Everyone has to do some kind of work to pay the bills. When a person reaches celebrity status they usually no longer have to worry about how much money they have. That’s because in a lot of cases they have more than they can spend. But everyone came from somewhere and had to pay their dues on the way up.
As you’ll read, some of your favorite celebrities had several jobs that were definitely not always something to brag about. Like the celebrity that once cleaned the crap out of lion cages for less than two bucks an hour. Or another celeb that did the same only he did it with chickens. You also have one of the sexiest actresses of our time that once stood on the side of the road dressed in a banana suit to bring in customers.
Some of the jobs that celebs had before they made it big are funny to think about, as well as give a whole new perspective to some of your favorite stars.
Read on and I’m sure you’ll learn some things that you didn’t know.
18. Rod Stewart – Was A Gravedigger
Rod Stewart has been a star for a very long time now. But his life wasn’t always glamorous. Before he hit it big and won Grammy Awards and became knighted, he held several different jobs. Growing up he had two passions: soccer and singing. He was good at one and not so good at the other. He tried out for the Brentford F.C. football club but never got a call back so he turned to singing. But before he was successful doing that he got a job at a screen printing shop for a while.
However when he looks back over his life the most embarrassing job that he ever had was probably the time that he dug graves. That’s right Rod Stewart was a gravedigger and I’m not talking about the 4×4 monster truck.
The now 71-year-old singer/songwriter dropped out of school at the age of 15 and he went on to become one of the best-selling musicians of all time. His resume includes over 100 million records sold throughout the world, six straight #1 albums in the United Kingdom and he also had a total of 62 hit singles released over there. Overall six of his songs reached #1 in the UK and he also had four #1 hits here in the United States.
17. Ellen DeGeneres / Willie Nelson – Both Sold Vacuums
Before Ellen DeGeneres hit the big time she had a famous friend. Well, he wasn’t so famous yet at that point, but Willie Nelson also went on to a tremendous career. Back in the day, the pair worked for a company called Hoover. The company was known back then for having their sales people go door to door around the city selling their vacuum cleaners. It was a job that was only taken by people that were desperate for money. Walking from block to block knocking on doors selling vacuum cleaners has got to be a humbling experience with lots of rejection.
DeGeneres went on to a very successful comedy career. She was the first ever female comedian to be invited over to talk on the air with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, after she performed on the show. She has appeared on countless television shows and has also been in numerous movies. Not to mention her talk show that has been on the air for a very long time.
Nelson is now 83 and he has been in over thirty movies, written or co-written several books and of course he is one of the most legendary country singers of all time.
16. Ashton Kutcher – Sold Blood And Swept Up Cereal Dust
Before he became one of the biggest stars around Ashton Kutcher had regular jobs just like everyone else. He attended the University of Iowa and was studying for a degree in biomedical engineering before he dropped out to see where his modeling career would take him. While in college he earned money by sweeping up the cereal dust from the floors at a General Mills factory. When that didn’t bring in enough to live on he supplemented his income by selling his blood.
Once his career in modeling got underway he got a part on That ’70s Show as Michael Kelso and a star was born. His big break on the silver screen came with the movie Dude, Where’s My Car? After that movie, he showed the world that he was actually much smarter than the characters that he got paid major amounts of money to play.
He went on to star in several box office smash hit movies including Jobs and he played the role of Walden Schmidt on Two and a Half Men. In the film about the creator of Apple, the movie skipped over a lot of important parts in the life of Steve Jobs but Kutcher nailed the role and was the main reason for its success.
15. Madonna – Worked At Dunkin’ Donuts
The Queen of Pop was once the Queen of donuts. It was not for that long but Madonna got a job at Dunkin’ Donuts after she got to New York City with only $35 to her name. The shop was located in Times Square and you can bet plenty of people strolled through the shop that day. It can’t be confirmed but some say that her time there only lasted one day. Her donut selling career came to an end after she purposely squirted jelly filling all over a customer that she didn’t see eye to eye with.
Once her career serving the public was over Madonna focused on her music and for many years she released hit after hit. She reached the top of the charts with “4 Minutes”, “Like a Virgin”, “Hung Up’, “Papa Don’t Preach”, “Music”, “Like a Prayer”, “Frozen”, “Take a Bow” and “Vogue”.
