Former Jobs of 12 Celebrities

A man doing bricklayering.
Just like us, celebrities had to work their way up the job ladder. LUVLIMAGE / Getty Images

Most of us aren't born with a silver spoon in our mouths -- even celebrities. Just like us, they've had to work their way up the job ladder. Here are a dozen examples that prove the old adage: It's not where you start, it's where you finish that counts.


1. Mick Jagger

Before he began strutting his stuff on stage, Sir Michael Phillip "Mick" Jagger, lead singer of The Rolling Stones, worked as a porter at the Bexley Mental Hospital while he was a student at the London School of Economics. He earned a whopping 4 pounds, 10 shillings per week (about $7.80 U.S.). Perhaps Jagger's gig at the hospital inspired a couple of the Stones' early hits, such as "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Mother's Little Helper."


2. Jason Lee

Actor Jason Lee, star of My Name is Earl plays a character who never works, but in real life Lee once worked at Taco Bell. Then, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lee become a competitive skateboarder, performing flips and other daring maneuvers. After appearing in a promotional skateboarding video shot by Spike Jonze, Lee began getting movie offers and left his skateboarding career in the dust.


3. Paula Abdul

During her freshman year at Cal State University, Paula Abdul tried out for the Los Angeles Lakers cheerleading squad and was selected from more than 700 applicants. Her high-energy, street-funk-inspired dance routines were an instant hit, and it took her all of three weeks to become head choreographer. In 1984, when Abdul's routines got the attention of the Jackson family, they immediately signed her to choreograph their Torture video and her career went into overdrive. When Abdul embarked on a singing career in the late 1980s, her debut album, "Forever Your Girl," went platinum and spawned four number one singles, including "Straight Up" and "Cold Hearted." She has now become popular with a new audience as a judge on American Idol.

Continue the countdown of the former jobs of celebrities like David Letterman and Whoopi Goldberg.


4. David Letterman

After graduating from Indiana's Ball State University in 1969, future late night talk show host David Letterman landed a job at Indianapolis television station WLWI (now called WTHR) as a local anchor and weatherman. Letterman was eventually let go for his unpredictable on-air behavior, which included erasing state borders from the weather map and predicting hail stones "the size of canned hams." Those canned hams eventually became popular door prizes on The Late Show with David Letterman.



5. Dennis Farina

Italian-American actor Dennis Farina often portrays cops, detectives, or mobsters and is best known for his roles in Law & Order, Crime Story, and Get Shorty. Some may think he's being typecast, but it's no wonder that Farina is so comfortable in his roles -- from 1967 to 1985, he actually was a police officer with the Chicago Police Department. Farina caught the acting bug after working with director Michael Mann as a police consultant. He started out in community theater and with bit parts on television before landing a starring role in Crime Story in 1986.


6. Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood has established himself as a Hollywood icon. From Westerns in the 1960s to no-nonsense, rebel cop Dirty Harry in the 1970s to a focus on directing since the 1980s, Eastwood has created a body of work that has garnered respect, box office success, and numerous awards. But before that, Eastwood earned his daily bread digging swimming pools for the rich and famous of Beverly Hills, while at night he'd audition for bit parts. He'd already put in hard time working as a lumberjack, steel mill worker, aircraft factory worker, and gas station attendant. Now, he's the one lounging around the pool.


7. Whoopi Goldberg

With careers as a stand-up comedian, actor, and TV talk show host, Academy Award-winner Whoopi Goldberg has firmly established herself as an outspoken, emancipated, confident star. But Goldberg wasn't always living in the lap of luxury. Growing up in the tough Chelsea projects in New York City, her first job was as a bricklayer. When that position fizzled out, she took on the role of a garbage collector and then a funeral makeup artist -- whatever job she could get to make ends meet.


8. Ozzy Osbourne

Singer Ozzy Osbourne, born John Michael Osbourne, is the lead singer of the pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath, a popular solo artist, and a reality TV star with his wife Sharon and two children, Kelly and Jack. Growing up in England, Osbourne was once a laborer in a slaughterhouse. This may have influenced some of his famous stunts, like biting off the head of a live dove during a meeting with his newly signed record company and biting the head off a bat thrown on stage during a concert.


9. Sean Connery

Sean Connery is probably best known for portraying James Bond seven times, setting the bar very high for those who would follow. He also showed his versatility with movies such as Highlander and The Untouchables, for which he won an Oscar. But Connery's first job was as a milkman in his native Scotland. After a stint in the Royal Navy, he took on numerous jobs in the late 1940s and early 1950s, including lifeguard, ditch digger, and artist's model. In 1953, he even competed in the Mr. Universe contest, placing third in the tall man's division.


10. Marlon Brando

Nearly a decade before he starred as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando worked as a ditch digger after he was expelled from military school for being "incorrigible." When he grew tired of manual labor, Brando became an elevator operator in New York City. His last non-acting job before his break into film was as a night watchman.

11. Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey's rugged good looks have won him many fans and seen him cast in a long list of romantic comedies and action films. But after graduating high school in 1988, he spent a year in Australia as an exchange student. During this time, he made some extra cash by shoveling chicken manure and washing dishes. Returning to the United States in 1990, McConaughey considered a career in law but caught the acting bug instead.

12. Madonna

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone splashed onto the music scene with an attitude and some catchy pop tunes in the early 1980s. Her "Like a Virgin" album and subsequent tour took the world by storm, and she's never looked back. But the early years in New York City were tough for Madonna, and she found herself working at a number of low-paying jobs, including a stint at a Dunkin' Donuts in Times Square. But, in true Madonna fashion, she was fired for squirting jelly filling all over customers!


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