For a school in a small Ohio town, William McKinley High sure did see more than its fair share of celebrity visitors over Glee‘s six seasons. The musical comedy/drama made viewers wish they could sing and dance their way through their lives. And the list of fans of the show—a.k.a. Gleeks—included many Hollywood stars that *also* wanted the chance to belt some truly fabulous songs.
Over the show’s full run, Academy Award winners, Tony Award winners, Grammy Award winners, and one EGOT recipient (All hail Whoopi) stopped by to perform their hearts out with Rachel, Mr. Shue, Kurt, Santana, Brittany, and the rest of the gang. Some you may remember and some may have you saying, “Wait, how did I miss this?!” And it’s more than likely that at least one will have you looking up a clip of their performance.
While the show ended in 2015 and the Glee cast has gone on to different things, the entire series is currently available on Netflix. Ready to tap into your inner show choir performer? These are all the guest stars you didn’t remember on Glee. (Consider this your warning that there are spoilers ahead.)
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Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow kinda-sorta had a singing career? After showcasing her talents in her Country Strong role, Gwyneth stopped by William McKinley High as Holly Holiday, Mr. Schue’s substitute, in season two.
After Brittany and Santana break up when Santana moves to New York City, she finds a new love interest in Dani, played by Demi Lovato. Given that Dani was Santana’s coworker and bandmate, you have to imagine things got a little complicated between the two when “Brittana” eventually found their way back to each other.
For her part, the Sorry Not Sorry singer was excited to be able to break some boundaries with her role. “I don’t want people to take from this, ‘Oh my god, Demi is kissing a girl,'” Demi told E!. “I want people to take from it [that] this is actually an incredible step in our generation today where I’m able to play a young lesbian on primetime TV. I’m honored to be able to be hopefully inspiring people with my character to be who they are and not be afraid of it or ashamed.”
Who else would judge the Glee Club Nationals in season three other than Lindsay Lohan? And the New Directions have the actress partly to thank for their trophy at the end of the episode.
Perez Hilton was also sitting behind the judges’ table at Nationals in season three. But the celebrity blogger gets into trouble with Lindsay Lohan when he doesn’t stop posting about what she was doing.
Not to be confused with Brittany S. Pierce, the pop princess appeared as herself (well, in a Cheerios uniform) in a season two episode that recreated (sometimes almost frame-for-frame) some of her iconic moments.
A musical TV show isn’t a musical TV show until Idina Menzel stops by to belt out some tunes. The Broadway star caused a little bit of drama in season one as the coach of Vocal Adrenaline, the Glee club’s archrivals, and she eventually turned out to be Rachel’s biological mother. Then, you know, there was that whole “adopting Quinn and Puck’s baby and then forming a questionable relationship with Puck” thing in season two.
The legendary newscaster starred as herself in season two, on assignment at McKinley High School to name Sue Slyvester “Loser of the Year.”
Katie told the Wall Street Journal before her guest appearance that viewers who were hoping for the TV host to break into song would be disappointed. “I just had so much fun. I joked with some press that I would be doing a Busby Berkeley-like number, but it was just that, a joke” she said. “Singing and dancing are not my hidden talents, I can assure you.”
Rachel had to get all that showbiz ambition from somewhere, and it all starts to make sense when you see one of her dads Hiram Berry is played by Jeff Goldblum. After audiences heard about the characters’ dads for three seasons, the Jurassic Park actor made the wait worth it.
When some of the Glee cast moves to New York in season five, they meet Elliot “Starchild” Gilbert, played by Adam Lambert. The American Idol runner-up quickly gets entangled in the group’s antics, including joining Kurt’s band and offering a place for Rachel to stay when she’s feuding with her then-roommate Santana.
“I had such a blast filming the show, and loved getting back into acting and working with such great people,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m so excited for everyone to see it!”
Legendary actress Carol Burnett starred as Sue’s mom, and while she only had scenes with Jane Lynch (including a duet of Ohio), the comedian said she watched other scenes and was blown away by what she saw. “During a break I watched them do a tribute to ‘Singin’ in the Rain,'” she told TV Guide. “I said, ‘My God, it really is like going back to the good old days with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.'”
