Famous People Who Have Been Homeless

This post follows on from and should be read in conjunction with the recent article, Homeless Image and Stereotypes.

Every day, we walk past people in the streets without having the slightest clue that they are homeless because they do not fit the stereotypical image. Even of those that do fit the common-held image, you simply cannot tell by looking at them what past contribution to society they may have made or what contribution they may be capable of producing in the future. You never know what value or talent could be concealed behind the grubby faced facade.

The following persons have all experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Some only briefly and some for many years. Some have risen to fame from poverty while others have declined from wealth to destitution. Some possess extreme intelligence, others artistic talent but all have made positive contribution.

This compilation is by no means exhaustive.

John Drew Barrymore

Actor; father of actress Drew Barrymore spent many years living on the streets and in shelters, becoming more and more reclusive and eventually disappearing into the wilderness maintaining very little contact with friends and family.

Halle Berry

In an interview with magazine, US Weekly, Berry stated that she had stayed in a shelter for a time.

Jim Carrey

Actor, writer, producer and comedian lived out of a VW van in various locations across Canada with older brother John Carrey, older sister Rita Carrey, and parents Percy Carrey and Kathleen Carrey. Also camped in a tent with his family in the backyard of the home of his older married sister, Patricia.

Charlie Chaplin

Oscar-winning actor,writer,director and producer; British-born author; knighted. Lived on the streets of London during his childhood after his father died and his mother, Hannah suffered a mental breakdown. After Hannah Chaplin was again admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum, her son was left in the workhouse at Lambeth in south London, moving after several weeks to the Central London District School for paupers in Hanwell. Chaplin’s early years of desperate poverty were a great influence on his characters. Themes in his films in later years would re-visit the scenes of his childhood deprivation in Lambeth.

Kelly Clarkson

Grammy Award-winning singer; American Idol television talent show 1st-season winner 2002. Lived out of a car and in a shelter, with her female roommate after a major structural fire forced them out of a 71-unit apartment building in West Hollywood, California in March 2002. In an interview with Inside Edition television news magazine, September 5 2002, her roommate-fellow Texan, actress/singer Janet Harvick was quoted as saying, “It was really, really rough because we had just moved here, and we had just moved in the day of the fire. We knew nobody here—I mean nobody, so the night of the fire, the next day, and night, we stayed in our car.”

US Weekly magazine, September 23, 2002; print story: “‘My apartment [building] burned down; my car got towed twice,’ recalls Clarkson, who, with nowhere to go, lived in a homeless shelter for several days.”

Kurt Cobain

Grammy Award-winning singer,songwriter, musician; lead vocalist of the band “Nirvana” camped under a bridge in Aberdeen, Washington USA and slept in a cardboard box on the porch of a drummer friend; hallway floor of an apartment building, hospital waiting room and old couch in a garage. (source: book, Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, by Charles R. Cross, 2001).

Daniel Craig

Actor; James Bond in the 007 movies, is reported as having slept on a park bench in London while a struggling actor. (source: Daily Mail newspaper, October 14, 2005).

Bobby Driscoll

Oscar-winning actor (as child star); the original voice of Walt Disney’s 1953 Peter Pan animated movie died alone and destitute of a heart attack at age 31. The body was discovered by boys playing in a vacant tenement building in New York City and was buried in an unmarked grave, unidentified until several months later.

George Eads

Actor; star of the television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation lived out of his car, in Los Angeles while a struggling actor.

Richard Fagan

American songwriter; wrote six number one hit songs. Albums featuring his songs have sold over 25 million copies. Became homeless twice in the 1970s after being discharged from military service in the Vietnam War.

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella spent years as a struggling, homeless teenager before she was discovered in a singing competition. In 1932, her mother died from a heart attack. She was taken in by her aunt, Virginia. Shortly afterward her sister’s guardian also died of a heart attack and Frances joined Ella at Virginia’s home in New York City.
Following these traumas, Fitzgerald’s grades dropped dramatically, and she frequently skipped school. At one point, she worked as a lookout at a bordello and also with a Mafia-affiliated numbers runner. After getting into trouble with the police, she was taken into custody and sent to a reform school. Eventually she escaped from the reformatory, and became homeless.

Chris Gardner

Multimillionaire stockbroker (net worth $65million (2006)); American author; the 2006 movie the Pursuit of Happyness starring Wil Smith was based on his life. He slept in subway stations, trains, bathrooms, church-run shelter with his son in California.

Kelsey Grammer

Emmy Award-winning actor; star of the television series Frasier camped out the back of a theater behind his motorcycle (source: Entertainment Tonight, December 12, 2001, celebrity ‘Rags to Riches’ story segment.)

Cary Grant

Oscar-winning actor slept rough on the streets of Southampton, England during a summer in his youth at the time of World War I. (source: book, Cary Grant: A Biography, by Marc Eliot, 2004, page 31: “Archie then volunteered for summer work as a messenger and gofer on the military docks, often sleeping in alleys at night if he didn’t make enough money to rent a cot in a flophouse.”).

