9 Celebrities Who Were Once Homeless Share Their Struggles Before Their Big Breaks

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Plenty of celebrities have donated their time and money to charities that support homeless individuals, such as Habitat for Humanity and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Then there are celebrities who were once h omeless themselves

These A-listers are inspiring success stories, but it's important to remember that these rags-to-riches stories are increasingly rare amid structural obstacles and a growing socioeconomic divide.

Keep reading to see some of the famous people who were once homeless.


1. Hilary Swank

The Oscar-winning star of Million Dollar Baby ranks among the celebrities who were homeless. In 2005, Hilary told CBS News she was 15 when her mother took her to Hollywood so she could pursue an acting career, even though they had little money and had to live in a car for a couple weeks.

"[My mom] was at a crossroads," she said. "My father and her were getting separated, and she said, 'Let's go to California.' And so [with] $75 and a Mobil card, we drove down to California."

2. Jim Carrey

This comedic actor, star of such films as The Truman Show and Bruce Almighty, is another one of the famous stars who were once homeless. He opened up about the experience on a 2011 episode of Inside the Actors Studio

"My father was a musician who got a 'regular job' to support his children. When he lost his job, that's when everything fell apart," he explained. "We went from 'lower middle class' to 'poor.' We were living out of a van. I quit school at age 15 to begin working to help support my family as a janitor."

3. Sam Worthington

Before he starred in Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time, this Aussie "sold everything [he] owned and was just living in the car, basically, not doing much," as he told an interviewer, per Entertainment Tonight.

4. Carmen Electra

This actress told the Las Vegas Review-Journal she was homeless in Hollywood for a couple years after a gig with Prince ended and a boyfriend stole her savings. 

"I remember sitting on a park bench in the Valley," she said. "I was crying because I was stranded. It was over 100 degrees outside. I was sitting there with a pocketknife and a pager and some change in my pocket and a really nice pair of high heels."

5. Tyler Perry

He's one of the most successful actors, writers, and directors in Hollywood, but Perry, too, is one of the famous stars that were once homeless. He went through a tough time in 1991 when his first play flopped, as he revealed in his 2016 commencement speech at Tuskegee University.

"I thought 1,200 people would show up that weekend but only 30 showed up," he said. "My car payment, rent, everything was tied up in it, so I ended up homeless with no money and nothing to my name."

6. Dr. Phil McGraw

"I was homeless, living in a car with my dad," this self-help guru reportedly told Globe in 2009, per Huffington Post, ranking him among celebrities who were homeless. "We eventually got a room at the downtown YMCA for five bucks a week."

7. Suze Orman

In the 1970s, this financial maven lived out of a Ford Econoline van and earned $3.50 an hour working for a tree-clearing business, as Huffington Post reports. Unlike other celebrities who were homeless, however, she might have led an iterant lifestyle by choice.

8. Daniel Craig

Before he hit it big as an actor — starring, for example, as the latest incarnation of James Bond in the 007 franchise — this Brit was reportedly homeless and even slept on park benches, as The Independent reports.

9. Kelly Clarkson

In the years before she became American Idol's first winner, this pop star worked dead-end jobs in Los Angeles, as The New York Times reveals — and, after a fire decimated her apartment, lived in her car. (As one of the famous people who were once homeless, she has good reason to sing the lyric "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.")

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