Let’s face it, a huge number of people today would want nothing more than to become a massive star known around the world. One of the main reasons why that is the case is due to the fact that we are charmed by the idea of our bank accounts looking anything close to that of most of the people that have become stars. However, some people may not realize that there are some famous people who aren’t paid well even during their time in the spotlight. And worse than that, many of them make horrible financial decisions. This leaves them with a need to make money in order to keep going, which is a great inspiration to take whatever work they can. Realizing that is what inspired us to put together this list of twenty former celebs who took on jobs you’d never expect.
In order for someone to be up for possible inclusion on this list, they first and foremost need to have been famous at one time or another. It doesn’t matter what that person did to gain their notoriety which means you could find actors, athletes, musicians, “reality” stars, or any other kind of star here as long as they earned fans from it. Next, they need to have taken a step back from the spotlight or, at the very least, the large paycheques that most of the time come along with being a star. Finally, they need to have turned to a new way of supporting themselves that most of us would likely be surprised to find out about.
20 Greg Graffin: Evolution Teacher
A man that was the frontman for one of the most important and best known punk rock bands of the last several decades, Greg Graffin will go down in history as the lead singer of Bad Religion. A group that is best known for songs like “Land of Competition,” “I Want Something More,” “Recipe for Hate,” and “Struck A Nerve” among others, they provided the soundtrack for millions of lives. Also someone who recorded music on his own, his first album was released in 1997, and since then, he has put out two more, the latest of which was heard by the masses for the first time in 2017. However, while he still tours during his off time, Greg spends much of his life these days living a more typical existence as he has become a teacher of evolution for Cornell University. That is likely to come as a surprise to many, including fans, but he has called himself a “science nerd,” and he got his zoology Ph.D. in 2003.
19 Jeff Cohen: Lawyer
A former child star that will always be known for a single role, further than that, it could be argued that Jeff Cohen will go down in pop culture history for a single moment he shot when he was still a kid. Cast as Lawrence "Chunk" Cohen in a classic eighties adventure film named The Goonies, he spent much of the movie off on his own after being captured by the villains, the Fratellis. However, very early on in that flick, he does something called the truffle shuffle, which involved him lifting up his shirt, exposing his belly, and doing a dance in a scene that seems likely to live on forever. That is especially true since he no longer lives much of a public life now that he is a lawyer, so he won’t be doing anything that will overtake that moment’s place in the minds of the public.
18 Steven Seagal: Border Patrol Agent And Sheriff’s Deputy
At one time considered among the biggest action stars in the movie world, Steven Seagal started out his adult life as an instructor in martial arts and was the first foreigner to operate an aikido dojo in Japan. Using the training he’d committed himself to throughout much of his life, his fighting skills made his movies stand out from many of the weapon-based action films from that time. Best known for flicks like Hard to Kill, Under Siege, Out for Justice, Exit Wounds, and Half Past Dead among others, he was a consistent presence in theaters for several years. Then, things changed and his private actions became more prominent, including becoming a border patrol agent and sheriff’s deputy, as he worked as part of a pair of “reality” shows based on him.
17 Steve Burns: Indie Rocker
A man that was happily welcomed into the homes of millions of families for several years, Steve Burns was the human star of Blue’s Clues, a series that entertained kids all over the world. Present to help viewers along as they tried to solve that week’s puzzle, he played a character that shared his first name in each of the vibrant and imaginative episodes of that program. However, it seems that he did not want to be the next Fred Penner or Mr. Rogers as he opted to walk away from his role after bringing it to life for six seasons, and we can only imagine the fortune that he left behind. Instead, he opted to try his hand at becoming a rock star, and while he is still doing his thing on the independent scene, he has self-released an LP and worked with a member of The Flaming Lips.
16 T.S. Eliot: Bank Clerk
Widely considered one of the greatest literary minds of all time, even if you aren’t a student of that world, there is a good chance that the name T. S. Eliot will ring a bell for you. A “British essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic,” his greatest claim to fame is that he is seen as "one of the twentieth century's major poets," which is really saying something. In fact, he is such a big deal that at 3 Kensington Court Gardens in Kensington, London, there is a blue plaque that informs those present that he lived and died there. However, not all of the work he did in his life would stand the test of time as he turned down a fellowship and opted to be a bank clerk at one point in his life after he’d already seen some success.
