The "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul," singer Mary J. Blige, was goofing around in a mall as a teenager making a demo in a karaoke booth. Anchorman Stone Phillips was waiting tables. Supermodel Cindy Crawford was a college freshman shucking corn at a fair in Illinois.

We've all heard countless stories of ways ordinary people were plucked from obscurity and catapulted into stardom. Still, let's be real: Mary, Cindy and Stone are the exception, not the rule. So, how many random gigs did most celebrities weather on the rocky path to fame?

Nothing wrong with a little guyliner...

Johnny Depp fronted a KISS tribute band, X-Man Hugh Jackman was a clown, and Robin Williams was a former mime. That's not a misprint. Robin Williams was once a silent performance artist. Glad he quit his day job!

Service with a smile

Rapper Lil' Kim paid her rent as a Bloomingdales salesgirl (do pasties count as "business casual"?) and funnyman Steve Carell delivered the mail before he delivered one-liners.

Nowadays, Jim Carrey is paid big money not to be taken seriously, but it had to be a liability back when he was a security guard. Michael Caine battled suds as a dishwasher while edgy comic Chris Rock was a busboy. Rock has since joked about his employment with Red Lobster, "If you work there, you can't afford to eat there."

It's a dirty job but somebody (famous) has to do it

Classic movie tough-guy Charles Bronson was a coal miner. Josh Holloway of "Lost" fame picked up dead chickens on a farm. Matthew McConaughey reportedly shoveled chicken manure in Australia (let me guess...he did it shirtless?).

Bats didn't stand a chance after metal-act and former MTV star Ozzy Osbourne worked in a slaughterhouse. Girls just want to have fun, not clean out dog kennels as Cyndi Lauper did.

Fought the law and the law won

If the name Danny Trejo doesn't ring bells, the face (or tattoos) will. This hardworking character actor for the big and small screens (From Dusk till Dawn, Grindhouse, The X-Files, Desperate Housewives) spent 11 years in and out of incarceration for numerous infractions.

Also notable for time served: prolific TV thespians Charles S. Dutton (Roc) for manslaughter, and the "Tool Man" himself, Tim Allen (Home Improvement), for dealing cocaine.

Cherry on top

What is it with leading ladies and America's favorite frozen treat? Among many celebs who dished it out are Lucille Ball, Julia Roberts, and new screen sweetheart Nikki Blonsky, who worked at a Cold Stone Creamery before winning the role of John Travolta's daughter and Zac Efron's main squeeze in the big-screen version of Hairspray.

Muscle for Hire

It's certainly not a stretch to imagine Vin Diesel, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mr. T carrying out their former duties as bouncers. But Alec Baldwin? Really?

Rescue Me

Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Fargo) should be lauded for his career as a firefighter, while some lucky gals likely escaped drowning because of Agent 007, former-lifeguard Sean Connery (…sigh…).

Run that by me again?

Rat-catcher, Christmas decoration maker, dancer at the National Ballet school of Canada, giant chicken mascot for El Pollo Loco. Any guesses?

Matinee idol and notorious casanova Warren Beatty chased rodents before he chased chicks. Jon Bon Jovi crafted holiday ornaments before going multi-platinum and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) was a talented twinkle toes pre-Star Trek and Boston Legal.

The poor soul sweating it out in the poultry parts: None other than one Mr. Brad Pitt (goes to show you never can tell, ladies)!

Perspiration = Inspiration

It's said that Stephen King dreamt up scenes from his bestselling novel "Carrie" while sweeping out a ladies locker room as a janitor. Quentin Tarantino was famously inspired to become a filmmaker after his stint as a video store clerk. A hairdresser in his sister's salon, Taxi's Danny DeVito enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic arts to pursue cosmetology and makeup. While there, he took an acting class and never looked back.

Whether you're stuck in a thankless job, on a vocation vacation or just discovering your true purpose, remember these lessons:

1. Never give up because your big break could be just around the bend.

2. Today's tragic job is tomorrow's anecdote.

3. No matter what you do, it can't be as bad as Rod Stewart's first job: Gravedigger.

Now get back to work!

Story by Shannon Peace
Starpulse contributing writer

Thanks to for providing some info about these celebrities' former lives.