Famous Success Stories Who Once Failed Miserably

By Trista
Famous Success Stories Who Once Failed Miserably

You may look at celebrities and wealthy individuals and think they’ve got it made. They’re successful, financially stable, and loved by people all over the world. While this may be true, the pathway to stardom for many of them was not easy or free of struggle. Even those who seem like they’ve had a silver spoon in their mouth experience hardships. 

Some of your favorite stars have gone through failures before becoming successful. It’s a part of life that we all will experience a failure or two during our lifetime. That doesn’t mean that once you have a setback, it’s time to give up on your goals. Thanks to these stars, it’s great to see what can happen when you persevere. Keep reading to learn more about how some of the most successful people in history learned and grew from their failures.

J.K. Rowling published her first Harry Potter novel in 1997. Pixabay

1. J.K. Rowling

You probably know J.K. Rowling for being the creator of the Harry Potter series. She has authored several books, most notably the seven Harry Potter novels. These books were turned into movies that ended up grossing billions of dollars. You can find tons of Harry Potter merchandise as well as a Universal Studios theme park. 

But before she became one of the world’s richest authors, J.K. Rowling struggled. Early in her career, she was a single mom who was out of work. She would sit in a cafe and write her Harry Potter story ideas on napkins. Rowling went from living on welfare benefits to becoming the first billionaire author in the world.

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful talk show hosts of all time. Pixabay

2. Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey is a media mogul who shaped the talk show industry. She is the first black female billionaire. Winfrey’s net worth is more than $2.7 billion. She got her start as a journalist and reporter. 

Winfrey worked briefly at a news station in Baltimore but was removed from her job by a producer because they felt she was not fit to be on TV. She relocated to Chicago and took over a morning show called AM Chicago. This show would eventually become the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah Winfrey took her failure in Baltimore and turned everything around just a few years later.

Stephen King is the master of scary stories. Pixabay

3. Stephen King

When you think about horror novels, King is most likely the first name that comes to mind. He has written hundreds of works, many of which were turned into successful movies and television shows. Books written by King include Carrie, The Stand, Cujo, Christine, and The Shining. King has sold more than 350 million copies of his books worldwide. 

Before becoming a successful author, King experienced a lot of rejection. By the time he reached the age of 14 years old, he had enough rejection letters that they could no longer be supported on his wall by a single nail. The author ended up getting a degree in teaching and working as a teacher, all the while writing on the side. He started the manuscript for his first novel Carrie but gave up on it eventually. His wife urged him to finish it, and when he did, Carrie ended up being rejected by 30 publishers. Finally, the book got published, and the rest is history.

Walt Disney created the happiest place on Earth. Pixabay

4. Walt Disney

Walt Disney is the namesake of one of the most notable companies in the entire world. Disney is not only famous for its theme parks but also its many classic movies and characters. It’s hard to find someone who isn’t a fan of Disney.

Although Disney became a household name, Disney experienced failure early in his life. He worked at a newspaper in Kansas City but got fired by the editor for having bad ideas and lacking imagination. Disney eventually started a cartoon animation company called Laugh-O-Gram and created cartoons to be shown before movies at a theater chain called Newman’s Theaters. Newman’s Theaters shortly went bankrupt and Disney was out of a job. When that happened, he moved to Hollywood to live with his brother Roy, and the two formed the Disney Brothers Studio, which would eventually become the Walt Disney Company.

Few geniuses have made an impact like Albert Einstein. Pixabay

5. Albert Einstein

Einstein is now considered one of the most brilliant minds of all time, but he didn’t start as a success story. He didn’t speak at all until he was four years old. When Einstein was 16 years old, he failed an entrance exam into the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich, Switzerland.

Einstein did graduate from a university, but struggled through his studies and almost dropped out. He was in such bad shape that when his father dies, he considered his son to be a failure. After university, Einstein worked as an insurance salesman as well as a patent examiner. Just over 26 years after he failed an entrance exam, Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for his achievements in physics and mathematics.

