NOTE: This story has been updated – see here.
As a Dalton highschooler I heard the Chevy Chase story numerous times- from my older brother and other upperclassmen and alumni. It seems to be one of the favored Dalton factoids in party conversation along with the school’s reference in the Woody Allen film “Manhattan.
The story: Chevy Chase was kicked out of Dalton because he brought a cow up to the top floor of the school, at that time the top floor only being accessible by stairs. Apparently it was a widely known fact that cows cannot walk downstairs so naturally this created great problems and Chevy Chase was subsequently expelled. In the first version I heard (from my brother) the cow had to be slaughtered while versions I heard later left out the fate of the cow.
But I recently ran into a Riverdale Country Day School alum who insisted that the incident took place at his alma mater and was the reason for Chevy Chase’s expulsion from there. This was outragious to me- although the details varied, I had never heard the location of the cow story questioned.
After much internet research I am now convinced that the cow incident actually occurred at Haverford College. I find this somewhat consoling since at least we are not losing this precious anecdote to a rival private high school.
First, according to Chevy’s Wikipedia page (I probably rely on wikipedia more than I should) Chevy Chase did well at Riverdale, even graduating as Valedictorian which I find hard to believe.
Wikipedia also mentions he was expelled from Dalton but after using the alumni directory to cold-e-mail some of Chevy’s classmates I found out that he could only have attended the school up through eigth grade. At that time, the 1960’s, Dalton high school was only for girls. Boys had to transfer elsewhere after eigth grade. It’s hard to imagine a 12 or 13 year old pulling off such a stunt and his classmates did not recall the cow incident.
Wiki then states that Chevy Chase was expelled from or asked to leave Haverford after one semester and the trivia section on his IMDB page says he was expelled from Haverford College for bringing a cow to the third floor of a campus building.
One of my friends who attended Haverford then recounted to me the same cow story, taking place at that college, but this time ending with the cow being airlifted to safety.
So far the location of Haverford seems the most likely but I am still trying to find hard evidence and pin down all the details so this incident can be put down in the books once and for all. I am hoping this post will spur some people who have access to more information to come forward.
Sorry Dalton and Riverdale, looks like we’ll have to get a new celebrity anecdote.