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HomeEntertainment12 Rich and Famous Stars Who Were Once Homeless and Broke

12 Rich and Famous Stars Who Were Once Homeless and Broke

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Before attaining stardom, several stars had histories of being broke and homeless. Being in the spotlights makes it difficult to imagine they once lived below the poverty line.

It is a common saying that the only thing constant in life is Change, and rightly so. From natural growth spurts to changing love interests and, ultimately, one’s position on the social ladder, these changes sometimes occur spontaneously, giving way to an unexpected outcome.

Celebrities are one group that fully understands these rapid changes, as many rose from humble beginnings into their life of stardom. However, their newfound affluence seems to erase their misfortune-plagued past.

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Below is a list of some famous stars who were once homeless and broke but successfully turned their lives around thanks to their foray into showbiz.


Grammy Award-winning songstress Shania Twain came from humble beginnings. When she was a kid, she lived in a homeless shelter with her mom and siblings after enduring stints in an abusive household.

She worked hard to leave that life behind and did, thanks to her success in the music industry. Today, she’s a renowned singer with top-selling hits like “You’re Still The One” and “Honey I’m Home.”


The famed talk show host, Dr. Phil, who now rakes in millions due to his immense talents, was not always rich and famous. Reports show that the star was homeless in his preteens, living in a car with his father in Kansas City.

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At the time, Dr. Phil’s dad was interning as a psychologist and could barely afford to fend for his 12-year-old kid. Several decades later, the icon’s life experienced a turnaround.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. in his father’s field and practiced alongside him in Texas. Soon, he landed himself a spot in “Oprah,” and eventually launched his own TV program.


Halle Berry moved to New York in her early twenties to pursue her acting dreams. She was broke and penniless at the time, only relying on the allowance her mom sent her. However, she soon ran out of luck, as her mom decided to stop sending money to her daughter.

Rather than give up on her dreams and return home, Berry kept pushing. She moved into a homeless shelter, learned to be independent, and live within her means just to make her own way. She did eventually, and today is one of the most recognized actresses in the industry.


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Not the typical story of rising from nothing to affluence, but singer and dancer Jennifer Lopez found herself homeless at some point. At eighteen, she decided to pursue her dreams of becoming a dancer despite her mom’s insistence that she went to college.

After several confrontations with her mom, the star moved out of her house with nothing. She began sleeping on the sofa in her dance studio but still wouldn’t budge. She made it clear to her mom that she would go to any length to fulfill her ambitions.

Months later, she landed a dancing gig in Europe, after which she returned to become a Fly Girl, which skyrocketed her to stardom. Today, in addition to dancing, she is an actress, producer, and singer worth over $47.5 million.


Talk show host and comedian Steve Harvey may not look the part, but he was once broke, homeless, and struggling to make his big break.

For three years, he lived in his car, a 1976 Ford tempo, washing up in hotel bathrooms, swimming pool showers, and gas stations. Luckily, he landed a gig in “Showtime at the Apollo,” which became his turning point.


The brains behind the technologically advanced action flick, “The Terminator,” James Cameron endured scathing years of hardship before his big break. Unable to cater to his needs, the author and director lived in his car, with dreams of someday making his script into a screenplay.

He pitched the idea to several production companies, all willing to adopt the concept, but with the clause of buying him out. After several unsuccessful attempts to find a company that would let him direct the screenplay, he partnered with producer Gale Anne Hurd, who made Cameron the director and bought the rights to the script for $1. The rest is history.


Actor, Daniel Craig, famed for his portrayal of the action-packed fictional James Bond, used to be broke and homeless. Before becoming rich and famous, the star wandered the streets in search of greener pastures. At the onset of his career, he waited tables to make ends meet and slept on park benches.


Before becoming a world-famous millionaire, author, and entrepreneur, Chris Gardner lived through several hardships. At his lowest point, the business mogul resided on the streets alongside his young son. His wife left him due to his inability to fend for the family.

Gardner strived to pursue a career in finance but had difficulties due to his lack of funding, experience, and a college degree.

Today, the star is the renowned CEO of Gardner Rich LLC and a motivational speaker. Additionally, he has authored two bestsellers, including the autobiography, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” which inspired Will Smith’s movie of the same title.


Hollywood icon, Idris Elba moved to America in pursuit of his acting career with his few belongings, barely enough to sustain him. For the first eight weeks, the icon was unable to land a job, prompting him to sleep in his van during the period.

To fend for himself, Elba took every menial job he could find but never gave up on his dreams. Eventually, he landed a role on “The Wire,” which paved his way to stardom.


Tech genius Steve Jobs grew up in the San Francisco Bay area with his adoptive parents. He managed to enroll at Reed College, Portland, to bag a degree. However, his time in college marked the peak of his hardship.

Due to his poor financial background, the icon could not afford a dorm and slept on the floor of a friend’s room. He also collected coke bottles to acquire 5 cents deposits just to earn some cash to buy food. His only good meal each week came from the Hare Krishna temple, where he walked each Sunday despite being 7 miles from his university.

Eventually, Steve dropped out of college to reduce the financial burden on his adoptive parents. He would go on to found Apple, NeXT Computer, and Pixar.


“American Idol” star Kelly Clarkson went from being broke and homeless to living the dream within a blink. Before auditioning for the talent show, at the onset of her singing career, the icon experienced homelessness in a cruel way. In pursuit of her career, Clarkson lost her Los Angeles apartment to a fire incident, forcing her to live in her car.

After enduring hardship in LA for months, the singer returned to her hometown in Texas, where she participated in “American Idol’s” first season. She emerged the winner that year, making her the first winner of the show, and skyrocketing her to stardom.


Veteran actor Sylvester Stallone grew up in different foster homes due to his parent’s busy schedules. He soon became a juvenile delinquent, getting expelled from several schools. By the time he was fifteen, the actor had switched schools at least twelve times. At a point, he was so strapped for cash that he sold his dog for $50.

However, shortly after selling the dog, he found a buyer for his sports drama script, “Rocky,” a movie he also starred in. Once he had the cash, he went back to recover his dog, repurchasing it for $3,000.

These inspiring stories of actors who attained fame and affluence after enduring a taste of the toughest hardships serve as reminders that anyone could become an achiever. 

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