You Probably Never Knew These Popular Celebrities Were Once Homeless
Celebrities live plush, lavish lives, but most didn’t grow up wealthy. In fact, some stars worked their way out of homelessness. You may not guess it based on their massive success, but these celebrities were once homeless. And you won’t believe which popular Academy Award-winning actress worked her way out of homelessness (on page 9).
- Jewel lost her job after she was sexually harassed by her boss.
The singer became one of the best-selling artists of all time with her debut album, Pieces of You. However, before Jewel’s success in the ’90s, the Alaskan native was living on the streets after being fired for refusing to sleep with her boss.
She wrote on her website, “I ended up homeless for a year. I kept writing songs and started singing in a local coffee shop called The Inner Change Cafe. I developed a loyal following. No one knew I was homeless.” Luckily, Jewel’s perseverance helped her secure a label and a best-selling album.
Next: He had an awful sleeping arrangement before becoming James Bond.
2. Daniel Craig
- Daniel Craig slept on park benches in London.
He might be the posh and dapper James Bond now, but Craig struggled during his early days trying to break into the entertainment industry. The latest actor to embody 007 waited tables and slept on park benches in London until he finally got his big break.
Next: This guardian of the galaxy lived in a van in Hawaii.
3. Chris Pratt
- Chris Pratt lived in a rat- and flea-infested van.
Well before his breakout role The WB’s Everwood or joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pratt lived out of his van in Maui, Hawaii. But Pratt remembers it fondly. The Jurassic World actor said, “We just drank and smoked weed and worked minimal hours, 15-20 hours per week, just enough to cover gas, food, and fishing supplies. You know it was a charming time.”
Pratt was discovered by actress Rae Dawn Chong while he was waiting tables at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Chong took one look at him and cast him in her directorial debut.
Next: An iconic entertainer who slept in a dance studio..
4. Jennifer Lopez
- JLo slept on the couch at her dance studio.
Lopez may be a megastar, but her career had a bumpy start. After high school, Lopez wanted to be a dancer. But her mother desperately wanted her to go to college. With tension in the home, the Selena actress moved out and slept on her dance studio’s sofa. The Shades of Blue alum told W Magazine, “I was homeless, but I told her, ‘This is what I have to do.'”
Lopez’s breakthrough came soon after, when she was hired to dance in Europe. When she returned to the states, she became a Fly Girl on In Living Color.
Next: This “Honey I’m Home” star didn’t have a home for much of her childhood.
5. Shania Twain
- Poverty, domestic violence, and homelessness plagued Shania Twain’s young life.
As a child, Twain lived in Timmins, Ontario, where her mother endured years of physical abuse at the hands of her stepfather. The singer’s parents moved her from shelter to shelter with her four siblings in order to provide them with regular meals. When Twain’s parents died in a car accident the 22-year-old had to take over parenting responsibilities for her three younger sibling.
Next: This “fighter” sold his beloved dog to get by.
6. Sylvester Stallone
- Sylvester Stallone’s rags-to-riches story didn’t take as long as others.
In 1975, Sylvester Stallone’s wife was pregnant, his dog Butkus was starving, and they couldn’t afford to live in an apartment anymore. So the actor sold his dog for $50 and started writing the script for Rocky. Three-and-a-half days later he sold the script, bought back Butkus for $15,000, and started a professional career that would bring him fame and wealth for years to come.
Next: American Idol helped this singer get off the streets.
7. Kelly Clarkson
- Kelly Clarkson’s apartment burned down and she had nothing left.
Before American Idol, Clarkson was just a young woman hoping to make it big in L.A. Tragically, her apartment burned down with all her belongings inside. The “Love So Soft” singer was broke and unemployed, so she lived in her car and at homeless shelters until she auditioned for the reality TV show.
Next: A Canadian comedian with a homeless childhood
8. Jim Carrey
- Jim Carrey lived in a van with his family for a lot of his childhood.
The Me, Myself, and Irene actor had a lot of financial troubles growing up. In fact, the high school dropout and his family lived in a VW van they parked in various places across Canada. According to a biography about the comedian, Carrey and his family eventually moved out of the van and lived in a tent on his sister’s front lawn.
Next: This Academy Award winner lived in empty houses with her mom.
9. Hilary Swank
- The Oscar winner and her mother lived in a car in L.A.
The Million Dollar Baby actress moved to Los Angles with her mother to pursue her dream of being an actor. Swank and her mom lived out of a car while they tried to save money for an apartment. They even stayed at an empty house for a few months.
Swank told CBS News, “We had a friend who was selling their house. And so they said, “You know, there’s no furniture, but you can stay there at night. And then, during the day, you have to leave so we can try and sell it.’ So we got air mattresses. Blew the air mattresses up. Slept on the air mattresses. And left in the morning.”
Next: This Oscar winner ended up in a shelter in NYC.
