It’s not surprising to hear that some celebrities grew up completely broke, and on the mean streets of some city slum. Eminem is a good example of that…and almost every rapper to ever have hit the charts. So there would be very little point to talk about those guys. I’m sure one day there will be a relevant rapper article. But that’s not this day.
No, today we’re going to take a look at some A-list celebrities who at one time or another were flat broke. Hell, some of them are still currently broke! It’s amazing how celebrities who have done nothing but make millions for years can so quickly end up with nothing. It really makes me wish I had the chance to have that money. I’d like to think I wouldn’t waste it on cocaine, comic books, or corporate blunders.
But not all of the celebrities have caused their own bust. Some of them grew up poor and overcame great odds to make it big. Some of them lost everything in divorce settlements or court fees. And yes, then some of them are actually just idiots. So let’s take a look at Scar Jo, Marky Mark, Halle Berry, Donald Trump, Lena Headey, Nicholas Cage and many more!
20. Oprah Winfrey – Potato Sack Dresses
It might be crazy to think about now, considering that Oprah is worth billions now, but she spent pretty well the entirety of her childhood in extreme poverty. She was given up by her mother to live with her grandmother when she was young. And she was reduced to wearing clothing made from Potato sacks. Once her grandmother became ill, she was then sent to a boarding house to live with her mother. This is where she endured both physical and sexual abuse (she was first assaulted at only nine years old). When she turned 14, she fled to her father in Tennessee, and this is where she learned discipline and determination. And the rest is history. She is now one of the wealthiest people in the world, and consistently gives away all manner of luxuries on her show.
19. Lena Headey – Divorce Issues
That’s right! The wealthy, lavish, and completely insane Queen Cersei had no more than five bucks in the bank back in 2013. After she filed for divorce, she and her ex began fighting over a tax refund of some $46,000. Lena was more than willing to give $6,000 to her former hubby, but he wanted half. In spite of all the money you’d think she’d be making from the famed HBO show Game of Thrones, Headey was forced to pay for herself and her two year old with several credit cards. So now only does her ex not care about her money woes, but he also doesn’t seem to really care about the safety of his own son. I might be biased because I think she’s a great actor, but let’s be honest: the one who is taking care of the kid should definitely get the majority of the money.
18. Daniel Craig – Sleeping On The Streets
Who would have thought that the suave, rough and tumble Bond could have been reduced to sleeping on the streets of London? It’s true. Only months before he was hired on to shoot Casino Royale (his first Bond movie), Craig was sleeping on a park bench in London. It’s not like Craig didn’t work as an actor. But he was like most actors in the world. He wasn’t working consistently and was, therefore, struggling hard to try and make it. Of course, most actors don’t end up making it, but Craig overcame the odds and has become a superstar. Fun fact: Daniel Craig once worked on the British show Sharpe, starring Sean Bean. Of course, it was only one episode, and he played a young, greasy British officer. He may have been 20 at the time?
17. Nicolas Cage – Is Just An Idiot
This surely cannot surprise anyone, but Nicolas Cage is a complete idiot with money. And considering the vast range of ridiculous roles he takes on (with the very occasional brilliant performance), he really can’t afford to spend the way he does…or rather the way he did. At one point, Cage owned: a shark, an octopus, two albino cobras, a crocodile, several dinosaur skulls as well as shrunken pygmy heads, four yachts, over 50 cars and motorcycles, several mansions, two castles, and the very first Superman comic book. He was forced to foreclose on several of his properties (which can’t be too surprising), and I guess he can’t buy all manner of expensive jewels for all the women he takes on vacation. Who knows what will happen to his private zoo!
16. Scarlett Johansson
“It’s nice to have money. I didn’t grow up with it so it’s nice to have it…I’m not at all frugal and I don’t save – to my business manager’s dismay. I like to be generous. I can’t stand people who are tight with their money, it drives me crazy…It’s different if you’re scrimping and saving because you need to, to save up for something. But I cannot stand cheapness.” At least she’s completely honest. Even if it kind of makes her seem like a completely shallow, and vapid film star. ScarJo grew up on public assistance meals, and so I guess that is the reason why she spends so lavishly…because now she can. And to be fair, she did actually do quite a bit of charity work to feed the poor in America…but she did also brush off some of her charity work in order to make more money from Soda Stream.
15. Leonardo DiCaprio – Grew Up With H**kers And Blow
Ok, so he didn’t so much grow up directly with hookers and blow. But DiCaprio did grow up in a very bad end of L.A. where there was a prostitution ring running business on the corner near where he lived. There was also an alleyway next to his home that was frequented by users of cocaine and heroin. “It really was like Taxi Driver in a lot of ways…I grew up very poor and I got to see the other side of the spectrum.” If ever you’ve seen Taxi Driver, imagine growing up in an area like that. So he lived in a poor end of town, and was constantly bullied by kids at school, and eternally exposed to drugs and prostitution. If it wasn’t for his very supportive mother taking him to auditions, and saving to put him through acting classes, he might never have made it to the star status he has now.
