The old saying goes that those who can do – do, and those who can’t do… Teach. That’s certainly not true in the cases of the talented celebrities on our list. How often does it occur to students that their particularly charismatic teacher might be a future celebrity? We rarely think about teachers doing more than spending late nights grading papers, wearing a “less than fashionable” wardrobe, and being generally uncool – the opposite of a red carpet celebrity.
Of course, it’s probably no surprise that best-selling authors such as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and others were once educating youth. But what about those flashier red carpet celebs, or those shedding their clothes in Hollywood films? That some of those A-listers were once in front of a classroom is that much more shocking.
Now famous as action heroes and sex symbols, these ten celebrities once pursued careers as teachers, educating the young minds of students from elementary school to high school. So the next time you find yourself in the classroom, just think about the idea that your teacher is trying to make it big as an actor, musician, author… Who knows who the person who leads a classroom is capable of? As the old saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
10. Tony Danza – $15 Million
This is a unique entry on our list, as Tony Danza only in fact became a teacher for his reality show, “Teach: Tony Danza” – but he became a tremendous supporter of teachers. He quickly realized, at the helm of a high school classroom, just how difficult it was to get his students to focus and participate in their studies. In 2012, he released a book called, “I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had” where he writes about his realization about just how hard teachers work to educate their students and to keep inspiring them to work hard.
9. Jon Hamm – $15 Million
Most people know Jon Hamm from his work in the hit series, “Mad Men”. He is regarded for his immense talent, which he credits his education in college and at the John Burroughs School in Ladue, Missouri (a private prep school for 7th-12th graders). After Hamm received his Bachelors degree, he returned to Burroughs to teach an eighth grade acting class as a gesture of gratitude for the school’s support while he was still developing his acting skills. One of his students was “The Office” actress Ellie Kemper.
8. Billy Crystal – $35 Million
Next time you think about giving your substitute teacher a hard time, consider that they could be the next Billy Crystal. After Crystal graduated from New York University and got married, he was trying to build a career in standup comedy. To pay the bills, Crystal was a substitute teacher overseeing and taking care of students in their teacher’s absent. Considering that substitute teachers have to deal with misbehavior and disrespect on a regular basis, Crystal probably collected a good deal of stories and inspiration for his early comedy routines.
7. Sheryl Crow – $40 Million
Sheryl Crow is best known for her success as a singer and musician, playing to sold out crowds the world over. But not only is she a music star – she’s well educated, and an educator. Crow majored in music education while she was college, and then taught music in an elementary school in St. Louis, Missouri. If you were in elementary school in the last 30 years or so, flashbacks to flutophone classes and painful school concerts are probably springing to your mind. Well, instead of your old music teacher, picture Sheryl Crow at the conductor’s podium…
6. Andy Griffith – $45 Million
Andy Griffith is best remembered for his role as an actor in “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock”, as well as being a singer and devout Christian who was involved in politics. He was born in North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in music. It was there that he became involved in acting and music theatre. After Griffith graduated, he was a high school music teacher for three years. After the three years were over, Griffith and his wife set out to become entertainers. Perhaps Griffith realized that he wanted out of the classroom?
5. Hugh Jackman – $100 Million
Back in the 1980’s, you would have found Hugh Jackman working as a gym teacher at Uppingham School in England. Yes, the gym teacher who heckled you about physical fitness, forced you to climb up that rope, and urged you to run faster could have been a future Hollywood actor. Turns out, Jackman’s former students still fondly remembered him and one of his students reconnected with Jackman in Zurich on the red carpet. The student? Reporter Rollo Ross, who admitted that he didn’t really recognize Jackman in his first movie until his friends pointed it out to him.
4. Brian May – $135 Million
Brian May is best known as one of the forefront members of the stellar band, Queen. But before Queen got their big break, Brian May was a math and science teacher in South London at Stockwell Manor. Do May’s students still remember him and realize how much of a rock star their teacher became? Of course. May’s students have repeatedly reported that May still has the same haircut he had in the classroom that has transcended numerous albums, stages and generations. May was even reported to have played his guitar in the staff break room whenever he was free.
3. Sting – $270 Million
Before he was Sting, he was Gordon Matthew Sumner – or Mr. Sumner – and he was a struggling musician who was waiting for his moment to make it big. To pay his bills, Sting was a certified English teacher for St. Paul’s First School, and played music in the evenings and weekends. His teaching past is no secret: When The Police released the song, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”, about a schoolgirl crush on an older male teacher, critics and fans thought it was autobiographical. Sting has vehemently denied that the song was about him or about any of his former students. Regardless of the controversy, Sting went from the classroom to the stage with incredible success.
2. Gene Simmons – $300 Million
It might be hard to picture KISS’ Gene Simmons in a classroom full of high school students teaching a curriculum and keeping order. Incredibly, rock rebel Simmons was an elementary school teacher. And while he was waiting to make it big as a musician, he was already getting some local attention. To protect his identity and job as teacher Chaim Weitz, he took on the stage name of Gene Simmons. We wonder if any of Simmons tiny students realized that they had a Demon as their teacher?
1. Sylvester Stallone – $400 Million
Sylvester Stallone is known as one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood. He has created not only a successful acting career, but a self-made empire with the “Rocky” franchise. But before Stallone was making movies and boxing through his troubles, he was a struggling student (or otherwise labeled as a “problem child”). After he graduated high school, he enrolled in beauty school but later dropped out. He then went on to attend the American College of Switzerland to study drama. To pay the bills and get through the lull of his career, Stallone became a gym teacher. With his impressive physique, we have no problem believing that he could impart some wisdom on physical fitness.