Celebrities have it all—fame, fortune, and the ability to buy and do whatever they like. The media, critics, and fans follow their every move. They wear the most expensive clothes, jewelry and shoes. They drive around in cars that a non-celeb could only dream of driving. They live in outrageously expensive homes that are fit for a king or queen. Some celebs spend $500 a day on haircuts, go on $100,000 shopping sprees, and have moats surrounding their home. Some celebs have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it.
However, celebrities all have some type of journey they’ve been through. Every celeb has a different story to how they finally achieved success and became world famous. Some celebs might have a similar story but it’s still their personal journey. Some are lucky enough to be born into a wealthy family. This allows them to pursue their goals and dreams without financial difficulty. That doesn’t mean their journey was easy, they just didn’t have to worry about money. They inherited their wealth and attempted to make the best of it. Then, there are the celebs who grew up poor and came from nothing. They didn’t have the luxury of inheriting their wealth. They came from absolutely nothing, had no connections in the industry, and had to create their own path. For these celebs who grew up poor, there was nothing to fall back on. Here is a look at 8 Celebs Who Inherited Their Wealth and 8 Who Grew Up Dirt Poor.
16 Paris Hilton (Inherited)
Paris Hilton has starred in her own reality series, released an album, is a model, and tours the world as a DJ. She keeps herself very busy and involved with several business ventures but none of them might have happened if she wasn’t born into the right family. Paris Hilton is best known for her appearance in the reality series The Simple Life. The series starred Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, and aired from December 2, 2003 to August 5, 2007. The series followed the two rich socialites as they did hard manual labor and had underpaying jobs.
Additionally, Paris Hilton starred in the reality series My New BFF and its many spin-offs. She also appeared in the TV series The O.C., Veronica Mars and Supernatural. In 2006, she released her debut album, Paris. Paris also has her own fragrance line, handbags, 44 Paris Hilton Stores, and three Paris Hilton apartment complexes. Paris inherited her wealth, which certainly made it possible for her to accomplish a lot. She is the great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels. Paris Hilton has a net worth estimated at $100 million.
15 Eminem (Dirt Poor)
The 15-time Grammy Award-winning Eminem is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time. He’s the best-selling artist of the 2000’s and has released several critically and commercially acclaimed albums—The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show. He also starred in the film 8 Mile, which was loosely based on his life.
Eminem’s father left his family when he was very young. He and his mother rarely stayed in one place for more than a year. They mostly stayed with family moving between Michigan and Missouri. He grew up in a predominately African-American, working class neighborhood. Eminem and his mother were often one of the only white families living there. He was bullied and beaten up on a regular basis. His home life was highly volatile and he often fought with his mother. At 17 years old, he dropped out of high school and started working to help his mom pay the bills. Now, Eminem has an estimated net worth of $210 million.
14 Edward Norton (Inherited)
Some celebrities come from the very bottom of the barrel and climbed to the top of Hollywood. Edward Norton didn’t come from the bottom of the barrel. He was already near the top because he comes from a prominent and wealthy family. Edward Norton first rose to prominence with his breakout performance in the film Primal Fear. He would go on to star in several films like American History X, Fight Club, and Birdman.
Edward Norton has an estimated net worth of $70 million. He certainly earned his money and fame but was able to start off with a very nice inheritance. His maternal grandfather, James Rouse, was the founder of the Rouse Company. The Rouse Company built some of the very first enclosed malls. Additionally, the company helped develop Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Boston’s Quincy Market, and Norfolk’s Waterside Festival Marketplace. The Rouse Company also developed the city of Columbia, Maryland where Ed Norton would later grow up.
13 Leighton Meester (Dirt Poor)
Leighton Meester and her family struggled financially in her formative years. From the very beginning, it was an uphill battle for Leighton. She had a difficult childhood and grew up quite poor. Leighton is best known for her role as Blair Waldorf in the series Gossip Girl. She has appeared in numerous popular shows, such as 24, Entourage, and House. Currently, she stars in the Fox comedy Making History. She has also tried her hand at a music career and released the album Heartstrings. Additionally, she released the singles “Somebody to Love,” “Your Love’s a Drug” and “Heartstrings.”
At the time of Leighton’s birth, her mother was serving time in prison for her involvement with a drug-smuggling operation. She was allowed to give birth in a hospital and spent the first three months of Leighton’s life in a halfway house. Her mother returned to prison and her grandmother raised Leighton. They lived in poverty and were dirt poor. However, Leighton now has an estimated net worth of $8 million.
12 Julia Louis-Dreyfus (inherited)
The 9-time Emmy Award-winning Julia Louis-Dreyfus is widely regarded as one of the funniest women on television. She has appeared in the world’s most famous TV series and has an estimated net worth of $200 million. She comes from such a wealthy family that she could have done nothing and would probably still be worth the same. She is best known for her iconic role as Elaine Benes on the critically and commercially acclaimed groundbreaking series, Seinfeld. She currently stars as Selina Meyer on the HBO series Veep. Julia comes from a very prominent and rich family.
