It’s always fascinating to learn that an envied celebrity had a rough start in life; we all love a Cinderella story. It’s no secret that celebrities live luxurious lives. Whether we see them online, on television or in magazines, the fabulous lifestyles of the rich and the famous are impossible to ignore. For the small group of wealthy celebrities that walk this earth, fast cars, designer clothes and mansions are a reality. Celebrities truly live the dream, and it is easy to be jealous of their fame and fortune.
But it is easy to forget that celebrities are people, and each person has a past. We all know that not all celebrities were born into rich, successful families – but did you know that some of them used to be homeless? Believe it or not, there are many celebrities who once had absolutely nothing. After many years of hardship, hard work and determination, these celebrities transformed their lives – going from ordinary people to multi-millionaires. They did this by recognising and utilising their own talents, and became huge in their respective sectors of the entertainment business, such as television, music and theatre. Still others fell into hard times after making it big, but managed to pick themselves back up again.
Celebrities who once faced the streets – who were actually homeless – are more common than you might think, which shows us that it’s possible to completely turn your life around. Take a look at our list of the 10 Richest Formerly Homeless Celebrities for a definitive look at some of the best rags to riches stories in recent history. This group of very inspiring people show us that it is possible to turn your dreams into a reality. It may surprise you to find out which household names used to be struggling to survive…
10. Jim Cramer – $100 million
Cramer was highly educated and had a great start in life, but a twist of fate saw him on the streets for a time. Upon leaving Harvard Law School, Cramer was just starting out when his Californian apartment was mercilessly robbed numerous times, leaving Cramer with nothing. Cramer was forced to live in his car for a long time. He had to depend on the kindness of others for simple luxuries, such as a hot shower. Eventually, after putting his life back together, he made some very wise investments which were to make him a millionaire. He is currently the host of CNBC’s ‘Mad Money’, a show which has experienced massive success.
9. Jim Carrey – $150 million
Jim Carrey is undoubtedly one of the most beloved comedy actors alive today – but Carrey’s upbringing was anything but funny. Born into a poor family who struggled to make ends meet, Jim and his family eventually lost their home and had to live in a camper van. Carrey struggled to pursue his dream of being a comedian, as he was forced to work as a janitor after school to help support his family. With any free time he had, Carrey performed comedy gigs around Toronto, and was eventually noticed. He left Canada and started his career in the United States which – as well know – exploded and made Carrey one of the world’s biggest names in comedy and a household name.
8. Drew Carey – $165 million
During his youth, the well-known presenter of ‘The Price is Right’ often didn’t even have the price of a single meal. After the death of his father, Carey had nowhere to go and was forced to fend for himself. Carey resorted to desperate measures to find cash. The TV personality often resorted to selling his own blood plasma and using the money to buy Kraft dinners. Speaking to Friends of Youth, a foundation Carey supports, he stated that every time he eats Kraft’s Mac and Cheese Deluxe meal, he is reminded of his success and how lucky he is to have made it.
7. Dr. Phil McGraw – $220 million
Dr. Phil is one of the most influential and recognisable talk-show hosts of the 21st century. Having worked closely with and been praised by Oprah, Dr. Phil’s work in self-help and counselling is highly regarded and has been highly profitable for him. Yet Dr. Phil’s childhood was the opposite of the life he leads today. His father was interning as a psychologist in an attempt to create a better life for the two of them. However, the internship provided them with no money, so they were forced to live in a car. It’s hard to believe that this multi-millionaire once struggled with his father to put $5 together for a room for the night!
6. Jennifer Lopez – $250 million
Jennifer Lopez is one of the biggest names in the music industry, but her life wasn’t always so enjoyable. Lopez had a huge disagreement with her mother upon leaving school because she refused to go to college. Lopez was determined to become a dancer, and thus had to pursue this dream alone. At the start of her career, Lopez had little to keep herself afloat and nowhere to live, so she resorted to sleeping on a couch in a dance studio. However, Lopez experienced rapid success, and it wasn’t long before the wannabe dancer became a star.
5. Sylvester Stallone – $275 million
Stallone is one of the best-known movie stars of his generation, with a hugely successful career spanning many decades. Stallone had massive difficulties beginning his career, though. He was once evicted from his apartment and resorted to sleeping in a bus station, as he had nowhere to go. Stallone was desperate, and decided to act in an adult film in order to make some cash. However, this money allowed Stallone to get his life back together. He went on to write and star in Rocky, one of the most iconic films of the 20th century.
4. Shania Twain – $350 million
Shania Twain is one of the most successful and glamorous women in the music industry, but she came a long way to get to where she is now. Twain was born to a family who were so poor that they often had to go without food and heating, even during harsh Canadian winters. She eventually moved to a homeless shelter in Toronto with her mother. Twain began performing in bars to earn any money she could, and a music icon was born. Music is not only Twain’s passion, but also something that got her and her family through tough times; a lesson that our talents can also be our saviours.
3. Tyler Perry – $400 million
For a 44-year-old man, Tyler Perry boasts an incredible body of work. Perry has been actively directing, acting in, writing and producing films, TV shows and plays for over two decades. His creative work is so impressive that Oprah hails him as “the first black studio mogul in American history”. However, Perry’s life had tragic beginnings. After being physically and sexually abused by various relatives and neighbours throughout his childhood, Perry left home and tried to make it as a playwright. It was many years before his work was noticed, and until it was, Perry lived in a car.
2. David Letterman – $400 million
David Letterman is a wonderful example of someone who started with nothing and worked their way up. Letterman grew up in Indiana, getting a job as a radio show host after leaving college. However, Letterman had a dream of making it as a comic, and so he left Indiana for Los Angeles in a 1973 Chevy pickup truck. In LA and virtually unknown, Letterman had to live in his pickup truck until he made it big. Letterman now has his own incredibly successful late night TV show and presented the 67th academy awards.
1. William Shatner – $650 million
Topping our list is William Shatner, one of the most iconic actors of the 20th century. He’s best known for his portrayal of Captain Kirk in Star Trek. It’s undeniable that Star Trek has had a massive impact on popular culture. However, the show was originally cancelled, which had devastating effects for Shatner at the time. The cancellation of the show also coincided with his divorce, leaving Shatner completely broke. Shatner was forced to live out of his pickup truck, taking any roles he could to help support his children. Shatner spoke of how this experience “put the fear” in him, which obviously made him determined to change his luck. He certainly was successful; Shatner’s inspiring determination resulted in his amassing a fortune beyond belief in later life, and becoming a pop culture icon.