Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard developed the organization's "Project Celebrity" in 1955 to recruit famous figures including Ed Sullivan, Bing Crosby and Ernest Hemingway to join the religious group.
Hubbard wrote a newsletter announcing the plan and included a list of 63 names of well-known people as "game" for Scientology auditors, asking them to target the personalities and bring them into the church.
"It is obvious what would happen to Scientology if prime communicators benefitting from it would mention it now and then," he told followers.
But more than 60 years after the creation of Project Celebrity, is the religion faring well amongst the famous?
Keep reading to discover some of the biggest names, both present or at the time of their death, have claimed involvement with the church of Scientology.
Cruise has become one of the high-profile mascots of Scientology since joining the group in 1990 at the introduction of then-wife Mimi Rogers (who has since left the church). He claims using L. Ron Hubbard's Study Tech helped him overcome a lifetime of struggling with dyslexia, and has become a vocal advocate of the church's social programs.
The Top Gun actor has also reached the highest level available in Scientology rankings, OT Level VIII.
Moss has admitted to her affiliation with Scientology, but has kept brief when asked about her religious beliefs on press tours for her latest award-winning role in Hulu's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
Years before, though, Moss explained that she considers Scientology a “self-applied” practice, which has helped her feel “centered” during periods of her life.
Alley joined Scientology in 1979, despite being raised as a Methodist. At the time she joined the church, the It Takes Two actress admitted to having a cocaine addiction, but she said she went through Narconon, a Scientology-affiliated drug treatment program, to kick her dependency.
Alley is at one of the highest-ranking levels in Scientology, OT Level VII.prevnext
Though Travolta is a longtime Scientologist and has recruited several famous members to the organization, ex-Scientology executive Marty Rathbun described him as "Scientology's captive" in HBO's documentary Going Clear.
“There were rumors that he was threatening to leave,” New Yorker journalist Lawrence Wright added. “And another Scientologist told me that he was delegated to create a 'black PR' package — all the damaging material that they could use against Travolta, which came from his auditing sessions.”
Travolta's wife Preston, who is also a former model and actress in films such as Mischief, Twins, and Jerry Maguire, is a member of the organization founded by Hubbard in 1954.
That '70s Show and Orange is the New Black actress Laura Prepon is one of the organization's top celebrity members.
“Honestly, I’ve become more me," the actress said in the organization's Celebrity magazine of her religious affiliation. "The auditing has stripped away all of this charge, false ideas, decisions and mis-emotions that were affecting me."prevnext
The Grammy-winning singer kept quiet about his lifelong involvement in Scientology until 2005. In 2012, the "Loser" singer acknowledged outright his affiliation with the church, telling Vulture, "It's just something that I've been around." Beck is a second-generation Scientologists as both his parents are involved in the organization.
Late singer Bono's relationship with the church began in the 1970s "because Cher wanted him to go," his assistant told the New York Post in 1999. Cher, who is not a Scientologist, disputed the claim, telling Access Hollywood in 2008 she "didn't understand" her ex-husband's faith.
The musical icon's widow Mary Bono told the Post that her husband "did try to break away [from the church] at one point” in the early ‘90s, “and they made it very difficult for him.”
While Presley is a devout member of the church, her ex-husband Elvis Presley was not a fan of the religious group. According to the book Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations From the Memphis Mafia, he met with Scientologists in Hollywood and left shouting obscenities about the members.
“F— those people! There’s no way I’ll ever get involved with that son-of-a-b—in’ group. All they want is my money,” Elvis allegedly yelled. He and Presley divorced after six years of marriage.prevnext
Masterson, who starred in That's '70s Show and Netflix's The Ranch (before his recent firing), is one of the most famous members of Scientology following reports he raped a handful of women in the early 2000s — with the organization allegedly covering up for his proclivities.
All of the women who have accused Masterson of sexual assault are ex-members of the church, and some claim Scientology leaders threatened them to keep quiet while protecting the actor from harm.
Danny's younger brother Chris, who starred in Malcolm in the Middle and Scary Movie 2, is also a celebrity member of the church.
Phillips, an actress in projects like Raising Hope, Almost Famous and Mean Girls, is married to Danny Masterson and is a devout member of Scientology.prevnext
The Dharma and Greg star, along with brother Bodhi Elfman and father Richard Elfman, are longtime members of the Church of Scientology.
"In Scientology, you can find answers for anything you could ever think to ask," Elfman said of her affiliation. "These are not pushed off on you as, ‘This is the answer, you have to believe in it.’ In Scientology, you discover for yourself what is true for you.”