You might remember more than how to ask “Where is the library?” if every high school Spanish class included Ricky Martin as the teacher singing “Sexy And I Know It” as the day’s instruction. The Grammy winner appeared in the third season of the show.
Neil Patrick Harris
In the epic showdown between high school nemeses Mr. Shue and Bryan Ryan (NPH), who will come out on top? But really, considering their powerhouse duet cover of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” everyone’s a winner.
As Dean of Vocal Performance and Song Interpretation at New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts Carmen Tibideaux, Whoopi Goldberg is often seen in the audience, delivering strict criticism to Rachel and Kurt. But since it is Whoopi, every moment with the EGOT winner is gold.
In other incredible Glee rivalry news, Molly Shannon took on Sue in season one as Brenda Castle, an astronomy teacher and badminton coach who has issues with drugs and alcohol.
If you only get one complaint about the Mr. Shue-Emma relationship, it might as well be that it meant you only got to see John Stamos as sexy dancing dentist Carl Howell for one season of Glee.
The two end up getting married in Vegas, but when it’s revealed that Emma is still confused about her feelings for Will, Carl moves into a hotel. “It’s really nice that this show worked,” John told Entertainment Weekly. “They goofed on me in the beginning, so I had to secretly watch it, because I loved it so much. I told everybody I hated it, but I was a closet Glee fan.”
While Stephen Hawking might be Brittany’s biological dad, Ken Jeong joined the show in its final season as Brittany’s stepfather, Pierce Pierce.
Brittany’s mom? That would be legendary comedy actress Jennifer Coolidge. Now that’s a family reunion that would be worth crashing.
Things never go great for members of New Directions when Josh Groban shows up. In season one, the multi-platinum artist did attend one of the Acafellas’ performances (Mr. Shue’s side project) but was really only there to serve one of the members a restraining order. He then ended up hitting on Mr. Shue’s wife, and Josh later appeared as one of the judges at regionals.
After Kurt described her character as “the coolest socialite in the world,” June Dolloway could be played by no one else but the iconic Shirley MacLaine. The legend starred in season five as a wealthy NYADA donor who takes a special interest in Blaine.
“That they can do so much in so little time,” Shirley told Entertainment Weekly about what surprised her on set. “Really, it’s a shock. And for me, too! I am surprised at that. Someone like me, who was trained my whole life with a sense of understanding that creativity takes time. But I expected it would be fun, because a musical environment is always fun for me.”
The Alias star stopped by Lima, Ohio, as Mr. Schue’s father for one episode in season one.
Known for helping foster the careers of promising models, Tyra Banks took on a less-supportive role for her character on Glee, Bichette. Sam initially stops by the House of Bichette with hopes of becoming a male model, but her character is less than impressed with what Sam has to offer.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Is it even New York City without an appearance from SJP? The Sex and the City star appeared as Isabelle Wright, a Vogue.com executive who hires Kurt as an assistant after the recent graduates move to the Big Apple. She sings and dances her way through three episodes in season four.
Amongst Isabelle’s fabulous friends in the city is none other than the uber-fabulous Shangela. The three-time contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race swings by Kurt and Rachel’s low-key Thanksgiving their first year in New York that quickly turns into a party when the guests break out into “Let’s Have a Kiki” by the Scissor Sisters.
In season one, Eve played Grace Hitches, the head of the show choir at Jane Addams Academy, who schemes with Sue to give her group an edge over the New Directions at Sectionals. However, Grace has a change of heart and confesses, leading to a temporary suspension for Sue.
Adding to the drama of Sectionals is that one of the judges, Candace Dystra, is played by Broadway star Anna Camp. The Pitch Perfect cast member’s character helps give the victory to the New Directions in the season-one episode.
One of Rachel’s love interests over the course of the show is none other than a pre-Frozen and pre-Hamilton Jonathan Groff. The couple seems fainted to not work out—Jonathan plays Jessie St. James, the lead singer of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline—but in the series finale, it’s revealed that the two are not only married, but Jessie directed her on Broadway.
