12 Famous People Who Were Absolutely Broke But Bounced Back Stronger Than Ever


There are many rags to riches stories that are positively inspirational in our real lives. Take the story of Sylvester Stallone, for example, who was so poor that he had to sell his wife’s jewellery and dog to afford a meal. He slept in public places and acted in porn videos until he wrote the script of Rocky where he was offered a large sum of money, but constantly refused till the producers agreed to use him as the main actor. It was only when he was offered the role in Rocky with $35000 that he agreed to let the producers use his script. The first thing he did after receiving the money was buy back his dog, even if it cost him $15000.

These are just some other inspiring figures who had nothing but persevered to become famous.

1. Nawazuddin Sidiqqui

Born and brought up in rural Uttar Pradesh, Siddiqui was a keen observer of all his surroundings and wanted to act them out in real life. Despite graduating with a degree in Chemistry and working as a chemist, he felt he deserved better. While working as a watchman, he started watching plays which inspired him to try acting. After successfully graduating from National School of Drama (NSD) he moved to Mumbai where he struggled to get good roles as an actor. He was often cast in minor negative roles and paid his bills from conducting workshops.

It was only after featuring in the movie Patang that film critics worldwide noticed his true talent. Siddiqui started getting roles in major Bollywood films but this time as important characters in the plot.

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2.  Oprah Winfrey

Born into poverty, Winfrey grew up in Mississippi where she had a harsh life scarred by physical and sexual abuse. However it did not stop her from winning a scholarship to Tennessee State University and becoming the first female African American correspondent in the state at age 19.

In 1983, she moved to Chicago to work for the AM Talk Show which she later ended up hosting and it got re-branded as the Oprah Winfrey Show.

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3. Rajinikanth

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad got his first taste of acting in school from taking part in plays based on the Mahabharata. After graduating from school, he worked as a coolie, a carpenter and finally a bus conductor. While acting in a stage play at the Madras Film Institute, he was noticed by K. Balachander, a notable Tamil director.

Rajinikanth starred in movies where he played supporting roles but soon became the leading man in many of his films. Today he is considered a God and is very influential politically.

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4. Do Won Chang

The founder of clothing brand Forever 21 didn’t have it easy when he and his wife moved to the US in 1981. Do Won worked three jobs to make ends meet until he opened his first store in 1984.

Today Forever 21 has stores all over the world and earns $3 billion a year.

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5. Daniel Craig

The James Bond actor had a hard time making it before he succeeded Pierce Brosnan to star as the debonair British Intelligence Agent. Some of his struggles included sleeping on a park bench in London at times.

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6. Steve Jobs

The father of the Mac and iPhone was brought up by foster parents and struggled through college with no place to sleep and not enough money for food. He spent nights sleeping on the floors of his friends’ rooms and collecting coke bottles to get nickel deposits for food.

Every week he would walk 12 km across town to eat a hot meal at a Hare Krishna Temple.

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7. Amitabh Bachchan

Despite a glorious past in cinema, Bachchan soon reached his slump in acting by 1988. He founded his company ABCL which went bankrupt and owed INR 90 crore to its creditors leading him to mortgage his own bungalow and do favours for creditors like appearing in advertisements.

It was only when he was chosen to host the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati, that he recovered from his financial woes.

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8. Halle Berry

The actress who was the first African American woman to win an Academy Award moved to Chicago with the dreams of becoming an actress. After running out of cash, she started living in homeless shelters across the city.

In an interview she was quoted as saying:  “It taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint, or living within my means, which were meager. I became a person who knows that I will always make my own way.”

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9. Jennifer Lopez

The Puerto Rican pop singer defied her mother by being a dancer and left home to follow her dreams. She spent nights sleeping on the sofa of her dance studio. She landed a job dancing in Europe and when she returned to the United States, she got a role as a fly girl in the show In Living Colour.

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10. Hillary Swank

The Million Dollar Baby star lived in with her mother in a car and slept at night in an empty house that belonged to a friend. She went on to win two Oscars by age 30 and is said to be worth $40 million.

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11. Charlie Chaplin

One of the greatest silent era comedians and actors, Charlie Chaplin lost his father at a young age and his mother was taken to a mental asylum. Left to fend for himself, he spent his days begging and living on the streets of London. He was sent to a workhouse twice to be trained in a profession but he decided to be a performer.

He acted in several stage plays and performed as a comedian. At age 19 he signed on to the Fred Karno company which took him to America. Chaplin went on to write, produce and act for his movies.

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12. Jim Carrey

The Hollywood comedian had to move into his family van when his father lost his job and couldn’t afford to rent their apartment. They lived in their VW van on his older sister’s lawn. Carrey also had to quit school and work as janitor to make ends meet. It was during these years that he developed his sense of humour.

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