Have you ever wondered what celebrities used to do before fame came knocking? After all, everyone has to start somewhere. From working with lions to selling insurance, the following are just some of the outrageous jobs that celebrities had to do before they were discovered as the superstars they are today.

  • Whoopi Goldberg: This celebrity probably has one of the most fascinating pre-fame lives, as far as outrageous jobs go. Goldberg reportedly worked as a bricklayer, phone-sex operator, and mortuary beautician before breaking into acting.
  • Channing Tatum: One reason he was so good at playing the part of a male stripper in the Magic Mike movies is because Tatum actually worked as an exotic dancer in his younger days. In fact, it was this experience that served as the inspiration for Magic Mike.
  • Jon Hamm: This Mad Men star once used to work as a “set dresser” for soft core porn movies on Cinemax. The gig only lasted a couple of weeks, but Hamm describes it as “a learning experience” nonetheless.
  • George Clooney: Imagine George Clooney knocking at your front door. Once upon a time, this Hollywood superstar sold insurance door-to-door. It was supposedly just one of the “rotten jobs” he worked before making it big as an actor.
  • Mick Jagger: In 1961, the Rolling Stones frontman worked temporarily as a porter at a psych hospital. In fact, it was reportedly at this hospital where he first lost his virginity—in a store cupboard, to be exact—with a nurse.
  • Nicole Kidman: She can do more than just act. Kidman worked as a massage therapist as a teen before she became an actress.
  • Christopher Walken: This is by far the most fascinating job on the list. When he was a teenager, Walken worked with a touring circus as a lion tamer. The actor recounted in an interview with Vanity Fair about how he would dress up for the show as the main tamer’s son and then perform tricks with one lion at the end of the act. Walken explained that he worked with the female lion much like a pet dog, saying, “I would wave the whip, and she would run and sit up and roll over and do things.”

Woodward, E., “39 Celebrities Who Had Unbelievable Jobs Before They Were Famous,” BuzzFeed web site, April 10, 2014.
Larkin, M., “‘It wasn’t porn… exactly’: Mad Men star Jon Hamm reveals his secret past as a set dresser for erotic movies,” Daily Mail web site, March 22, 2012.
“George Clooney an insurance salesman?” Evening Standard web site, April 10, 2012.
MacCarthy, F., “Mick Jaffer by Philip Norman – review,” The Guardian web site, October 4, 2012.
Miller, J., “Christopher Walken on Seven Psychopaths, His days as a Lion Tamer, and the One Role He’s Still Searching For,” Vanity Fair web site, September 10, 2012.

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