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Before They Were Famous

By Lavender January 30, 2009

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Few people are born famous. Fame must be earned—achieved by means of extraordinary effort, talent, persistence, and heart.

You don’t reach the level of a Paris Hilton or a Fabio just by looking good. OK, bad examples. But celebrities have to work to become celebrities, often supporting themselves with mundane jobs.

Danny DeVito worked as a hairdresser in his sister’s salon. Steve Martin was employed in a Disneyland magic shop. Even Jesus was a carpenter—pretty much the only workman who could offer low prices and eternal forgiveness.

How fascinating it is to discover the early jobs of some of history’s great names!

Socrates: Toga Cleaner. The future philosopher worked after school at Acropolis Cleaners (“In By 9, Out Whenever We Finish Whacking It Against The Rocks”). He spent hours pondering such thoughts as, “If a toga falls off the shelf, and no one is around to hear it, did it really make a sound?” On his last day at work, Socrates announced proof of his own existence: “I martinize, therefore I am.”

Joan of Arc: Waitress. “Ordering—Number Seven, easy on the mayo!” is not what you’d expect from a future saint and national heroine. But in 1422, Joan of Arc worked at Pierre’s Café. Unfortunately, she was (excuse the expression) fired the next year for hearing voices, and talking back to the customers: “I’m worried about saving France, and you’re whining about your crepes being soggy?”

Ralph Nader: Children’s Party Entertainer. America’s foremost consumer advocate spent five years as Giggles the Clown. Unfortunately, not only was Giggles unable to crack even a smile, but also he showed up at children’s parties in a somber gray suit, and proceeded to entertain the kiddies by reading them a litany of federal safety code violations. The high point of his presentation came when he made balloon figures in the shapes of recalled Chevy parts.

Moses: Insurance Salesman. Religious leader Moses was one of the founders of the world’s first insurance agency, Mutual of Canaan. Extremely successful, he would persuade people to invest in the policy with such reasoning as, “Cain, should you not have a financial cushion if, God forbid, something should happen to your beloved brother, Abel?”

Pablo Picasso: Butcher. To support himself while he painted, the 20th Century’s foremost artist quartered chickens from Barcelona to Paris. But he was constantly fired for his window displays, which featured pig faces with cow ears, or rabbit noses with chicken beaks. He was known for cutting lamb in angular planes, cubing beef, and dying meat various colors depending on whether he was in his blue or rose periods.

Cleopatra: Party Escort. As a young woman, Cleopatra (real name: Cleo Shapiro) supported herself by accompanying well-to-do professional men to various social and business functions. Asked her goal, she always replied, “To be Queen of Egypt, and one of the greatest romantic figures of history.” To which the man she escorted would invariably answer, “Hey, that’s great. But remember, when I introduce you as my niece, just play along.”


Marquis de Sade: Physician
. Famous for giving his name to the perversion known as sadism, he was initially a doctor who originated the phrase, “Does it hurt when I do this?” If the patient said no, de Sade would continue exerting more painful pressure: “How about now?….Now?….Now?”

Dr Seuss: Chiropractor. If you were fortunate to be a patient of the future best-loved children’s author, you’d have heard something like this: “Did you ever have the feeling there’s a boulder in your shoulder? Or a jack in your back? Or a keg in your leg? Or a form in your arm? Or a deck in your neck? That’s the pain I explain. So, if there’s pain, of course, I’ll just consider the source.”

Bye for now.
Kiss, kiss.

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