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It’s easy to look at the extravagant lives of celebrities and imagine that things have always been easy for them. We see the reports of their enormous paydays and imagine just what we would do with money like that.

Would we travel the world? Drape ourselves in the most expensive bespoke clothing? Invest in a flashy car or jewelry collection? Pamper ourselves with the most obscure beauty products? The possibilities seem endless. 

That’s why it might be shocking to find out that when Julianna Margulies got her first big paycheck, it wasn’t anything extravagant on her mind. She just wanted some drugstore conditioner for her long hair. 

Julianna Margulies has dominated TV drama

Born in 1966 in New York, Margulies had her first acting role in 1991’s film Out for Justice. After that, she did the typical hopping from television series to television series as she tried to find her big break.

A guest appearance on Law & Order followed up by appearances on Murder She Wrote and Homicide: Life on the Street helped showcase her ability to pull off the demands of TV drama. In 1994, she landed her big break with the part of Carol Hathaway on the primetime drama ER. She would remain in this role for the show’s impressive 15-season run until its conclusion in 2009. 

She immediately went from that long-running portrayal into another popular TV drama when she took on the part of Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife. She once again remained with the series for the duration of its run, wrapping up the part in 2016. Since then, she has played in several other TV series including DietlandThe Hot ZoneBillions, and Unladylike

Julianna Margulies has seen financial success

Julianna Margulies
Julianna Margulies | Vera Anderson/WireImage)

Margulies has been in some of television’s most popular dramas, and that has definitely brought her the bragging rights — and the paycheck — to match. In 2016, Margulies was one of the highest-paid TV actresses of the year. In that year alone, she brought in $10.5 million, primarily from her starring role in The Good Wife

Overall, Margulies has managed to amass a considerable fortune from her acting pursuits. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the star is currently worth an impressive $22 million.

Things weren’t always so rosy for Margulies, however. When she was first attempting to find her place in Hollywood, she was waiting tables to make ends meet. Before her breakout role in ER, she was mostly piecing together an income from theater appearances and work in advertising. 

Haircare was at the top of the list for Julianna Margulies’s first big payday

Juliana Margulies attends the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
Juliana Margulies | Getty Images

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Margulies recounted her first experience with the kind of wealth her future would hold. “I got my first movie, and they flew me out to LA,” the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. “I remember thinking, if they had just told me it was first class. I didn’t know it was a first-class ticket. I would’ve traded it in and gotten cash because I was so broke.” Once she landed in LA, the pampering continued. 

“So I got to L.A. and at the hotel was a wad of cash: per diem for two weeks that I was gonna be there. I had [long hair], and my heart started pounding. I ran to the drug store and I got Flex Conditioner—I’m dating myself now! Flex Conditioner and Flex Shampoo was the jam. I was 22, and I remember sitting in the hotel with the conditioner on my hair for, like, hours. I was so excited that I’d have shiny, pretty hair,” Margulies remembered about that magical first experience.

These days, Margulies can surely afford all the fancy conditioner she wants, but it’s still endearing to hear about this early joy.