Colonel Sanders is the Godfather of fried chicken. Pixabay

6. Colonel Harland Sanders

Colonel Sanders is known for creating the iconic Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe and starting the restaurant franchise. Before becoming successful, Sanders had a hard life. His father died when he was five years old, leaving him and his two siblings alone with his mother. He learned at a young age how to cook and also worked as a farmhand to support his family.

His mother remarried when he was 12, but after a year, he was forced to leave the family home due to issues with his stepfather. Up until he was 40 years old, Sanders had a variety of jobs, including owning a ferry boat company and selling tires. After that, he opened his own restaurant inside a gas station where he sold his famous chicken dishes. The chef purchased a motel and restaurant, but it burned down just four months later. He finalized his top-secret chicken recipe at the age of 50 but didn’t successfully sell one of his franchises until he was 65 years old.

Bill Gates is a force in the technology industry. Pixabay

7. Bill Gates

Gates was raised in an upper-middle-class home and originally planned to be a lawyer like his father. His strengths were more entrepreneurial, and when he was 17, Gates formed a company with a childhood friend that read traffic data tapes and create results so a person wouldn’t have to do the job manually. On the day Gates was pitching the idea to his local traffic department, the device failed to work, and his concept never got off the ground.

Gates ended up going to Harvard University with a nearly perfect SAT score. He dropped out after the first year to start Microsoft with his friend and partner, Paul Allen. It was quite a risk that paid off.

Sidney Poitier is an actor who has made history. Pixabay

8. Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier is an iconic actor who was the first African American actor to win an Academy Award. He won the award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field in 1963. Poitier eventually became the highest-paid actor of his time.

His start as an actor wasn’t smooth, though. He auditioned for a role and was so nervous that he flubbed his lines. Poitier had a thick Caribbean accent at the time and the director told him that he would be better off working as a dishwasher. Luckily, he persevered to become a successful and revered actor.

Films directed by Steven Spielberg have changed the landscape of filmmaking. Pixabay

9. Steven Spielberg

Spielberg has directed dozens of films, many of which have become box office hits and award winners. Some of his famous films include Jurassic Park, Jaws, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark. His career began with a rocky start after the prestigious film school rejected him at the University of Southern California due to poor grades. 

Spielberg instead went to California State University at Long Beach. After releasing Jaws, which at the time became the highest-grossing movie in America, he followed up with a World War II film called 1941. 1941 majorly flopped, resulting in Spielberg losing a bit of credibility. He moved on from the failure of 1941 to direct acclaimed films like The Color Purple and Schindler’s List.

Charlie Chaplin was a pioneer in the silent film era. Pixabay

10. Charlie Chaplin

Chaplin has a tumultuous upbringing on his way to stardom. His father left the family when Chaplin was two, leaving his mother with no income. Because of that, Chaplin was forced to move to a workhouse at the age of 7, where he worked in exchange for room and board. He was able to return home briefly but sent back to the workhouse after his mother was committed to a mental asylum when he was nine years old.

Because of that, Chaplin and his brother were on their own to survive. He eventually started to enhance his talents by participating in comedy shows, and stage plays. Charlie Chaplin made his way to Hollywood but was turned away by the entertainment industry. He would later go on to become the greatest silent film actor in history.

Keanu Reeves is the quintessential action star. Pixabay

11. Keanu Reeves

One of the biggest movie stars in the world right now is Keanu Reeves. He is known for not only his acting roles but also his kind nature and philanthropic efforts. But Reeves went through a lot of pain and hardships before becoming successful.

Reeves and his mother were abandoned by his father when he was just three years old. His family moved around a lot, and his mother got married and divorced four times. In five years, Reeves attended four different high schools. At the age of 17, he dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles. He got married and had a baby, who was stillborn. Losing the baby led to his divorce, and his ex-wife died in a car accident a year-and-a-half after the breakup. It wasn’t until his role in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure that Reeves’ life began to turn around.

