Who doesn’t love a good rags-to-riches story?Imagine going from not even having enough money for food, to having such a high bank balance that you couldn’t go through it all even if you tried? If you shrug your shoulders and say that things like this only happen in fairytales, let me stop you there. What about J.K. Rowling? The woman behind the immense craze that was Harry Potter was on welfare and struggling to get food on the table for her kids. Enter the publishing deal and the movie franchise and suddenly Rowling became a voice everybody wanted to hear. And what about Oprah Winfrey? She now has a net worth of close to $3 billion, but she was once a poor girl who grew up on a small pig farm, born to unmarried teenage parents. As a child, Oprah was dressed in potato sacks and that’s not a cliché. Today, her form is graced with only the best of designer wear.
But then there are also those celebrities who are no less hard-working, despite hailing from families swimming in money. These celebrities did not need to become famous to experience the finer things in life. So here is a list of 15 celebrities, 8 of whom were born with silver spoons in their mouths, and 7 who were literally trailer park trash. But despite their backgrounds, they made the best of what they had or didn’t have.
15. Julia Louis-Dreyfus Was Born Rich
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one funny woman, and not just on Seinfeld. But she is also the daughter of a billionaire, Gerard William Louis-Dreyfus who had an estimated $3.4 billion net worth at the time of his death in 2016. Why? Because of his grandfather, Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, who founded the Louis-Dreyfus group (a French agricultural commodities trading company in 1851 and it proved rather lucrative for the Dreyfuses. But life hasn’t been all laughter and fun for the woman. In September 2017 she announced on Twitter, “One in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one. The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fight all cancers and make universal healthcare a reality.” She got the diagnosis just a day after winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in Veep.
14. Hilary Swank Was Not So Rich
Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank doesn’t just look tough – from where she was, she had to be tough as nails to survive. Her mother was a secretary and a dancer while her father was in the army and then later, a traveling salesman. Money was tight, and when Hilary was six, the family moved into a trailer park. When she was 15, her dad upped and left. Her mother wanted to support Hilary in being an actor and realizing her dreams. So Hilary, her mother, and her brother packed up the car and moved to California. They lived out of their car, sometimes bunked in with friends until Hilary found work and they were able to rent a place. Her first break was a small role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer but it was finally in 1999 when she landed the role of Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry that her career finally took off. Even so, she earned just $75 a day for this movie with a total earning of $3000. She earned peanuts, but it got her the Oscar. And then she won it again for Million Dollar Baby. After winning her second Oscar, she said, “I don’t know what I did in this life to deserve this. I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream!”
13. Edward Norton Was Born Rich
Edward Norton is a pretty cool method actor. Who else but him could have been The Illusionist, or acted in Primal Fear, or even Fight Club with such talent? He was born in 1969 to an ex-marine who later became a lawyer and an English teacher of a mother. His family money actually comes from his maternal grandfather James Rouse. James Rouse was a real-estate developer who basically is the dude who kind of invented the shopping mall. And if that weren’t enough, Rouse also planned the city of Columbia, Maryland, where Norton was raised. So we are sure that got him a windfall. But Rouse is literally royalty when it comes to real estate because he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1995, a year before his death, for his achievements in socially conscious urban design. But Norton remains a pretty grounded guy, one who supports several charities and trusts and remains unaffected by the family name and money and his own celebrity status. He said, “If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart attack!”
12. Sarah Jessica Parker Was Not So Rich
She plays Carrie Bradshaw with such panache that it’s difficult to believe that Sarah Jessica Parker hailed from a dirt-poor background from Nelsonville, Ohio. Born to a family of eight children, from both her parents and then her mother’s second marriage, she struggled and the money was never enough. With too many mouths to feed and then a divorce, her parents raised her and her siblings the best they could but it was a poverty-stricken childhood: “We were on welfare. I remember being poor. There was no great way to hide it. We didn’t have electricity sometimes. We didn’t have Christmases sometimes, or we didn’t have birthdays sometimes, or the bill collectors came, or the phone company would call and say, ‘We’re shutting your phones off.’ And we were all old enough to either get the calls or watch my mother’s reactions or watch my parents shuffling the money around.” However, things clearly turned around for her.