Harry Houdini

Magician, escapologist and actor; Hungarian-born American author slept rough and in temporary shelters; left home at age 12 in search of work and traveled for two years on his own, making his way from Wisconsin to Missouri and settling finally in New York City.

Djimon Hounsou

West African-born (Beninese) Oscar-nominated actor and model slept on the streets and in subways near the Eiffel Tower for two years beginning at age 13 before being discovered and offered modelling contract.

Eartha Kitt

She slept in subways and on the roofs of apartment buildings. “When I see the homeless now, I empathize,” she told Kaufman in the New York Times. “I know there but for the grace of God go I,” she continued.

David Letterman

Emmy Award-winning television writer, comedian, author and talk-show host of the television talk-show Late Show with David Letterman spent time living out of his Chevy pickup truck while struggling to establish his career.

Lil’ Kim:

In an interview with USA Today Weekend, she was quoted as stating at 8, she and her mom left Kim’s abusive father. “There was a time when my mother and I were living out of the trunk of her car”. “We slept in the back seat.”

Harry Edmund Martinson

Nobel Prize-winning Swedish author (abandoned by his mother at an early age along with his sisters when his father died; later as an adult, he traveled for a time on a “homeless tramp” as a vagrant and vagabond, experiences that provided the basis for some of his writings). Martinson was born in Jämshög, in the Swedish county of Blekinge in south-eastern Sweden. Having lost both his parents at a young age, he was put into foster care. At the age of sixteen, Martinson ran away, and enrolled on a ship where he spent the next years sailing around the world. A few years later, lung problems forced him to set ashore in Sweden. He proceeded to travel around Sweden without a steady employment, at times living as a vagabond on country roads. In the city of Malmö, he was arrested for vagrancy, at the age of 21.

Rose McGowan

Quoted in Interview Magazine in 1997: “I was homeless for a year. I teamed up with this other girl - I met her the first day I was on the streets - and we roamed all over Oregon and Washington.”

Jim Morrison

Singer, songwriter and poet; lead singer and lyricist for the 1960s rock band The Doors; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee (with The Doors), slept on rooftops, in cars and under the pier at Venice Beach, California and ‘couch surfed’ at friends appartments.

George Orwell

British author stayed in homeless shelters either to research material for his work or (likely) necessity.

Charles Sanders Peirce

Harvard University educated genius scientist, mathemetician, logician, philospher and author; first psychologist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Peirce spent much of his last two decades unable to afford heat in winter, and subsisting on old bread kindly donated by the local baker. Peirce died destitute in Milford, Pennsylvania.

Sally Jesse Raphael

It is written in her biography, ‘An Unconventional Success’ that she lived in her car for a time. For a while, her financial situation was so dire that she was on food stamps.

Debbie Reynolds

Wrote about having to literally live in her Cadillac for a while after divorcing Harry Karl.

Harland ‘Colonel’ Sanders

Businessman; founder-spokesperson of the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast-food restaurant chain. Became homeless at age 10 when his mother remarried and he left home due to altercations with his stepfather. As an adult he slept on the back seat of his car because he could not afford lodging as he traveled around the United States and Canada, sometimes with his wife Claudia, trying to sign up restaurants to use his special fried chicken recipe for a franchise licensing fee.

Tupac Shakur

Actor and rap music star. Impoverished throughout most
of his childhood, with his mother and half-sister, he moved between homeless shelters and low grade accommodations in New York City.

William Shatner

Emmy Award-winning actor, director and best-selling Canadian-born American author. After the cancellation of the television series Star Trek, in which he starred, he travelled the east coast of the U.S. appearing in a play on the summer theater circuit and sleeping in a camper with his dog, a Doberman pinscher. “I now had three children and an ex-wife to support and I was just about broke,” he told the Daily Mail in May, 2008. “I lived out of the back of my truck, under a hard shell. It had a little stove, a toilet, and I’d drive from theater to theater. The only comfort came from my dog, who sat in the passenger seat and gave me perspective on everything.” (Details magazine, January 2008.) “I’d been a working actor for decades, I’d starred in three failed TV series [Star Trek the most recent] , and I was a divorced father of three children living in the back of a truck.” (Up Until Now: The Autobiography, by William Shatner with David Fisher, 2008, page 159. ) Also, earlier in his life, he hitchhiked across the U.S. with a male friend during a summer break after their freshman year in college. (From the same above autobiography, page 32) “We had no money, so we made signs reading ‘Two mcGill Freshman Seeing the U.S.’ and hit the road. We spent three months living in cars and sleeping on the grass and on the beach.”

Martin Sheen

Emmy Award-winning actor,director and producer; slept in New York City subway while a young struggling actor.