Thomas Edison is one of the most notable inventors in history. Pixabay

12. Thomas Edison

Before becoming a famous inventor, Edison lived with seven siblings in Milan, Ohio. He was homeschooled by his mother and ended up developing hearing issues early on. Edison was trained to use a telegraph, which led to him working for Western Union.

When he was 30 years old, Edison invented the phonograph. He mystified the general public so much that he was named “The Wizard of Menlo Park.” The following year, he started working on developing an incandescent light bulb that was commercially viable. It took more than 10,000 tries to make his dream a reality, but he was successful. Edison had over 1,000 patents to his name when he died.

Most children spend their childhood reading Dr. Seuss books. Pixabay

13. Dr. Seuss

Theodore Seuss Geisel is arguably the most famous children’s author in history. His works have spawned movies, TV shows, and plenty of merchandise. Great Dr. Seuss books include Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Horton Hears a Who.

Dr. Seuss initially studied to earn a Ph.D. in English Literature but was urged by his then-girlfriend to make a living through drawing instead. He worked as an advertising artist for several years while writing his first manuscript. The manuscript was rejected 28 times before a publishing company accepted it. By the time he died in 1991, Dr. Seuss had sold more than 600 million copies of his books.

Fred Astaire is known as one of the most famous failures in the entertainment industry. Pixabay

14. Fred Astaire

When Astaire was six years old, his entire family moved to New York City, so he and his sister Adele could pursue careers in entertainment. The whole family’s primary focus became the children’s dancing and music education. The brother and sister duo performed for many years, even landing on Broadway.

After Adele got married, the act split up and Astaire was on his own. He tried to break into Hollywood but was rejected by a producer during a screen test who said that Astaire “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Dances a little,” which seriously disappointed him. In the end, Fred Astaire worked in the entertainment field for more than 75 years. He was featured in 31 musicals as well as many TV shows and recordings.

Charles Darwin is widely considered to be the father of evolution. Pixabay

15. Charles Darwin

Darwin was born in 1809, the same year as Abraham Lincoln. His father considered him to be a failure. This is because he abandoned his medical studies to pursue his interests in nature. He tried enrolling in another school the following year but ended up dropping out for a second time. 

He knew that the people in his life thought of him as less intelligent and successful, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams. Darwin’s theories on evolution and natural selection are the main ideas that have shaped what we know about life on Earth. It’s because of him that we understand how so many species on Earth came to be.

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. Pixabay

16. Abraham Lincoln 

Speaking of Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States did not have an easy time in his career. In six years, he lost his job, didn’t get elected to the State Legislature, lost his wife, and lost his bid for the Speaker position in the Illinois House of Representatives. 

Over a decade after that, Lincoln was unsuccessful in becoming Commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington DC. Ten years later, his bid to become a United States Senator fell through. Eventually, Abraham Lincoln was elected into the United States House of Representatives. When he was 52, he was elected president and worked hard to champion for equal rights and free the slaves.

Harrison Ford is an extremely famous actor who has starred in dozens of hit movies. Pixabay

17. Harrison Ford

There have been several failures in Harrison Ford’s life. He was born with connections to the entertainment industry, as his father was an actor and his mother was a former radio actress. After he graduated from college, Ford moved to Los Angeles in the hope of becoming a voice-over artist. 

He did not succeed at voice-overs and instead took up several off jobs in Hollywood. He tried to land acting roles despite studio executives telling him, “he would never make it in this business.” Harrison Ford landed his breakthrough role in American Graffiti directed by George Lucas. From there, he would appear in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchise films.

50 Cent is one of the top rappers from the 2000s. Pixabay

18. 50 Cent

50 Cent is known for his illustrious career in the rap industry, but his upbringing was tough. His mother died when he was eight years old, and he ended up living with his grandmother when his father left. When he was 12 years old, 50 Cent began dealing drugs.

