Alumni Updates

Provo Boy Meets Hollywood Girl


Camerons

Melinda Cummings acted in BYU shows and married the school’s most preferred man, Kim Cameron

While studying sociology at BYU in the late 1960s, Kim S. Cameron (BA ’70) was voted the school’s “most preferred man,” but at the time the scholar, athlete, and student body vice president didn’t have the confidence to ask Melinda Cummings (BA ’74) on a date.

She was the daughter of Hollywood actor Robert Cummings, and her arrival on campus had created a considerable stir. Despite urgings from several people, Kim protested—there was no way he, a hometown Provo boy, could date Melinda Cummings. “It would have been like asking Miss America out,” he explains.

It took a social orchestrated by celebrated Program Bureau director Janie Thompson (BA ’43) to get them together. “Couples were matched with pink and blue cards,” says Melinda, “and Janie paired us together on purpose.” She and Kim began dating.

Melinda had come to Provo by happenstance. Her father performed at the Valley Music Hall, of which M. Russell Ballard was on the board of directors. He invited them to visit BYU.

The school’s honor code resonated with Melinda. Although she wasn’t a member of the Church, she’d previously turned down a costarring role in the movie The Graduate because it required her to compromise her standards. She applied to BYU and was accepted.

Both Kim and Melinda had unforgettable performing opportunities at BYU, including one—the film Pioneers and Petticoats—that would change Melinda’s life forever.

“I had a scene where I was supposed to bear my testimony, and as an actor, I didn’t want to do anything dishonest,” she explains. “I had been praying to get an answer, and as I started saying the dialogue—which included a testimony that Brigham Young was a prophet of God—I got a witness that David O. McKay was a living prophet and that the gospel had been restored on the earth. When I finished, girls in the audience were weeping. I had been given a glycerin tear, but my tears were real, too.”

Melinda was baptized, and she and Kim got married. After Kim earned a second degree from BYU, he taught at Ricks College, where the couple was in high demand to perform in musicals—at that time, only married couples were allowed to kiss on stage.

Kim later earned a PhD in administrative sciences from Yale. He has been associate dean of the BYU Marriott School and dean of Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. He is currently a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. A prolific writer, he is publishing four academic books this year.

The Camerons have raised seven children, five of whom are BYU graduates. As a stay-at-home mom, Melinda found ways to express her artistic talents, running a creative drama school from home and performing on the radio.

Throughout their lives, the Camerons have extolled the value that comes from attending BYU. “We continue to love BYU for the difference it makes in peoples lives, including ours,” says Kim.