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Jim Carrey

Down and Out in Beverly Hills

Do only the rich and beautiful make it "big" in Hollywood? When you are so down and out that you are living on four wheels, it may be hard to imagine yourself on the big screen. But these celebrities show us that especially in Hollywood, anything is possible! From rags to riches or from cars to stars, these celebs have truly been through it all!

Jim Carrey moved into a car with his family when his father, an accountant, lost his job. During his teenage years in Newmarket, Canada, Carey's family occupied their VW camper parked right outside the tire rim factory where they worked. Though Carrey had been a straight-A student all his life, the move from home to car caused a decline in his grades and at 16 Carrey dropped out of school. The rambunctious and extroverted teen worked eight-hour days as a janitor and then drove 100 miles round-trip to appear at a comedy club for free . . . until he started getting some recognition. Soon enough, Carrey moved to LA and escaped the grim financial situation of his childhood to pursue life as a comedian. In 1994, he hit it huge in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective and followed it up with an onslaught of comedies that mark Jim Carrey as one of the most talented contemporary comedic actors. Now, commanding upwards of US $25 million per picture, this star is practically the poster boy for the story of rags to riches.

David Letterman, another comedian to live in his car, stuck it out while trying to make it as a stand up comic in the early '70s. Soon, he landed himself as a guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and he began working his way up to success. Now, the Late Night host pulls in a US $31 million salary.

Sally Jessy Raphael raised her large family with the motto "Take the fun and leave the sorrow," a helpful hint when the famous talk show hostess was flat broke in her earlier years and left Florida with her family (plus dogs and cats) to make it "big" in another city. When their money ran out, they slept in their Mercedes. Now highly successful with her TV show Sally Jessy Raphael, she has no worries about being without money!

Hilary Swank also knows about living in a car. When she won an Oscar® for Best Actress in Boys Don't Cry at the Academy Awards, she looked at her mother in the audience and said, "I guess living in my car was worth it!" She and her mother moved to LA to further her acting career when she was 16.

Another talented woman, J.K. Rowling, truly went from welfare to well-off when she made it big with her Harry Potter books. With a wildly successful series of best-selling novels, multiple movie deals, and a line of merchandise, Rowling was ranked 25th on Forbes Magazine's list of the 100 most powerful celebrities, and she is now earning an estimated US $40 million a year.

Danny DeVito also worked his way up from pennies to millions. Struggling to get his first break, the actor couldn't even pay for a hotel room in New York and found himself sleeping in what he called a "hotel on wheels." This makeshift hotel was actually a New York City transit cross-town bus! With just enough change to make a phone call, DeVito called his agent and found out the good news. He had an audition! Soon enough, DeVito was starring in both television and movies. Now, his Jersey Films is one of Hollywood's top production entities claiming films such as Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction, and Get Shorty.

Michael J. Fox really knows about being down and out! The Canadian star moved to Hollywood when he turned 18 and without even graduating from high school. Though he landed a few television roles, he hit hard times pretty quickly and was forced to move out of his nice apartment into a garage apartment, sell his car, and survive off of boxes of macaroni cheese! When he was negotiating his deal with NBC for the role of Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties, he didn't even have a telephone for the studio to call and reach him. Instead, he took his phone calls in a booth outside of a Hollywood restaurant, waiting for about an hour outside the booth until he heard that he had been chosen for the role!

Multi-talented Jewel also went from her car to being a star. The famous singer slept in her 1979 Volkswagon van while trying to get noticed at small gigs in San Diego. Her manager/mother Lenedra Carroll bought a van and parked right alongside her! The mother/daughter pair were so impoverished that at one time, Jewel coped with kidney infections because she couldn't even afford a US $60 bottle of antibiotics! It wasn't long before Jewel's signed a record deal, and her original style struck a chord with fans. Now, the millionaire singer, songwriter, author, and actress has no need to fear the poverty she once experienced!

Believe it or not, George Clooney also went through a time when money was not exactly flowing. After he moved to LA in 1982, he spent a whole year sleeping in a friends closet before he landed his first role! Now, the Hollywood hunk makes up to US $20 million per film!

John Paul DeJoria, CEO and co-founder of the John Paul Mitchell Systems hair care empire, came from much meager beginnings. His parents were divorced by the time he was two years old. He and his brother started out selling Christmas cards and newspapers when he was nine years old. DeJoria ended up being homeless twice along his path to success. At one point, divorced from his wife and with a son in his early twenties, he collected Coke bottles at night to buy the smallest amount of food necessary to keep him and his son alive. After years of persistence and hard work at Paul Mitchell, John Paul DeJoria is now the CEO of a company that pulls in US $200 million a year, as well as 17 other blooming businesses. "The American Dream is there. You just have to put forth the effort and the energy," believes DeJoria. "Whatever you do, if you do it better than anyone else, it's amazing how things just start falling your way." These stars prove that even if you start at the bottom, talent, and hard work can get you to the top!

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