15 Dylan Sprouse: Restaurant Host
One of the pair of twins that at one time was a major focus of programming featured on the Disney Channel, Dylan Sprouse and his brother, Cole, spent years on end sharing the spotlight. Playing one of the main roles in the show Grace Under Fire, they then starred as the Martin brothers from the Suite Life franchise that involved more than one hundred and fifty episodes. Also no stranger to the film world, they played one of the main characters from Big Daddy, and if all of that weren’t enough, they also were the son of Ross in latter seasons of Friends. Despite all of that, one of the biggest headlines Dylan ever received was when it was discovered that he was working as a restaurant host in New York City. Causing some to speculate that he must be broke as a result, he would reveal that wasn’t the case and that he just wanted to live the life of a typical college student.
14 William Hung: Technical Crime Analyst
Born in Hong Kong, he would end up living in America and attending UC Berkeley where he was studying Civil Engineering but had a love for singing that William Hung wanted to share with the world. Opting to audition for American Idol when it was the height of its popularity, his horrendous rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” was stunning to see but his unbridled enthusiasm was infectious. Asked to appear on a slew of talk shows after his clip went viral, he talked with the likes of David Letterman, Howard Stern, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jimmy Kimmel to name only a sampling. Now retired from music despite actually selling some records, he is now a technical crime analyst for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department which seems really dark for such a happy-seeming person.
13 Heather Donahue: Marijuana Grower
These days, the movies that make a major impact at the box office tend to be the productions with gigantic budgets that are released by the biggest studios in the world. While that has been the case for a long time, in 1999, there were some smaller films like American Pie that would come out and shock the industry with how well they did. The greatest example of that, The Blair Witch Project came out that year and became the most successful independent movie ever to that date. The main person associated with that project, Heather Donahue played the lead character and is remembered for the shots of her that seemed designed to show the world the inside of her nostrils. Able to land roles in bigger productions in the immediate aftermath, since then, she stopped acting and began growing marijuana which is something she also wrote a book about.
12 Mase: Pastor
At one time seen as the principal protégé of a man known as Puff Daddy at that time, Mase was under the wing of someone that held an immense amount of power in the recording industry. Best known for the song “Feel So Good,” that tune was released as a part of a solo album that he put out. However, he also garnered a lot of attention for performing on songs put out by his mentor at that time and his voice could even be heard on tracks featuring The Notorious B.I.G. who is a total legend. Then, he disappeared from the music industry for many years with many of his biggest fans totally ignorant of where he’d gone to. Turns out, he opted to serve as a pastor for many years of his life which seems like the polar opposite of the life led by many touring musicians.
11 Frankie Muniz: Racecar Driver
Cast as the titular character in the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, Frankie Muniz played the main character in a sitcom that aired on a major network. Embodying a child genius that was a part of an outrageous family, his parents were embodied by the extremely talented pair of actors Bryan Cranston and Jane Kaczmarek. He had earned enough money that he could try his best to make a career of his greatest passion, racecar driving. Starting out taking part in celebrity races only, eventually, he would compete against fellow professionals as a part of the Champ Car Atlantic Series. Great at driving, he did suffer consequences, however, as he has revealed he got enough concussions that he no longer remembers his days working on Malcolm in the Middle.
10 George W. Bush: Painter
The forty-third President of the United States, George W. Bush is the most famous person on this list as the power he wielded over eight years in office made him known in almost every corner of the planet. Hated by many and supported by others, whatever you think of him, he led America through one of the most tumultuous times in its history, the years after it was attacked on September 11th, 2001. Stepping down after the end of his second term in January of 2009, like some of his predecessors, he gave talks and helped create a Presidential library but nobody predicted his current passion. A painter today, his work has been praised by several critics, and while it isn’t a job in the traditional sense, it is earning money for charities of his choice, so we think it qualifies for this list.
9 Dennis “Mideon” Knight: Chef
First brought into the WWE in 1996, when Dennis Knight made his debut, he went under the name Phineas I. Godwinn who was an over-the-top redneck character whose initials stood for PIG. Then remade into a mafia-style bodyguard that was a part of the tag team Southern Justice, he would then get one more makeover into the character he is best known for, Mideon. A more gothic version of him that was led by The Undertaker as a part of his group, The Ministry of Darkness, he mostly served as an enforcer for the faction. Someone who took on a series of extreme gimmicks during his ring career, including another one where he streaked around WWE venue while supposedly naked, it is a far cry from what he does now. Remaking himself into a high-end chef, he was interviewed by WWE.com and revealed that he especially likes presentation and “super fancy stuff.”
