Before the Box Office: Celebrities’ Jobs Pre-Fame

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When you’re working toward a career in the entertainment business, you’ll do just about anything to pay the bills. After all, most actors, musicians, and entertainment personalities don’t become successful overnight. They work hard for years before getting their big break, and during that time, they take on any odd job they can find in order to keep food on the table. Besides tending bar and tearing tickets, future celebrities have done some pretty surprising—and strange—things in order to make ends meet.  


Staying Professional
Many celebs have a resume full of odd or random day jobs, but this bunch had actual professional careers that they gave up in order to pursue their showbiz dreams.


Gerard Butler: lawyer
Sheryl Crow: elementary school music teacher
Jerry Springer: mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio
Tina Turner: maternity ward nurse
Harrison Ford: carpenter
Will Ferrell: cable news sportscaster
Steve Buscemi: New York City firefighter
Billy Crystal: substitute teacher
Dennis Farina: Chicago police officer
Jeremy Irons: social worker


Dirty Work
Somebody’s gotta do the dirty work, and these celebrities performed duties that many other people might feel a little bit squeamish about.


Warren Beatty: rat catcher in a movie theater
Whoopi Goldberg: mortuary cosmetician
Rod Stewart: grave digger
Sean Connery: coffin polisher
Charles Bronson: coal miner
Marlon Brando: ditch digger
Josh Holloway: collector of dead chickens on a farm


Please Stay on the Line
Telemarketing often offers a flexible schedule, so it’s no wonder that many of today’s celebrities were the telephone solicitors interrupting dinners of yesteryear.  


Vince Vaughn
Leah Remini
Kelly Clarkson
Kenny Chesney


Would You Like Fries with That?
According to Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, about one in eight American adults has worked at McDonald’s at some point in their life. The company hires about one million new workers annually, and over the years, that number has included some now-famous faces.


Rachel McAdams
Seal
Keenan Ivory Wayans
Pink
Macy Gray
Fred Durst
Shania Twain
Sharon Stone
Jay Leno
D.L. Hughley




Smooth Talkers
Before they were talking their way into casting offices, these stars were talking their way into a paycheck, working to sell just about every variety of product, from utilitarian to useless.


Jerry Seinfeld: lightbulbs
Johnny Depp: pens
George Clooney: suits and shoes
Ellen DeGeneres: vacuum cleaners
Tim Allen: cocaine
Garth Brooks: boots


Dress Me Up
Even when they weren’t on camera, some celebs found ways to wear a costume and entertain for a living.

Megan Fox: dressed as a giant banana outside a yogurt shop
Brad Pitt: wore a chicken costume outside El Pollo Loco
Hugh Jackman: performed as a clown for children’s birthday parties


A League of Their Own
Some jobs just defy categorization, like the onetime occupations of these stars.


James Caan: roped steer on the professional rodeo circuit
Christopher Walken: tamed lions at the circus
Jon Hamm: dressed sets for soft-core pornographic films


No matter how demeaning or disgusting the jobs might be, an aspiring star is just grateful for each successive paycheck. Many people with menial jobs have big aspirations, so the next time you’re in line at a fast-food restaurant or talking to a door-to-door salesperson, be nice …because the person taking your order or checking your coat today could be starring in your favorite movie tomorrow.

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