Most of us have had the experience of being really broke at one time or another in our lives, but not many of us have had to live in our cars. Living in one’s car is really considered to be pretty close to the absolute bottom of the barrel, so it’s kind of a surprise that so many famous people have been in that situation.
One can look at this in a bunch of ways. On the one hand, it seems like it shows that something like this can happen to anyone, but does it really? A lot of celebrities are obviously risk takers; one has to take a lot of risks to be a famous star, and for some of these people, the only reason they had to live in their cars in the first place was that they refused to get a job because they were all about being famous. Surely, no one was making them do it — they were just like “ehh, I want to be an actor, so if that means I can’t afford rent, then I guess I’ll live in my car.”
Others truly were poor and were forced into living in their car because they had no other options. Either way, it’s pretty odd thinking about some of these people living out of the back seats of their Volkswagen.
Here are 15 celebrities whose lives were so screwed up they had to live out of their cars.
15. Chris Pratt
You probably know Chris Pratt as the star of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, among many other movies. But to residents of Maui, he used to be that dude who lived out of his car. Although he’s now made as much as 15 million dollars for a movie, at one point, he got an acting job that paid him 700 bucks, and he lived on that for a whole year. Pratt is a good example of a guy that was sacrificing for his craft. If he’s living off of 60 bucks a month, then he obviously wants to be an actor pretty bad. Still, though, for all of you wannabe actors out there, most guys who live out of a car don’t end up being super famous and making millions of dollars. Just try it if you don’t believe me.
14. Kelly Clarkson
It is hard to imagine that someone as ridiculously wealthy as Kelly Clarkson had to live in her car, but she did. Kelly Clarkson didn’t have to live in her car because of poverty; she had to live in it for a brief time because her apartment caught fire. This was before she became famous on American Idol when she was out in Los Angeles trying to make it as a singer. While she didn’t have to live in her car for very long, it still says something about how tough they are and what their financial situation was like for them to choose to live in their car instead of hitting a hotel of some sort. If it were me, I would be chilling at the local Holiday Inn instead of kicking it in the back of a Ford Tempo.
13. David Letterman
David Letterman is one really funny dude. He also is incredibly rich and famous. Someone like that has to have a lot of confidence in his ability, and there’s no doubt that Letterman has that. How do I know? Well, when he decided he was going to become a comedian, he drove his truck from Indiana to Los Angeles, and he lived in it. Before long, he had some work writing jokes for other comedians. Right now, there are all sorts of people reading this who are thinking of heading out to Los Angeles and living in their cars before they become rich and famous like Letterman. There’s only one thing, though: Letterman is actually really funny, while just about all of these other people aren’t.
12. Drew Carey
Alright, here’s another guy that went out to Los Angeles and lived in his car while he waited to become famous. Well, actually, he probably didn’t do a whole lot of waiting. He probably tried super hard to get work while he slept in his back seat surrounded by McDonald’s wrappers, but you get the point. Drew Carey is now incredibly rich after a very successful career in comedy. He’s now getting paid millions as the host of The Price is Right. But again, it takes a lot of hard work and talent to make it big in the world of entertainment, and there have only been two hosts of The Price is Right in history. I probably wouldn’t get too excited and live in my car in Los Angeles if I were you.
11. Jim Carrey
When Jim Carrey was young, his father lost his job, which forced the family to live in a VW Camper Van for a period of time. This experience just made Carrey stronger and more willing to work hard to succeed when he was an adult, and it obviously did him some good, as he’s one of the most successful comedians ever. That’s the thing about most of these people: if you notice, as you read through this list, there are only a few people who lived in their car after they had success. On the contrary, most of these people became famous after these traumatic times where they were homeless and living in their cars. It does make one think that having difficulties can turn into a positive at times.
10. Hilary Swank
While some stars made a choice to live out of their cars, Hilary wasn’t one of them, or maybe it was, but it happened when she was a kid. She and her mother were poor, and her father had walked out on them. Hilary wanted to be an actress, so she and her mother moved to Los Angeles together, and they lived out of a car until her mom had saved enough money to get an apartment. So, this worked out, but to all of your teenagers out there who wish that your mom would take you to Los Angeles and live out of her car with you until you make it big, you might want to rethink that. Most stories like this don’t have a happy ending, but in this case, I’m sure Hilary thinks her mom made the right decision.
9. Danny Bonaduce
While most people on this list are going to be a bit of a surprise, not so much with Danny Bonaduce. In fact, it’s kind of a surprise he’s not living in his car right now. For those of you that don’t know, he was a child star that appeared in The Partridge Family before he developed a drug problem and lost all of his money. At one point, things got so bad that he was living in his car behind a dumpster. He made a bit of a comeback by appearing on reality shows and by being a radio show host and is apparently now clean and sober. I have to wonder, though — why behind a dumpster? Danny, that’s the whole thing with living in your car: you can do it anywhere. What a total dope.