10. Halle Berry
- Halle Berry’s mother refused to send her money when she moved to NYC.
Berry starred in films like Boomerang and Jungle Fever. Later the Academy Award winner joined X-Men and became catwoman. However, the mother of two didn’t always have things so easy. According to People, Berry moved to New York City at the age of 21, and after she ran out of money, her mother decided not to send her any additional funds, forcing Berry to stay in a homeless shelter.
The Monster’s Ball actress told Reader’s Digest, “It taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint, or living within my means, which were meager.”
Next: This comedian had to sell his blood to buy food.
11. Drew Carey
- Drew Carey had to sell his plasma for $40.
Known for The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the comedian and philanthropist hasn’t always had an easy life. Carey began feeling unsettled when he was 8 years old, after his father passed away. As a young man, he was trying to move from Cleveland, Ohio to Califonia when he ran out of money and became homeless in Las Vegas. At one point he sold plasma and searched for spare change to buy boxed mac and cheese.
Next: This acclaimed director lived in his car until his first script sold.
12. James Cameron
- James Cameron sold the rights to The Terminator for $1.
Cameron has given us films like Avatar and Titanic, but his life story is the most epic narrative he’ll ever compose. According to IGN, Cameron was living out of his car when he sold the rights for The Terminator to producer Gale Anne Hurd for just one dollar. Hurd named Cameron the film’s director, and The Terminator made $77 million worldwide.
Next: A self-help guru who lived in a car when he was 12.
13. Dr. Phil
- When Dr. Phil was 12, he lived in a car with his father.
Dr. Phil might be known for dishing out advice, but he’s come a long way in his life. When he was 12 years old, Dr. Phil whose given name is Phil McGraw was homeless and living with his father in a car in Kansas City, Missouri. McGraw’s father was interning as a psychologist, but he eventually got on his feet.
Dr. Phil went on to get bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D., and later joined his father’s practice and eventually connected with Oprah Winfrey which is why he now has his own show.
Next: You’ll recognize this financial expert who once made $3.50/hourly.
14. Suze Orman
- Suze Orman had a job clearing trees.
The Emmy-winning financial advisor has helped thousands of people get their lives in order. However, Orman didn’t always have her finances in order. When the New York Times bestselling author first moved to Berkley in the ’70s, she lived in a van. For two months she took a job clearing trees for $3.50 an hour.
Next: A famous comedian helped this actress out of poverty.
15. Tiffany Haddish
- Kevin Hart helped pull Tiffany out of homelessness.
Well before her breakout role in the R-rated comedy Girls Trip and long before she hosted the MTV Movie & TV Awards, actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish was trying to break through in Hollywood while living out of her car. She explained to Vanity Fair that she was performing with Kevin Hart many years ago at the Comedy Playground when he noticed all of her belongings were in her car. Hart lent her her $300 to get a motel room and suggested she write down her goals and start working towards achieving them. The day after she wrote down her goals, she was offered an apartment.
Haddish has stated that she’s tried to pay Hart back his $300, but the Night School actor has refused. The Nobody’s Fool actress told Vanity Fair, “Sometimes he gets on my nerves ’cause he tries to play the brother and tries to clown, but for the most part he’s an awesome dude. I mean he gave me a job on Real Husbands of Hollywood, and I kept trying to give him his $300 back. “I don’t want that money. You keep that money. If I need you to be in something else, you just make sure you can do it.”
Next: A comedian who lived in his 1976 Ford Tempo.
16. Steve Harvey
- For three years Steve Harvey’s home was his car.
Steve Harvey might host every game show on TV, but in the late ’80s, his career was killing him. He was just starting out as a comedian when a few gigs fell through, and Harvey found himself homeless. People reported that Harvey lived in his 1976 Ford Tempo for three years. He would wash up in hotel bathrooms, gas stations, or swimming pool showers.
When he was called to appear on Showtime at the Apollo, he finally got his break.
Next: A film pioneer who grew up on the streets of London.
17. Charlie Chaplin
- Chaplin and his brother grew up on the streets of London.
The legendary Charlie Chaplin is one of the biggest film stars of all time. However, the silent film star had a pretty rough beginning. Chaplin was born at the end of the 19th century and after his father passed and his mother was put in a mental institution, he and his brother had to learn to make a living on the streets of London. Chaplin’s parents were in show business, so he had a model to follow after.
Next: A jazz icon who was a homless teen runaway.
18. Ella Fitzgerald
- The Queen of Jazz was a homeless runaway teen.
Ella Fitzgerald might be the Queen of Jazz, but the Grammy Award winner did not have an easy life. Before her big debut at the Apollo Theather in Harlem in 1934, Fitzgerald was a homeless teenage runaway.
She would go on to sing for President Ronald Reagan in 1981, receive presidential medals, and after her death in 1996, her face was placed on a U.S. postage stamp.
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