20 Celebrities Who Came From Total Poverty

Sarah Jessica Parker

When it comes to celebrities, we often think of them as being born into wealth and privilege. But there are also a surprising number of celebrities who came from total poverty. Poverty is often seen as a barrier to success, but for some celebrities, it was the motivation they needed to make something of themselves. They say that when you come from nothing, you have nothing to lose. For these celebrities, that was certainly the case. They came from humble beginnings and worked their way up to the top. Their rags-to-riches stories are an inspiration to us all. These celebrities came from total poverty and managed to find success in their chosen fields.

20. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey was born in 1962 in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. His family was so poor that they often had to live in their van. Carrey took to comedy at an early age and started performing stand-up in local clubs when he was just fourteen years old. He dropped out of high school to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian. He struggled for many years, but his big break came in 1990 when he was cast in the sitcom In Living Color. His career took off from there and he has since gone on to star in some of the most popular movies of all time, including Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Liar Liar. Carrey has come a long way from his humble beginnings. He is now one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood.

19. Leonardo DiCaprio

When he was just a child, Leonardo DiCaprio’s parents divorced and his mother, Irmelin Indenbirken, took him to live with her in Los Angeles. His father, George DiCaprio, remained in New York and worked as a comic book distributor. Times were tough for the young actor, as he often had to share a bed with his mother and sister due to their lack of money. He has said that he would often go to auditions just so he could have a meal. Despite the poverty he faced as a child, DiCaprio has gone on to have an incredibly successful acting career, starring in films like “Titanic,” “The Departed,” and “The Revenant.” He has also been nominated for five Academy Awards, winning Best Actor for “The Revenant.”

18. Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren was born in 1939 in The Bronx, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Poland. His father was a painter, and his mother was a housewife. He went to public schools in New York City and worked in various retail jobs before starting his own tie business in 1967. Lauren’s company, Polo Ralph Lauren, is now a multi-billion-dollar fashion empire. He is one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth of $4.4 billion.

17. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton was born in 1946 in a one-room cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Her father was a sharecropper and her mother was a housewife. She is one of 12 children. Parton began performing as a child and released her first album when she was 13. She rose to prominence in the 1970s with hits like “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You.” In addition to her successful music career, Parton has also enjoyed success as an actress, author, and businesswoman. She is the founder of the Dollywood Foundation, which provides educational opportunities for children in her home state of Tennessee. Parton’s net worth is estimated to be $500 million.

16. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954 in Mississippi to a teenage single mother. She spent her early childhood living in poverty with her grandparents, who were so poor that they couldn’t afford to heat their home in the winter. Oprah was later sent to live with her mother, who was struggling to support her family on a meager welfare check. Oprah faced many challenges growing up, including sexual abuse and racism. Despite all of this, she went on to become one of the most successful and beloved TV hosts in history. Today, Oprah is worth an estimated $2.7 billion.

15. Jay-Z

Jay-Z was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1969. His father abandoned the family when he was just a child, and his mother struggled to support her three kids on her own. Jay-Z grew up in a tough neighborhood and dropped out of high school at age 16. He later turned to drug dealing to make ends meet. According to Business Insider, In the early 1990s, he started his record label and released his first album, which was a huge success. Today, Jay-Z is one of the richest and most successful rappers in the world, with a net worth of $1 billion.

14. J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling was born in England in 1965. Her parents were poor, and she grew up in a small, cramped apartment with her sister and mother. After her parents divorced when she was a child, Rowling’s mother struggled to support her two daughters on her own. Rowling went to college and then worked as a secretary for a few years before she started writing the Harry Potter books. Despite her difficult childhood, Rowling is now one of the richest celebrities in the world. She is worth an estimated $1 billion, and her Harry Potter books have sold over 500 million copies worldwide. Rowling has used her wealth to support several charities, including those that help children in poverty.

13. Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz was born in 1953 in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a truck driver and his mother was a homemaker. Schultz grew up in the projects and his family struggled to make ends meet. He attended public schools and then went on to college, eventually becoming the CEO of Starbucks. Today, Schultz is worth an estimated $3 billion. He has donated millions of dollars to charity, including scholarships for students from low-income families.

12. Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg was born in the Boston, Massachusetts, Dorchester neighborhood on June 25, 1972. The youngest of nine children including actor Robert. His father was a delivery driver. His father struggled with alcoholism which caused the family to lose their house when Wahlberg was 11, and his father spent much of his time in and out of jail. His parents divorced when he was 13. At 15, a civil action was filed against him for attacking two Vietnamese men after a gang including himself had harassed them earlier that day; the victim required hospitalization for a brain hemorrhage. Wahlberg later stated that the victims were “doing their country a service” by serving in the military, and he has expressed regret for his actions. In 2014, he pled guilty to a separate assault charge stemming from an incident in 2006 in which he punched a man who was attempting to photograph him outside a restaurant; as part of a plea deal, the charges were dismissed.

11. Jewel

Jewel was born in Payson, Utah, the second child of Lenedra Jewel and Attila Kuno. She is a direct descendant of Pocahontas through her mother; she is also of Swiss-German ancestry through her father. Jewel spent the majority of her childhood in Homer, where she grew up with her father. The home she grew up in had no running water or electricity and was built by her grandfather out of old lumber. She and her father sometimes earned a living by singing in bars and taverns. She learned how to yodel from these events, which she does in many of her songs. Her father was a Mormon, but they ceased attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after her parents divorced when she was eight. She took an interest in music at the age of four and began composing songs at the age of eleven.

10. Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison was born in New York City to an unmarried 19-year-old mother. His father was a U.S. Air Force pilot who left before Ellison was born. Ellison grew up in a lower-middle-class Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, and his mother often had to rely on government assistance to make ends meet. Despite his difficult upbringing, Ellison went on to become one of the richest men in the world. He is the founder, CEO, and CTO of Oracle Corporation, one of the largest software companies in the world. Ellison has an estimated net worth of $59.5 billion.

9. Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez was born in the Bronx, New York to Puerto Rican parents who were both working-class immigrants. Her father was a driver and her mother was a homemaker. Lopez grew up in a very poor household and often had to go without necessities like food and clothes. According to Ranker, Despite her difficult upbringing, Lopez was determined to make something of herself and worked hard to achieve her dreams. Today, she is one of the most successful entertainers in the world with a net worth of $400 million.

8. Stephen King

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine to a working-class family. His father was a janitor and his mother was a homemaker. King struggled with poverty and insecurity throughout his childhood. He would later go on to become one of the world’s most successful authors, with an estimated net worth of $400 million.

7. Shania Twain

Shania Twain was born in Timmins, Ontario, Canada to a family of very modest means. According to Cheatsheet, Her mother and stepfather abused her emotionally and physically, which led to Twain running away from home at age 14. She ended up homeless and living at a truck stop with a friend. Twain did whatever she could to survive, even selling cigarettes at the truck stop. At age 21, she finally achieved success with her debut album, which went on to sell over 20 million copies. Today, Twain is worth an estimated $400 million.

6. Hilary Swank

Hilary Swank was born in Bellingham, Washington to a family of limited means. Her father was a sergeant in the Army National Guard and her mother worked at a food bank. Swank has spoken about how she and her brother often went without food as children. She has said that she was teased at school for her “raggedy” clothes and the family had to move around a lot. Despite the challenges she faced growing up, Swank was a determined student and went on to graduate from high school as valedictorian. She then went on to study acting at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City. Swank’s big break came in the form of the movie Boys Don’t Cry, for which she won an Academy Award. She has since gone on to have a successful career in Hollywood, starring in such films as Million Dollar Baby, The Reaping, and P.S. I Love You.

5. Celine Dion

Celine Dion was born in a poor, working-class family in Quebec, Canada. Her parents were both factory workers, and she was the youngest of 14 children. Dion began singing in her church choir when she was just five years old. When she was 12, she recorded a demo tape of her original songs and sent it to music manager René Angélil. Impressed by her voice, Angélil became her manager and helped her launch her international singing career. Dion went on to become one of the most successful recording artists of all time, selling more than 200 million albums worldwide. She has won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and is the only female artist to have been nominated for the Grammy twice in the same year.

4. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise was born in Syracuse, New York, to an abusive father who left the family when Cruise was 12. His mother later remarried, and the family moved to Toronto, Canada. Cruise dropped out of high school at age 16 and took up various jobs before moving to New York City to pursue an acting career. He made his film debut in the 1981 film Endless Love, but it was his role in the 1986 film Top Gun that made him a household name. Despite his success, Cruise has had a turbulent personal life. He was married to actresses Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, but both marriages ended in divorce. He has also been linked to several high-profile women, including Katie Holmes and Penelope Cruz. In 2012, Cruise was named Hollywood’s highest-paid actor by Forbes magazine, with earnings of $75 million.

3. Demi Moore

Demi Moore was born on November 11, 1962, in Roswell, New Mexico. When she was just 17, she dropped out of high school and moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting. According to Twentytwowords, Moore made her film debut in 1981 in the film “Choices,” but it was her role in the 1984 film “Blame It on Rio” that caught the attention of Hollywood. Moore’s career took off from there and she went on to star in several hit films, including “Ghost,” “A Few Good Men,” “Indecent Proposal,” and “Striptease.” However, Moore’s personal life was not always so successful. She was married and divorced three times, to Freddy Moore, Bruce Willis, and Ashton Kutcher. In addition, Moore has struggled with addiction issues throughout her life. Despite all her challenges, Moore has remained a successful Hollywood actress and is worth an estimated $150 million.

2. Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker was born on March 25, 1965, in Nelsonville, Ohio. Her mother, Barbara Parker, was a teacher, and her father, Stephen Parker, was a journalist. Sarah Jessica Parker grew up in a poor household; her family didn’t have much money. They often struggled to make ends meet. Despite their financial difficulties, Sarah Jessica Parker’s parents did their best to provide for their daughter and give her a good upbringing. Sarah Jessica Parker’s acting career began when she was just eight years old. This made her family’s financial situation even more difficult, as they now had to pay for her acting classes and headshots. But Sarah Jessica Parker persevered, and her hard work paid off. She landed roles in several movies and TV shows, including “Square Pegs,” “Footloose,” and “Sex and the City.” Thanks to her successful acting career, Sarah Jessica Parker is now worth an estimated $90 million. While she may have come from humble beginnings, Sarah Jessica Parker is now one of the most successful and well-known actresses in Hollywood. She is an inspiration to anyone who has ever faced adversity, and a reminder that anything is possible if you work hard enough.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947, in Thal, Austria. He came from a very poor family; his father was a police chief, and his mother was a housewife. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to wear hand-me-down clothes and often went hungry as a child. Despite his difficult upbringing, Arnold Schwarzenegger was determined to make something of himself. He started lifting weights at a young age and eventually became a world-renowned bodybuilder. He then transitioned into acting, starring in some of the most popular action movies of all time, including “The Terminator” and “Predator.” Thanks to his successful career in Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now worth an estimated $400 million.


These 20 celebrities all came from humble beginnings. They faced many challenges in their lives, but they never gave up on their dreams. Their hard work and determination helped them achieve immense success, and they are now some of the richest and most famous people in the world. They serve as an inspiration to us all, proving that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

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