In 1851, Julia’s great-great-grandfather, Leopold Louis-Dreyfus, founded the Louis Dreyfus Group. The group is heavily involved in agriculture, finance, international shipping, and food processing. Julia’s father, Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, was the chairman of the Louis Dreyfus Energy Services. It was a subsidiary of the Louis Dreyfus Group and was involved with crude oil trading, gas investments, and infrastructure.
11 Tom Cruise (Dirt Poor)
Tom Cruise came from absolutely nothing to becoming one of the best-known celebs in the world. His family had very little money and struggled to survive. He went from being very poor to having an estimated net worth of $480 million. There was a time in his life when he lived in poverty and was dirt poor. He could only dream of the day he’d be worth more than some celebs combined. Tom Cruise is best known for his portrayal of Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible film franchise. He’s starred in a plethora of critically acclaimed films, including Top Gun, Rain Man, A Few Good Men, The Firm, and Jerry Maguire.
During his childhood, Tom and his family struggled financially. His father was abusive and dominating. He has described his father as a “merchant of chaos,” “a bully,” and “a coward.” Eventually, his mother left his father, taking Cruise and his sisters with her. Soon, Tom Cruise would start on his journey to becoming a world famous celebrity.
10 Nicole Richie (Inherited)
Technically, Nicole Richie started out growing up poor but things changed for her when she was just a young girl. Later, she was so filthy rich that she could have spent the whole day with her childhood best friend, Paris Hilton, trying to avoid manual labor. Oh, that’s right, there was a whole show based around that. Nicole Richie is a socialite, reality TV personality, and fashion designer. From 2003 to 2007, she starred in the reality series The Simple Life along with Paris Hilton. She’s known for her unique fashion sense and is considered a fashion icon. She now has her own line of clothing, sunglasses, and jewelry.
When Nicole was very young, her parents let her move in with singer Lionel Richie and wife Brenda Harvey. This was done because her parents felt they couldn’t financially provide for her. When she was 9, Lionel and Brenda adopted her but they soon went through a divorce. During this time, both Lionel and Brenda spoiled Nicole and gave her anything she asked for, which Nicole now thinks was a mistake on their part. She felt they gave her way too much freedom. Nicole has an estimated net worth of $5 million.
9 Nicki Minaj (Dirt Poor)
Nicki Minaj didn’t have the benefit of coming from a wealthy family. She had a difficult childhood and her family struggled to provide for her. Nicki Minaj has released several albums, such as Pink Friday, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, and The Pinkprint.
Nicki Minaj was born in Trinidad and Tobago where she spent the early part of her life. Her mother moved to New York to search for a better life for the family. Minaj and her siblings stayed in Trinidad. They all lived in one house with her grandmother. Two years later, she finally moved to New York to join her mother. The family continued to struggle on welfare and her father became addicted to drugs. He once burned down the family home, with her mother just narrowly escaping. She once said, “Growing up in Trinidad, I didn’t know that we were poor. Ten people living in a three-bedroom home and all the dogs and cats my grandmother had, none of the seemed really abnormal.” Nicki Minaj has an estimated net worth of $70 million.
8 Chevy Chase (Inherited)
At one point Chevy Chase was one of the biggest celebrities in the world. He made millions of dollars and became world famous. However, if he wanted to, he could have just sat around and enjoyed his vast wealth and inheritance. Chevy Chase had his big breakthrough as a member of the original cast of Saturday Night Live in the 70's. He also was the first anchor of SNL’s Weekend Update. He starred in several memorable comedies such as Caddyshack, Fletch, Three Amigos, and National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise. In 2009, he was a cast member of the hit NBC series, Community.
Chevy Chase comes from a very wealthy New York family. His father was a very successful Manhattan magazine writer and book editor. Business mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane, the heir to the Crane Company, adopted Chase’s mother as a child. His grandfather was a renowned illustrator/artist and his grandmother was an accomplished Opera singer who performed at Carnegie Hall. Chevy Chase has an estimated net worth of $50 million.
7 Jim Carrey (Dirt Poor)
Jim Carrey is one of the greatest comedians and actors of his generation. He had his big break when cast as member of the sketch series In Living Color. Later, he gained mainstream success with his breakout role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He went on to star in several popular comedies, such as The Mask, Liar Liar, and Dumb and Dumber. He later focused on dramatic films and starred in Man on the Moon, Number 23, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Jim Carrey has an estimated net worth of $150 million.
There was a time in Jim Carrey’s life when he was so poor that he could only dream of being worth that much. At around 17 years old, he performed stand-up comedy for the first time at Toronto’s Yuk Yuks where he bombed, was booed off stage, and banned from the club. Around this time, his family had major financial issues and couldn’t support him in his dreams. For a while, Carrey and his family lived in a tent in his aunt’s backyard. Things turned around for his family and soon he began his journey to superstardom.
6 Kate Mara (Inherited)
Kate Mara has quickly become a giant in Hollywood. She’s rising to the top but she’s never been that far because she’s always been a giant. Kate Mara comes from one of the most prominent families in the NFL. Kate has a net worth of $8 million. She has a younger sister, Rooney Mara, who is also an actress. Kate Mara has appeared in numerous memorable films, including Brokeback Mountain, We Are Marshall, and The Martian. She also portrayed Zoe Barnes on the critically acclaimed political drama House of Cards.