He got in trouble with the law because of drugs and firearms, and he was sentenced to 3 to 9 years in prison. Instead, 50 Cent was sent to a boot camp for six months where he earned his GED. Infamously, 50 Cent was shot nine times outside his grandmother’s home and left for dead, but he survived. While in the hospital, he signed a record deal with Columbia Records. They ended up dropping 50 Cent, but he was signed by Eminem, who helped 50 Cent create his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. This album went six times platinum and made 50 Cent one of the world’s best-selling rappers.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”-Winston Churchill. Pixabay

19. Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill is best known for being the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1952 to 1955. When he was younger, Churchill applied to attend the Royal Military College but failed the entrance exam twice. He passed the exam on the third try but only after changing his concentration from the infantry division to the cavalry division.

In his career in politics, Winston Churchill lost five elections, including his first one. Three of his elections were lost one right after the other from 1922 to 1924. Churchill also struggled with a speech impediment and depression. Through all of his struggles, Winston Churchill still became one of the most successful politicians to have ever lived.

Henry Ford is a pioneer in the automotive industry. Pixabay

20. Henry Ford

Ford was born in Michigan in 1863. He founded the Ford Motor Company, which went on to become one of the more profitable automotive companies in the world. Ford didn’t become an engineer until he was 28 and began working at the Edison Illuminating Company. It was there that he began experimenting with gasoline-powered engines.

When the inventor was 35 years old, Ford built a self-propelled vehicle, and it caught the eye of investors. He soon had enough money to open the Detroit Automobile Company. The company folded just two years later for failure to pay back a loan. He managed to get another investor and try again, but his company flopped a second time. When Ford was 40 years old, he decided to try one more time and opened the Ford Motor Company. This company was a great success and revolutionized the auto industry for the average consumer.

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Pixabay

21. Michael Jordan

Jordan is a former professional basketball player and currently owns the Charlotte Hornets NBA team. His first brush with failure was when he failed to make the varsity basketball team in high school and instead was placed on the junior varsity team. Jordan used his low moments to propel him to the NBA, where he went on to win six championships during his career.

According to Jordan, the many failures he experienced have led to his success. He says, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

The Mad Men actor did not have an easy time in his career. Pixabay

22. Jon Hamm

Hamm is best known for his portrayal of Don Draper on the hit AMC show Mad Men. After moving to Hollywood to become an actor, Hamm was unsuccessful in booking any acting gigs. He was signed to an agency, but they cut him because he couldn’t find work. After that, he worked as a waiter while contemplating giving up his dream of being an actor.

He made a deal with himself that if he didn’t find a stable acting gig by the time the actor was 30 years old, he would quit the business. Luckily he got a role in a Mel Gibson movie, so he remained in Hollywood. Hamm got the part of Don Draper in 2007, and since then, he has worked steadily.

Sylvester Stallone via 1069.com

23. Sylvester Stallone

You may know Sylvester Stallone best from his work in the Rocky movies. His story is full of struggles. He moved to New York City in his 20s to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. Most studio execs and talent agents rejected him because they thought he couldn’t act, walked funny, and talked weirdly. He became so broke that he had to sell his dog to afford his electricity bill.

Stallone was homeless and living on the streets when he began shopping around his script for Rocky. Most studios would only make it if he didn’t star in the picture. Eventually, Stallone made a deal that he would be the start of the film and only got paid $35,000 plus a percentage of the box office sales. Lucky for him, Rocky grossed more than $200 million!

This car pioneer experienced hardships on his way to founding one of the top auto manufacturing companies. Pixabay

24. Soichiro Honda

Honda was an industrialist and inventor from Japan who created the Honda Motor Company. Although the Honda Motor Company is now large enough that it rivals Toyota, its early days were anything but successful. Honda has no formal education and at 15 years old, moved to Tokyo to look for a job. He apprenticed at an auto repair shop for six years before returning home to open his own shop.