Marc Singer

British-born director, documentary filmmaker and former model slept in subway tunnels in New York City for two years while making a documentary on the city’s homeless.

Hillary Swank

In 1989, when she was 15, Swank and her mom packed up their Oldsmobile Delta 88 and, with just $75, headed to Los Angeles. They lived in the car until a friend [evetually] gave them a place to stay. Swank’s mom used a pay phone to book her daughter for auditions. (Readers Digest)

John Woo

Chinese-born film director (Mission Impossible 2, Broken Arrow, Windtalkers, etc.) Lived in a crude shelter having been made homeless for a year and losing everything at age seven, along with his family, after a major fire in Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1953 destroyed his home and those of 50,000 other residents.

All images were retrieved from Wikimedia under the following licenes: Public Domain (PD), Share Alike Attribution 2.0 (2.0), Attribution 2.5(2.5), Attribution 3.0 (3.0) and GNU Free Documentation Licence (GNU). Berry (Alexander Horn, 2.5), Carrey (Wiki user ‘ThrowingStick’, GNU), Chaplin (The Tramp, PD), Clarkson (Marcus Wong Wongm, 3.0), Cobain (PB Rage, 2.0), Craig (Caroline Bonarde Ucci, 3.0), Fitzgerald (Carl Van Vechten 1940, PD), Gardner (DB King, 2.0), Grammer (Christen R. Nicholas US Navy Lithographer 3rd Class, PD), Grant (Philadelphia Story 1940, PD), Houdini (McManus-Young Collection 1899, PD), Kitt (Carl Van Vechten 1952, PD), Letterman (SSGT Reynaldo Ramon USAF, PD), Martinson (Gunnar Lundh 1940, PD), Orwell (BNUJ, PD), Shatner (Salvatore Capalbi, 2.0), Sheen (U.S. Navy Chief Journalist Daniel Ross,PD), Swank (Copyright holder permits free usage for any purpose).

97 Comment(s)

  1. This is a well thought out list. This is proof that a homeless situation could happen to anyone at anytime, all it takes is the right set of circumstances and a few mishaps and there you go.

    Nice Matt!!!

    Donald B. Dousharm | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. Klaus Kinski.

    Anonymous | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. chris tucker

    Anonymous | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hitler’s another one to add to the list. Wikipedia has the following:

    “After being rejected a second time by the Academy of Arts, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909, he lived in a shelter for the homeless. By 1910, he had settled into a house for poor working men.”

    Mithridates | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  5. I too was once homeless. I am now a successful engineer. I don’t see it as “look anyone can be homeless” I see it as look you can succeed even from the bottom.

    pauld | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  6. You missed the famous singer Jewel Kilcher.

    Stephen Ball | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  7. Jewel (singer) For a time, she was poverty-stricken and lived in her van while traveling about the country doing street performances and small gigs.

    Anonymous | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  8. Very interesting. Good post.

    Jason

    Jason Gammel | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  9. WTF?

    This is suppose to make you feel better?

    “The Land of Opportunity” but don’t worry about being Homeless..

    You Sheep really deserve your title. Just watch some more TV and worship your Idols somemore… everything is gonna be Allright. Enjoy eating out of that Trash Can.

    Amerika!

    Anonymous | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  10. What this post reminds people of is that by allowing this homeless situation to go on we are not recognizing human potential. But for a different circumstance people can contribute value to this world.

    Renee | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  11. Renee, thank you, you hit the nail on the head. That is exactly what I was trying to demonstrate here.

    This is a follow up to the post I wrote about homeless stereotypes and that one should really be read first in order to understand what I was trying to do with this.

    http://homelesstales.com/2008/07/homeless-image-and-stereotypes.html

    Matt D. Barnes | Jul 26, 2008 | Reply

  12. Are there any soup kitchens around? I run one on Tuesday nights in Mobile, AL USA, and we do a pretty good job. we make chicken and rice, with all fresh ingredients. A nice hot meal makes the night go by better they tell me.

    Also, have you considered a hiking backpack?

    What are your work prospects?

    Nik Martin | Jul 27, 2008 | Reply

  13. You know this makes me wonder how much hidden talent is out there, if these people were given a chance to get back on their feet and make a fresh start. Everyone makes a mistake, and sometimes that mistake leads to homelessness. As a community, state, government we should all do something to help them get their 2nd chance.

    dena ciferri | Jul 27, 2008 | Reply

  14. hopefully this article will make people realize how much hidden potential is out there. Some of these people even fought for our country. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes that mistake leads to homelessness. I fell like it’s the responsibility of the community, the state, and the government to help these people with their 2nd chance. Also, some are mentally ill, so please treat them with respect

    Dena Ciferri | Jul 27, 2008 | Reply

  15. Hi Nik,

    thank you for your comments. I confess my knowledge of soup kitchens here in the UK is somewhat limited but they are certainly not as commonplace as they are in the US and rare outside of London and major cities. There are some groups such as the salvation army that do some work of this kind.

