Martha Stewart, Stockbroker
Martha had a way with stock dividends way before her insider trading scandal. Before she became the embodiment of domestic perfection, she was a stockbroker on Wall Street after college. We bet she worked the hell out of those pinstripes. After a recession hit Wall Street in 1973, Stewart left the brokerage to be a stay-at-home mom in Connecticut. Years later, after building her empire, she became a billionaire when her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public.
Steve Buscemi, Firefighter
It took Steve Buscemi to get hit by a bus before he could become an actor. The native New Yorker became a firefighter at his father's insistence and was told he could get into acting after he retired 20 years later. He served from 1980-1984, and later attended acting school using injury compensation from the accident. While Buscemi left the civil service, he later returned to his old firehouse after the 9/11 attacks and remains an active supporter.
Oprah Winfrey, News Anchor
Before she brought grown women to near nervous breakdowns over free swag and became the most powerful woman in media, Oprah was a local news reporter rookie in Baltimore. She got her start in broadcasting in Nashville at the age of 19 and eventually landed at the evening news desk at Baltimore’s WJZ-TV. She wasn't there for long after she was unceremoniously fired and moved to daytime TV where she was told, "she can shine". The demotion turned out to be best thing that ever happened to her. That's what we ALL tell ourselves after we’ve been canned.
Gene Simmons, Elementary School English Teacher
Perhaps Kiss frontman Gene Simmons picked up his habit of sticking out his tongue from one of his former pupils. Before becoming a rock legend, Simmons taught sixth grade English and History at P.S 75 in Spanish Harlem in New York. Simmons was supposedly sacked after swapping out his students Shakespeare texts for Spider-Man comics — needless to say, he traded in his credentials for a much more captive audience.
Jon Hamm, High School Drama Teacher
Before he became dream fodder for the women of America as the conflicted, be-suited Alpha Male on Mad Men, Jon Hamm was coaching drama geeks as an 8th Grade Acting Teacher in Missouri. He even taught future star of The Office Ellie Kemper. We can only guess at the parent-teacher conference turnout during that time.
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Jerry Springer, Politician
Besides being the owner of one of the strangest Wikipedia pages of all time, Jerry Springer honed his "people skills" in politics before hosting his own talk show. From campaign adviser to Robert F. Kennedy, to lawyer, aspiring Congressman and Governor, mayor of Cincinnati and Emmy-Award winning news anchor — Jerry's done it all. Makes those "Final Thoughts" at the end of each Springer episode sound a lot deeper now, doesn't it?
David Letterman, Weatherman
Local weathermen these days try to cultivate wacky personalities to attract interest, but the idea of stand-up weatherman began with David Letterman. After graduating from college, the future last night host worked as an anchor and weatherman at a local Indianapolis television station. After predicting hail stones "the size of canned hams" and other on-air antics, he was eventually let go — much to our greater benefit.
Tom Cruise, Priest
Turns out Tom Cruise's spiritual ambitions started way before his association with the Church of Scientology. Back in Mt. Healthy, Ohio, Cruise attended seminary school as a teenager in 1976. Apparently the life of chastity and dogma was not for him, so he chose to run around in his socks and underwear instead — much to the horror of his former teachers.
Gerard Butler, Lawyer
While better known for his off-screen antics and womanizing ways, this action star has a few legal tricks up his sleeve that have gotten him out of a tough jam thanks to his legal background. Before breaking into Hollywood, the Scottish actor was training to be a lawyer in Glasgow. Butler spent his days reading briefs by day and playing with his rock band by night. He even found himself arrested for drunken behavior while he was still the acting president of the Law Society in Glasgow. One week before he was qualified to be a lawyer, he was fired from his job and realized perhaps a life of law was not for him.