Did you forget about when Kristin Chenoweth starred as April Rhodes, the former crush of Mr. Schue who spends most of her time not sober and potentially hooked up with three members of the Glee club? Yeah, us either.
“‘Glee’ remains so close to my heart, and if I never get to play her again, she was probably the most fun I’ve ever had,” Kristin told Taste of Country of her role on the show. “Hopefully April never goes to rehab and she’s always, you know, drinking Franzia.”
The singer and original Sandy in Grease starred as a much meaner ,fictionalized version of herself in season one, and is partially to blame for the New Directions’ loss at Regionals.
Man, those Glee kids sure do have parents who look like major celebrities. That includes Santana’s mom, Maribel Lopez, who bears more than a passing resemblance to singing icon Gloria Estefan.
Kathy Griffin put on her best suit to star as Tammy Jean Albertson, a “Twitterer” and former Tea Party candidate who also happens to be a judge at Regionals in season two.
Also appearing as a judge at Regionals alongside Tammy Jean was Sister Mary Constance, or Broadway star Loretta Devine.
While some teachers hope to support their students with positive reinforcement, Cassandra July, Kate Hudson’s character in season four, took a much more negative approach. Before becoming a dance teacher at NYADA, Cassandra was best known for throwing an audience member’s phone away after it rang in the middle of one of her performances.
“It’s like being a little kid again,” Kate told AccessHollywood.com at the time. “Doing all three–singing and dancing and acting and I love it. I just love it!”
Sometimes big brothers are the best, and sometimes big brothers just want to come to their little brother’s school and steal the spotlight from him. Cooper Anderson, Blaine’s older brother played by The Boys in the Band and Magic Mike star Matt Bomer, is more of the latter.
Patti LuPone’s appearance on the show in the season two finale when Rachel and Finn run into the legend at Broadway restaurant Sardi’s was short but sweet. But, the musical star revealed to the New Yorker that there was almost an entire episode of the show themed around her.
“I immediately said no: ‘No, no, no, no! I cannot afford to be Patti LuPone’d out of the business,’ ” she explained. “I’m not Cher. I’m not Britney Spears. I’m not Madonna. I’m still a working actor. And if I do this, I will be ‘Patti LuPone’ on TV for a long time, and I won’t get work. They were shocked that I said no. I told Ryan, ‘I’ll be in if they want me to be me. . . . but you can’t do an entire episode around me.'”
Before he was a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer with a very famous sister (hi, Billie Eilish!), Finneas played Alistair, a new member of the New Directions, on the final season of Glee.
Cheyenne Jackson played Dustin Goolsby, who took over as the head of Vocal Adrenaline in season two. However, the American Horror Story actor’s character found himself out of a job after the group failed to win Nationals.
Cheyenne revealed to Vanity Fair in 2011 that he had auditioned for the role of Mr. Shue originally, and he thought had lost his chance to be on the show when he wasn’t chosen for the role. So, he jumped at the chance to play Dustin. “I got my butt down there, and they pitched me this character and told me the arc of some of the things that will unfold, and asked if I was into it,” he said. “I think I hugged Ryan. I was thrilled. I got my second chance.”
One of Rachel’s biggest dreams in life is to win a Tony, and the character does just that in the final moments of the series. That she is presented the award by Broadway star Andrew Rannells (playing himself) is the cherry on top.
It’s a mutual hatred of Broadway that brings Chris Parnell as Mario and Sue together in season five. The two shared a passionate night together (in Rachel and Kurt’s apartment) before Sue returns to Ohio.
You know Rachel isn’t going to let anything stand in the way of getting what she wants—especially if it’s a role on Broadway. Ioan Gruffudd as Paolo San Pablo was one of the obstacles to Rachel claiming the role of Fanny Brice, but you know there’s nothing like a show-stopping performance in a diner that will make someone change their mind about your talent.
When Sue’s house of lies comes crashing down in season six, one of the revelations is that Michael Bolton is not the father of her child, at least according to the Grammy winner himself in a news segment produced by Geraldo Rivera.
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