Long before these celebrities found their calling, a lot of them faced some hard times. Most of them have used their struggle as inspiration to help realize their greatest potential. A surprising number of actors, musicians, and businesspeople have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
Their stories are breathtaking, and it’s a reminder that it’s all about perseverance and doing what’s best for yourself. Before these celebrities were household names, they were struggling to even find a place to call home.
Steve Harvey Was Homeless For Three Years
The Family Feud host lived out of his 1976 Ford Tempo, washing up in public bathrooms. Harvey told People in 2013, “Even in my darkest days I had faith it would turn around.”
He got his big break on Showtime at the Apollo and is now so wealthy that he and his wife established the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation to mentor youth and award scholarships.
Hilary Swank Lived In A Car With Her Mother For Two Weeks
The two-time Oscar winner lived with her mother in a car as a 15-year-old. This came after moving to Los Angeles so Swank could pursue a career in acting. Later on, the pair would crash on air mattresses in a friend’s empty house.
They would leave in the morning before the realtor showed up with prospective buyers.
Jewel Grew Up In A Troublesome Home
The daughter of an abusive alcoholic, the future musician grew up in a home with no heat or running water in Alaska. She turned to living on the streets and resorting to shoplifting from time to time.
Now, the singer helps kids with her Never Broken program, a roadmap to help develop job skills and improving self-esteem.
Up next, the Canadian country star who moved into a shelter for battered women.
Steve Jobs Returned Coke Bottles To Make Money
The Apple mastermind crashed on his friends’ floors during college. He even recalled his meager beginnings during a commencement speech at Stanford University.
In the speech, he said, “I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple.”
Tyler Perry’s $12,000 Investment Forced Him To Live Out Of His Car
In 1990, Perry spent $12,000 of his life savings for an autobiographical play. I Know I’ve Been Changed was a complete failure, forcing him to live out of his car. However, his perseverance paid off when he revamped the production.
Eventually, the play financed his first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman.
Shania Twain Escaped From Home With Her Mother And Sisters
The future Canadian country star escaped an abusive childhood home. Eventually, she moved into a shelter for battered women in Toronto and lived there for about a year. The five-time Grammy award winner recounted the chilling details in her 2011 memoir From This Moment On.
She made it her personal mission to help other kids in similar situations.
The next one ahead is another artist who lived in a dance studio for months.
Beck Crashed On His Friends’ Couches As He Explored The Lower East Side
The guitarist was only 19 years old when he got up and left for New York. He explored the anti-folk scene, and two years later, he faced the prospect of living on the streets in the winter.
He would return to Los Angeles, and his experience is a big reason why so many of his charitable endeavors benefit at-risk children, including Every Mother Counts.
Suze Orman Lived In Her Ford Econoline Van While Working As A Waitress
The financial guru knows all about rags and riches. That’s why, after driving to Berkeley California, she lived in her van. In her 2005 bestseller, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke, she couldn’t afford to rent an apartment.
With her net worth over $35 million, she’s now associated with the Women’s Leadership Conference.
Jennifer Lopez Slept In A New York Dance Studio
J Lo slept there for three months while trying to break into show business. Eventually, it paid off in 1990 when she got hired as a Fly Girl dancer on In Living Color. Fame as a pop idol soon took over, and movies followed suit.
Lopez pays it forward by supporting the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Her co-star never forgot one particular moment when he was 12 years old.
Kelsey Grammer Camped Out Behind A Theater Where He Got One Of His First Jobs
Before appearing on Cheers, Frasier, and The Simpsons, the Emmy-Award winning star was homeless. When he first started out, he slept behind a theater, but the actor made sure to never forget about that.
These days, he’s contributed to more than two dozen charitable causes, including Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS.
Halle Berry Was So Broke She Sought Refuge In A Homeless Shelter
Three months after moving to New York in 1989, the aspiring actress never forgot the lesson she learned early on in her career. The Oscar winner lived in a shelter until she got off her feet.
Berry is now a prominent support of nonprofits like T.Y.M.E. Ministries, aiding to runaways and homeless minors as well.
Jim Carrey Never Forgot One Moment When He Was 12
When his father lost his job, it felt like “a kick in the guts” and it’s something the comedian has never forgotten about. The future In Living Colorstar’s family lived in a van, and Carrey worked in a factory eight hours a day after school.
In 2015, he joined the battle against world hunger by created the Better U Foundation.
A future late night talk show host lived out of his van.
Martin Sheen Slept On The Subway While Making It As An Actor
The father of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez was a subway rider, sleeping on the New York City subway in the early sixties. In 1986, Sheen became an advocate for the homeless with a made-for-TV biopic.
Today, the former West Wing star supports charities including St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters.
William Shatner’s Life Fell Apart After His First Marriage
Captain Kirk was struggling following the success of Star Trek and the collapse of his first marriage. He soon hit the road to perform summer stock, driving from theater to theater on the East Coast. He lived out of the back of his pickup truck while doing that.
Now, his favorite charities include Habitat for Humanity, which has been building homes since 1976.
David Letterman Lived Out Of His Chevy Pick Up
Struggling to find his footing as a standup comedian, the future late night talk show host lived out of his van. Eventually, things took a turn for the better for Letterman. He got his first big break writing jokes for Jimmie Walker.
