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15 People Who Failed Before Becoming Famous

Oprah

Photo: AP Images

The names Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and Steve Jobs aren’t usually associated with failure.But before these successful super stars made it big in their respective industries, they first failed, were fired, or heard the word “no” countless times.

But they never gave up.

See what 15 game changers had to overcome before becoming famous.

 

 

 

 

Walt Disney was told a mouse would never work.

Before Walt Disney built the empire he has today, he was fired by a newspaper editor because 'he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.'

In 1921, Walt formed his first animation company in Kansas City, where he made a deal with a distribution company in New York, in which he would ship them his cartoons and get paid six months down the road. He was forced to dissolve his company and at one point could not pay his rent and reportedly survived by eating dog food.

Also, When Walt first tried to get MGM studios to distribute Mickey Mouse in 1927, he was told that the idea would never work because a giant mouse on the screen would terrify women.

Entrepreneur Walt had a whole slew of bad ideas before coming up with good ones, read about them here.

J.K. Rowling was on welfare.

Before J.K. Rowling had any 'Harry Potter' success, the writer was a divorced singled mother on welfare struggling to get by while also attending school and writing a novel.

Luckily, that novel turned into the 'Harry Potter' franchise, which has since made Rowling a billionaire as of April 2012.

Jerry Seinfeld was booed off-stage.

As the story goes, the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually booed off of the stage.

But a determined Seinfeld went back the next night and performed a successful set.

Lucille Ball was a B-movie actress.

Before landing 'I Love Lucy,' Lucille Ball was widely regarded as a failed actress and a B-movie star and even dubbed 'Queen of the Bs' in the 1940s.

By 1962, Ball was the first woman to run a major television studio, Desilu, which produced many successful and popular television series.

Throughout her career, Ball won four Emmys and earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy centre honours.

In his first screen test, the testing director of MGM noted that Astaire, 'Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.'

Astaire later insisted that the report had actually read: 'Can't act. Slightly bald. Also dances.' David O. Selznick, who signed Astaire to RKO and commissioned the test, stated in a memo, 'I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test.'

Astaire, who went on to become an Oscar-nominated actor, singer and dancer, reportedly kept the negative note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of where he came from.

SIdney Poitier was told to become a dishwasher.

After his first audition, Poitier, who grew up poor in the Bahamas, was told by the casting director, 'Why don't you stop wasting people's time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?'

Poitier went on to win an Oscar for 'Lilies of the Field' in 1964 and 1967's super successful 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.'

Oliver Stone dropped out of school.

Three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone dropped out of Yale to write his first novel, which was later rejected by publishers. When it was finally published in 1998, the novel was not well-received and Stone moved to Vietnam to teach English.

As a result, Stone enlisted in the army and fought a battle that earned him two Purple Hearts and helped him find the inspiration for his later work that often centres around war--such as 'Platoon,' 'Born on the Fourth of July' and 'Natural Born Killers.'

Steven Spielberg got rejected from film school ... three times.

Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of theatre, Film and Television three times.

He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing.

30-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA.

'I wanted to accomplish this for many years as a thank-you to my parents for giving me the opportunity for an education and a career,' Spielberg said in a statement. 'And as a personal note for my own family--and young people everywhere--about the importance of achieving their college education goals.'

The Beatles were dropped by their record label.

When The Beatles were just starting out, a recording company told them no.

Decca Recording studios, who had recorded 15 songs with the group, said 'we don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out. They have no future in show business.'

In 1973, Stephen King was working as an English teacher in Maine and selling short stories on the side to make ends meet. That same year, he accepted a $2,500 advance for his first novel 'Carrie' to Doubleday but after 30 rejections, King decided to give up on the book.

At the urging of his wife, King later resubmitted the manuscript and now, after having hundreds of books published, King is one of the best-selling authors of all time and 'Carrie' is on its second movie re-make.

As of 2011, total sales for King's books were estimated to be between 300 and 350 million copies.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

After being cut from his high school basketball team, a young Michael Jordan went home and cried in the privacy of his bedroom.

But Jordan didn't let this early-in-life setback stop him from playing the game and the basketball superstar has stated, 'I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.'

Steve Jobs was removed from the company he started.

Steve Jobs was a college dropout, a fired tech executive and an unsuccessful businessman.

At 30-years-old he was left devastated after being unceremoniously removed from the company he founded.

In a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, Jobs explained, 'I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.'

After his return to Apple, Jobs created several iconic products, including the iPod, iPhone and iPad, which have changed the face of consumer technology forever. And Jobs became one of the richest men in the world.

Hugh Jackman got fired from 7-Eleven.

Before he was Wolverine on 'X-Men' or a Broadway star, actor Hugh Jackman got fired from his cashier job at 7-Eleven.

'I got fired after six weeks because the (boss) said I talked too much to the customers,' Jackman explained to Us Weekly.

Elvis Presley got fired after his first performance.

In 1954, Elvis was still a no-name performer, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, 'You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck.'

Elvis went on to become the second best-selling artists of all time.

Things could have been different for these actors, too.

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