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10 Horror Industry Celebrities before They Were Famous

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A fun way to find career inspiration is to look at famous people and trace their careers back to their origins. Many celebrities and established artists didn’t immediately launch into thriving careers upon finishing their education or starting in the workforce. Contrary to popular belief, a number of famous movie stars and producers started off with humble job beginnings and veered off their career paths before finding success and achieving prominence.

To celebrate Halloween this week, let’s enhance motivation for your job search by looking at horror icons and the odd jobs and careers they held before landing on the ghoulish side of Hollywood. Before they were renowned actors, prestigious producers, accomplished authors and popular celebrities, these people held a number of ordinary and odd jobs.

1. Tim Burton

Tim Burton

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Tim Burton is well known for many of his dark movies such as “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Today he is recognized as a director, producer, screenwriter and more, but Burton began as an apprentice animator and artist at Walt Disney Studios. He may have started in children’s animation, but today his portfolio includes a wide variety of projects, from musicals to action films. His career developed over time, and so can yours.

2. Stephen King

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His horror and suspense novels may delight many readers today, but before he was a writer and author of science fiction and macabre books, Stephen King was an industrial laundry laborer. To help pay for his degree in English, King took a number of odd jobs to make ends meet. Now you can find many of his works in bookstores and produced into films, proving that you shouldn’t knock a part-time job. It can lead you to future success.

3. Vincent Price

Vincent Price


Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Yale, Vincent Price became a school teacher. Realizing that he had an interest in theatre, he changed careers from educator to actor. He began as a character actor, and it wasn’t until later in his career that he delved into the horror genre. If you are contemplating a career change, maybe Vincent Price’s success help motivate you to make the jump.

4. Barbara Steele

Barbara Steele


Barbara Steele originally studied to become a painter but joined an acting repertory company instead. She was featured in a number of horror films in the 1960s and is famous for her pale skin, dark eyes and hair and overall gothic vibe. Steele’s story goes to show that what you studied in school doesn’t have to be what career you choose. Don’t let your past limit you.

5. Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

s_bukley /


Before she was a leading actress in a number of popular films, Julianne Moore was an aspiring actress working as a waitress in New York City. Like many before her and many after, Moore worked a part-time job while looking for acting gigs. She landed television roles and then broke out in the thriller “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.” Nowadays she is known for her portrayal of disturbed women. Moore is a great example of how dedication to your passion is necessary for success.

6. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

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Some might argue that Johnny Depp’s career started when he first dropped out of school. Depp took a big risk and left school to start a garage band. Following that he took on a telemarketing job before getting into acting. Depp starred in small roles before appearing in “The Nightmare on Elm Street.” You might know him as Sweeney Todd or Captain Jack Sparrow, but you should remember him for the career risk he took. If you feel hesitant to leave a job that doesn’t suit you, look to Depp for inspiration.

7. Boris Karloff

Boris Karloff


Boris Karloff’s big break was starring as Frankenstein’s monster in “Frankenstein,” which launched him into stardom as a horror icon. Before that breakout role, Karloff experienced many twists and turns with his career. He wanted to be a diplomat like his father but lost interest and worked as a farm laborer before finally entering a career in acting. If you aren’t certain of what your ideal job is, take comfort in knowing Boris Karloff struggled just like you before making it big.

8. Anne Rice

Anne Rice


Today she may be a popular author recognized for gothic novels such as “Interview with a Vampire” and “The Queen of the Damned,” but Anne Rice actually didn’t start her career writing fiction. Prior to writing, Rice worked briefly as an insurance claims examiner. She studied literature and creative writing and pursued her passions, resulting in her current successful writing career. Rice demonstrates that a few bumps in your resume shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing your dream job.

9. Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson

360b /


With numerous nominations and awards, few people might suspect that The Shining’s Jack Nicholson started out working odd jobs. Nicholson took on retail and lifeguard jobs before moving to Hollywood to pursue acting. Even in Hollywood, he began as a gopher. He didn’t achieve his current status as a famed actor, film director, and producer easily. It took a number of roles before he became famous for his portrayal of challenging characters, particularly psychotics. The lesson? Don’t be too proud to get to the top by starting at the bottom.

10. Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis


When she was younger Jamie Lee Curtis was known as the “scream queen.” From the start, Curtis pursued acting and appeared in a number of horror flick classics before breaking free from the genre. Today she is not just a horror actress; Curtis is an actress in a broad array of genres, an author of children’s books and a blogger. Curtis shows us that a career path is all about discovery and exploration. You might be content with your job today, but stay open to new opportunities, for they might transform your career for the better.

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