11. Armie Hammer Was Born Rich
Isn’t Armie Hammer adorable? Most women really want to make Armie happen, despite his airing up with Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger. Yeah, most girls would agree, especially since Armie so rocked Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Now the only thing is that his family is so illustrious, he wouldn’t really need help. Don’t believe us? Well, Armie was named after his grandfather, Armand Hammer. Armand Hammer who? Well, the oil tycoon, that’s who. He spent 33 years as the chairman of Occidental Petroleum and in his realm, the poorly profitable company went from making $30,000 in sales a year to being one of the largest American energy and gas corporations that no one wants to have a beef with. Plus Hammer’s grandfather was a philanthropist and tried to bring USA and USSR on the same plane as well. Silver spoon? Well, hardly. In 2012 Hammer said that “for all intents and purposes, my parents disowned me when I dropped out of high school and began acting, but they have since become supportive of me and say that they are proud of my work.”
10. Leighton Meester Was Not So Rich
Leighton Meester’s most known role is that of Blair Waldorf – a pampered rich brat all the way down to the core in the series Gossip Girls. But Leighton’s own upbringing was way different. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Leighton’s parents were Constance Lynn, a writer and Douglas Jay Meester, a real-estate broker. At the time of her birth, Meester’s parents were far from model citizens. In fact, both were serving time in a federal prison for their involvement in a marijuana drug ring. Federal laws allowed Constance to give birth to Leighton in a hospital and nurse her for the customary three months in a halfway house. Then she was sent back to jail to complete her sentence. Meester was cared for by her paternal grandparents until her parents were released from prison. That said, Leighton is not ashamed of her past and insists that her parents gave her a normal upbringing. About their conviction, she said, “It made me realize that you can’t judge anyone – especially your parents – for what they’ve done in their past because people change.”
9. Zoe Kravitz Was Born Rich
You all know that the beautiful and vivacious Zoe Kravitz is Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet’s daughter. Her paternal grandmother was actress Roxie Roker, who in turn was the first cousin twice removed of television weather forecaster Al Roker. Her paternal grandfather was filmmaker Sy Kravitz. Her parents married in 1987 and divorced six years later, in 1993, when she was five. Later, her mom Lisa Boney married Jason Momoa and so Zoe Kravitz has a younger half-sister, Lola Iolani Momoa, and half-brother, Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha Momoa. Jason Momoa is her stepfather. Her godfather is movie producer Bruce Cohen, and her godmother is actress and singer Cree Summer. Frankly, there are so many celebrity names in her family lineage, she was born with a celebrity spoon! But she likes to be her own girl and when photographed looking grungy, shot back, “I don’t have to look or dress like a Barbie doll all the time…”
8. Tom Cruise Was Not So Rich
The uber rich Scientologist we all call Tom Cruise was born in 1962 in Syracuse, New York. While his father was an electrical engineer and his mother was a special education teacher, the family was still dirt poor. Also, daddy dear was also domineering and abusive, so we are pretty sure his childhood was less than stellar. Cruise has stated, “He was the kind of person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you. It was a great lesson in my life – how he’d lull you in, make you feel safe and then, bang! For me, it was like, ‘There’s something wrong with this guy. Don’t trust him. Be careful around him.’” Finally when he was 11, his mom finally left his dad. Ironically, though, his dad died of cancer later that very year. Even so, there were times when Tom’s mother worked multiple jobs to be able to feed her four children. To realize his dreams, Tom dropped out of high school his senior year in order to pursue acting and finally in 1983, Tom got his big break: The Outsiders, Risky Business, and All the Right Moves. Top Gun established him as a hero material in 1986 and since then, he never looked back.
7. The Mara Sisters Were Born Rich
Both Patricia Rooney Mara and Kate Mara are shaping up to be Hollywood biggies. Kate played Zoe Barnes in the now tainted House of Cards (you know, because of Kevin Spacey), the ambitious but naïve journalist who underestimates Frank Underwood’s capacity for evil. That is now very ironic, come to think of it. Rooney has starred in many acclaimed films, including Carol, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, and The Social Network. But if you a sports buff, then you would know the Mara family. Their father’s side of the family founded the New York Giants in 1925 while their mother’s side of the family founded the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1933. The duo is basically football royalty. Despite the fame and the fortune, Kate calls herself painfully shy while Rooney never wanted to be an actress initially, feeling that this line was not very honorable and also she feared that she would fail.
6. Leonardo DiCaprio Was Not So Rich
Leonardo Dicaprio is known as much for the crazy stuff he does for his roles as he is for dating a bevy of gorgeous women, mainly supermodels. For a chocolate-faced boy who first burst into the fantasies of fans, his role as Jack, the smooth-talking big-hearted and dirt poor man in Titanic, is pretty close to his background itself. Today, he has a life full of shutterbugs, dollar bills, yachts, mansions, and private jets. But those don’t reflect his roots. Before striking it big in Hollywood, Leo was a poor kid living in Los Angeles and surrounded by drugs and crime in this city of fallen angels. He once confessed in an article that he grew up in a very poor and rundown neighborhood of LA. Drugs and criminal activity were rampant, and perhaps this addiction all around ensured that he stayed away from drugs all his life. Sometimes, your roots may not seem all that much, but they end up saving your life.
