Real-Life Celebrity Superheroes You Didn’t Know Existed

This may come as a surprise, but celebrities aren’t just heroes on screen. Life imitates art more than you may think, and many celebrities have saved a life, or five if you’re Tom Cruise. And we’re not just talking about helping someone who fell down or slipped on a piece of ice. We’re talking about fighting off muggers and pulling people from fiery car crashes. Real-life heroes.

Mila Kunis, Simon Cowell, and Demi Moore
Photo by Matt Baron, BEI, Shutterstock / Mediapunch, Shutterstock / Gregory Pace, Shutterstock

It’s rare to hear of someone willing to risk his or her life to save someone else, especially when we’re talking about celebrities, but that’s why it’s worth noting. These celebrities didn’t do it for money or fame; they were heroes out of the goodness of their own hearts.

Let’s check out the celebrities who became real-life heroes!

Patrick Dempsey

Grey’s Anatomy actor, Patrick Dempsey, came to the rescue when he pulled a teenager to safety after his car flipped over in front of his home in California. The actor, who played Dr. Derek Shepherd in the hit TV series, saw the car flip over three times, and he ran out to see if the driver was okay. The driver, Weston Masset, was hanging upside down and was barely conscious inside the wreck. Like a good Samaritan, Patrick grabbed a crowbar to pry the car door open and pulled Weston to safety.

Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey. Photo By Willi Schneider/Shutterstock

He then notified the first responders, who airlifted the teenager to a nearby hospital. Patrick also called Weston’s mother to let her know what was going on. “He had a certain authority in his voice,” Mary Beth Masset said. “I asked if he was a paramedic and he said no, ‘this is Patrick Dempsey.’”

Meryl Streep and Cher

Good friends Meryl Streep and Cher were on their way to get ice cream in New York when they heard a girl screaming for help. They ran toward the screaming and found the girl being attacked by a thug. Quick on their feet, the women start yelling at the man to leave the poor woman alone. Luckily, Meryl and Cher caused quite the ruckus and scared the man off.

Cher and Meryl Streep
Cher and Meryl Streep. Photo By Richard Young/Shutterstock

The actresses then walked up to the woman who had just been attacked to make sure she was okay. “So we’re putting her together and trying to get her to look a little bit like she hasn’t just been ravished, and she looks at us, and she goes, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve been saved by Meryl Streep and Cher!’” Cher said. Way to go, ladies!

Danny Trejo

It appears that actor Danny Trejo is just as tough in real life as he is on the big screen. Danny, who is known for playing tough guys, rescued a baby from an overturned car back in 2017. The actor was walking down the street near his home in California when he saw two cars collide, causing one to flip over onto its roof.

Danny Trejo
Danny Trejo. Photo By Rob Latour/Shutterstock

When he ran over to the accident to make sure everything was okay, Danny noticed a baby strapped into a car seat. Without skipping a beat, he crawled into the car and tried to unbuckle the baby’s car seat. With the help of another bystander, Danny was able to release the buckle and pull the baby out of the wreckage. The actor even stayed with the baby until his grandmother was okay.

Christian Bale

In 2018, Vice director Adam McKay suffered a heart attack, and he credits actor Christian Bale for saving his life. After the movie was done filming, Adam had a minor heart attack due to the stress of making the movie. But the only reason why he knew he was suffering a heart attack is because of a conversation he had with Christian while filming.

“Vice” actor Christian Bale, left, and director Adam McKay.
Christian Bale, left, and director Adam McKay. Source:

To prepare for the role of Dick Cheney, Christian studied the former Vice President’s numerous heart attacks. During a particular scene, Christian explained to Adam that there are more symptoms to a heart attack than pain in the chest and a tingly arm; victims can also have an upset stomach. Adam, who was showing the lesser-known signs of a heart attack, knew exactly what was wrong, and he got the help he needed.

Ken Jeong

Many people don’t know this, but funnyman Ken Jeong is a licensed doctor. During his 2018 performance at the Stand Up Live Comedy Club in Phoenix, Arizona, Ken noticed an audience member having a seizure. Because of the bright stage lights, Ken couldn’t see exactly what was happening and thought it was a heckler at first.

Ken Jeong
Ken Jeong. Photo By Matt Baron/Shutterstock

But, after a few seconds, he realized it was a medical emergency and jumped off the stage. He stayed with the audience member until an ambulance came to take her to the hospital. After the first responders left, Ken went back on stage and finished his set. Before his career as an actor, Ken received his M.D. from UNC’s School of Medicine in 1995.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Not every incident involving a boat ends in tragedy for Leonardo DiCaprio. The actor was vacationing with friends in St. Barts in December 2019, when they received an emergency call about a search for a man who had fallen off a Club Med cruise ship.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo By John Salangsang/BEI/Shutterstock

It just so happened that Leo and his friends were in the area, so they decided to join the search efforts. Good thing they did because it was the actor’s boat that rescued the man who had been treading water for almost 11 hours. “The boat crew was happy to try and assist, even more so that they were able to help get the man to safety,” a friend of Leo’s told reporters.

