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10+ Celebs Who Went From Rags To Riches

Not every celebrity was born into money! Some of them had to work their way up from the bottom. They had to claw and scratch their way out of the life they didn't want, to the life they did.

Let's talk about those who have made that incredibly perilous journey.

Let's tell the rags to riches stories.

1. Michael Caine

He's best known for his roles in The Dark Knight Rises, Children of Men, The Muppet Christmas Carol and many more.

But things weren't always easy for him.


Before his big break at age 33, Michael Caine couldn't support his family.

His wife left him, his father ran out on him and, for a while, he lived off discarded fruit.

2. Dr. Phil

Despite his very successful television show, Dr. Phil hasn't always had things easy.

Fans might be surprised to learn that he went through a lot to get where he is today.

When he was growing up, he had to live with his family in a car. Then, they lived at the YMCA for a while.

When they eventually got an apartment, it didn't have electricity or heating.

3. Billie Holiday


The singer lived a hard life. She was sexually assaulted as a child and she also lived in a prostitution house at a young age.

Even when she was discovered, it took months for her to get a record contract because no one would hire her.

4. Demi Moore

Instagram | @demimoore

There was, obviously, a time in Demi's life where she wasn't rich and famous.

When she was a kid, things were a lot harder for her and for her family.

The actress was born cross-eyed to a father who left her when she was born.

And her stepfather was an alcoholic.

He was frequently out of work, which made their living situation very difficult.

She and her family would have to move around a lot while he looked and got different jobs.

Instagram | @demimoore

She then struggled with drugs and alcohol for years before Joel Schumacher demanded she clean up or be fired.

5. Colonel Sanders


We all know the beloved Colonel nowadays, but before he was the king of fried chicken he had a much different life.

He wasn't always living in a castle built on chicken.

For a while, he lived in his car.


He begged restaurants to try his chicken recipe, but most of them just turned him down. And then he'd drive to the next town, desperate to get someone to sell his chicken.

Eventually, it worked out.

6. Louis Armstrong

The legendary singer started getting in trouble with the law when he was only 9 years old.

He was sent to the Colored Waif's Home For Boys, where he learned to play the trumpet.

7. Leighton Meester

Instagram | @itsmeleighton

Leighton is best known for her role as Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl. She was also in Country Strong and The Roommate.

She beat the odds.

Before she was on Gossip Girl, she was born into a family of criminals. Leighton was actually born in prison to a mom who was there for smuggling drugs.

Her aunt was one of the first women on the US Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted list.

8. Danny Trejo

Instagram | @officialdannytrejo

Apparently, the big-screen tough guy has spent a portion of his life in and out of jail.

His uncle first got him into marijuana when he was 8 years old.

And he sold it for years after, prompting many run-ins with the law.

Troublemaker Studios

But weed wasn't the only reason he was getting in trouble. He's also been sent to jail for armed robbery.

It was his time in solitary confinement that got him to change his ways.

9. William Shatner

Wikimedia Commons

This was a case of riches to rags back to riches, because after Star Trek was canceled Shatner found himself living in the back of a van with only his dog as a companion.

10. Nicki Minaj

Originally born Onika Tanya Miraj, her father was apparently very abusive towards her mother.

It got so bad that he even tried to burn down the house they lived in.

11. Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt actually had to live in a van before he made it big.

The star lived in Hawaii before he was able to relocate and make a name for himself.

He got his first acting gig when he met with actress Rae Dawn Chong while working at Bubba Gump's Shrimp.

YouTube | HollywoodOnDemand

He was cast in Cursed 3, made $700 and moved into an apartment.

Things obviously went up from there.

12. Diddy

Instagram | @diddy

There was a time when Sean “Diddy” Combs had to run a paper route to get money.

A time when his mom was too poor to even buy the poor kid sneakers.

Those times are long gone.

Instagram | @diddy

Now, Diddy is one of the most successful rappers, producers and buisnessmen of all time. In fact, his personal fortune is slowly getting to the $1 billion mark.

And he can't stop.

'Cause he won't stop.

13. Halle Berry

Instagram | @halleberry

She is one of the most prolific actors of the 2000s, and even nowadays she's making some good money.

It's safe to say Halle Berry is currently living the high life.

But when she was a kid, her mother was very poor, making her childhood difficult.

Instagram | @halleberry

Berry was raised by a single mother in Cleveland and even lived in a homeless shelter for a while.

14. Jim Carrey

Twitter | @JimCarrey

He's one of the most talented physical comedians of our time, and he's also worth a whole lot of money because of it.

His net worth is approaching $150 million.

And his movies have collectively grossed over $4.8 billion worldwide.

Twitter | @JimCarrey

But it wasn't always this way for the comedian, no.

Back in the day, he lived in a van for a while because his father lost his job.

15. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Instagram | @schwarzenegger

This man has lived one heck of a life. He was Mr. Universe.

Then, he was a famous Hollywood actor. And then, as if that wasn't enough, he was Governor of California.

All he needs to do now is break down the "No Americans" barrier, become president, and he'll have the best life ever.

Instagram | @schwarzenegger

But this "best life ever" started out pretty hard. He was born in Austria in 1947.

His country was obviously devastated by World War II, making it a difficult time.

His house was one of the many that were devastated.

Instagram | @schwarzenegger

It had no plumbing (which sounds like the worst thing ever) and no phone.

The worst part was the hunger riots. They would take place outside his house all the time.

16. Sylvester Stallone

Instagram | @sylvesterstalloneofflcial

Sylvester Stallone has not had an easy life. In fact, his life has been harder than even Rocky's.

He was born in Hell's Kitchen. So yes, it's not just a location in Daredevil.

His mom was single and broke and he mostly lived in foster homes as a young child.

Instagram | @sylvesterstalloneofflcial

And as he got older, he also became broke so he started doing B-movies. He even had to sell his dog at one point.

17. Joaquin Phoenix


He's had one heck of a life.

Before he was the Joker, before he was Johnny Cash, heck, before he was even that Emperor guy in Gladiator, Joaquin had a very hard childhood.

His family were part of this cult called Children Of God.

They lived a nomadic existence and walked across South America. Eventually, they got out of it and, as we know, Joaquin turned into an actor.

So it all worked out.

18. Billy Bob Thornton

Nowadays he's one of the biggest names in Hollywood.

He's done so many great movies and TV Shows, but not a lot of people know about his childhood.

He grew up poor in rural Arkansas.

Dimension Films

He tells this one story about how he waited all year for Christmas, only to get a rock and a stick in his stocking.