You would never know it now, but many of today’s richest celebrities weren’t always so rich. Before their successful television, acting and musical careers, some of your favourite personalities were so poor, they couldn’t even afford a new pair of shoes let alone a roof over their heads. From an Oscar-winning actress to everybody’s favourite Captain, check out this list of stars who once lived in their cars.
10. Sam Worthington- Current Net Worth $12 Million
Strangely enough, Aussie actor Sam Worthington‘s poverty was self-inflicted. At the age of 30, Sam, a popular Australian film star decided to sell all of his belongings and move into his car. Looks like his existential crisis paid off. Shortly after, Worthington landed the role of Jake Sully in 2009s Avatar and will reprise the role in the next three sequels.
9. Kelly Clarkson- Current Net Worth $29 Million
Before she became an Idol, pop star Kelly Clarkson was so poor that when her L.A. apartment caught fire, she was forced to live in her car. Left with nothing but the clothes on her back, Clarkson had no choice but to shower in health clubs and eventually made the decision to move back to Texas and live with her parents. Shortly after, Kelly auditioned for the show that would change her life. “My goal was just to be a backup singer – I never intended to be in front,” she told The Guardian back in 2011. “I just auditioned for this thing that said they’d pay you, and it happened to be American Idol. I didn’t go into it thinking this would happen; I went into it thinking it might pay my electric bill.”
8. Jewel- Current Net Worth $30 Million
Yodeler extraordinaire, Jewel Kircher has never been shy when speaking about her humble beginnings. In the early 90s after being fired from her job, she lived in her car for an entire year. Things got so bad, the singer nearly didn’t make it. “I got sick kidneys and almost died in the parking lot of an emergency room because they wouldn’t see me, because I didn’t have insurance.” Homeless and unable to hold down a job, she never gave up and pursued her dreams of becoming a musician. Fame, however, seemed to be her destiny: a radio station played a bootleg version of one of her songs that an esteemed record producer just happened to hear, and the rest as they say is history.
7. Hilary Swank – Current Net Worth $40 Million
Academy Award winner, Hilary Swank was definitely not born with a silver spoon. Growing up in a trailer park in Washington State, at 15, her life was turned upside down when her father abandoned the family. The actress and her mother were forced to live in their car until they could scrape together enough money for an apartment. The negative experience, however has only given her perspective.”My background is not something I forget,” she told the Daily Mail. “It helps me to not take what I have for granted. I really appreciate that I get to travel and see the world, and that I can pay my bills.”
6. Steve Harvey- Current Net Worth $85 Million
“It was rock bottom. But even in my darkest days I had faith it would turn around.” In his quest to become a professional comedian, Steve Harvey lived out of his 1976 Ford Tempo while he travelled across the United States, turning a cooler into a makeshift refrigerator and frequenting hotel bathrooms and gas stations to freshen up. Though it would take three years, the sacrifice proved fruitful – in 1996 he was cast in his own sitcom, The Steve Harvey Show, and his success is no fluke. Today he is a talk show host, a best selling author and a film star.
5. Jim Carrey- Current Net Worth $150 Million
At 52-years-old, this two-time Golden Globe winner has had more than his share of financial success. But when Jim Carrey was a teen, his life looked pretty bleak. “My father was a musician who got a regular job to support his children. When he lost his job that’s when everything fell apart,” the funny man revealed on Inside the Actors Studio back in 2011. “We went from lower middle class to poor. We were living out of a van. I quit school at age 15 to begin working to help support my family as a janitor.” Twelve years later, the struggling comic would get his big break as a cast member on the iconic sketch comedy show In Living Color. It wasn’t long before Hollywood took notice and Carey was laughing all the way to the bank.
4. Dr. Phil- Current Net Worth $245 Million
“I was homeless living in a car with my dad. We eventually got a room at the downtown YMCA for five bucks a week,” revealed Phil McGraw, or Dr. Phil as he’s known to the masses today. He’s now worth an estimated $245 million but the talk show guru wouldn’t change a thing about his past. “I cherish those memories. That was my time to learn how to deal with stress and adversity – lessons I’d never have learned any other way at this age. I learned what it meant to work hard, to stay focused and to set goals.”
3. Tyler Perry – Current Net Worth $350 Million
Twenty years ago, Tyler Perry was homeless and broke, living in his car just to try and make ends meet. Back in the day, Perry had dreams of becoming a successful playwright but when his play flopped, he was out on the street – literally. Now a successful film director and producer, in 2011, Forbes named him the highest paid man in entertainment after he earned a whopping $130 million in the period of one year.
2. David Letterman- Current Net worth $400 Million
The move from his native Indiana to L.A. was a major transition for 28-year-old David Letterman. With the dreams of becoming a comedy writer, Letterman and then-wife Michelle, packed all of their belongings into their pickup truck (which he still owns to this day) and like millions that came before him, made the move to Hollywood in hopes of getting his big break. What he couldn’t have known was that this truck would become his home until that break happened. He eventually garnered attention writing jokes for comedian Jimmie Walker and went on to become the longest-running-late-night talk show host in US history with 32 years on air.
1. William Shatner – Current Net Worth $650 Million
Its hard to believe that after the success of the original Star Trek, its beloved Captain Kirk would end up penniless. But that just what happened to William Shatner when the series came to an end. In an interview with Details magazine he revealed, “It was the early 1970s and I was recently divorced, I had three kids and I was totally broke. I lived out of the back of my truck under a hard shell.” Fortunately, his luck began to change in the 1980s thanks to a renewed interest in Star Trek which led to a series of feature films and major coin for Shatner’s bank account.