14. Mariah Carey – Daddy Wasn’t There
“Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.” That the kind of thing an idiot celebrity would say. And so we have Mariah Carey. It’s interesting that she’d say something like that about poverty, considering that she grew up pretty damn poor. When her parents split up and divvied up the kids, Mariah lived with her mother who could not support her without the additional income from her engineer ex. Eventually, her mom started making money as an opera singer. And while Mariah would look to become a singer herself, it took her a long time to get noticed. She failed an awful lot before she started making that moolah.
13. Tom Cruise – Poverty And Abuse
A lot about Tom Cruise‘s childhood might explain why he so readily jumped on the Scientology bandwagon. He spent a lot of his early life in Canada (believe it or not). This was to accommodate his father’s work. In those early years, he was consistently abused by his father but didn’t particularly live an impoverished life. That didn’t come until his parents divorced, and his father left him. Moving back to the States, his family’s Catholic influence on him led Cruise to want to become a man of the cloth. However, not being the most academic child (being dyslexic), and encouraged by his mother to audition for a musical, Tom set his sights on becoming a star. And we all know how that story ended up. Now he’s one of the craziest and most successful stars in Hollywood.
12. Chris Pratt – And The Mystery Machine
Chris Pratt, some of you may not know, was homeless for years. Or rather his home was a van, or a tent on the beach in Maui. Now as far as places go to be homeless, it has to be said that he had the right idea. And he doesn’t regret it at all. It was his choice. His buddy offered him a one-way ticket to Maui, and he took it. He worked enough to eat, and pay for gas, and that was his life. It wasn’t until he met someone in the business who told him he was cute and should be in movies, that he left for L.A. with a role waiting for him. To be fair that role was in Cursed Part III, but it was a start. And now he’s making millions from Guardians of the Galaxy. So here’s an interesting case of a beach bum who decided to be homeless…and then decided to be famous.
11. Jim Carrey – The Van Family Of Newmarket Ontario
When Jim Carrey was a young kid, he had a fairly regular life with his two siblings, mother, and father. But that changed when his father lost his job at the age of 51. Everything seemed to fall apart for them. Miraculously the family still stuck together, but they were all forced to work (while living out of a van). So they went about the city of Newmarket, and worked as security guards and janitors. Jim would go to school, then go straight to work for eight hours, sleep in the van, then repeat. He used to travel to Toronto just to go to Yuk Yuk’s, and perform stand up for free. But clearly, all of that hard work and all the gruelling hours paid off for him. He might not be as big as he was in the 90’s and the early 2000’s, but he’s still one of the comedic greats of a generation.
10. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Pumping Brick
When Arnold Schwarzenegger left his home in Austria, he came to America with almost nothing. He left a lot behind though. He left child abuse, poverty, and a dead brother and father. Managing to scrape together enough money to start a business, Arnie first made his way in America by laying brick. What was the name of his company? Pumping Brick. I’m sure there were many ladies who loved having this muscle man showing up at their place to do some landscaping. While he was running this business, he continued to train for bodybuilding competitions. With his physique, he was then asked to start appearing on screen. And the rest is a crazy sort of history. He went from abused child to bodybuilder, to actor, to Governor of California. It’s a strange world we live in.
9. Mark Wahlberg – Street Thug
Mark Wahlberg wasn’t always the hilarious celebrity he is today. He grew up in a great degree of poverty and left home at only 14 years old in order to pursue a life in crime. That’s right. Marky Mark was a common, 9th grader thug. He managed to get himself thrown in jail for over a month for assaulting two men. He was a pretty mean kid, it seems. And all he wanted to do was try and make a living. Just in a very wrong way. After getting released from jail, I guess Wahlberg figured he had enough life experience to become a rapper. And surprisingly, he actually had some success. Of course, he managed a lot more success once he started hitting the big screen. And thank goodness because I don’t think I could listen to his rap all the time.
8. Shia LaBeouf – Starving Artists
“My dad and my mom were both artists who never found an audience for their artwork, and so I lived in poverty. Now that I’m not poor, I know that is what it was. Like Hemingway said, ‘you can’t write anything if you’ve never been shot at or been gorged by a bull’, you know? So I look back at that stuff and I’m grateful. It’s like scars. You become proud of them.” I don’t want to sound too callous, but I can’t help but point out that Shia must have taken up some of his parents’ artistic qualities. Because it seems not a lot of people like to rush to give him an audience. It still sucks to have grown up in poverty, but at least they all still lived an artistic, and expressive life. And now LaBeouf is worth over $25 million, so he doesn’t really have to worry anymore. Unless he starts buying exotic cars, animals, mansions, and comics like Nicolas Cage.