She appeared in several movies as well and has won countless awards for her talents over the years. The person that had the jelly shot all over them didn’t realize at the time how lucky they were. They probably still don’t. That shirt would probably sell for a fortune.
14. Brad Pitt – Drove Women Around, Wore A Chicken Suit
Before Brad Pitt found the big time he had several jobs to support himself. He attended the University of Missouri but dropped out when he was only two credits short of graduating with a degree in journalism. He did this so he could move to Los Angeles and pursue the road to stardom. While most people would say that it was a stupid move to quit when so close to getting his degree, he would disagree as things worked out just fine for him in the long run.
Before the big money started rolling in he tried his hand at several jobs to keep his head above water. One job was driving strippers around town and then being the DJ for them as they put on private parties. He also delivered refrigerators for a while, but the one that he probably doesn’t want to admit to was when he worked at El Pollo Loco Restaurant in Los Angeles. Pitt stood outside of the restaurant handing out flyers trying to get people to come inside for a meal. The kicker is that he had to wear a chicken suit while handing out the flyers. Can you imagine how many people were annoyed at him for trying to give them a flyer as they walked by? If they only knew what was coming up in the future.
13. Sandra Bullock – Waitress And Bartender
Sandra Bullock spent a lot of time in New York City before she hit the big time. Most people knew her as their local waitress or bartender before she got her big break. Now those people who were served by her back in those days can’t even come close to getting near her.
She was finally able to hang up her bar apron in the early 90’s when she started getting regular roles in movies and on television. Bullock also founded Fortis Films, a production company that has produced several of the films that she has appeared in.
Some of her most known movies are Speed, The Net, A Time to Kill, Miss Congeniality, Two Weeks Notice and The Blind Side. She also voiced a role in the movie Minions and was one of the reasons that it brought in over a BILLION dollars at the box office.
Bullock went from serving beers for tips to one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. In 2015 People magazine also named her as their “Most Beautiful Woman.” The road for her might not have always been easy but it sure paid off for her in the long run.
12. Steve Carell – Worked At The Post Office
Steve Carell didn’t work in an office his entire life. But he did spend some time working for the post office. Before Carell became a regular in movies and on television he used to deliver the mail in a small Massachusetts town. The town was so small and the budget so low that Carell had to use his own vehicle to deliver the mail. They didn’t even have a mail truck.
He’s come a long way from those days and he has been a part of some great movies and television shows. He did a five-year stint on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart before the world came to know him as Michael Scott on The Office. He was the main character in the show and when he left they definitely had a very hard time replacing him.
He found box office success as well with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Evan Almighty, Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 among other great movies. Carell has won many awards for his work and his current project, Angie Tribeca, can be seen on TBS. He and his wife Nancy created the show that stars former The Office star Rashida Jones as an LAPD detective.
11. Lady Gaga – Performed On The Pole
When Lady Gaga was 18 years old she worked as a dancer and one of her most popular acts was when she ripped off a black leather outfit from her body. She described the scene back then during an interview one time saying, “I was working in strip clubs when I was 18. My act was pretty wild. I don’t like to talk about it too much but there were drugs, serious drugs.”
Her real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and she eventually left the strip clubs for a very successful career as singer/songwriter and actress. She left one industry that is known for its drug use for another industry that is riddled with it. But her performance didn’t suffer from it as she is one of the top artists of our time.
She was once part of a band that was signed and then dropped by Def Jam Recordings. Eventually she ended up with a gig at Sony/ATV Music Publishing as a songwriter. Someone there heard her sing once and a star was born. Def Jam really missed the boat on her and you have to wonder how many people gave her ten or twenty bucks for a lap dance back in her early days. It would cost them a whole lot more now!
10. Matthew McConaughey – Removed Manure From Cages
Matthew McConaughey is another one of those actors that you know the movie is going to be good just based on the fact that he is in it. He chooses his roles carefully and up to this point in his career, the decisions that he has made in that regard have been fantastic. But before he had the opportunity to choose those roles, he had to pay the bills.
When he was living in Australia and had to pay the rent, it was time to find a job. He was lucky enough to land a gig cleaning out chicken cages. To be more specific he did his job with a shovel and it was used to remove the manure from the cages. He once said “Those types of trips are really ones that leave a lasting impression,” about the experience.
When he was finished with that he went on to make some great movies like A Time to Kill, The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Magic Mike, The Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club. He also played a tremendous role portraying Jack Lengyel in the movie We Are Marshall.