Kate Mara is the great-granddaughter of both Pittsburgh Steelers founder, Art Rooney, and New York Giants founder, Tim Mara. Her mother’s side of the family has held ownership in the Steelers since it formed in 1933 while her father’s side of the family has held ownership in the Giants since it formed in 1925. Her grandfather was the co-owner of the Giants from 1959 to 2005 and was succeeded by Kate’s uncle, John Mara, who is the president, CEO, and co-owner. Kate’s father is the vice-president of the New York Giants for player evaluation and is an NFL scout.
5 Selena Gomez (Dirt Poor)
At one time in her life, Selena Gomez and her mother couldn’t afford gas for their car. Now, Selena Gomez is a worldwide celebrity and has an estimated net worth of $16 million. It’s safe to assume that Selena has no problems buying gas anymore. Selena Gomez had her big break with her starring role in the Disney series Wizards of Waverly Place. She has since gone on to star in several popular films, including Ramona and Beezus, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and Spring Breakers. She has also ventured into a music career and formed the band Selena Gomez & The Scene. Later, she decided to go solo and released the albums Stars Dance and Revival.
Selena’s mother was only 16 years old when she gave birth to Selena. Her parents divorced when she was young and was raised by her mother alone. They struggled financially and could barely make ends meet. Selena remembers having to search for quarters just so they could buy gas for their car. Often, they would have to walk to the Dollar Store where they would purchase their dinner—spaghetti. Now Selena can buy all the gas and spaghetti she wants.
4 Anderson Cooper (Inherited)
Anderson Cooper is one of the most respected and famous journalists alive. He also happens to come from one of the most famous, most prominent, and wealthiest families in the world. Anderson Cooper is best known as the anchor of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360. Additionally, he’s a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Cooper has a net worth of $100 million. If he chose to, he could have just sat around watching cartoons all day and he’d probably still be worth $100 million.
Anderson Cooper is the son of writer, fashion designer, and heiress, Gloria Vanderbilt. On September 17, 1970, at the age of 3, he appeared with his mother on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. His maternal grandparents were millionaire equestrian Reginald Vanderbilt and socialite Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt. His great-great-great grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt, was a business mogul who has made a fortune in shipping and railroads. Cornelius is considered one of the “richest Americans in history and wealthiest figures overall.”
3 Sarah Jessica Parker (Dirt Poor)
The two-time Emmy Award-winning Sarah Jessica Parker is best known for her portrayal as Carrie Bradshaw on the critically acclaimed series Sex and the City. She reprized her role as Carrie in the films Sex and the City and Sex and the City 2. She’s appeared in several memorable films, including Footloose, Hocus Pocus, and Ed Wood. She currently stars in the HBO series Divorce.
Sarah Jessica Parker grew up with 8 siblings and at times, her parents struggled to provide for them. At one point, the family had to go on welfare and that left a lasting impression on young Sarah. In fact, she’s never forgotten the humiliation she felt as a child when she’d get her lunch. Often, the poor kids like Sarah would be moved to the front of the line in order to use their welfare free meal ticket. She once spoke about the experience, “I knew I was different from the kids who pay for lunch or bring their lunch from home," she said. "It was a stigma thing. I was not the only person receiving a free lunch, but you are aware.”
2 Ivanka Trump (Inherited)
Regardless of the family she comes from, Ivanka Trump is clearly a hard worker that has earned everything she’s worked for. However, it’s a little easier to go from the bottom to the top of the world when you start at the top. Ivanka is the daughter of businessman, reality TV star, and the President of the U.S., Donald Trump. Ivanka started her career as a model and appeared on the covers of Seventeen, Elle, and Forbes. She appeared as an adviser to her father in the reality series The Apprentice. She also launched her own retail store that is located in Trump Tower. She also has her own line of jewelry, clothes, handbags, and other accessories. She is an executive vice president of The Trump Organization. She was also heavily involved in her father’s presidential campaign. She now serves as an assistant to President Trump and is a key person in his inner circle. Ivanka Trump certainly achieved a great deal of success but it helps to start off wealthy. Ivanka Trump has a net worth of $150 million.
1 Oprah Winfrey (Dirt Poor)
“The Queen of all Media” Oprah Winfrey, went from being extremely poor to becoming the richest African-American in the world. She had an incredibly difficult childhood. Her family struggled financially and could barely make ends meet. She is best known as host of the groundbreaking talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which she hosted from 1986 to 2011. In 2011, she launched her very own network, The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
Oprah was born to a single mother and grew up in poverty. Her mother worked as a maid and struggled to provide for Oprah so she was sent to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother was also very poor and couldn’t afford clothes for Oprah, so she often wore dresses made out of potato sacks. She moved back with her mother but they were still poor and living on welfare. Oprah would spend the rest of her life working harder than anyone else to reach her goals. She might have grown up dirt poor but now Oprah has an estimated net worth of $3.2 billion.
Sources: lolwot, starstopix