30 Celebrities Who Were Rich Before They Were Famous
In 2012, Taylor Swift wrote “The Lucky One”, a song about the dangers of fame. Lyrics like, “Another name goes up in lights. You wonder if you’ll make it out alive. And they’ll tell you now, you’re the lucky one,” read like a warning to stay away from the trappings of celebrity.
But Swift and many other celebrities chased fame like it was their destiny. Was it solely their talent that got them there, or did they have some help reaching the top? Many easily recognizable actors and singers had a leg up in the fame game thanks to wealthy relatives who helped finance their way to stardom. Check out these pampered prodigies and decide for yourself if family money paved their way.
On camera and in interviews, actor Bradley Cooper cultivates a scruffy, salt-of-the-earth persona. In reality, Cooper is nothing like the roles he plays on screen. Cooper had plenty of financial backing growing up; you only have to look at his education to get the real story.
The 5-foot powerhouse vocalist made a name for herself from an early age. Her breakout role on Nickelodeon's Victorious earned Grande an army of young fans. A few years later, Grande evolved from a tween actress into a successful adult pop star, selling over 4 million records and counting.
Ah, Miley Cyrus. The ultimate chameleon in the music industry. She regularly evolves her aesthetic and sound from pop to country to hip-hop to psychedelic and beyond. Perhaps she's searching for a sound that distracts us from knowing how privileged she grew up?
Taylor Swift is hands down one of the most recognizable names in pop music. She’s sold over 50 million records worldwide and won an impressive 10 Grammy awards among countless other trophies. Hits like "Shake It Off," "You Belong with Me," and "Blank Space" have been anthems for fans young and old for years.
Paris Hilton. The OG and originator of the term "famous for being famous". As the great-granddaughter of Hilton Hotels founder, Conrad Hilton, Paris had a very pampered upbringing. So pampered, in fact, she gained access to exclusive clubs and social circles until she became a tabloid obsession and media socialite.
Nicole Richie was the other half of the foul-mouthed pampered duo on The Simple Life. Blonde hair extensions, ill-fitting outfits and a general distaste for the common man helped Richie launch herself into reality-tv royalty. She has since parlayed her fame into comedic roles on TV and in films.
Before the makeup and perfume lines. Before her marriage to Kanye West. Before her marriage to Kris Humphries. Before Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Before the sex tape. Heck, even before serving as Paris Hilton's assistant, Kardashian led a privileged life.
This film actor comes from money. A lot of money. He gets his name from his grandfather, oil tycoon Armand Hammer. His grandfather's company became one of the largest energy and gas corporations in the country. His father is also an owner of a successful film/television production company. Sounds like Hammer had some help in carving an acting career for himself.
Ed Sheeran is the kind of singer that you can't escape. You'll hear his music at weddings, in grocery stores, elevators or anywhere that needs to fill an empty void. Filling empty voids with harmless music pays off, and has made him one of the most successful musicians of his generation.
It takes a trained, talented actor to pull off a role like Peter Pan in a production of NBC's Peter Pan Live. But sometimes the part goes to someone whose father is NBC's top news anchor. It's not hard to follow the breadcrumbs here, folks.
If you’ve listened to an adult contemporary radio station in the last 15 years, you’ve likely heard Maroon 5’s songs. The band, fronted by The Voice coach and perpetually shirtless wonder Adam Levine, is full of that vanilla charisma that always wins over soccer moms.
Stefani Germanotta grew up very privileged in New York City. Her mother was a business executive and her father was a successful Internet entrepreneur. He made his millions installing Wi-Fi in major hotels and restaurants. It helped pay for her $46,000 a year education at the Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Manhattan, the same school Paris and Nicky Hilton attended.
Nick Kroll is the foul-mouthed creator of the Netflix hit Big Mouth. On the show, a group of kids from a suburban town face the horrors of puberty to the delight of viewers. Kroll even included a character that represents his own struggles growing up.
Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey broke the internet in 2011 with her haunting video for “Video Games”. Fans loved its Instagram-filtered American nostalgia and haunting visuals of pursuing Hollywood notoriety. The “self-styled Nancy Sinatra” cultivates a unique sound that pays homage to the '50s and '60s but combines it with lyrics any Brooklynite taking swigs of Pabst Blue Ribbon could conjure.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an American television legend. From SNL to Seinfeld to The New Adventures of Old Christine to Veep, Louis-Dreyfus has brought laughter to our TV screens for over 30 years. While she has clearly amassed a fortune of her own, she wasn't the first family member to bring home the big bucks.
American journalist Anderson Cooper is the host of the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360°. His focus helps him navigate difficult conversations with controversial celebs and politicians alike. People also tune in to admire his platinum hair and blue eyes, but he may have gotten those features from his family.
As Rita Glossner on The Middle, Brooke Shields played a reckless, foul-mouthed mother with very little money and a whole lot of attitude. But don't let her impressive performance fool you, because Shields comes from a long line of prestige, privilege and even royalty.
Some children have their Tinseltown futures laid out for them. All it takes is to have two parents already involved in the throng of Hollywood. Take Jake Gyllenhaal, for example, star of hit films like Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko, and Velvet Buzzsaw.
Rooney Mara is an actress known for her prim, timid demeanor and challenging film roles. From The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to Carol, to Tanner Hall, Mara brings a focus and precision to her roles comparable to a professional athlete on the court.
Sedgwick is a successful actress, producer and director. She is most recognizable for her Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning role in the crime drama The Closer as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. While her work in Hollywood has earned her a nice living, her childhood was way more elegant than average.
Giada De Laurentiis
De Laurentiis is a successful television chef and writer, with a Daytime Emmy and best-selling cookbooks on her resumé. Originally born in Rome, Italy, De Laurentiis moved to Southern California before studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris for $40,000 a year.
Emma Stone is the A-list starlet with big eyes and an even bigger ambition for stardom. She won America's hearts in La La Land, a story about a struggling L.A. actor. Later, she embraced a more complex role in The Favourite, a wealthy debutante down on her luck.
Rashida Jones is an actress, writer and producer. She's most recognizable for her role as Ann Perkins on the comedy series Parks and Recreation. She's also known for her work in films like The Social Network, Our Idiot Brother, and Friends with Benefits.
Bryce Dallas Howard
Bryce Dallas Howard has the distinction of being in one of the most memorable movie scenes ever. It involves Octavia Spencer, Sissy Spacek, and a slice of pie. Yes, that slice of pie. Howard played the villain of all villains in The Help who's comeuppance became instant cinema history.
Actress Salma Hayek is recognizable for her fiery performances in films like Frida, Beatriz at Dinner, and Desperado. Each role required her to portray a confident, eclectic persona. Based on her upbringing, it's not hard to see why she could pull off such roles.
Tori Spelling is an actress, television personality, and woman with serious family drama. She is most known for her first major role as Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210. The teen drama was a major success and lasted for ten seasons.
Jennifer Aniston is a household name thanks to her role as Rachel Green on Friends. Everyone wanted her wardrobe, her haircut, heck, even her fake apartment in Greenwich Village. She's still a mainstay in tabloid fodder and at the box office thanks to America's continued devotion.
Michelle Williams is a child actor success story. Many young actors can easily go down a path of self-destruction. But Williams was able to carve a career for herself as a respected and award-winning adult actress. From Dawson's Creek to My Week with Marilyn, Williams has a career wannabe actresses dream of.
Darren Criss has already established himself as a threat in the entertainment industry. He started out as a stage performer in plays like Hedwig and the Angry Inch and A Christmas Carol. He later moved onto award-winning performances on TV in Glee and American Crime Story.
Model. Singer. Actress. Cara Delevingne can do it all. In a few short years, she climbed the social ladder and became a full-fledged Hollywood star. A closer inspection of her background reveals she may have had some help in her climb to the top.
Ah, Gwyneth. Before diving into her family's wealth, take a quick glance at her GOOP website. A knit tank top can run you $225. How can a top that doesn’t even have sleeves be so expensive! Only a woman from extreme privilege could possibly run such a pretentious website.