    I have health issues which I intend to detail more about in later posts which make short-term work prospects not particularly good. However, I have overcome them before and it should be noted that I was in continuous employment for 10 years prior to being made redundant last year.

    A backpack would be more convenient. I have struggled with carrying more possessions simply because it was always my plan to restore my position in society as rapidly as possible.

    Matt D. Barnes | Jul 27, 2008 | Reply

  16. rupert everett…almost certain about him. i know he was a street hustler for a few years. regardless, a well written effort to undermine stereotypes of the homeless. especially important because it shows that it can be overcome. it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

    compson | Jul 28, 2008 | Reply

  17. Wasn’t KRS-One also homeless for a while when he was younger?

    Anonymous | Aug 9, 2008 | Reply

  18. This is a pretty awesome blog. Also, I heard Beck Hanson aka “Beck” was homeless for awhile. Anyway, keep up the good work.

    DylanSwift | Aug 9, 2008 | Reply

  19. it’s always darkest before the dawn

    Ash | Aug 10, 2008 | Reply

  20. Most of these people are COOKS and/or current or prior drug addicts. Homelessness is part of that.

    Burt | Oct 20, 2008 | Reply

  21. This just shows that homeless people have only themselves to blame for their situation. If they would quit smoking drugs and put down the bottle for a minute they could get a job in even this economy. I say let the scum die.

    John | Oct 20, 2008 | Reply

  22. @’John’ That is amongst the most idiotic, ignorant statements I have ever heard. A significant proportion of homeless people do work. Your obvious lack of humanity puts you on a much lower level than most you may find on the streets, whether they be drug abusers, alcoholics or otherwise.

    admin | Oct 20, 2008 | Reply

  23. I agree. Oh, and John must be a Republican, too. They think everybody just needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or some such old fashioned bull crap. There are bad situations everywhere. I just wish some people would get a clue as to the reality of life on the streets. Take off your blinders and realize IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU! Alcoholism and drug addiction are two small parts of a much bigger problem.

    Steve In Denver Colorado USA | Oct 20, 2008 | Reply

  24. This would be a stronger list if it didn’t include people who essentially chose to be homeless on it.

    Jesse | Oct 20, 2008 | Reply

  25. Wow…as Eartha Kitt stated: “I know there but for the grace of God go I”–great read!

    TeasasTips | Oct 20, 2008 | Reply

  26. I Love it! Nice

    akq8289 | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  27. Wow, I sure would have gladly helped out Hillary Swank back in the day! Hubba Hubba

    JIff

    Jiff MAson | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  28. Before his Seinfeld hit, Larry David was so convinced that he would end up homeless, that he walked around New York City inventorying all the warm places where he could sleep at night.

    Guerilla Billionaire™ | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  29. Playwright Tyler Perry was also homeless for a while before he made it big.

    darleene | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  30. What do you call a musician without a girlfriend? Homeless.

    It’s funny to musicians everywhere because its true and sometimes if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

    bob | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  31. What about millionare investment guru Jim Cramer?

    Michael A | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  32. Robert Mitchum - was a train riding hobo in the last depression. (numerous brushes with the law as well)

    KT | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  33. I’ve always hated the comment “I know there but for the grace of God go I.” What does that mean? That somehow God had grace on you, but not that other person on the street? Somehow God favors one homeless person over another, and helps only one of them out?

    James | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  34. Anthony Kiedis, Lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. When he was in his young twenties and drop out of UCLA.

    Steven | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  35. Nice to see this, I have had hard times financially and have lived in my car for 3 months.

    It really is a liberating experience as long as you can make the money for food. If not its really scary, also if you get caught you go to jail. You never know if you will wake up to a man with cuffs.

    Basically I go to the gym in the morning workout then shower, then I either go to work or if I’m off chill and read books at the park or go to the square and use my laptop or library. I ended up joining the Military out of desperation for a college tuition, so high hopes and hard work ahead!

    Cypher | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  36. btw, I noticed someone relating homelessness to drugs. I have never tasted any alcoholic beverage or smoked any type of drug. These things are not always in the control of the individual. I also believe that if society was not so hostile towards homeless people then it would be a safer transition.

    Cypher | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  37. Donald Driver, (ex?) wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, was homeless as a child.

    simandl | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  38. how about J.K. Rowling?

    Ultralomaniac | Oct 21, 2008 | Reply

  39. The singer Jewel was, too.

    Joe | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  40. I love how people are continually condemning “smoking drugs”. First of all, not all “drugs” are smoked, and the ones sitting in your medicine cabinet are more dangerous than some of the ones you can buy on the street. Second, alcohol is a drug. Alcohol, and Tobacco, kill more people than crack, cocaine, and heroin COMBINED. Why are they legal? If you are so anti-drug, then you should advocate the illegalization of tobacco and alcohol, and don’t forget caffeine (which is also physically dangerous and addictive, while other ‘drugs’ such as marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, and mescaline are all non-addictive substances that do not harm the body, yet remain to be illegal due to the lack of market the government can utilize from them).

