15 Famous Celebrities Who Were Once Homeless
Learn how hitting rock-bottom doesn't mean you can't recover and achieve your financial goals. These celebrities weren't always successful. Learn from 15 of the most famous celebrities that were once homeless and broke.
What's your current financial situation?
Are you on the verge of bankruptcy, desperate to make ends meet any way you can?
You may feel like your financial situation is the reality for the rest of your life, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.
The problem comes when people believe they are stuck, so they don't do anything to change their situation.
And that's when they really lose.
In college, I was ambitious and driven.
I racked up a ton of student loan debt while trying to work two jobs paying barely more than minimum wage and attend classes.
After graduation, there were times I could not afford the loan repayments and it killed my credit score.
It wasn't until I got married, when I felt a different type of responsibility, to support my new family, that I decided to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.
You can change your current finances, and the best way to ensure a prosperous future for your family is by starting now.
Even if it seems hopeless right now, planning leads to success.
You can learn from the mistakes of the celebrities you know, love, and look up to see true rags-to-riches stories and find the inspiration you need to change your life.
Celebrities Who Were Once Homeless
Many of the famous people you see on the silver screen and hear on the radio have faced financial difficulties.
For some, their woes were a choice—homelessness in exchange for the chance to follow a dream.
For others, homelessness and sleeping on park benches was the result of bad decisions and bad luck.
1. Chris Pratt
$40 million net worth
The man you know as Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy once lived out of a van in Maui.
Pratt dropped out of community college and accepted an invitation from a friend to move to Hawaii.
He says, "It's a pretty awesome place to be homeless. We just drank and smoked and worked minimal hours, just enough to cover gas, food, and fishing supplies."
Chosen homelessness might appeal to some, but for most people, the idea is full of terror—and Pratt eventually broke free of it when a director, Rae Dawn Chong, noticed his good looks.
She offered him a role in the film Cursed Part 3, which took him to LA and eventually on to his current acting career and stardom.
The takeaway: Don't discredit luck, but don't rely on it.
Some people get lucky, but being in the right place at the right time has a lot to do with success.
2. Steve Jobs
$10.2 billion net worth
Steve Jobs was the founder of Apple and arguably one of the most innovative men to live in the past century, but his life wasn't a particularly easy rise to the top.
As a child, his biological parents put him up for adoption on the stipulation he would be adopted by college-educated parents.
Jobs did not follow in their footsteps.
He dropped out of Reed College because he thought "it would all work out okay," but ended up homeless as a result.
No matter what he said, he surely could never have guessed that his estimated net worth would one day reach 11 digits!
Jobs spent many nights sleeping on the floor of his friends' dorms, collecting soda bottles to recycle so he could earn money for food, and walking seven miles across town once a week for a free meal at the Hare Krishna temple.
Ultimately, his decision to drop out of college worked in his favor.
Jobs started Apple from his parents' garage when he was just 20 years old, but the path there was not a straight one.
He spent his life inspiring millions and speaking at numerous graduations, where he left students with a piece of solid advice.
"You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward."
If the founder of Apple was once homeless and completely broke, you can trust that you have hope too.
The takeaway: Sometimes the traditional path doesn't work for everyone.
If you feel different than other people and want a future different from the norm, that's okay.
3. James Cameron
$650 million net worth
Best known for Titanic and Avatar, director James Cameron was once homeless—after tasting success.
In 1981, Cameron's only real claim to fame was a horror film called Piranha II: The Spawning.
If you haven't heard of it, you aren't alone—the film didn't receive critical acclaim.
Cameron took a trip to Italy where he got sick and had a nightmare about an exoskeleton, explosions, and kitchen knives.
After he returned to the U.S., he found himself without any money and unable to afford an apartment.
He took to living with friends and out of his car while slowly drafting his nightmare into a script that would eventually become The Terminator.
And then he got his "big break" and sold the story.
The production companies didn't like the idea of Cameron directing, but he wouldn't relent and eventually partnered with Gale Anne Hurd, a producer and friend, who bought the rights to the film and made him the director.
Terminator went on to spawn a rabid following and make $77 million worldwide.
The takeaway: If you know you want something more than anything else in the world, don't let go no matter the opposition.