When he was 31 years old, he started a company to make piston rings for Toyota. The business did not take off, and Toyota said the rings did not meet their specifications. Honda then went back to school to learn how to improve his designs. Later on, Toyota accepted his piston rings and offered him a contract. After he built a factory to create the piston rings, it was hit by a bomb during World War II. Honda built the factory again, but an earthquake destroyed it. Despite all of this tragedy, Soichiro Honda Persevered and found success after making a motorized bicycle that would eventually become the Honda motorcycle.

Sir James Dyson created an innovative line of vacuums. Pixabay

25. Sir James Dyson

Dyson is an English entrepreneur who invented the famous Dyson brand of vacuums and other cleaning products. In the 1970s, he came up with an idea for a vacuum cleaner that could never lose suction thanks to cyclonic separation. While he worked on the design, his wife had to take on a job as an art teacher so they could survive. 

Dyson says, “There are countless times an inventor can give up on an idea. By the time I made my 15th prototype, my third child was born, and by 2,627, my wife and I were really counting our pennies. By 3,727, my wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash. These were tough times, but each failure brought me closer to solving the problem.” Dyson, Inc. was created in 1994 when Dyson was 46 years old. It wasn’t until 2005 when Dyson vacuums had become the market leader in terms of sales in the United States.

Thanks to his work on stage and screen, Jerry Seinfeld is considered one of the world’s top comedians. Pixabay

26. Jerry Seinfeld

Seinfeld is known for his stand up comedy and his starring role in the hit TV show Seinfeld, which ran from 1989 to 1998. It took a lot of hard work for Seinfeld to become successful. His first attempt at stand up comedy was a bust when he froze and forgot a punch line during an open mic night at Queens College.

After being booed off the stage, the comedic left, but the experience didn’t cause him to shy away from stand-up comedy. He worked the stand-up circuit for three years before appearing an HBO comedy special for Rodney Dangerfield as well as The Tonight Show. When he was 34, he and co-creator Larry David pitched their idea for Seinfeld to NBC, and it was greenlit.

Unfortunately, Vincent Van Gogh was way ahead of his time. Pixabay

27. Vincent Van Gogh

One of the most notable artists of all time is Vincent Van Gogh. In his lifetime, he created over 2,100 works of art including 860 oil paintings. Most of Van Gogh’s paintings were made in the last two years of his life. Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive. 

He thought of himself as a failure and did not see that his life was worth living. Van Gogh struggled with mental illness and lived in poverty, which added to his dealings with psychosis. Because of his struggles, Van Gogh committed suicide when he was just 37 years old. Since his death, his art has been recognized as some of the most influential works in existence.

The King of Rock and Roll has influenced artists all over the world. Pixabay

28. Elvis Presley

The undisputed King of Rock and Roll is Elvis Presley. He has sold more than one billion records around the world. But his start in life was anything but easy. Presley’s family lived in a tiny house but hit hard times and couldn’t afford the payments, so they lost their home. When he was 13 years old, Presley and his family moved around a lot and lived in boarding houses.

At the age of 18, Presley submitted a demo record to Sun Records, but nothing happened. He took another demo back to Sun Records the following year but was rejected again. Then the singer failed an audition to join a singing quartet because they said Elvis couldn’t sing. Eventually, he became a truck driver and made friends with a band looking for a vocalist. They recorded a blues track that caught the attention of a local DJ, starting the beginning of Presley’s illustrious career.

Music superstar Beyonce Knowles hasn’t always had it easy. Pixabay

29. Beyonce Knowles

It’s hard to find an artist who is as well-rounded as Knowles. She is known for her excellent singing, dancing, and songwriting talents. Before going solo, Beyonce was a member of the hit girl group Destiny’s Child. Did you know Beyonce was in another group before that?