    Don’t be ignorant people, nothing is black and white in this world.

    Anonymous | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  41. I’ve gone from living in my car for 6 months to making $100K/year. The irony is that I had more freedom and was happier living in my car.

    One of my favorite quotes came from a “homeless” guy I met who was living in a custom bike-powered camper. I asked him how it is out here being homeless and he said “I am not homeless. This world is my home, and nobody can take that away from me.”

    Anonymous | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  42. Jack Kerouac
    Vincent Van Gogh

    Lisa | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  43. You should add MADONNA to this list.

    ! | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  44. Jean-Michel Basquiat

    An American artist. He gained popularity first as a graffiti artist in New York City, and then as a successful 1980s-era Neo-expressionist artist. Basquiat’s paintings continue to influence modern day artists and command high prices.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Michel_Basquiat

    Tyler | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  45. Michael W. Smith was also homeless

    Bart | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  46. RuPaul also.

    justin | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  47. None of the above were crippled by addictions or mental illness. They were all homeless due to poverty, which they worked themselves out of.

    Ron Larson | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  48. yeah, and cockroaches are homeless, too…reading crap like this gives always gives me the worst case of gas…

    homeBiscuitsAndGravy | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  49. I don’t think it’s accurate to classify many of those on the list as homeless. Living in your car by choice is not the same as having nowhere to go. Many on your list had family who would have gladly taken them in. Including people like David Letterman and Kelsey Grammer on the list diminishes the plight of the truly homeless.

    The Mutt | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  50. Some of you people have all the empathy of a rattlesnake, like my namesake. In this economy, living hand to mouth is the rule, not the exception. Maybe with a change in the White House, more people will be able to afford a house. Has anyone noticed how much homelessness has risen with Republicans in the White House?

    John | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  51. Add the actor Mark Webber to this list! His mother talked about it in the following interview on the show “Democracy Now!” (I think it’s pretty common for people to be homeless at some point in their life — it’s what happens when you don’t have a job for awhile, at least in this country. I’ve stayed in my car a few times between jobs, when relatives couldn’t take me in. Right now I’m making about 100k/year — mostly eaten up by hotel bills as I’m a consultant in New York, but if this job ends I’m only a couple of weeks away from moving into my car again.):

    http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/3/poor_peoples_economic_human_rights_campaign

    AMY GOODMAN: Your group was also at the Democratic convention in Denver.

    CHERI HONKALA: Yes, members of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign were also at the Democratic
    National Convention. Things were also difficult for folks there to put a face on what’s happening to the majority of the people in this country.

    AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your own story, Cheri Honkala. How did you get involved with this?

    CHERI HONKALA: I’m a formerly homeless mother from here, from the Twin Cities, and I have an older son who’s twenty-eight now, but at the time, he was nine years old. And—

    AMY GOODMAN: He’s Mark Webber, the actor?

    CHERI HONKALA: Mark Webber, the actor now. And the both of us almost froze to death on the streets of Minnesota, because we couldn’t get into the homeless shelters here. And so, I decided one day to move into a government-owned, abandoned HUD property, because they had the heat on in the wintertime. And I made that decision—I had never broken any laws before in my life—because I wanted to stay alive and not die. And it’s been, ever since that time, some twenty-eight years ago, that I’ve been doing this kind of work, because I knew that if I could have died and nobody cared about what was happening to me, that that had to have been happening to thousands of other people across the country.

    Pam | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  52. Very interesting list, but I think there’s a big difference between being forced into homelessness by your situation and sleeping in your car because you’re a struggling actor in L.A. who refuses to get a regular job.

    Craig | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  53. I wouldn’t classify most of these people as true homeless people and it undermines the seriousness of the problem. Most of the above were homeless by choice going after “fame”. It even makes it sound glamorous to be the poor struggling actor living on the street seeking fame. What a bunch of crap, these egotistical people could have gotten a “real” job instead of going after stardom. Stop idolizing actors, they’re just self-absorbed people.

    Jak | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  54. The script writer, a woman, for “Jesus Super Star” has lived AFTER being famous in the Bowery hotel-shelter. Help me to find her name.
    There was an article in “The Village Voice” about 15 years ago:
    “Poor And Famous”. What is characteristically in this case it is that
    those people WERE ONCE FAMOUS and then ran down the social ladder and thrown out and forgotten.
    This is NOT as “optimistic” as being homeless BEFORE you started the way to the success!
    For it is just CULTURAL THING: America do not value its talents which once constituted its glory.
    By the way, Charlie Chaplain was running away from the USA as from the lepers’ place. ( The Autobiography of Chaplain)

    lara | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  55. I don’t consider “acting” a talent.
    Musician yes, comedian yes, actor - hell no

    Jak | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  56. I tried sleeping out of my car once at a Park & Ride and the cop told me I couldn’t do it. I was homeless for five months during which time I could not even get a minimum wage job despite my engineering degree, or maybe because of it. I had to pay $5 a night for a mattress in a homeless shelter and after three months I had to get a waiver to stay there. This wasn’t during the Great Depression, it was 2002.