5. Kristen Stewart Was Born Rich
Have you ever wondered why Kristen Stewart is such a brat? Well, she grew up in an Alice in Wonderland-themed mansion, which was listed in 2013 for $1.75 million! That makes sense now. John Stewart, her dad, is a stage manager and television producer who has worked for Fox, as well as on the Comedy Central show @midnight. Her mother, Jules Mann-Stewart, is originally from Australia and works as a script supervisor. She has also directed a film, the 2012 prison drama K-11. Since she grew up in a family who worked behind the camera, Stewart always said that acting was not on her mind. She thought she would become a screenwriter/director. She recalled, “I never wanted to be the center of attention. I wasn’t that ‘I want to be famous, I want to be an actor’ kid. I never sought out acting, but I always practiced my autograph because I love pens. I’d write my name on everything.” Turns out, it came in handy!
4. Demi Moore Was Not So Rich
Demetria Gene Guynes was born in 1962 in Roswell, New Mexico. And such was the relationship between her parents that Demi’s biological father left her mother a few months before she was born. After her birth, her mother remarried when she was three months old. This did not bring any stability to baby Demetria. Both her mother and stepfather were alcoholics and had a violent if tumultuous relationship. Since everything was spent on booze, the family lived in trailer parks. While she remembers her stepfather fondly, she had a terrible relationship with her mother. In fact, Demi severed ties with her after she walked out of a rehab that Demi had paid for. At 16, Demi Moore finally dropped out of high school and moved out of her parent’s house to pursue a modelling career. Initially, she did a couple of shoots for magazines to make ends meet before finally getting cast in various serials. The comedy Blame It on Rio finally got her career started and since then, there has been no looking back for her.
3. Bryce Dallas Howard Was Born Rich
Bryce Dallas Howard was introduced as Bryce Dallas when she started her career. But the very reason that she was drawn to acting was that of her family history and name. Bryce’s dad is Ron Howard, an actor, and filmmaker, known for starring in Happy Days. But when Bryce forayed into acting, she dropped the Howard initially, terrified of the illustrious family name. Later she clarified, “I had dropped it because of insecurity. I didn’t want people to say I’d got a role because of my dad, but then later my parents asked me, ‘Aren’t you proud to come from our family? Is there something that we’ve done?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, no, I am so proud of you guys!'” So later, she tacked the Howard back on. This came from the girl who was babysat by family friend Tom Cruise many times!
2. Shania Twain Was Not So Rich
Eileen Regina Edwards was born in 1965, in Windsor, Ontario to a rather tumultuous beginning. Her parents divorced when she was two. Her mother took her three daughters and moved to Timmins, Ontario where she remarried Jerry Twain, an indigenous Canadian. The marriage was full of violence and abuse, and Eileen would suffer bouts of depression. The family was poor and the food was scarce. To help out, Eileen learned to hunt and chop wood from a very early age. One time things got so bad that her mother took the children to a homeless shelter in Toronto in 1979 and the family returned to Jerry only in 1981. Little Eileen would write songs and sing them in bars to earn some money, ever since she was eight years old. Later when Eileen became Shania Twain, she said of the ordeal, “My deepest passion was music and it helped. There were moments when I thought, ‘I hate this.’ I hated going into bars and being with drunks. But I loved the music and so I survived.”
1. Psy Was Born Rich
Park Jae-sang, or Psy, as the world knows him, was the most viral star of 2012. The song that made him a global sensation was “Gangnam Style,” and Gangnam is an affluent South Korean neighborhood in which Psy grew up. Why? Because of Psy’s father, Park Won-ho, who is the chairman of the DI Corporation, which manufactures equipment for semiconductors, and because of his mother, Kim Young-hee, who owns many restaurants in Gangnam. Despite all the affluence, Psy always felt that he did not belong. In fact, even at school, he was disliked by the teachers for being the class clown who loved to make inappropriate jokes. Many of his early songs were banned from release in his own country for having far too many suggestive lyrics and lewd movements. But when “Gangnam Style” came, life changed for Psy in more ways than one. From just a Korean singer, he became a global star. As of October 2017, “Gangnam Style” is the third most viewed video on YouTube, with over 2.96 billion views!
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