With all the glamour and fame they receive, it’s quite easy to forget that celebrities are people just like the rest of us. We’re so used to seeing them on the big screen and hearing them on the radio (people still listen to the radio?) that they’re almost godlike creatures to us who we admire and worship – often to terrifying extremes, if celebrity stalkers have taught us nothing else.
It’s simply hard to imagine that celebrities used to live very simple and normal lives before they shot to superstardom. Most of them even had jobs to make ends meet just like every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Some used to work at McDonald’s; others used to be lawyers and telemarketers. But not everyone worked “boring” jobs before they were famous: some of our favorite celebrities used to be strippers while others were employed in other positions that would blow your socks off
See Also: Top 10 Weirdest Job Titles
1. Whoopi Goldberg: Phone Sex Operator
It’s now old news that Academy Award-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg once worked as a mortuary beautician, but not many people are aware she was also a phone sex operator.
Was that the collective sound of jaws dropping to the floor?
Whoopi, whose real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson, is best known for her roles in movies like The Color Purple, Ghost and Sister Act before replacing Rosie O’Donnell on The View as the show’s moderator in 2007. Whoopi revealed her phone sex operator past in a 2011 episode of the show while discussing a story that had appeared on Good Morning America about stay-at-home moms who were working as phone sex operators.
When Sherri Shepherd, another panelist, said she wouldn’t let her kids go over to a friend’s house whose mother was a phone sex operator, fearing they might accidentally find some “stuff”, Whoopi interjected that she “used to be a phone sex operator, too”.
She then said that “the money was great” but that she probably wouldn’t be able to get her old job back because people would now recognize her voice.
2. Mike Rowe: Opera Singer
If you enjoy watching the Discovery Channel, there’s no doubt that you’re familiar with Mike Rowe, best known for hosting Dirty Jobs. Considering that this dude performs some really strange, difficult and sometimes (quite literally) shitty jobs for television, it’s quite hard to imagine that he was once an opera singer.
In a 2006 interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Rowe said that he only became an opera singer “to get my union card and meet girls. I was a saloon singer, so I went down to the Baltimore Opera and learned an aria and auditioned. I figured I’d do one show and quit. But the girls were everywhere and the truth is the music was really decent.”
3. Pierce Brosnan: Fire-Eater
He may have chosen to play some crappy roles in his career (think Dante’s Peak), but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of Hollywood’s most recognizable actors. Pierce Brosnan, who’s better known for playing James Bond in the iconic movie series between 1995 and 2002, may have been quite the ladies’ man just like his 007 counterpart.
In an interview with The Guardian back in 2003, Brosnan admitted to being a fire eater. In 1969, the Oval House Theatre in London, where Brosnan was working, was offering a fire-eating workshop; or as Brosnan puts it, "one night I came in to rehearse and I looked in and some guy was teaching people to fire-eat." He noticed that there were topless women inside and probably thought to himself: “Ooh, boobs! I gotta learn to fire-eat” because that’s exactly what he ended up doing.
4. Christopher Walken: Lion Tamer
When you think of lion taming, you probably associate it with fatal attacks on circus performers. What you don’t do is liken lions to big dogs. But that’s just what Christopher Walken did.
In a promotional interview for Seven Psychopaths, the Academy Award-winning actor (whose real name is actually Ronald Walken, by the way) revealed that he once worked as a lion tamer in a traveling circus, and likened the Lions to dogs. In a separate interview with the New York Times, Walken said he responded to the help-wanted ad because “it just looked too good to pass up. I like cats a lot.”
5. Megan Fox: Banana Mascot
Hailed as one of today’s modern sex symbols, Megan Fox made her acting debut in the Olsen twins movie Holiday in the Sun in 2001. She went on to play Mikaela Banes in Transformers and April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Having been crowned the sexiest woman alive on several occasions and featured in numerous men’s magazines like FHM and Maxim, it’s quite hard to imagine that Fox has ever done anything un-sexy in her life.
But, in an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2012, Fox told the TV show host and comedienne that she once worked as a banana mascot at a smoothie shop. Even Megan Fox can make that job sexy.
6. James Lipton: Pimp
From writing to acting and composing, James Lipton has done it all, quite literally. You see before he found fame as the host and writer of Inside the Actors Studio (where he welcomed over 200 guests, including Angelina Jolie, Kevin Costner, Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper), Lipton spent a year living in post-World War II Paris working as a pimp.
Lipton found himself broke and was about to move back to the States when one of his friends, Regine, who worked at a bordello, convinced him to stay and become her pimp. He went on to have a “roaring business” by his own account, but he doesn’t like being called a pimp – he prefers “macquereau” instead. “A pimp exploits and abuses the women who work for him,” he said on CBS This Morning. “A macquereau does nothing of that sort… He’s a procurer. He’s an agent, so to speak.”
7. Jon Hamm: Porn Set Designer
Better known for playing Don Draper in the hit TV series Mad Men, Jon Hamm spent three years as a struggling actor before going to work as a waiter. He then briefly worked as a set designer for a soft porn film company, which he told Vanity Fair was “soul crushing.”
Now, I completely understand what the job entails as a set designer. But I can honestly say that I really don’t get what a porn set designer does. “The bed should go here because it’ll bring out the shape of Candy’s nipples, but if we put it here then it’ll make her boobs look bigger.”
Fortunately, Hamm’s career as a porn set designer was short-lived and can almost be completely ignored. But one thing that cannot be so easily forgotten is his appearance as a contestant on the dating show The Big Date in 1996 where he regrettably overused the word “fabulous”.
Can you think of any other surprising jobs that celebrities had before they became famous? Let us know in the comments section below!