    It’s a cold world out there.

    Joe | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  57. Homelessness is unacceptable. The elite bankers, who live off the sweat of our brows via the unconstitutional taxation of our wages to pay the interest to print up their worthless funny money never have to worry about homelessness.

    Kim | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  58. Will Rogers, best-paid entertainer of the 1920s and 1930s, ran out of money in Argentina as a young man and slept on a park bench for weeks, until getting a job caring for animals on a ship bound for South Africa.

    Mary | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  59. And of course, singer Woody Guthrie was perennially homeless from childhood through adulthood.

    Mary | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  60. This is offensive. You call people who go on road trips and live in their cars homeless! Shit, I was homeless for a year backpacking across Europe. Hard core man, hard core.

    Homeless doesn’t mean you’re a struggling actor living on a park bench because you think your some kind of bohemian. It means your too fucking sick or nuts to work at McDonald’s.

    Joe | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  61. Jewell was homeless too… she lived out of her car and sang gigs in bars.

    Moe | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  62. Try Othello, Hamlet. Acting is the hardest profession in the world, dear : your tool is your emotions, which you explode EACH EVENING and after that - you are wiped out. Of course, if you are A GOOD ACTOR. Try.
    By the way, “comedians” are actors as well.
    Charlie Chaplin , for one.
    You are probably very young and very far from the true ,real art.
    Try.

    lara | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  63. “Acting is the hardest profession in the world”
    You have obviously never worked in a factory, prison or heaven forbid a Rogers call-center.

    Mary | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  64. Writer Colin Wilson lived in a tent in a public park and during that time wrote “The Outsider.”

    I think a distinction needs to be made between temporarily homeless, young lark homeless, and desperate homeless. Kelly Clarkson was not hopeless. Jim Carrey’s seemed like a young lark (like traveling Europe from hostel to hostel). Desperate homeless is when there is no view of an end in sight.

    Mike Cane | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  65. >>>how about J.K. Rowling?

    No, she never was. She’s stated she was “as poor as a person can be without actually being homeless.” I think she mentions that in her Harvard Commencement speech:
    http://harvardmagazine.com/go/jkrowling.html

    Mike Cane | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  66. These “homeless” ones all had exceptional talents, and drive for success. Most homeless are not so gifted. And secondly, I doubt few if any homeless people would be reading this article. So who is the author “admin”’s audience and what is the purpose of this piece.

    Jim Street | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  67. Artist, artist, artist, artist, artist, artist……….30 artists, one stock broker, one chicken guy and a mad scientist.

    Granted, different kinds of art (song, writing, acting) but still art

    Willie | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  68. henry rollins lived in his car for a while

    anon | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  69. Well, I would of surely helped Hillary Swank. I’m a nice guy, that’s why.

    KP | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  70. Everyone in New Orleans, for a while, thanks to Bush’s transfer of American domestic infrastructure funds to the sand of Iraq.

    Chimpeach! | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  71. It’s a travesty that Jewel is not mentioned here.

    Birkir | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  72. Living in your car is such a problem; what with the private shelter, comfortable seats, safety, and mobility. And…somehow you manage license, insurance, tolls, repairs, and fuel. Oh, and those fretful parking problems.

    You’re splitting hairs when you equate car living with homelessness. If you have a car, you have a home. It’s called being on the road, an American right of passage.

    Like Bill Shatner, I got this perspective from my dog, in fact, he does all of our thinking.

    Un-like Bill Shatner, my time living in a VW Bug, I had no toilet or bed. In car living speak, a pickup truck with a camper shell would be the equalivant of a rolling McMansion.

    rexrs | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  73. No suprises there folks…
    This can happen to anyone at anytime… Given the current financial siuation in the world it is a suprise the “New 2008 Homeless” hasn’t been done yet. Good luck to those whom are smart enough to pull themselves out of a rotten situation. Life’s short… Live your own dream.

    Mario | Oct 22, 2008 | Reply

  74. 700 bill. bailout and we still have homeless Vets on the street. Something is terribly wrong here.

    Ron | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  75. Even the mentally ill and drug addicts often have some level of choice. If they are “too nuts” to work at McDonald’s, they can qualify for disability and housing. There is a loss of
    “freedom” in those choices, which might be a factor for those who remain on the streets. I work with alcoholics and drug addicts. I have spoken with shelter workers. Some homeless just don’t want to or can’t change. We owe them our compassion, and for some, there is still hope they will choose to get off the streets. I do think, at times, that we make qualifying for disability instead of making drug/alcohol treatment mandatory too easy. Oxycontin addicts are notorious for figuring out how to game the system. I know of several cases where able bodied adults have disability and medical benefits so they can live as they want without having to work a “real job”.