8 Sterling Morrison: Tugboat Captain
A guitarist that was a member of one of the most influential rock bands ever, The Velvet Underground, Sterling Morrison would also occasionally perform on the bass and provide backing vocals. A band that was best known for songs like “Sweet Jane,” “I’m Sticking With You,” “I’m Waiting for the Man,” and “What Goes On” among others, their experimental sound helped them stand out. Unfortunately, when it comes to Sterling, his life would not last long enough for him to hear some of the more recent acts that you can feel his impact on as he passed away at fifty-three in the nineties. However, he may not have cared all that much about that as he chose to live a simpler life as a tugboat captain in the Houston Ship Channel after getting a Doctorate in Medieval Studies of all things.
7 Kevin Jonas: Contractor
A member of a pop-rock band called The Jonas Brothers, Kevin Jonas and his two siblings amassed a massive following while they recorded music and toured the world performing to their fans. Standing out from other acts that legions of young girls absolutely adored since they played instruments, there was still little doubt that their career seemed similar to that of several boy bands from the past. An act that officially came to an end in 2012, since then, his brother, Nick, has gone on to the greatest success in the music industry of the three of them while Kevin has turned his sights to another business. Becoming a contractor, the world became aware of his interest in building things when he cameoed on The Real Housewives of New Jersey due to his crew working on the home of one of its cast members.
6 Harry “Mr. Fuji” Fujiwara: Movie Theater Usher
A former professional wrestler who regularly competed in the ring from 1965 until 1985, despite his long tenure, there are a lot of avid fans of that business that are unaware of that fact. That is because he would then go on to serve as a manager, and he was so good at being the villainous mouthpiece and backup for the people under his charge that his previous work is largely forgotten. Most associated with people like Demolition, Yokozuna, Kamala, The Orient Express, and others, he was so good at what he did that he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. Opting to retire in 1996 after decades of entertaining the masses, some fans were shocked when they ran into him working as a movie theater usher near Knoxville.
5 Nikki Blonsky: Hairstylist
If there is one thing we all know about the film industry, it's that it is incredibly hard to get your big break in it because the odds are against anyone that sets their sights on it. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions to that rule and one of the best of them is the tale of Nikki Blonsky, someone who was cast in a pivotal part in the film adaptation of the musical Hairspray. A film in which she co-starred with the likes of John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amanda Bynes, and Zac Efron among other stars, she was still the one tasked with playing the main character. In an interesting twist of fate, nobody could have predicted that it has been years since she got a major role. However, she has found work as a hairstylist.
4 Lou Reed: Typist
A name that brings to mind a legacy of fantastic music, Lou Reed is the second member of The Velvet Underground to end up on this list, but he also recorded a lot of solo music. Best known for songs he put out by himself like “Perfect Day,” “Walk on the Wild Side,” and “Vicious” among others, when he passed away in 2013, many stars and regular people mourned the loss. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as both a solo artist and as a part of the aforementioned bad, Rolling Stone magazine also included them on their list of the hundred greatest guitarists of all time. That said, he wasn’t always a star, and in-between his time in the band and recording music on his own, he took work earning forty dollars a week as a typist.
3 Dolores Hart: Nun
An actor that earned notoriety in the late fifties and early sixties, at one time, it seemed like Dolores Hart was poised to be the next big thing in the film world. Appearing in ten films over a period of five years, it is clear that the producers and directors were very pleased to work with her as she received parts in major productions right from the start. Most notable for sharing the screen with a true legend, Elvis Presley, she also co-starred with the likes of George Hamilton, Robert Wagner, Stephen Boyd, and Montgomery Clift in her time. Despite becoming a leading lady in Hollywood, she then made the shocking announcement that she was leaving the business to become a nun, something she remains to be up to this day, fifty-four years later.
2 Gary Coleman: Security Guard
A sitcom star from an early age, Gary Coleman played the role of Arnold Jackson from the series Diff'rent Strokes in between 1978 and 1986. A long-lasting show for its time especially, its success relied heavily on the fact that the world found this child star to be extremely lovable and adored his catchphrase, “what’cha talkin bout Willis.” Never able to find another role that would garner the career opportunities he desired in the years after that, he mostly showed up as a guest star in shows where he played a version of himself. Forced to support himself in whatever way he could because his earnings from the show were mishandled by others, the four-feet-eleven adult actor would become a security guard.
1 Freddie Prinze Jr. – WWE Writer
A teen star who played the main character in a number of fairly lightweight but entertaining movies, Freddie Prinze Jr. was a handsome dude with a charming personality. Best known for flicks like She’s All That, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and the Scooby-Doo franchise, for a long time, it seemed like he was going to be a consistent presence in theaters. However, his film career stalled which caused him to step away from that, and while he currently lends his voice to a number of animated projects, there was a moment when he was gone. That was because he opted to take a job with the WWE, where he served as a writer for them, which also means producing segments of their shows and is beyond a full-time commitment.
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