Homeless to Hollywood: 33 Stars Who Slept on the Streets
by Hilary Braaksma
A lot of celebrities tout having started at the bottom before their rise to fame, but these 33 stars are truly inspiring.
Before making it big, Halle Berry was a struggling actress in New York City and briefly stayed in a homeless shelter when her cash ran out.
At age 15, rapper A$AP Rocky was bouncing around from homeless shelter to homeless shelter with his mom and sister, supporting himself by selling drugs.
As a child, funny man Jim Carrey’s family spent a period of time living out of their van. Carrey even quit school at 15 to support his family while working as a janitor.
While trying to make it as a young singer in Los Angeles, Kelly Clarkson was forced to live in her car after she lost her apartment in a fire. Soon after she headed home to Texas where friends encouraged her to audition for American Idol!
After being kicked out of his mother’s house has a young man, Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain spent his time sleeping on friend’s couches and underneath a bridge in his hometown.
Machine Gun Kelly
Rapper MGK’s heroin addiction forced him into homelessness in 2010 before he went into rehabilitation.
Before he was 007, blue-eyed Brit Daniel Craig reportedly slept on park benches as a struggling actor.
Before reaching success as an actor, Kelsey Grammer spent time on the streets, camping out in alleys with his motorcycle.
After Carmen Electra’s first gig with pop sensation Prince ended and a boyfriend stole her savings, Electra experienced a period of homelessness in Los Angeles. “I remember sitting on a park bench in the valley,” she told the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2009. “I was crying because I was stranded. It was over 100 degrees outside.”
After escaping from a state reformatory school in upstate New York, a young Ella Fitzgerald was left homeless. She survived by singing on the streets of Harlem before making her debut at Amatuer Nights at the Apollo Theater.
After Grant’s mother was committed and his father abandoned him, the future superstar spent time as a child living on the streets of Southampton, England.
Comedian Steve Harvey struggled for many years before making it big, including a bout of homelessness in the ’80s that lasted multiple years. Harvey lived in his car and showered at gas stations or public swimming pools.
Singer Jewel grew up in Alaska, but made her way to California after graduating high school and ended up working at a computer warehouse in San Diego. “My boss fired me because I wouldn’t sleep with him, and I ended up homeless for a year,” she writes on her official website. “I kept writing songs, and started singing in a local coffee shop called The Inner Change Cafe. I developed a loyal following. No one knew I was homeless.”
Rapper Lil Kim experienced homelessness first as a child, sleeping in the backseat of a car with her mother, and again later when she was kicked out of her home as a teenager.
An 18-year-old Lopez slept on a cot in the back of her dance studio when her parents refused to support her pursuit of a dance career.
At age 15, Phil McGraw spent time living out of a car while his father interned as a psychologist. “My dad and I had to split up from the rest of our family because we couldn’t afford for everybody to stay together,” he told homeless guests on his show. “I’ve been there, and it does get better. You do get through it. You guys have got to not give up hope in this situation.”
After moving from Indiana to California to pursue a career in comedy, Letterman spent some time living out of his 1973 pickup truck with then-wife Michelle.
A young Rose McGowan was homeless for a year, roaming across Oregon and Washington, sometimes even sleeping in Portland nightclubs.
As a struggling young musician, Jim Morrison is rumored to have slept in almost any place he could find, including underneath the pier at Venice Beach, California.
After leaving an abusive home setting, Shania Twain spent time with her mother and siblings in a Toronto homeless shelter.
Before Tyler Perry hit major success in the movie industry, he struggled to stay afloat for six years, dividing his time between his car and pay-by-the-week motels.
Today, Suze Orman is a renowned financial guru, but when she first moved to Berkeley, California in 1970s, she couldn’t afford to live anywhere but her van.
Actor Martin Sheen has said he spent some time sleeping on the New York City subway as a struggling young actor.
Before this Hollywood hunk became famous, and after he spent time as a daytime stripper (ouch), Chris Pratt wound up homeless in Maui, sleeping in a tent on the beach.
Even after William Shatner hit acting success with Star Trek, he was so strapped for cash when filming wrapped that he spent sometime living out of his truck.
After running away from home, the late, great comedienne Joan Rivers spent months homeless in Brooklyn.
Rap icon Tupac Shakur’s childhood was spent in poverty, and at times even included living in homeless shelters with his mother and sister.
While KFC founder Colonel Sanders perfected his chicken recipe, he and his wife spent time sleeping in their car, driving around the U.S. building his brand.
Avatar star Sam Worthington was homeless when he sent his audition tape to director James Cameron. becoming the lead in the highest-grossing film of all time.
In his book, Ed Sheeran said that he spent nights in 2008 with no place to stay, even prompting him to sleep outside Buckingham Palace. He has clarified in multiple media interviews since then that he didn’t consider himself homeless, but instead relied on the help of friends. “I knew where I could get a bed at a certain time of night and I knew who I could call at any time to get a floor to sleep on,” Sheeran was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. “Being sociable helped. Drinking helped.”
Award-winning R&B singer Charlie Wilson spent two years in homelessness when low cash flow and cocaine addiction put him on the streets.
Sylvester Stallone was so hard up for cash in the days before his Rocky success that he was living on the streets and sold his dog for $50. He’s also said he slept for three weeks in a bus terminal in New York City prior to seeing a casting notice for a soft core porn in which he ended up working. Stallone told Playboy in 1978, “it was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end—the very end—of my rope.”
After moving to Los Angeles with her mother as a teenager to pursue acting, the pair spent their first few weeks in L.A. living out of their car and staying in an empty home that family friends were trying to sell.