There were gasps in living rooms across America the evening of April 23, 2015, as fans of the ABC hit show Grey’s Anatomy watched Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd die as the result of botched medical care following an accident that left the neurosurgeon brain damaged. As People magazine notes in a fictional obituary, Shepherd was a graduate of Bowdoin College.
McDreamy’s Bowdoin connection began after a petition signed by more than 450 students and other members of the Bowdoin community was delivered to the show’s producers in early 2007. It was conceived and spearheaded by Cole Harris of the Class of 1978. Since then, and on several occasions, viewers saw Dr. Shepherd sporting all manner of Bowdoin gear, including a T-shirt, sweatshirt and a Bowdoin Hockey baseball cap, and the actor has worn Bowdoin gear in interviews and mentioned the College on The Ellen Show.
Life imitated art when Patrick Dempsey, the actor behind the character, was given an honorary doctorate by the College in 2013 in recognition of his philanthropy in Maine. In response to his mother’s battle with cancer, Dempsey co-founded The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing at Central Maine Medical Center in his hometown, Lewiston, Maine, and participates in the annual Dempsey Challenge, a running and cycling fundraiser there.