9. Whoopi Goldberg / Danny DeVito – Worked At A Mortuary
Nothing in life comes easily. Before getting their big breaks, both Whoopi Goldberg and Danny DeVito worked at a mortuary. They didn’t work together or at the same company but they do share the same experience of working with those that are no longer with us.
Goldberg told watchers of The View that she was responsible for putting makeup on dead people. This was done to get them ready for a wake or a funeral. She said that her boss told her “There’s nothing to be scared of.” She was right to a certain point, it’s not like they were going to move and mess up her makeup job. Goldberg went on to win several awards for her work in movies and television.
DeVito was in charge of styling the hair of the dead people to prepare them for their upcoming funeral. But you can imagine he probably didn’t have to pay a lot of attention to the back of their head! DeVito gained fame by playing the role of Louie De Palma on the old television hit Taxi and he turned that into a long successful career in both movies and on television.
8. Jerry Seinfeld – Sold Light Bulbs Over The Phone
When Jerry Seinfeld was a struggling comedian at the beginning of his career, he had to find a job to help make ends meet. He once told People Magazine that back in 1976 he got a job as a telemarketer for a couple of weeks. But he wasn’t delivering the normal sales pitch over the phone, Seinfeld was selling light bulbs.
Now anyone that has ever received one of those types of phone calls knows that a lot of different items are pushed for sale. But who would buy light bulbs over the phone? Seinfeld said “I was just looking for some grocery money. I hated the job. It was all lying (and) outrageous prices.” Much like any type of telemarketing scheme.
He went on to a semi-decent comedy career that he turned into one of the highest rated television shows of all time. That show, Seinfeld, was based loosely on his real life as a comedian and it is widely considered the best show of all time. He has done some other work on television and in movies but he hasn’t been able to recapture the magic that happened on that hit show.
Comedy Central named him in 2005 as the 12th Greatest Stand-up Comedian of All Time. That’s a bit of a stretch as he doesn’t even belong in the Top 25. But he certainly came a long way from selling light bulbs over the phone.
7. Gwen Stefani – Worked At Dairy Queen
Gwen Stefani is known for being the lead singer of the band No Doubt and then going on to a successful solo career. But at one time she was known as the Dairy Queen girl serving out vanilla cones and banana splits to customers. Don’t think that her ice cream career was a bust, as it was there that she met the future members of No Doubt. That must have been one rocking ice cream shop!
Stefani eventually gave up serving shakes and ice cream cakes for a music career with her friends. It paid off as she has won several awards over her career, including three Grammy Awards. Billboard magazine showed her some love by ranking her as the 54th most successful artist of the decade (‘00-‘09) and the 37th most successful Hot 100 Artist for that same time frame. In 2012 VH-1 honored her as well by naming her #13 on their list of 100 Greatest Women in Music. All in all, she has sold over 30 million albums all across the globe, including her time with her friends in No Doubt.
6. Sylvester Stallone – Cleaned Lion Cages At The Zoo
Sylvester Stallone told a story of an up and coming fighter in the movie Rocky. The boxer was dirt poor and just trying to find his way through life. He kept at it until he finally got his big break. That storyline was not that far from the life Stallone led before making it big. He was a struggling actor and had to take several jobs to make ends meet. One of the jobs he had was at New York’s Central Park Zoo.
The future box office draw wasn’t an animal trainer nor did he sell cotton candy at the concession stand. Those jobs would have been huge upgrades from what he really had to do. Stallone was lucky enough to nab the position of cleaning out the lion cages. You can only imagine how gross it had to be in there and that’s not even taking into consideration what they left behind after a good meal. And if you think that’s bad, it gets worse. He did this for the pay of just $1.12 an hour. How he reported into work every day is beyond me. You have to give him a lot of credit. When you hear someone say that they rose up from the bowels of life, remind them about Sylvester Stallone.
5. Demi Moore – In-Person Debt Collector
Demi Moore gained recognition around the world with her appearances on General Hospital and in movies like Blame It on Rio, St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night, but she reached super stardom with her role in the movie Ghost. Many remember her for her nude photoshoot with the magazine Oui as well, but she wasn’t an overnight success by any means.