When she was nine years old, Beyonce was a member of a girl group called Girl’s Tyme. The group was talented enough to make it on Star Search but lost out to another band. Beyonce was under an immense amount of pressure from an early age due to her father being the groups’ manager. Once Girls’ Tyme transitioned into becoming Destiny’s Child, things were looking up. When two members of the group left due to issues with management, a third member joined to round out Destiny’s Child, and that’s when the group exploded in popularity. 

One of the world’s top directors struggled a lot early in his career. Pixabay

30. George Lucas

Lucas is one of the most famous film directors in the world. He is known for creating several hit movies, including Star Wars, American Graffiti, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Before getting into filmmaking, Lucas was intent on becoming a racecar driver. After a terrible car wreck that nearly ended his life, he left racing behind.

Lucas graduated from the University of Southern California and filmed his first movie THX1138. It was a major bomb, and the Warner Brothers Studio lost a lot of money because of it. He made American Graffiti after that, and it was a big success. Lucas used his credibility to get Star Wars greenlit, but it ended up being rejected by several studios. Eventually, it was accepted by 20th Century Fox, and when it was released, it became the highest-grossing film of all-time.

Even members of the biggest band in the world have experienced failure. Pixabay

31. The Beatles

Arguably the greatest band of all-time has to be The Beatles. This British rock band debuted in 1960 and since then have sold more than 1.6 billion records worldwide. In the United States alone, they’ve sold more than 600 million records. But their journey to stardom hasn’t always been comfortable.

While recording their first demo, an A&R person at the studio said they would never make it big because he felt that guitar groups were losing popularity. Lucky for The Beatles, they got their big break five months later when legendary producer George Martin signed them at Parlophone. Their work with Martin extended throughout their career, making it a match made in musical heaven.

The road to founding Facebook was not easy for Mark Zuckerberg. Pixabay

32. Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg is best known for being the creator of the popular social network Facebook. If you’ve seen the movie The Social Network, you’d known that his path to becoming a billionaire hasn’t been easy. Zuckerberg was sued early on by fellow Harvard students who claimed that he had stolen their idea for the website. He ended up settling the case and awarding them 1.2 million shares on Facebook. 

His first website idea was called Facemash, a system that lets students vote on the better-looking person from two pictures taken from Harvard’s records. Zuckerberg was forced to shut it down when many students complained that the photographs were being used without their consent. Even though Zuckerberg has experienced hardships, he still ended up becoming one of the wealthiest people in the world.

It took a lot of hard work and failure for Steve Jobs to find success. Pixabay

33. Steve Jobs

Jobs is an iconic figure who is best known for founding Apple Computers. But Jobs went through a lot of struggles early in his life. Jobs was put up for adoption by his birth mother and adopted by a blue-collar couple in Palo Alto, California. He ended up dropping out of college and decided to travel the world. 

He co-founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. The company was a big success, and in 1983, Jobs hired a new CEO from Pepsi. Things went south with the new CEO, and Jobs left the company with five employees to start a new business called NeXT. Eventually, NeXT thrived, while Apple was declining. Apple Computers acquired NeXT in 1997, and Steve Jobs was back at the helm of Apple. In just a few short years of being back with the company, Jobs brought Apple back on top.

Madonna is known as the Queen of Pop. Pixabay

34. Madonna

Madonna was born in Michigan and dealt with struggles early on in life. Her mother died when she was just five years old. The singer attended the University of Michigan School of Music on a dance scholarship but dropped out to move to New York City. It was there that she planned to pursue her dream of dancing professionally. Madonna got a job at Dunkin’ Donuts to support herself but was fired after squirting jelly on a customer.

She got small jobs working as a backup dancer for several groups and in 1982 released her first single Everybody. Her next track, Burning Up, was a hit on the club scene. After releasing her first album title Madonna, her star continued to rise, and today she is still a significant figure in the pop music scene.

