Before achieving worldwide fame, Christopher Walken—born March 31st, 1943—held an even more peculiar job than actor-dancer-cowbell enthusiast. Join us as we revisit his humble beginnings and those of other seasoned performers.
Christopher Walken, 22
As a teenager, Walken held a job as a lion tamer and then studied at Hofstra University for one year. He dropped out after receiving an offer to co-star with Liza Minnelli in an Off-Broadway production of "Best Foot Forward."
George Clooney, 15
Long before he won two Oscars, Clooney attended Augusta High School in Kentucky. In middle school, however, he developed Bell's palsy, a condition that temporarily paralyzes the face.
Sean Connery, 23
At 23, Connery was touring with a production of "South Pacific" when Matt Busby, manager of Manchester United, saw him playing in a local soccer game. Busby promptly offered the future James Bond a football contract, which Connery declined to pursue acting.
Steven Tyler, 18
Tyler, whose father was a music teacher and classical pianist, attended the Leonard Quintano for Young Professionals School in New York.
Helen Mirren, 25
In her early twenties, Mirren was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare company, where she performed roles including Diana in "All's Well That Ends Well" and Phebe in "As You Like It."
Clint Eastwood, 26
Universal asked Eastwood to attend drama classes before signing the actor to a contract in April 1954.
Steve Jobs, 18
Although he was often frustrated with formal education, Jobs had high test scores and skipped a grade before attending Homestead High School in Cupertino, California.
Ian McKellen, 24
McKellen's fascination with the theatre started early, at age three, when his parents took him to see "Peter Pan" at the Opera House in Manchester.
Michael Stipe, 21
Before going to the University of Georgia as an art major, Stipe worked at a local Waffle House all through high school.
Martha Stewart, 20
A lifestyle guru who became notorious for insider trading trader, Stewart worked her way through school by modeling for Chanel.
Bruce Willis, 18
Born in Germany, Willis attended Penns Grove High School in New Jersey. He overcame a childhood stutter by performing in school plays.
Charlize Theron, 14
Born and raised in South Africa, Theron went to boarding school at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg, starting at age 13.
Billy Corgan, 14
Although a star athlete as a child, Corgan began playing guitar in high school. He then handed his savings to his father, who bought him a used Les Paul knock-off.
Betty White, 20
During the Great Depression, her family moved to Los Angeles, where White quickly discovered a passion for performing. Although movie studios initially dismissed her as "unphotogenic," she also made money as a model.
Larry David, 20
Born in Brooklyn, David attended the University of Maryland, where he received a bachelor's degree in history. After college, he enlisted in the United States Army Reserve.
Jamie Foxx, 17
Foxx attended Terrell High School in Texas, where he played basketball and was quarterback of the football team.
William Shatner, 24
Trained as a Shakespearian actor, Shatner began his career with the Canadian National Repertory Theatre. Soon after that, he made his film debut in "The Butler's Night Off."
Hugh Hefner, 20
Before starting Playboy Enterprises, Hefner attended the University of Illinois, where he studied psychology and minored in creative writing and art.
Drew Carey, 22
After quitting Kent State University, Carey joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve, where he served for six years.
Stephen Colbert, 22
Colbert's first professional acting gig was as an understudy for Steve Carell at Second City in Chicago.
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