From Celebrity To Working Stiff

By Michael Deane | April 01, 2010 AAA
From Celebrity To Working Stiff

Some people thought that they were made for show business, only to later find out that their true calling was in another field. This just goes to show that your first job is not going to be the one that you stick with. The median amount of time that a person holds a job (according to the BLS, as of 2008) is between 3.9-4.2 years - which means the average person will have 10+ jobs throughout their lives.

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There are a lot of stories of working stiffs being discovered and becoming movie and rock stars (just check out Clint Eastwood), but sometimes a celebrity goes in the opposite direction: from film, TV and concert stages to being an average joe with a normal job. (From inner-city housing projects to rural homesteads without heat, these celebrities built up their millions from nothing. Don't miss From Poverty To Power: Celebrities Who Started With Nothing.)

This doesn't happen very often, and usually it's the celebrity's choice to step out of the limelight and join the daily grind. We'll check out some celebrities and see how they went from celebrity to normality.

Crooning Real Estate Agent
In 1990, Bel Biv Devoe was one of the biggest musical acts in the world. Their hit "Poison" was at the top of the charts and their album of the same name was at #5 on the American record charts, going four times platinum.

Ronnie Devoe, from the group and also of multi-platinum R&B group New Edition, now makes his living as a real estate agent and owner of Devoe Broker Associates, a Century 21 franchise. Devoe manages a team of real estate agents handling both commercial and residential properties, sells homes and often gives seminars on real estate.

Lassie's Sidekick: The Computer Engineer
Ever wonder what happens to those child actors that stop acting once they reach puberty? Well, some of them find success in other areas of life. Tommy Rettig, the child star of the 1950s television show "Lassie," among many others, left showbiz and went on to become a computer whiz. Tom (as he preferred to be called as an adult) Rettig began doing seminars and motivational speaking. He also got involved in database work, mailing lists and the beginning of the personal computer market.

At the end of his life, Rettig was well known as a software engineer rather than as Lassie's human sidekick.

Coleman's Steady Slide into Security
Sometimes, child stars aren't quite as successful post-celebrity as Rettig, and Gary Coleman's fall is well documented. Coleman began his career in the late '70s on the show "Diff'rent Strokes," where he acted for the next eight years. Due to the mismanagement of his funds, Coleman had to find a day-job in between his direct-to-video movie gigs and commercials. (If your career was derailed recently, you're not alone - but these jobs are on the rise. Check out Jobs That Are Growing - Despite The Recession.)

Coleman became a security guard for a short while in the late '90s after losing much of his fortune, but has now returned to the world of show-biz, appearing on television, commercials and cameo appearances in popular movies and TV shows.

Hollywood Madame of Laundry
Heidi Fleiss was a pseudo-celebrity who got her fame as the "Hollywood Madame" before being sent to jail for three years for tax evasion. Fleiss has gone on to enjoy some high-profile attention, appearing in "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" and on the U.K.'s "Big Brother," but her main business (aside from trying to open up another brothel) is operating a laundromat aptly called "Dirty Laundry."

Teen Heartthrob Turned Carpenter
The name Michael Schoeffling might not mean a lot to you now, but in 1984 he played heartthrob Jake Ryan in the successful John Hughes film, "Sixteen Candles." Following the success of Jake Ryan, Schoeffling took a few other high-profile roles before finding the movie industry too inconsistent to count on.

Schoeffling gave up the spotlight and now lives in Pennsylvania working as a carpenter at his own furniture-making business.

The Other Side of the Microphone
Mark McGrath never really left the public spotlight - he just changed the side of the microphone he was on. The singer of the highly successful platinum-selling rock band Sugar Ray decided to change up his career in 2004 by changing positions, from interviewee to interviewer. McGrath joined the entertainment news show "Extra" for four years, before stopping to once again focus on his music in 2008. (We think all celebrities are rolling in money, but here some high-profile people that make less than you in Surprisingly Underpaid Celebrities And Other High-Profile People.)

This is not exactly a celebrity to average joe career change, but it definitely is a switch from playing music to having a daily job as host and interviewer. McGrath reportedly loved doing the hosting and interviewing, and did well at it; he has since hosted other programs and made appearances on various television shows and movies.

The Bottom Line
When you look at the number of jobs that the average person will have in their lifetime, it seems like celebrities changing careers should be the norm rather than an anomaly. There are numerous other stories with lesser-known public figures. For instance, the former Prime Minister of Finland, Oscar Tokia, was ousted in 1920 and ended up becoming a lumberjack in Canada; rapper Cappadonna, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, ended up driving cabs in Baltimore for a number of years before returning to the music industry.

This just goes to show that the job you have is not necessarily the one you'll have forever. Even those with some of the sweetest gigs around found their calling in another field.

Still feeling uninformed? Check out last week's business news highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Zombies File Taxes, Dead Bills Rise Again.

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