4. Sylvester Stallone
$400 million net worth
Sly Stallone is best known for acting in Rocky, but he also wrote the script.
He and his wife moved from New York to Hollywood to chase their fortune but ran into financial difficulties.
These problems came to a head when he had to sell his dog to make ends meet.
Take a moment and think about that: Can you imagine selling the family dog for $50 to make ends meet?
Sylvester Stallone did, but then he sold the script for Rocky and supposedly bought his dog back for $3,000, although there is some argument as to whether he actually paid for the animal or not.
Stallone lived with the guilt of selling his dog for two months until he was able to get him back.
Those who have made poor financial decisions experience a similar guilt, but that guilt can be overcome by creating a plan and working toward a better financial future.
The takeaway: Sometimes hard sacrifices are necessary to ensure a better tomorrow.
5. Jim Carrey
$150 million net worth
Not only was Jim Carrey once homeless, but he lived out of a van with his entire family.
His father Percy lost his job as a musician and the family was unable to make ends meet.
Carrey dropped out of high school at the age of 15 and took a job as a janitor to help provide for his family.
The comedian had always enjoyed doing stand-up comedy, even as a child, and took jobs at small clubs across Canada.
His break came in 1979 when he opened for Rodney Dangerfield and Buddy Hackett.
Four years later, he moved to LA to try and break into the entertainment industry, and he made his first appearance on the series In Living Color in 1991.
The takeaway: It's okay to be angry at your situation.
Just don't let that anger consume you.
6. Phillip McGraw
$79 million net worth
Better known to most as Dr. Phil, Phillip McGraw experienced homeless at the young age of 12.
His father moved to Kansas City to intern as a psychologist, but could not afford an apartment at the time.
McGraw lived with his father out of their vehicle until their situation improved, and then he later obtained his own Ph.D. and joined his father's psychology practice.
The takeaway: Hard work works.
McGraw's father understood that a better future was ahead, but it would require sacrifice and drastic steps to reach.
He endured homelessness for a short period until he was able to reach those goals.
7. Suze Orman
$25 million net worth
Suze Orman is one of the most well-known personal finance experts in the world with a net worth of around $25 million, but even she used to be homeless.
Orman grew up unable to pronounce "R", "S," or "T" sounds correctly.
This interfered with her reading ability and resulted in a low SAT score.
She then dropped out of college her senior year and set out on a cross-country road trip.
Her first job was at a tree service, but she only made $3.50 an hour.
She couldn't afford an apartment, so she lived out of a truck until she found a job as a waitress.
Orman wanted to open her own restaurant and raised $50,000, but her broker lost the money within three months.
As a result of her curiosity, she began studying how brokers work and devoured everything she could about Wall Street, eventually becoming the finance guru she is today.
The takeaway: Setbacks happen.
When life gives you lemons, you can either give up or turn that misfortune into an opportunity.
8. Daniel Craig
$45 million net worth
The man you know as "Bond. James Bond" once slept on a park bench in London.
Daniel Craig grew up behind the scenes of the theater as his mother worked to paint sets, but he didn't do well in school.
This limited his ability to get into a number of drama schools, including Rada, Lamda, and the Guildhall.
Eventually, he made it into the National Youth Theatre and later into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Even so, his climb wasn't easy, and he had to spend some nights sleeping on park benches as he made his way up the ladder.
The takeaway: Perseverance results in success.
Even if it doesn't come right away, continuing to work toward a better future will result in you reaching it, even if it doesn't look like you imagined.
9. Chris Gardner
$60 million net worth
The name Chris Gardner may not be familiar to you, but the Pursuit of Happiness is.
At 27, Gardner was homeless and sleeping on the floor of public toilets with his toddler—a nightmare situation for any parent.
He worked as a trainee at a stock brokerage, but he didn't have enough money to make the deposit for an apartment.
The spare money he could save was used to put his son in a nursery so he could work.
Gardner and his son ate mostly in soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
Despite this, he excelled at his job, and when he finished his training period Gardner was made a full employee and was finally able to rent a home for himself and his son.
The takeaway: Do what you have to and care for those closest to you, but keep working toward your goals.
10. Ella Fitzgerald
$10 million net worth
Ella Fitzgerald is known today as the "Queen of Jazz," but her life wasn't always easy.
