When we look at celebrities, we sometimes assume that they have always been famous but as these stories show, even our most beloved performers had to start somewhere.
Steve Buscemi was a firefighter
Buscemi is now known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Fargo but he started his career in 1980 as a firefighter in New York City.
He worked with Engine Co. 55 for four years before making his stage debut in 1985. In 2001, he went back to his old company and helped during the aftermath of 9/11, working 12-hour shifts along with his old colleagues.
Christopher Walken was a lion tamer
Walken and his two brothers Kenneth and Glenn were child actors in the 1950s and when Walken was 16 he got a job as a lion tamer at a circus. The lion was called Sheba and Walken has been quoted as saying “she was very cute, like a dog.”
Harrison Ford was a self-taught carpenter
Before his big break Star Wars, Ford had some small parts in films such as Apocalypse Now and American Graffiti.
During the 1960s Ford taught himself carpentry to support his family and it is still a hobby that he enjoys to this day.
Christopher Lee worked for the Intelligence Services
The Hammer Horror favorite was born in May 1922 into a privileged military family. At the outbreak of World War II, the young Lee volunteered to join the RAF and was accepted for pilot training.
A damaged optic never meant that he was not able to fly and he was accepted into the RAF Intelligence Services instead, where he worked in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Russia.
Bob Ross was an Air Force sergeant
Beloved host of The Joy of Painting started his career as a carpenter then joined the Air Force at the age of 18. He would serve in the military for 20 years and rose to the rank of master sergeant.
It was during his service that he discovered a love of painting and went on to learn the “alla prima” aka wet-on-wet method which would make him famous from his mentor, Bill Alexander.
Helen Mirren worked in an amusement park
The multi-award-winning actress has always had the theatre in her heart. She started acting in plays at primary school and was accepted into the National Youth Theatre at the age of 18.
Before she made the break into acting Dame Helen worked at an amusement park in her hometown of Southend-on-Sea. Her main job was to work as a “blagger,” someone who attracts people to rides within the park.
Mick Jagger was a hospital porter
Before finding fame with the Rolling Stones Mick Jagger was set to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a teacher, but accepted a scholarship to study business at the London School of Economics.
During his tenure as an undergraduate student, Jagger worked as a hospital porter at Bexley Mental Hospital for 4 pounds 10 shillings a week. Apparently, his experiences there inspired the early hits 19th Nervous Breakdown and Mother’s Little Helper.
Rod Stewart worked at Highgate Cemetery
Stewart left school at the age of 15 and worked as a screen printer. He tried to get into football but after he didn’t make it past the trials stage he focused on his second love, which was music.
While waiting to make his big break he worked for a time as a gravedigger in Highgate Cemetery. Stewart says he only measured out plots, marking them off with string.
Warren Beatty was a rodent catcher
Prolific actor, writer, director and producer Warren Beatty was a star football player at high school and was offered ten football scholarships for college. Beatty declined the scholarships and went on to study liberal arts and acting in New York City.
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Before he went off to college at the age of 17, he got a job at the National Theatre in Washington, patrolling the alleys catching rodents.