She dropped out of high school to pursue a career on screen and she quickly learned that things weren’t going to be that easy. She once got a job as a debt collector in the 70’s. But not the kind that bugged the hell out of you with repeated harassing phone calls. Moore actually went to people’s houses and knocked on their doors to collect the money that was owed.
She went on to a tremendous career with several other box office smash hit movies like A Few Good Men and Striptease and she is considered one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood.
Think back to the days that she was knocking on the doors of strangers. How many people slammed their doors in her face or were scared when she showed up on their doorstep? How many of those people then saw her when she appeared in Oui and thought that she looks familiar?
4. Harrison Ford – Counselor For Boy Scouts
Before making it to the big time Harrison Ford had several jobs to pay the bills. He did work as a sportscaster and he spent some time building furniture for people. Some of the custom furniture that he built was for Richard Dreyfuss. But the most interesting job that he held was a counselor at a Boy Scout adventure camp. Kids that attended the camp were trying to earn their reptile merit badge.
It was called an adventure camp and there is no better person to be a counselor there than Indiana Jones himself. Ford went on to play huge roles as Han Solo in Star Wars and of course the Indiana Jones movie series. He has played many roles in countless great movies but those are his most famous parts. Those young boys that signed up to go to those camps back then had no idea what they were getting into.
He is another one of those actors that you know the movie is going to be great just because he is in it. Appearances in box office successes such as Patriot Games, Blade Runner, Clear and Present Danger, Witness, The Fugitive and Air Force One more than prove that point.
3. Cindy Crawford – Shucking Corn For $4/Hour
Cindy Crawford is probably the most well-known super model of all time. But it wasn’t always like that for her. While she was in college in DeKalb, Illinois, she once took a job shucking corn and was paid only $4 an hour. That is work that is rough enough for a man, let alone a soon to be supermodel. But it worked out well for Crawford as that’s where a photographer discovered her and a star was born.
Crawford turned shucking corn into a career that has spanned over thirty years and led to international fame. She has been in numerous movies and on countless television shows throughout her career and Forbes magazine named her as the highest paid model on the planet in 1995. That’s a long way from shucking corn for $4 an hour.
She was one of the original five “Supermodels” and she has been named at the top or near the top of countless “Hottest” lists. VH-1’s 40 Hottest Hotties of the 90s ranked her at #4 and later she was named on the “100 Hottest Women of All-Time” list by Men’s Health. I wonder how many people saw her in the fields before that photographer found her.
2. Megan Fox – Dressed Up As Banana For Smoothie Shop
Megan Fox is one of the most recognizable sex symbols of our time. The 30-year-old beauty had appeared in several roles but it wasn’t until 2007 when she was in the blockbuster movie Transformers, that she found super stardom. However before she started her acting career, you probably wouldn’t have recognized her if you saw her on a Friday.
She worked at a smoothie shop in Florida before her acting career got underway. On most days she was manning the register behind the counter, but on Friday’s she had a different job with the shop. She told Ellen DeGeneres that “Once a week, usually on Fridays, someone had to dress up as a piece of fruit and go and stand out by the highway. I was a banana, a giant banana.”
How many people drove by her as she waved at traffic in that banana suit, not knowing what was in store for her? It’s funny to think about. But if they really wanted to increase business they should have had her out on the street in a bikini waving to people going by. That would have definitely brought in more traffic than dressing her up in a banana suit.
Next time you see one of those mascots standing on the side of the road waving at you make sure you wave back. You never know who is inside of that suit or where they might end up.
1. Tim Allen – Working As A “Dealer”
Tim Allen is one of America’s most beloved comedians. Like most celebrities, he had his share of embarrassing jobs before he made to the big time. He made money by working at a radio station that was run by students and then he became a salesman for a sporting goods store. But none of those made enough money for him so he tried his hand at a new game.
Allen moved on from his sales position to become one of the top drug dealers in Michigan. If you did anything with cocaine in Michigan during the late 70’s chances are pretty good that it came from or through Tim Allen. The end of that career came when he was arrested at the Kalamazoo airport with nearly a pound and a half of cocaine. If you want to talk about a previous job that was embarrassing that has got to be it. It led to a nearly two-year prison stay for Allen and since he couldn’t get a real job after that he turned to comedy.
He had started a comedy career before he was arrested, but he hadn’t yet made a name for himself. When he was forced to straighten out his life, it’s clear that choosing comedy was the right decision for Allen.