Now retired, Letterman’s favorite causes include at-risk and disadvantaged youth.
Eventually, another future talk show host moved into the YMCA for a very cheap price.
Sylvester Stallone Was Forced To Sell His Bullmastiff
Before Rocky came to the big screen, the aspiring actor had to sell his dog for $50. He spent almost a month sleeping in New York’s Port Authority bus station. Stallone was broke, and eventually, his script about a boxer became a reality.
These days, he’s a big supporter of Unicef and military charities.
Drew Carey Was In The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve When He Wanted To Go Los Angeles
At one point, he ran out of money while he was driving through Las Vegas. To fight off homelessness, Carey sold his plasma TV for $40 and worked as a waiter for Denny’s.
Now, The host of The Price Is Right is a huge supporter of child-related charities and public libraries.
Dr. Phil Moved Into A Room At The YMCA For $5 A Week
Phil McGraw was only 12 years old when he and his father lived in a family car in Kansas City. Eventually, Phil moved into the YMCA for a very cheap price. Now, Dr. Phil supports nonprofit organizations like the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.
In 2003, he launched the Dr. Phil Foundation to fight childhood obesity.
Read ahead to see which Baywatch star was left for broke thanks to her boyfriend.
James Cameron Found Himself Underwater Financially
In the early eighties, the aspiring director had no money. He lived out of his car and crashed with friends while working on a screenplay. One particular script was about an android assassin that would eventually be The Terminator.
The film pulled the plug on the Canadian director’s money problems for good.
The End Of The Patridge Family Marked A Long Tailspin For Danny Bonaduce
The child actor left home, smoked crack, and drank all night long. Most often, Bonaduce lived out of his car or crashed behind a dumpster on Hollywood Boulevard.
He now has his own morning radio program in Seattle, and his website is sure to give shout-outs over the years to charities such as Bloodworks.
Carmen Electra’s Boyfriend Left Her With Nothing
Following touring with Prince, Electra’s boyfriend stole her money and left her with nowhere to go. Eventually, the future Playmate ended up living in the streets of Los Angeles for a few years.
But, it did get better for her when she landed auditions for shows. Her nailing her auditions led her to star in Baywatch.
The future frontman of a grunge band bounced around different homes after his parents got a divorce.
Daniel Craig Was Extremely Poor
Before “Bond, James Bond” came out of his mouth, the Brit was broke. At 15 years old, he moved to London to study acting at the National Youth Theatre. A young Craig worked part-time in restaurants to support himself, but slept on park benches.
Today, his charities include the Opportunity Network, providing educational support to low-income students in New York.
Kelly Clarkson’s Apartment Burnt Down In A Fire
When Clarkson first moved to Los Angeles, she was left with nothing after the fire. With little money and no contacts, Clarkson lived out of her car and at shelters for a brief period of time.
Of course, her low-point turned into a high one after she was declared the winner of the first season of American Idol.
Kurt Cobain Was Tossed Around Between Extended Family
Following his parent’s divorce, Cobain bounced around and lived with different family members. Eventually, he did end up homeless, living under a bridge for months.
The Nirvana frontman also spent time sleeping in hallways, waiting in rooms, and even porches too. Of course, all his bad luck would change when he finally hit it big with his band.
Up next, a musician found herself on the streets until she won a singing competition.
Lil’ Kim Lived In A Car With Her Mom During Her Youth
She soon dropped out of high school and started living on the streets too. As a teen, she met Biggie Smalls, who was a key figure in both her personal and artistic life.
Throughout her career, Lil’ Kim has sold more than 15 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide.
Jim Morrison Slept Everywhere From Rooftops To Cars
Living on the rooftop of a building inhabited by his old UCLA cinematography friend, Dennis Jacobs, he wrote the lyrics of many of the early songs for The Doors.
Eventually, they would later perform live and record on albums, the most notable being “Moonlight Drive” and “Hello, I Love You.”
Ella Fitzgerald Slept On The Streets Of New York
The musician found herself on the streets until she won a singing competition. In January of 1935, Fitzgerald’s career began to take off. Fitzgerald won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House.
She was introduced to drummer Chuck Webb, who had asked his recently signed singer Charlie Linton to help find him a female singer.
Believe it or not, the inventor of electricity ran away from home as a 17-year-old.
Patti Smith Slept In Streets And Parks
She went to Paris in 1969 and began busking and doing performance art. When Smith returned to New York, she lived in the Hotel Chelsea. Smith would provide the spoken word soundtrack for Sandy Daley’s art film Robert Having His Nipple Pierced.
Smith was briefly considered for the lead singer position of Blue Oyster Cult.
Charlie Chaplin Was Forced Onto The Streets
As a child, he was left out on the streets after his father passed away. It didn’t help that his mother had a mental breakdown following her husband’s death.
At some point, Chaplin would find his footing and go on to become one of the most prolific names and faces in Hollywood of all-time.
Benjamin Franklin Ran Away From Home
At 17 years old, Franklin left his Boston home and hitched a ride on a ship to New York. He walked to Philadelphia on foot.
Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity. Of course, he went on to discover electricity too.