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11 Successful People Who Were Fired Before Becoming Rich

Getting fired from your job can be a tough experience, but it’s never the end of the world. Here’s a list of celebrities who prove just that.

Image of Hugh Jackman
The Wolverine actor was fired from his first job in high school. Credit: Shutterstock/Iev Radin

Getting fired from your job can be a tough experience, but it’s never the end of the world. Here’s a list of celebrities who prove just that.

Though it might seem it, getting let go from a job isn’t the catastrophe it might seem to be. Even some of the most famous and successful people have been fired at some point in their careers.

If you’re feeling disappointed right after being fired, take a look at some of these celebrities, who bounced back and become some of the most successful people.

Steve Jobs

Image of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was fired from his own company. Credit: Shutterstock/Angga Budhiyanto

In 1985, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he founded. A year after the release of the poorly received Macintosh. A mix of bad sales and an incredibly public ousting following a falling out with John Sculley, CEO of Apple, meant Jobs was out of a job at 30 years old.

But Jobs didn’t leave the tech world. Instead he co-founded computer company NeXT, which also launched Pixar Animation Studios. His new company was acquired by Apple in 1997 for a huge $447 million dollars. Jobs then became the CEO of Apple again before launching the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Walt Disney

Image of Walt Disney
Walt Disney struggled to get his career off the ground. Credit: Stockvault/Pixabay

Believe it or not, Walt Disney was fired in 1919 from the Kansas City Star newspaper for a lack of creativity as a cartoonist. Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t the end of his failures. He formed an animation company named Laugh-O-Gram Films, which also shut down.

After a string of failures, he and his brother, Roy, moved to California. It was here where they found success by producing the successful cartoon series Alice Comedies and Steamboat Willie. In 1923, he launched one of the most successful companies of all time – The Walt Disney Company.


Image of Madonna
The Queen of Pop didn’t last a single day at Dunkin’ Donuts. Credit: Shutterstock/Fred Duval

After dropping out of college and moving to New York, Madonna had a difficult time starting out. Trying to start her musical career, she took a job at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Times Square to start making a little cash.

She didn’t last a single day. As the story goes, she squirted jelly over a customer and ended up fired. Of course, she later became the Queen of Pop that we all know and love.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah on the red carpet
Oprah was fired for being too emotionally involved in stories. Credit: Shutterstock/Joe Seer

Though we all know her as a huge celebrity and talk show host, Oprah Winfrey was actually fired from a reporting job. Working as an evening news reporter for Baltimore’s WJZ-TV, she was called “unfit for television news” by a producer and fired.

The reason? She got too emotionally invested in her stories. She was given a role on daytime TV by the same producer – where her show People Are Talking truly took off.

Elvis Presley

Image of Elvis
The king of rock ‘n’ roll was told to stick to truck driving. Credit: Shutterstock/Zero05Ard

Early on in his career, Elvis Presley was given some heartbreaking advice. The manager of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry told the king of rock ‘n’ roll to stick to driving trucks.

Fortunately for Elvis, he didn’t take this advice. Instead, he continued to perform in the area before touring with Hank Snow, one of the biggest stars in country music at the time.

Hillary Clinton

Image of Hillary Clinton.
Clinton was fired from a salmon cannery in Alaska. Credit: Shutterstock/Evan El-Amin

Before becoming Trump’s rival in the 2016 US elections, Hillary Clinton worked in Alaska for a summer. Gutting and canning salmon, she was eventually fired for working too slowly and asking too many questions to the manager.

But being fired one summer in 1969 didn’t stop her. Eventually, becoming Senator of New York and First Lady.

Jerry Seinfeld

Image of Jerry Seinfeld
Seinfeld was fired from a sitcom without even knowing. Credit: Shutterstock/Nounpusher Photography

Jerry Seinfeld’s career in comedy didn’t immediately take off. He had a small role on the sitcom Benson – but this didn’t last long. After only three episodes, he was fired. This came as a huge surprise to Seinfeld since he had no idea until he showed up to the table read and only to learn that his part had been cut.

Seinfeld’s career took off soon after this. He returned to the comedy club scene before being found by a Tonight Show talent scout. His self-titled show Seinfeld also aired from 1989 to 1998, leading to his long-lasting success.

Michael Bloomberg

Image of Michael Bloomberg
The ex-mayor of New York was fired from an investment bank. Credit: Shutterstock/Ron Adar

Ex-mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, also suffered a similar fate to many on this list. At 39 years old, he was fired from Salomon Brothers, an investment bank on Wall Street, after a merger with Phibro Corporation.

“I was terminated from the only full-time job I’ve ever known,” said Bloomberg. But this wouldn’t be the end of Bloomberg’s career. His severance package contained $10 million, which he invested into his own start-up. He’s now the 14th richest man in the world.

Hugh Jackman

Image of Hugh Jackman
The Wolverine actor was fired from his first job in high school. Credit: Shutterstock/Iev Radin

Now a household name, Hugh Jackman started off working at a 7-Eleven in high school. But his first gig didn’t last too long. He was fired for speaking too much with customers.

“I talked too much to the customers, which was probably true,” Jackman said. Though his first job might not have worked out, the Wolverine actor has gone on to star in some of the biggest roles in recent times ( such as Jean Valjean in Les Mis√©rables).

Anna Wintour

Image of Anna Wintour
The editor-in-chief of Vogue was fired as a junior editor. Credit: Shutterstock/Iev Radin

Anna Wintour’s career began as junior fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar. Bringing innovation to the magazine company, an editor, Tony Mazalla, thought her shoots were too edgy. 9 months into the job, she was fired.

But this didn’t stop her. She’s worked at Viva and Savvy and has been the editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988. Her success has netted her worth of $35 million.

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban on the red carpet
Star of Shark Tank, he was fired from one of his first jobs. Credit: Shutterstock/Joe Seer

Mark Cuban, billionaire and a star of Shark Tank, wasn’t always as successful as he is now. After finishing college, one of his first jobs was working at a computer store. But his focus was on sales instead of cleaning the store like the owner wanted.

After failing to open the store one day in an attempt to get the store a new investor, he was fired. Soon after, in 1982, Cuban founded his first company, MicroSolutions, which he sold eight years later for $6 million.

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Hi! I'm a 2nd year journalism and Welsh student at Cardiff University. I'm passionate about my home language - Welsh - politics, and sci-fi novels!

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