Hey, if you're an A-list celebrity, then it's pretty safe to say that you've got a fairly large bank account. However, not all celebrities start their lives surrounded by sports cars and caviar. Below are nine famous people who truly went from rags to riches.
That's right, you may curse his name now, but a few scant years ago this swoop-haired teen dream was nearly destitute. According to Bieber, before becoming famous he grew up in a rat-infested home with an empty fridge. He had to sleep on a pull-out couch and lived off a diet consisting mostly of macaroni and cheese. Today, the rat-bastard is worth around $65 million.
Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Long Island, Mariah Carey grew up in near poverty. Lacking any toys or other fun things to do, she found her own fun by doing things like poisoning her dog and setting her parents' car on fire. Later, she moved to NYC and took several part-time jobs to help make ends meet. By chance, she met a Columbia Records exec at a party, and she used her soulful voice to talk him into checking out her music.
J.K. Rowling had to wait a long time to find her fortune. Before she started writing the Harry Potter series, she was struggling to get by as a single mother living off of welfare. As the story goes, Rowling had a four-hour delayed train trip to thank for her wealth. Apparently, while idly waiting for the train, the idea of a young boy attending wizard school appeared fully formed in her head. She's now one of the richest celebrities in England (reportedly worth over $1 BILLION).
Before his big break on Taxi, Danny DeVito was not only short in stature; he was short on cash. In fact, he was once so penniless that he spent a night sleeping on a New York City transit bus. Using a few of his last coins to call his agent, he was thrilled to find out he had a job offer.
Like a lot of famous rappers, Snoop grew up in squalor. His early days in Long Beach (a.k.a. the LBC) had him following the general career path of men in his neighborhood -– selling drugs. After a few short stints in jail, Snoop started making tapes with his friend who just so happened to be the step brother of Dr. Dre. The rest, as they say, is multimillion-dollar history.
For starters, Jim Carrey had one big strike against him growing up: he was Canadian. While in high school, he had the pleasure of living out of a camper van with the rest of his family. He also worked full day shifts at a tire factory. Not content with this lifestyle (Gee, who would be?), Carrey dropped out of school at 16 and moved to LA to make it big in Hollywood. The young comic caught the eye of Rodney Dangerfield, who gave him some respect and let him be the opening act to his show. Now, he's one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood.
You remember Leo's days on Growing Pains that had him playing the character of a homeless boy? Yeah, well as it turns out that scenario wasn't too far off from his real life. Leo grew up in Hollywood surrounded by drug dealers and prostitutes. Despite these unhappy surroundings, Leo skipped out on the low road and found himself landing acting gigs that helped catapult him to the very top of the Hollywood A-list.
Would you be shocked to learn that Mrs. Ashton Kutcher could technically be referred to as trailer trash? As a kid, she spent part of her years in a trailer park, and had the misfortune of having an abusive father who spent his days drinking instead of working. Much like Jim Carrey, she just couldn't take that living situation, so she dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood at age 16.
Mark Walhberg said "so long" to school even earlier than Demi Moore and Jim Carrey. At age 14 he dropped out and went to work as a street thug. After a couple years of stealing things, making drug deals and getting high, he was convicted of assaulting two men and sentenced to 50 days in prison. Reportedly, the stint turned him around. Proving once again that it's often who you know, his older brother Donnie helped him out and got him a record deal.
Originally published on May 9, 2011.