Clint Eastwood

Actor Clint Eastwood can now add lifesaver to his resume. The then 83-year-old actor was at a PGA Tour party in 2014 when he noticed that the organization’s director Steve John was choking. “I was drinking water and eating these little appetizers, threw down a piece of cheese, and it just didn’t work,” Steve said.

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood. Photo By Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Frantically, the PGA Tour director turned toward Clint, who immediately sprang into action. The actor performed the Heimlich maneuver on Steve, releasing the piece of cheese, and saving his life. Later, Clint admitted it was the first time he had ever performed the Heimlich on anyone. Although the two haven’t spoken since the event, Steve is still thankful Clint was there to save his life.

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford, the actor, known for his heroic roles in Indiana Jones and Star Wars, is actually a hero in real life. In 2000, Sarah George and Megan Freeman were in the middle of a hike when the heat made it impossible for the two to continue. Sarah soon fell ill and other hikers in the area radioed for help.

Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford. Photo By Magnus Sundholm/Shutterstock

Harrison, who lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has his pilot’s license and frequently helps out the local sheriff’s department on rescue missions. After receiving the call, the then 57-year-old actor took his Bell 407 helicopter to meet the dehydrated hikers. He landed in a meadow nearby, picked up Sarah, and headed to the hospital. Way to go, Harrison!

Mark Harmon

Fans know Mark Harmon as Special Agent Gibbs on the hit show NCIS, but, for one fan, the actor is a hero in real life. Like a scene out of the show, California man Colin Specht was trapped in a fiery car accident right outside of the actor’s home in Los Angeles.

Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon. Photo By Jens Hartmann/Shutterstock

Colin, who was just 16 years old at the time, was the front seat passenger in a friend’s car that was driving a little too quickly. The driver was able to get out of the car, but Colin was trapped. The next thing Colin remembers was Mark appearing out of nowhere, using a hammer to break the passenger-side window. The actor quickly pulled Colin out of the car and started rolling him on the ground to put out the fire on his clothing. The 16-year-old was severely burned, but he survived.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch was hailed a hero in 2018 when he saved a food delivery guy from a gang of muggers. The Sherlock Holmes actor was driving in an Uber when he saw a commotion on the side of the road near London’s Baker Street. According to several witnesses, Benedict jumped out of the car and then pulled the four muggers off the man before screaming at them to go away.

Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch. Photo By Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi/BAFTA/Shutterstock

The attackers fled, and the victim didn’t require any medical treatment. When asked about why he intervened, the actor said that he had no other choice. “It all got a bit surreal,” Uber driver Manuel Dias said. “Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street.”

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis helped save a man’s life in 2012 after he collapsed while working at her home. The man suffered a severe seizure and bit through his tongue. Mila, who is famous for her roles in Friends with Benefits and Black Swan, heard the commotion and rushed to rescue the man.

Mila Kunis
Mila Kunis. Photo By AlbertoReyes/Shutterstock

She turned his head to the side so he wouldn’t choke and yelled to a friend to call 911. Mila stayed with the man until the first responders arrived. She rode with him to the hospital, where he received the care that he needed. It was a scary incident, but the man-made a full recovery. Good thing Mila was there! Who knows how this situation would have turned out?

Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks threw caution to the wind when he rescued two young boys from a fire in Collinsville, Oklahoma. In 2000, the country star helped evacuate brothers Ryan and Randall Cooper, who were home alone on a school break, from their house. A brush fire had broken out close by, and the boys’ house was in the fire’s direct path.

Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks. Photo By Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Despite the dense smoke, Garth drove his truck right up to the Cooper’s door and yelled at the boys to get in. He then drove them about 20 yards to safety. Firefighters arrived at the property just in time to save the brothers’ home, but it was a very close call. Scorch marks from the fire stopped just two feet away from the front door.

Demi Moore

In 2009, actress Demi Moore received a message from a woman on Twitter who claimed that she wanted to take her own life. Demi felt that the message was genuine, so she reposted the woman’s message to her own Twitter page, encouraging users to call the police. Officers were called to the woman’s home in San Jose, California, where they found her unharmed.

Demi Moore
Demi Moore. Photo By Rob Latour/Shutterstock

The first responders then took the woman to a nearby hospital for an evaluation. After the incident, Demi tweeted, “Everyone I was very torn about responding or retweeting that woman’s post but felt uncomfortable just letting it go.” The actress, who is known for her roles in Indecent Proposal and G.I. Jane frequently prevented her own mother’s suicide attempts when she was just a child.

Prince Harry

Prince Harry to the rescue! The then 27-year-old prince was in the middle of a polo game when US businessman Bash Kazi fell off his horse after crashing into two other polo players. Harry, who learned first aid as part of his military training, leaped from his horse and rolled his opponent onto his side. When Bash regained consciousness, the prince helped him to his feet.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry. Photo By Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Bash suffered a minor concussion but was able to walk off the field. He rejoined the polo match after taking a much-needed break. Medical experts said that Harry’s quick thinking most likely saved Bash’s life, and they praised the prince for jumping to action in the middle of a game. “Simply laying someone on their side so they can breathe properly is good first aid and could save that person’s life,” head of the British First Aid Joe Mulligan said.

