, working in a family history center, was documented in the film, New York Doll.

The film debuted in 2005 at the Sundance Film Festival and won several awards. More »

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LYON, FRANCE - APRIL 1. English crime novelist Anne Perry poses during portrait session held on april 1, 2007 at book fair in Lyon, France. Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Anne Perry's historical detective fiction has a worldwide audience and many awards. Much of this audience may be surprised to discover she has been LDS since the late 1960's.

She has also written some LDS fiction available through Deseret Book, the Church's bookstore and publishing arm, under the Shadow Mountain imprint. She was profiled in a church magazine and also wrote an article for one.

She was revealed to be the former Juliet Hulme. She and her teenage friend, Pauline Parker murdered Parker's mother when she was living in New Zealand. She was convicted and served her prison sentence before moving to the United States, where she converted to the LDS faith.

She has always admitted her guilt. She was already a popular novelist before her youthful crime under the Hulme name was connected to her new identity as Anne Perry. More »

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Isabelle Collin Dufresne, also known as Ultra Violet was an active Mormon until her death in 2014. Courtesy of David Shankbone, under CC BY 2.5 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Contemporary, student and collaborator to Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, Isabelle Collin Dufresne was a French American known by her professional name, Ultra Violet. Violet was her characteristic color.

Health issues contributed to her conversion, as well as her determination to leave the excesses of her past behind. She died on June 14, 2014, having been a strong and faithful LDS member since her conversion in 1981.

Primarily known for her artistic work, she was also an actress, writer and singer. In LDS circles she was known simply as Sister Dufresne. More »

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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - MAY 10: Gladys Knight performs during the 2014 Mother's Day Music Festival at Boardwalk Hall Arena on May 10, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photo by Donald Kravitz /Getty Images

Best known as the Empress of Soul and for combining with the Pips, Gladys Knight became LDS in 1997. LDS are more familiar with her teaming with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, speaking at firesides and performing at other events, such as former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley's birthday celebration. She reportedly teased Hinckley about LDS music, insisting it needed more pep.

She brought her musical versatility to LDS circles with her Saints Unified Voices Choir, otherwise known as her SUV choir. She is the official director of the choir. She has described its origins as well as her own spiritual journal.

The choir contains 100 choir members and is multi-culturally diverse.  The choir records and travels worldwide. With music as diverse as the choir members, the choir bears the cost of all performances, which are given in church buildings. Missions and stakes may host a presentation that shares both testimony and music. More »

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Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada and former Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Courtesy of Harry Reid.

Harry Reid serves as a partisan leader of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate. He is the highest placed Church member in United States' government, ever.

He and his wife were converted to the Church while he was attending college, remaining faithful and active. His liberal beliefs, and position in the Democratic party, make him a sort of Mormon oddity. Some of his political positions put him at odds with the Church's stated positions.

Most LDS politicians are Republican and embrace conservative values. Reid has always maintained that he believes the Democratic party adheres better to Mormon values. He is critical of other LDS candidates and office holders, most notably, Mitt Romney. More »

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 04: Writer / Producer Andrea Schroder (L) and Actor Ricky Schroder (R) attend Paul Mitchell Schools' 11th annual FUNraising Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 4, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Ricky Schroder made his acting debut in 1979 at age nine in The Champ with Jon Voigt. He is best known for his time on Silver Spoons, a popular 1980's television sitcom. He has continued to act, while adding director, producer and writer to his credits.

His future wife, Andrea introduced him to the gospel, but it was many years before he finally joined. Andrea was raised in the LDS faith. His touching conversion story involves an episode when he was out hunting.

His film, Black Cloud was part of the annual LDS Film Festival. More »

07
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Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther and Activist

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29th May 1975: American author and former Black Panthers head Eldridge Cleaver holds a book, Paris. Photo by Agence France Presse/Agence France Presse/Getty Images

Eldridge Cleaver was many things during his life, but many do not realize he was also Mormon. Cleaver was still an official church member when he died in 1988, although he was not active in the faith in his last years.

Best known for his political activism, he helped lead the Black Panther Party and penned Soul on Ice, a collection of essays and a bestseller while serving time in prison. He was especially active and vocal during the civil rights era.

Cleaver cycled through many faiths, including Muslim and christian. His politics also evolved, becoming conservative and Republican in the end..

For a comprehensive narrative of his Mormon years, see Eldridge Cleaver's Passage through Mormonism.

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Cook, Krista. "7 Astonishing LDS (Mormon) Converts." ThoughtCo, Mar. 2, 2017, thoughtco.com/astonishing-lds-converts-2158660. Cook, Krista. (2017, March 2). 7 Astonishing LDS (Mormon) Converts. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/astonishing-lds-converts-2158660 Cook, Krista. "7 Astonishing LDS (Mormon) Converts." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/astonishing-lds-converts-2158660 (accessed November 20, 2017).