Madonna the Donut Girl? A Labor Day Look at Stars’ Pre-Fame Jobs

Madonna photo by David Shankbone

By Emily-Fortune Feimster

They may be making the big bucks now — but it wasn’t that long ago that these super stars were at the bottom of the barrel.

P.  Diddy, one of the most well-known money makers of his time, started his career working for free. That’s right!  He was an intern for the now-defunct Uptown Records and did everything from washing cars to fetching coffee. This bad boy worked his way up to being a dancer in Father MC’s video “Treat Them Like They Want to be Treated” while attending the prestigious Howard University, majoring in Business.  He now owns his own record label and is worth over $300 million.   Guess working for free really pays off!

The Material Girl Madonna worked at a Dunkin Donuts in New York City’s Times Square before becoming an international pop icon.  Donuts anyone? Having a whopping IQ of 140, Madonna also won a scholarship to the University of Michigan for excellent grades and studied modern dance and drama for 3 semesters.

Singer Elvis Costello was another closet smarty pants and wears his trademark glasses because in a former incarnation he strained his eyes working as a computer programmer.

But no lowly beginner is as surprising as Tom Cruise, who at the age of 14 attended a Franciscan seminary for one year  while thinking of becoming a priest.  Katie Holmes must be glad that didn’t work out.   In high school, he also had a brief stint as a paper boy for the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Funny lady Ellen DeGeneres had a variety of jobs as a house painter, an oyster shucker in New Orleans, a vacuum cleaner saleswoman, and a paralegal.

Whoopi Goldberg also worked hard for the money. Before her stardom, she applied makeup to corpses in a funeral parlor, and worked as a bricklayer and a bank teller.

Suave secret agent 007 Sean Connery can relate — having earned a living polishing coffins.  Kind of creepy!

Danny DeVito preferred to work with the living and was a qualified hairdresser (or stylist as they like to say).  He was trained at the Wilfred Academy of Hair and Beauty in NYC before snagging a role in “Taxi.”

Mariah Carey tried her hand at beauty school but didn’t make the cut and dropped out after only one day on the job.  She claims to have held several waitressing jobs and said she got fired from them all. Is anyone surprised? I didn’t think so.

Another actor claiming to have been let go is former “Cheers” star Woody Harrelson who said he had 17 odd jobs in one year and was fired from all of them.  Maybe legalizing pot is not as good of an idea as he thought?

Hottie tottie Brad Pitt has no doubt had his fair share of odd jobs — his most infamous being a limousine driver in which he chauffeured strippers between bachelor parties, but only when he wasn’t delivering refrigerators.  He also dressed up as a chicken on the street corner to advertise for the fast food chain “El Pollo Loco.”

His former wife Jennifer Aniston worked as a waitress in New York but that’s not as exciting.

“Titanic” megastar Kate Winslet used to work in a north London deli.

Ok, that’s not exciting either, but off-the-wall Rob Schneider washed dishes in an ice cream parlor before making it onto “Saturday Night Live.”

And get this — before getting his own TV show, comedian Jerry Seinfeld sold light bulbs over the telephone. Kind of crazy, huh?

That’s not all.   Esteemed actress Helen Mirren worked at an amusement park in Southend as a “blagger” – employed to attract punters to the rides — and Sylvester Stallone earned his rent by tending the lion cages at the Central Park Zoo.

Calista Flockhart and Lucy Liu made some extra dough by getting physical as aerobics instructors while director Steven Spielberg earned some money whitewashing fruit trees.

Hawaii native Bette Midler is all too familiar with fruit as well having once worked at a pineapple processing plant.

So don’t feel bad about your day job.  You never know where life will lead you!

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About Stacy Jenel Smith

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley when it was a kids' Shangri La in the 60s and we had Fabulous Eddie's miniature golf and trampolines on Ventura Boulevard. My big brother frequented The Third Eye psychedelic shop back in the day, but he wound up turning out anyway. Dad was an NBC video man who worked on "Laugh-In," Dean Martin's show, and specials by everyone from Sinatra to Fred Astaire. Mom was a first class home maker and PTA and GCA volunteer. They're still doing great. Anxious to get going in life, I quit college and jumped into journalism when I was still a teenager, and was writing for the New York Times syndicate and People magazine before turning 20. But that was a long time, many adventures, lots of traveling around the world and thousands of interviews ago. I go back to the very last days of hot type and getting to talk to Henry Fonda and Bette Davis, and Sammy Davis at the old Brown Derby...What a ride. That's in no small part thanks to my amazing writing partner, Marilyn Beck, one of the grand old-school Hollywood columnist stars -- a true star -- who knows how to do it right. I'm lucky, for sure. Now is fun, too. I love going out to events with my 17-year-old daughter (Jonas Brothers!). Seeing everything fresh through her eyes renews my excitement about the game. In-between I went back and finished school -- University of Redlands -- married, divorced, and at long last found my true love. My favorite things outside of the show business realm are being with my family, my faith and spiritual growth, learning new things (from doing Qigong to uploading stuff on Facebook), and running. See you on the trail.

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