First Jobs of History's Greatest

Very few people are born famous. Fame must be earned, achieved by means of extraordinary effort, talent, persistence, heart. You don't reach the level of a Paris Hilton or a Brad Pitt just by looking good. Okay, bad examples.
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"Welcome to Henry's Restaurant. May I show you to your seat and remove your head?"

Very few people are born famous. Fame must be earned, achieved by means of extraordinary effort, talent, persistence, heart. You don't reach the level of a Paris Hilton or a Brad Pitt just by looking good. Okay, bad examples. But the point is celebrities have to work to become celebrities, often by doing mundane jobs to support themselves.

Danny DeVito worked as a hairdresser in his sister's beauty salon. Steve Martin was employed in a magic shop at Disneyland. Whoopi Goldberg applied make-up to corpses in a mortuary. Even Jesus was a carpenter--pretty much the only workman who could offer low prices and eternal forgiveness.

"I hope Dad likes this home-made chair."

How fascinating it is to discover these early jobs of history's greatest names. Somehow, it makes them more human, more relatable; perhaps it's even inspirational--as if to say, "Heck, President Truman was a hat salesman, so maybe there's hope for me, too." Freud described this kind of thinking as "delusional." Still, it's fun to observe how the seeds of these historical icons' later greatness were sown even during their early workingclass days:


"I understand you're unhappy with your newspaper delivery."

On his first day at work, at the age of 12, the future Czar hogtied the other paperboys, soaked them with borscht, and set their newspapers on fire. At that point, he was known only as Ivan The Fairly Annoying. Three months later, he'd teamed up with Attila the Hun and Vlad the Impaler to take virtual control of the Russian newspaper distribution system, was called Ivan The Really Obnoxious, and really started to tick people off.


"One toga, light starch. Be ready Wednesday."

The future philosopher worked after school and summers at Acropolis Cleaners ("In By 9, Out Whenever We Finish Whacking It Against The Rocks"). During slow times at work, he would spend 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 he had proof of his existence: "I Martinize, therefore I am."


"Does this armor make my ass look fat?"

"Ordering--Number 7 and easy on the mayo!" is not something you'd expect to hear from a future saint and national heroine. But had you stopped for a bite to eat at Pierre's Cafe in 1422, your waitress just might have been the Maid of Orleans herself. Unfortunately, she was (excuse the expression) fired the next year for hearing voices and for talking back to the customers: "I'm worried about saving France and you've got nothing better to do than whine about your crepes being a little dry!?"


"I've got to be me, I've got to be me..."

The first President and father of his country put himself through college by singing for his supper at streetcorners and pubs. He wrote all his own songs, the most requested being: "I Cannot Tell A Lie--I Love You," "Some Day I'll Be On A Dollar," and "Britain Sucks." Legend has it that part of what kept his troops warm at Valley Forge was Washington's stirring rendition of, "We're Heavily Outnumbered But We've Got Music."


"Hey, kids, Ralphy the Clows is gonna talk to you today about consumer protection resources!"

America's foremost consumer advocate spent 5 years as Giggles the Clown, trying to make children's birthday parties festive. Unfortunately, not only was Giggles unable to crack even a smile, but he showed up at parties in a somber grey suit, and proceeded to entertain the kiddies by reading them a litany of federal safety code violations. The highpoint of his presentation was when he made and handed out balloon figures in the shape of recalled Chevy parts.

"Can you really put a price on security?"


Religious leader Moses was one of the founders of the world's first insurance agency, Mutual of Canaan. Extremely successful, Moses would persuade people to invest in a policy with such reasoning as, "Cain, should you not have a financial cushion if God forbid something should happen to your beloved brother Abel?" Moses also initiated the Ten Commandment Policy, which would pay off bigtime if your spouse managed to break all 10 Commandments.


"I can prepare you a delicious duck with a pig's nose."

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


"Is that an asp in your toga or are you just happy to see me?"

As a young woman, Cleopatra (real name: Cleo Shapiro) supported herself by accompanying well-to-do professional men to various social and business functions. When asked her goal, she would always reply, "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. Okay, now remember, when I introduce you as my daughter, just play along."


"Pain, pleasure -- what's the difference? Now, bend over and think of England."

Famous for giving his name to the perversion known as sadism, the Marquis de Sade 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, inquiring, "How about now?... Now?... Now?" Finally, de Sade could not resist asking the patient, "Okay, now your turn to see how much pain hurts me." When de Sade began asking patients to cuff him, apply ankle restraints tightly, and whip him while screaming insults at him in German, his medical license was suspended.


"I'll crack your back with this sack of jacks."

If you had the good fortune to be one of the future best-loved children's author's chiropractic patients, you would be hearing something like this from Dr. Seuss: "Did you ever have a feeling there's a boulder in your shoulder? Or a jack in your back? Or a keg in your leg? Or a farm in your arm? Or a deck in your neck? That's the kind of pain I explain. So if you're feeling like hell, I'll soon have you feeling well, and it will be a thrill to pay my bill."


"Halt, in the name of your unresolved feelings toward your father!"

Yes, the Father of Psychoanalysis was not only a cop, but a darn good one. For after he apprehended the criminal, he would rehabilitate him by explaining how the criminal's anti-social behavior stemmed from a mixture of Schizophrenia and Narcissism, with just a touch of Pyromania and Kleptomania. Invariably, the criminal would collapse in tears in Officer Freud's arms, but Freud would not encourage this, as it smacked of the Oedipus Complex. After dealing with the criminal's unresolved feelings toward his mother, Freud would cuff him and take him to the station.


"He who have small muscles shall experience many painful knockouts."

The great Chinese ethical teacher and philosopher first earned his living with a rather unique style in the boxing ring. When his opponent threw a punch, Confucius would respond, "Confucius say, 'He who resorts to violence shall rest with the cranes.'" While his opponent paused momentarily to figure out the meaning of this, Confucius would surprise him with a deadly left hook, almost invariably knocking him out. He would then turn to the wildly cheering crowd and tell them, "Confucius say, 'He who confuses his adversaries shall live to receive many yen and the adoration of beautiful women.'" In his later years, Confucius sold his entire philosophy to the Canton Fortune Cookie Company, and retired a multi-millionaire.

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