    Yorkie | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  76. @Steve In Denver -
    Your hate is showing! You’ve just put yourself on the same level as John. You give us Dems a bad name.

    SlackJack | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  77. Very good article. As others have said, it helps show that the homeless are NOT all addicts or mentally ill, unless John and his fellow jerks think that Colonel Sanders and Cary Grant were smoking crack together. But, as others have also said, it is made a bit weaker by the fact that several of these seem to have been the voluntary homelessness of the artsy set, especially punk and grunge types.

    Probably the richest ex-homeless person is Guy Laliberte. He lived on the streets in Montreal for ten years as an acrobatic street performer. He eventually gathered a group of other street acrobats and founded Cirque du Soleil and is now a billionaire.

    BTW, Jak, acting IS hard. I work for a Shakespeare theatre (not as an actor, but in admin). Our actors do four shows in repertory, all Shakespeare, and we role double, so they memorize as many as eight or ten roles and perform them five days a week. So why don’t you recite all of Hamlet’s lines for me, live before an audience, with no cues, and THEN throw in Edgar in King Lear, Harry Percy in Richard II, and Claudio in Measure for Measure, before you tell me that acting is easy.

    Southern Buddhist | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  78. @Southern Buddhist

    Congratulations, you have come the closest so far to actually understanding the point of the post which suggests you may well have read the intro.

    For clarification purposes, the point is that it doesn’t matter why these people were homeless or for how long. What matters is that when you pass a homeless person in the street you simply cannot tell just by looking who they are, what talent they may possess or what contribution they could possibly make to society in the future.

    Any one of these persons at the time of their homelessness could have been looked at with the same disdain as is commonplace for the general homeless population.

    admin | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  79. Right after Marianne Faithfull broke up with Mick Jagger, she just completely shut off from society and went off and lived on a wall in Soho for a year or two.

    Chris | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  80. Funny how so many of this celebs are now such uppity douchebags. Easy to turn your back on what you once were I guess

    morgan | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  81. How about respecting the “buffer zone” when going to the restroom? If there’s more than one empty stall next to mine, then I would prefer that you put at least one empty stall between us. There’s no reason so sit next to someone unless you have no choice.

    Unbeta | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  82. Geez you are hyper. Calm down, no one said this is supposed to make anyone feel better, it just did make some people feel better. America or not, doesn’t matter. It’s just an artical angrypants.

    Sarabi | Oct 23, 2008 | Reply

  83. woo so many successful celebs on road… we have a lot to learn from these celebs…

    Fame | Oct 24, 2008 | Reply

  84. Robert Hays of “airplane”, was homeless for a time and lived in a vw van. He still owns it to this day as a reminder of how far he has come and how easy it would be to go back there.

    Michele | Oct 25, 2008 | Reply

  85. Please always help homeless.You never know one day he/she become celebirity n pay you back in big time.
    RAJ

    RAJ | Oct 26, 2008 | Reply

  86. So what, like 30 people actually did make it. Geeze makes me wonder how many more people didn’t make it. Following your dream is great and all, but at some point you have to be realistic. Kudos to those that can do it, but at the same time it gives the wrong people the wrong impression.

    America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, and it seems that a overwhelming amount of people want to make a lot with out doing to much (i.e actor), yeah it sounds great…..and who am I kidding is great. But what happened to the people who used to admire Scientist, Doctors, Astronauts, Police Officers, Firemen etc…etc………….Oh yeah right, there in other countries like India who are starting to become world leaders.

    People we need to get our act together.

    jaromir | Oct 27, 2008 | Reply

  87. Right!

    Igal | Oct 29, 2008 | Reply

  88. it’s true. jim morrison chose to be homeless most of his life.

    jesskat | Oct 29, 2008 | Reply

  89. . ADOLF HITLER , the most importan person of this list was left out.

    Nobody else in the history of mankind ever rose from BEGGER to RULER of the WORLD.

    Why this astounding, unseen of, amazing, staggering progress has been left out of this list I do not know. Maybe the owner of this site is just JEWISH.
    Pity.

    RICHARD CLEMENTS | Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

  90. Paris Hilton

    For months she had to live in luxury hotels because she wasn’t getting along with her mom and couldn’t go back to the mansion. I guess she wasn’t following her mom’s roadmap to exploiting your daughter.

    stevedenver | Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

  91. Michael Jackson!

    le merde | Nov 3, 2008 | Reply

  92. i think your hot!!!!

    amber | Nov 3, 2008 | Reply

  93. @Richard Clements,

    As clearly stated in the introduction the list is by no means exhaustive. Hitler certainly was both famous and homeless but the article is designed to highlight a positive contribution to society and I wouldn’t consider the vast majority of his ‘achievements’ to qualify as such.