As a young girl, she recognized her love for music and performance, but her parents split when she was young.
Fitzgerald's mother died when she was 15, and though she lived with her stepfather, he soon became abusive.
Seeing no other alternative, Fitzgerald ran away from home and soon become involved with the mafia.
When the police caught her, Fitzgerald was placed in an orphanage and reformatory school.
She ran away from there, too.
However, she debuted at the age of 17 at the Apollo Theater and became a crowd favorite in no time at all.
The takeaway: Listen to your gut.
You know when a situation isn't right for you, so don't be afraid to make the changes needed to set yourself on the right path.
11. Drew Carey
$165 million net worth
Drew Carey is known today as the co-host of The Price is Right and as a successful comedian.
Few people know that when he was 18, his future was so bleak that he contemplated suicide.
Carey had embarked on a cross-country road trip with his brother but found himself homeless in Vegas.
To make ends meet, he sold his plasma and tried to find spare change for boxed macaroni and cheese.
He finally found a job as a bank teller and began working on his future from there.
The takeaway: Don't give up.
Carey says that "You have to believe that you deserve the good things that come your way."
Be grateful for the good and the bad.
12. John Woo
$60 million net worth
No one wants to be homeless, but it's even harder on children.
John Woo is known today as an acclaimed film director, but he witnessed a fire rage through Hong Kong when he was just seven years old that claimed many lives and thousands of homes.
Woo says his family lived without a home for almost a year.
Though his life suffered no major setbacks after that, he never forgot the lesson.
The takeaway: Be grateful for what you have because it may be gone in an instant.
13. Halle Berry
$70 million net worth
Halle Berry moved to New York to pursue an acting career when she was 21 but ran out of money.
Her mother decided not to send her daughter any more cash, hoping to teach her a lesson.
In a way, she succeeded.
Berry stayed in a homeless shelter during this time, and she says it taught her that she could "live through any situation."
The takeaway: You are stronger than you realize.
Even if the future seems hopeless, you have the potential within you to make your future what you want it to be.
14. Harry Houdini
$500,000 net worth
It's hard being homeless in the modern world, but it was even more difficult in 1886.
Harry Houdini wanted to pursue a career as a magician, but his family did not approve—so he ran away at the tender age of 12.
Houdini begged on the street for money to buy food after finding himself in Missouri.
When he returned to New York City to live with his father, the two were so poor that he continued to panhandle on the streets to make ends meet.
Life changed for Houdini at the age of 17 when he began his professional career as a magician and made the name for himself that he is remembered by.
The takeaway: If your current career isn't making ends meet, find a new one that will help you get by until you can land your dream job.
15. Steve Harvey
$120 million net worth
The host of Family Feud—and frequent subject of memes—is well-known today, but spent three years living in his car.
Harvey lived on a tight budget after he split from his wife, and most of the money he made he sent to his two children.
When his appearances put him in hotels, he would have a place to sleep, but most of the time he lived out of his 1976 Ford Tempo.
He would clean himself in hotel bathrooms, at gas or bus stations, or in swimming pool showers.
This situation lasted until he was asked to appear on Showtime at the Apollo, which led to his big break and the start of his career.
Despite this, Harvey said, "Even in my darkest days, I had faith it would turn around."
Given his current estimated net worth, we can safely say that things have turned around for Harvey!
The takeaway: Believe that things will get better.
It's easier to stay focused and motivated when you have hope.
Use these lessons to inspire you to financial success
Take a look at the situations these celebrities have lived through.
Do any of them sound like your current situation?
Pay attention to what these famous people did to find success and try to imitate that path.
As you read these rags-to-riches stories, keep in mind that no one follows the same path.
Your route to success may be straighter or have more twists and turns than someone else's.
The one shared lesson between all of these celebrities is that they didn't give up.
As long as you continue to fight for a better future, then you have the chance for a better tomorrow.
That opportunity only vanishes when you give up.
In 18 years running CreditLoan.com, we've helped over 2,000,000 customers raise above the odds and recover financially.
We know that the mindset takeaways in each of these stories apply to most people who are able to regain control of their finances.
Do you know any celebrity rags-to-riches stories that we've missed?
Do you have your own story to tell?
Share with us in the comments below!