7. Halle Berry – Living In A Shelter
Formerly a pageant queen, but seeking to get out of a home of abuse and neglect, Halle Berry fled to New York to try and make it as an actor. When she arrived, with virtually no money, she was forced to live in a shelter. And, as it happens, it wasn’t until two years later that Berry actually started landing roles, and finally made a break into the business. “A girl had to do what a girl had to do. You can do that when you’re 21 and ambitious, and your eyes are this big and you don’t want to go home.” Apparently, when she reflects on that time in her life, Berry doesn’t consider it an incredibly bad time. I can’t imagine being an attractive woman like her, in the late eighties, living in a New York shelter. I don’t know that I would feel too safe. But that’s history now, and she’s a star.
6. Hilary Swank – Living Out Of A Car
Before she landed ridiculous roles in films like The Next Karate Kid, Hilary Swank lived in a car in L.A. with her mother. “We had a friend who was selling their house, and so they said, ‘You know, there’s no furniture, but you can stay there at night. And then, during the day, you have to leave so we can try and sell it.’ So we got air mattresses. Blew the air mattresses up. Slept on the air mattresses. And left in the morning.” To be fair, Swank’s mother must have been a saint. She packed everything up, and drove Hilary to L.A., and lived with her in a car (and vacant house) until she managed to start landing roles. Thank goodness for her mother Swank started getting gigs not much more than a month into their homeless stay in the city.
5. Sarah Jessica Parker – Meals From The State
When Sarah Jessica Parker was a kid, she was always called to the head of the lunch line, because she was getting free meals from the state. Why? Because her family was too broke to afford school lunches for her. But that didn’t stop her vanity in any way. Her mother would go to a factory where she could purchase flawed dresses for $0.99. So Parker was always dressed to the nines…but had the government covering her lunches. I guess they never thought to fix up and resell the dresses to make money. Oh well. Now that she’s stinking rich, Parker still takes costumes from the set when they catch her eye, so that she doesn’t have to spend money on clothing. I think there are some deep-set issues of frugality from her strange childhood poverty.
4. Justin Bieber – Sleeping With Rats
Justin Bieber grew up in Stratford, Ontario in Canada. And as a Canadian, I apologize to the world for this guy. “I remember being poor and being teased by other kids,” he said. “I remember sitting in restaurants with my mother and she’d make me order water instead of soda. I remember so badly wanting to order a soda. And I also remember that when I got my first big paycheque I was so glad to be able to use that money to take care of my mother.” Bieber used to sleep on a pull-out couch instead of a bed. And his family home was infested with rats. And let’s not forget that the only reason he made it big was due to videos of him busking on the streets of Stratford. He truly did come from humble beginnings. Then he rebelled against everything when he made it big. And now it seems he’s calmed down somewhat.
3. Chris Tucker – $14 Million In Back Taxes
Yeah, so who knew that Chris Tucker was in such dire straights? This was only back in 2014 that the $14 million amount was reached. The IRS smacked Tucker hard with some intense back tax fees. Apparently, a settlement has since been reached but considering Tucker was out of the spotlight for some time, I can’t imagine it was easy for him to scrounge any money together to keep the money men off his back. Maybe that means he’ll be hitting the big screen again sometime soon. He seems to have almost tried to pull a Wesley Snipes, going into retirement and hoping to avoid the tax collectors. But that hasn’t worked for either actor. Tucker claims that it was poor management that caused the issues. And he means poor management from his employees; not from himself.
2. Brendan Fraser – Bankrupt And Sued
It’s been a while since anyone has really given much thought to Brendan Fraser, I’m sure. But he has given us some great films. The Mummy, George of the Jungle, Encino Man…they’re pretty great. But he’s spent a lot of time out of the public eye, and away from set in the past few years. He cites health issues for this. And because of this lack of work, he has been forced to declare bankruptcy, and to ask for a lowering of his child support fees. His ex thinks that Fraser is actually just hiding money from her, but considering he is also dealing with a lawsuit for allegedly striking a man on a film set, and is actually asking to pay less in child support…it seems like he just really is out of money. Here’s hoping he can make a comeback, but maybe he’s passed his prime.
1. Donald Trump – Corporate Bankruptcy
Ok, so people should know by now that current president Donald Trump has gone bankrupt at least four times in his life. The last time this happened was back in 2009. It was interestingly around the same time that he “bought Monday Night RAW” from wrestling mogul Vince McMahon. What’s better than watching nearly naked men roll all over each other every week? watching two filthy rich men b*tch at each other about how to run a business. This was one of the worst storylines, which ended with Trump getting into the WWE hall of fame. Anyway, when last he was bankrupt, Trump’s daughter Ivanka (the one he wants to nail) made mention that her father pointed to a homeless man, and told her that the bum was 8 million bucks wealthier than him. He can always manage to be an ass.
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