    Also, although he may have had delusions of being so, he most certainly was never ruler of the world. In fact he is perhaps the best example of talent squandered, the complete opposite of most of the people mentioned here.

    And no, not Jewish or any other affiliation other than to humanity, something which you seem to be devoid of.

    admin | Nov 6, 2008 | Reply

  94. @Amber,

    Thanks, Miss Google. Not entirely sure what you’re basing your observation on but I can’t deny it’s true :)

    admin | Nov 6, 2008 | Reply

  95. Pursuit of Happyness was like the best movie ever imo. made me wanta watch even more will smith movies which lately haven’t been that good….

    bored | Nov 6, 2008 | Reply

  96. More famous people who have been homeless: Jason Kay (Jamiroquai’s leadsinger)

    “I was homeless,” he says of the notion that he was an overnight success. “I slept under stairs, in parks, on benches… I delivered pizzas, and worked in a toy warehouse where the only thing I could do to entertain myself was to jump on the dollies that pissed themselves. People see the house, the cars, and they forget all that shit.”

    2001, Esquire Magazine. http://funkin.com/the_band/articles/esquire_magazine-sep01/

    Lala | Nov 13, 2008 | Reply

  97. I’m sorry to everyone one of you that were homeless. I hope you can have a better life now. I love all of you guys!

    Amanda | Dec 18, 2008 | Reply

36 Trackback(s)

  1. Oct 9, 2008: from The Homeless Got Talent | Homeless Tales
  2. Oct 9, 2008: from Real Life 'Hancock's; Homeless Heroes | Homeless Tales
  3. Oct 21, 2008: from 33 famosos que vivieron en la calle (ánimo) « Todo lo que veo
  4. Oct 21, 2008: from FuzzLinks.com » 33 Famous People Who Have Been Homeless
  5. Oct 22, 2008: from Beroemde daklozen | MAFIA Blog
  6. Oct 22, 2008: from Coffee Break « The High Definite
  7. Oct 22, 2008: from famous peeps. | doop doop doop!
  8. Oct 22, 2008: from brantfordblog » Blog Archive » Begging with the Stars
  9. Oct 22, 2008: from Once Homeless, Now Famous « Mike Cane 2008
  10. Oct 22, 2008: from Famous People who have been homeless « RaymondGarraud.com
  11. Oct 22, 2008: from Martin Sheen, William Shatner, Tupac, Ge … « Paul M. Watson
  12. Oct 22, 2008: from pfhmag » links for 2008-10-22
  13. Oct 23, 2008: from Famous People Who Have Been Homeless - Christian Forum Site
  14. Oct 23, 2008: from Home Stretch: Links To Round Out The Work Day | YepYep
  15. Oct 24, 2008: from Links for 2008-10-24 [del.icio.us] at pierson.homeip.net
  16. Oct 24, 2008: from The PHA : links for 2008-10-24
  17. Oct 25, 2008: from “Got Instructions?”
  18. Oct 25, 2008: from » Roundup: Homelessness, Saving, and Recession on Blueprint for Financial Prosperity
  19. Oct 26, 2008: from Famous People Who Have Been Homeless « The Intelligencer
  20. Oct 27, 2008: from Picdit » Blog Archive » Biggest Roadside Attractions
  21. Oct 27, 2008: from links for 2008-10-27
  22. Oct 27, 2008: from Book Review: Scratch Beginnings | The Wisdom Journal
  23. Oct 28, 2008: from Historias de homeless: famosos y heroes en Radiocable.com
  24. Oct 28, 2008: from A Love Poem… » Blog Archive » Famous People Who Have Been Homeless
  25. Oct 29, 2008: from Historias de sintecho: famosos y heroes (Eng)
  26. Oct 30, 2008: from θοδωρής γεωργακόπουλος | Διάσημοι Άστεγοι
  27. Oct 31, 2008: from Enlaces entre horas » Post Topic » Y hoy en “Gente”…
  28. Nov 5, 2008: from de homeless para estrela « don´t touch my moleskine
  29. Nov 6, 2008: from Famous People Who Have Been Homeless | Blogbdon
  30. Nov 8, 2008: from Cinemaspop » Blog Archive » Homeless de cine
  31. Nov 11, 2008: from Da rua para os palcos « Favoritos
  32. Nov 18, 2008: from the nutshell paragraph » Blog Archive » Like an ideological phoenix, Karl Marx rises from the dead…
  33. Nov 23, 2008: from Famous and homeless — NJ Advocacy Network to End Homelessness
  34. Nov 25, 2008: from Seizing The Day » Blog Archive » Home for the Holidays
  35. Dec 8, 2008: from The Famous Homeless | The Hobosoul
  36. Dec 25, 2008: from Прочитано.ру » Blog Archive » Звезды, которые были бомжами

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