Marilyn Monroe is a legend of the silver screen. Pixabay

35. Marilyn Monroe

Born Norma Jean Mortenson, Monroe is the quintessential Hollywood starlet. She didn’t have an easy life, though. Monroe did not know her father and was unaware she had a brother and sister until she was 12 years old. At the same time, her mother had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which led to her being institutionalized. Because of that, Monroe became a ward of the state and was moved around to different foster homes, where she suffered a lot of abuse. 

Monroe was determined to make it as an actress and signed a six-month contract with 20th Century Fox, where she spent the duration of her contract taking acting, dancing, and singing lessons. She was let go after the contract ended, but shortly after that, she signed a deal with Columbia Pictures. At Columbia, Monroe starred in one low-budget film and then was let go. It wasn’t until 1950 that she starred in several critically-acclaimed films and solidified her status as an icon.

Pop princess Katy Perry has made her mark on the world. Pixabay

36. Katy Perry

Perry got her big break when she released her hit single, I Kissed a Girl, in 2008. But before then, she struggled to find success. Perry grew up in severe poverty with her family living on food stamps to get by. Her family was very religious and she grew up listening to Gospel music. 

After dropping out of school at age 15, Perry moved to Tennessee and signed a record deal with Red Hill Records. She released her debut album Katy Hudson, but it only sold 200 copies before the label shuttered. After that, the singer signed deals with two more record labels who subsequently dropped her. It wasn’t until she joined Capitol Records in 2007 that everything changed for Perry.

Few people are as funny and impactful as Jim Carrey. Pixabay

37. Jim Carrey

Funnyman Jim Carrey has been making people laugh for the past two decades. He was born in Canada and had a rough childhood. His family lived in poverty, and he began working at an early age as a janitor to help support them. They lived in a van until they had saved up enough money to buy a home.

After his family became stable, he began trying stand-up comedy on the Toronto circuit. Carrey bombed hard during his first routine but refused to give up. It took 11 years of working hard to pursue comedy before he got his big break on the hit TV show In Living Color. The ultimate break he got was when he made the comedy film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Richard Branson is one of the richest men in the world. Pixabay

38. Richard Branson

English billionaire and business magnate Branson is known all around the world. He’s the founder of the Virgin Group, a company that does business in many fields including, travel, music, hospitality, and telecom. The billionaire got his start in the late 1960s when Branson started Student magazine. The magazine grew in popularity when he began selling records through it at a discounted rate. Branson eventually opened his record store called Virgin Records. 

Unfortunately, the record store folded when Branson racked up hefty fines and unpaid taxes stemming from labeling the records he sold as export stock. That caused his mother to have to remortgage her house so he could pay the fees. Once he dealt with his legal troubles, Virgin Records became so successful that he created his own record label. Branson ended up selling Virgin Records to EMI for £500 million.

Emily Dickinson made an impact on the world of literature. Pixabay

39. Emily Dickinson

Dickinson is one of the modern world’s most famous authors. Even though she is revered, during her life she considered herself to be a failure. Dickinson was not a fan of meeting people face to face and instead preferred to communicate via letters. She was a recluse and never married. 

Dickinson wrote a lot about death, immortality, and other dystopian topics. Less than a dozen poems written by Dickinson were published while she was alive. It wasn’t until after her death that Dickinson’s sister found a collection of more than 1,800 poems and had them published. After that, Dickinson became a household name.

Even the pioneer of chocolate production experienced failure. Pixabay

40. Milton Hershey

Thanks to Hershey, we have tons of delicious candy. He founded the Hershey Chocolate Company located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Hershey started working at a printer’s shop after dropping out of school. He got fired from his job after his hat accidentally fell into one of the printing machines.

From there, he began working in a candy shop, which inspired him to open his candy store. The business failed, and he ended up moving to New Orleans, Chicago, and eventually, New York City, where he worked for a candy chain called Huyler’s. Hershey left Huyler’s after a few years to sell his own candies on the street. That venture failed, causing him to move back to his family farm in Pennsylvania. It was on the farm that he perfected the delicious Hershey Chocolate we know and love today.