Lee, who starred in mid-2000s sitcom My Name Is Earl, is a Scientologist, as is Earl co-star Ethan Suplee. As for the show's other cast members, recurring guest Giovanni Ribisi is a Scientologist, as is Juliette Lewis, who appeared in one episode. According to a TV critic at The Guardian, the plot of the entire NBC series has shades of Hubbard-inspired connections.
The Parenthood and Traffic actress has openly spoken about her affiliation with Scientology over the years.
"If I had to sum it up, the goal of Scientology is giving the person back to themselves. Like, your own power of choice," she said on Parenthood costar Joy Bryant's web series, Across the Board.prevnext
Cartwright, who voices The Simpsons' Bart, Nelson, Todd Flanders, and Ralph Wiggum, has been a Scientologist since 1989. In 2007, Cartwright made a $10 million donation to the church, the New York Post reports. The voice actress also drew fire in 2009 for using the Bart voice in a robocall promoting an appearance on behalf of the church.
Lewis, a musician and award-winning actress in Cape Fear (1991) is a longtime member of the church and vocal supporter of Cruise's outburst criticizing pharmaceutical companies.
Lewis previously told a Daily Beast reporter that the public is unkind to Scientology because “the mainstream media is funded by pharmaceutical companies, so when you have the biggest movie star in the world at the time — Tom Cruise — coming out against anti-depressants and Ritalin and just saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you put a warning label on there?’ " she said. "The thing about Scientology is it is anti-drug in that you’re seeking relationship or communication tools — simple basics on how to live better.”
Greta Van Susteren:
A commentator and former television news anchor for CNN, Fox News and NBC News, Van Susteren and her lawyer husband John P. Coale have a long history with Scientology.
In 1995, she told a reporter for People she is "a strong advocate for their ethics."prevnext
Doug E. Fresh:
Popular 1980s rapper and beatboxer Doug E. Fresh contributed a track on a tribute album to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The song was titled "The Joy of Creating."
Archer, an Academy Award nominee for her role in Fatal Attraction, is a vastly connected member of the church. She and husband, Emmy-winning producer Terry Jastrow, practice the religion, while her son Tommy Davis is the Church of Scientology's former spokesperson and executive leader.
Dayton, the founder of websites Earthlink and Boingo, attended the Scientology-affiliated Delphian boarding school in Oregon. He was later identified as a Scientologist in "The Apostate," Lawrence Wright's New Yorker article that transformed to become Going Clear, HBO's documentary sharing chilling secrets about the organization's practices.prevnext
The Avatar and Saving Private Ryan actor comes from a Scientology-founded family, which he and twin sister Marissa Ribisi still practice.
In a 2014 interview with comedian Marc Maron, he ignored the funny man’s question about “aliens” in the religion.
“I have never ever heard of aliens in Scientology, and I’ve been a Scientologist all my life,” he said bluntly.
Giovanni's sister Marissa, known for her roles in Dazed and Confused and The Brady Bunch Movie, is a life-long Scientologist because of her family lineage, but also through marriage. She married Back Hansen in 2004.
Formerly associated with Scientology:
These famous figures are no longer affiliated with the Scientology organization, but they have admittedly dabbled in or been full-fledged members in the past.
Perhaps the most outspoken former member of Scientology, the King of Queens star has dedicated her personal and professional life to exposing the messy practices of the church.
Prior to creating Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, her docuseries on A&E, Remini was a dedicated contributor to the church from childhood until 2013.
Haggis, a prominent screenwriter and producer of projects like Million Dollar Baby, left Scientology in 2009 after 35 years as a member.
In recent months, Haggis has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault, an "attack" tactic he and Remini, among others, believe to be orchestrated by the church following his public exit.
Arrested Development actor Tambor was identified as a Scientologist in the New York Times in 2007 and took classes with affiliated member and acting coach Milton Katselas. Later, though, he told LA.com, "I have nothing against it, but I am no longer a Scientologist.prevnext
Patrick Swayze and Forest Whitaker:
Swayze and Whitaker are among many of the Hollywood elites turned Scientology recruits by Travolta. Though his fellow actors may have been introduced to the church, they never adopted the practices as full-fledged members.
The Seinfeld star has not practiced the religious teachings in more than three decades, but he has admitted to being familiar with the organization's teachings.
“I last really studied [Scientology], oh, it’s almost 30 years ago...In my early years of stand-up, it was very helpful,” Seinfeld told Parade in 2008. “I took a couple of courses. One of them was in communication, and I learned some things about communication that really got my act going.”0comments
A Scientology auditor told Morrison biographer Steve Turner that the "Brown Eyed Girl" singer once had a “basic involvement” with the religion, Rolling Stone reports. Morrison reportedly also gave Hubbard “special thanks” in the liner notes to his 1983 album Inarticulate Speech of the Heart.prev