8. Lil’ Kim
There’s something about rap that a lot of people forget about: while others are just pretenders, some of these people are for real and have lived the really rough life that they rap about. Whether you like Lil’ Kim or not, she is, without a doubt, the real deal when it comes to the life that she led. Her parents split up when she was a kid, and she ended up living with her father, but he kicked her out. She was homeless for a while, living on friends’ couches, on the street, and in cars. Then, she hooked up with Biggie Smalls and became one of the most influential female rappers in history. Yeah, she looks kind of messed up now, and to people who are younger, she might not seem cool, but at one point, she was, without a doubt, the real deal.
7. Sam Worthington
You might know Sam Worthington best for being the star of Avatar, but James Cameron knows him as that guy who was living in his car. Worthington was crashing out in his car when he auditioned for a role in an unnamed movie with an unnamed director, and the rest is history. Some of these stories are almost too odd to be true, and this is one of them. So, some guy living in his car ended up getting the lead role in a movie that was the highest-grossing movie of all time? Yes, it’s true. Cameron liked his audition so much that he brought him out to Los Angeles because Worthington was in Australia at the time, which is just one more odd thing that would be too odd to believe if it weren’t true.
Jewel had a bit of a rough time for a while. While she’s now one of the most popular and famous singers of all time, back in the day, she was homeless and lived in both a car and a van with her mother. Now, I have to be honest: living in a van must’ve been a big step up from living in a car. You can put a mattress in that thing, after all, but still, she did do a car at one point, so she makes the list. She also had some major health problems when she was homeless. She almost died from a kidney infection because she had no money or insurance to get medical treatment. She sure has come a long way from that now. No one would believe that story to be true if they didn’t have the benefit of articles such as this.
5. Suze Orman
Would you hire or pay attention to a financial advisor who dropped out of college and lived out of her van while she had a job clearing trees? Because that’s what Suze Orman did. Of course, she went back to college and ended up having an amazing career in finance, as well as becoming a best-selling author and television personality. That’s the thing about life: you never know who’s going to wind up being famous or a success. Someone who’s living out of a van one day could be a multi-millionaire a few years later. Suze Orman is pretty much the last person I could imagine living out of a van, but to the people that knew her then, she was probably the last person they expected to become famous.
4. Dr. Phil
I know one thing for sure: if there was one guy you would never think was homeless in his life, it would be Dr. Phil. After all, he does know everything about everything. But when he was a kid, he lived with his father in a car before they finally got a room at the YMCA. Dr. Phil has said that he’s taken what he learned at that time to help him along his way in his life and in his career and that the lessons learned about patience, hard work, and dealing with adversity have been enormously helpful to him. Well, even though he is kind of a total blowhard, I still have to admit it’s pretty cool that a kid could go from being homeless to being as totally successful as Dr. Phil has become.
3. William Shatner
Alright, this one is kind of odd. Shatner actually lived in his truck after he was on Star Trek. He had a very nasty divorce and had three kids to pay child support to, and even though Star Trek was on network television back then, it didn’t pay like it would today. So, he hit the road in a truck that was outfitted with a stove and a toilet and lived in that until things got better. Which they obviously did. Shatner’s a true legend, and the fact that after he did the show that made him famous, he tooled around in a truck outfitted with a toilet only makes him seem a little bit cooler. Now, if you did that, you wouldn’t seem cool at all. Don’t try to be like Shatner. You’ll only fail and feel silly.
2. Steve Harvey
You wouldn’t guess this in a million years, but Steve Harvey lived in his car for almost three years while he was trying to make it as a comedian. He probably could’ve afforded to get motel rooms, but he sent most of his money to his ex-wife to help support his children. That says a lot about someone who’s willing to do that. One hears so many stories of men who have a lot of money but who refuse to pay child support, so it’s nice to finally hear one about a guy who had no money and still chose to send money to his kids, even if it meant he had to sleep in his car. I imagine it’s been a while since Harvey has had to do something like that though these days. The guy’s so rich now that it’s ridiculous.
1. Debbie Reynolds
A lot of people these days just know Debbie Reynolds for being Carrie Fisher‘s mother, but Debbie had a pretty amazing career in her own right. Something else that’s amazing about her is that at one particularly low point in her career, she had to live in her car, which was a Cadillac. That’s the thing about all of these stars on this list: all of them had to do something in their life that was hard as well as embarrassing, which is live in their cars. While we can all look at that and wonder what awful decisions led them to that point, it’s also kind of cool to recognize that when people get in really bad situations, they can get back out of them. But either way, don’t move out to Los Angeles and live in your car.
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