Jamie Foxx

Actor Jamie Foxx became a real-life superhero in 2016 after he pulled a man out of a car seconds before it was engulfed in flames. Jamie was inside his home when he heard a crash outside. California Highway Patrol said that the driver, Brett Kyle, swerved off the road and hit a ditch, causing his car to roll over several times and trapping him inside.

Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx. Photo By Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Jamie immediately called 911 and ran to the scene. Just as Jamie arrived, an off-duty paramedic was driving by, and the two used a pair of scissors to break the car window open. Right after Brett was pulled to safety, his truck burst into flames. “I don’t look at it as heroic,” Jamie said. “I just look at it like, you know, you just had to do something. And it all just worked out.”

Tom Cruise

With more blockbuster hits than we can count, Tom Cruise is one of Hollywood’s most successful actors. While most fans know all about his acting career, they don’t know about all the times he’s saved lives. In 1996, Tom was on his yacht in the Mediterranean when he saw a sailboat that was up in flames. He sent over a small boat to rescue the five passengers before their boat sank.

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise. Photo By Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

That same year, Tom witnessed a hit and run. He called an ambulance and accompanied then 23-year-old Heloisa Vinhas to the hospital. She was treated for bruised ribs and a broken leg but didn’t have insurance or the money to cover the $7,000 medical bill. Tom did what any decent Hollywood actor would do: He footed the bill.

Dustin Hoffman

Actor Dustin Hoffman was on a walk near one of his homes in London when he saw a man by the name of Sam Dempster fall to the ground. The actor, who is famous for his roles in The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy, ran over to Sam, called an ambulance, and waited with him until the first responders arrived.

Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman. Photo By Dustin Hoffman

At this point, Sam was unconscious, and medical personnel started performing CPR. It took the first responders nearly 15 minutes to get the man’s heart beating again, and Dustin never once left the man’s side. In an interview with The Telegraph, Sam said, “I have no memory of what happened. The paramedics told me I had been saved by Dustin Hoffman. It’s unbelievable.”

Simon Cowell

While Simon Cowell is more famous for his insults than his compassion, one X-Factor contestant credits Simon with saving her life. During Jacqui Gray’s audition for the singing competition, Simon made a comment about her “weird-sounding” voice and suggested that she see a doctor. Many people would have taken this comment personally, but Jacqui thought that maybe he was on to something.

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell. Photo By Broadimage/Shutterstock

Immediately after her audition, the would-be singer made an appointment with a throat specialist who diagnosed her with a potentially fatal lung infection called Bronchiectasis. Since she caught it in time, doctors were able to treat her with steroid treatment. “Without going on the X-Factor, I wouldn’t have even thought about going to the doctor about it,” Jacqui said.

Gerard Butler

In 1997, Gerard Butler was filming his first major film, Mrs. Brown, when he saved 14-year-old Daniel Smith from drowning. He was on a picnic with his mother on the banks of the River Tay in Scotland when he heard someone yelling that his friend was in trouble. Gerard immediately ran over and jumped into the water to pull the 14-year-old to safety.

Gerard Butler
Gerard Butler. Photo By Stewart Cook/Shutterstock

Another bystander performed CPR on Daniel until the first responders arrived. Gerard has felt connected to the boy ever since and even recorded a speech for the now-grown kid’s wedding. “It was lovely and kind of taking things full circle, to do that for his wedding,” the 300 actor said. Gerard was given an award by the Royal Humane Society for his bravery.

Kelly Slater

American surfing legend Kelly Slater saved the life of a fellow surfer, Russell Bierke while surfing together at Port Campbell beach in Australia in 2017. Danger struck when a monstrous wave came crashing down on Russell, who fell onto his board and was knocked unconscious. Kelly jumped to the rescue and loaded Russell onto a jet ski. When they got to shore, the 19-year-old was blue and still unconscious.

Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater. Photo By Richard Shotwell/Shutterstock

Kelly yelled out to a bystander to call an ambulance and stayed with Russell until the first responders came. Several bystanders said that Kelly’s calm composure was crucial in keeping a freaked-out Russell calm. “Kelly was talking to him and said ‘It’s all right brother, help’s on its way,’” fellow surfer Jordan Lockett said.

While these celebrities are real-life superheroes the world didn’t know existed, many other celebrities are just like us. They get parking tickets, stand in long lines at the grocery store, and even flipped a burger or two before catching their big break.

Let’s take a look at celebrities who used to work at McDonald’s!

When we see beautiful and successful celebrities attending red carpets and looking flawless, it seems like they were born into a life of fame and fortune. However, most of the time, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most of these famous faces had to work hard to make it in such a cut-throat industry. Most of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars had to face rejection and put on greasy aprons while they were trying to make their dreams come true.

Sharon Stone / Andie MacDowell 2019 / Pink / Jeff Bezos 2017
Photo by Moviestore Collection, Shutterstock / Jordan Strauss, January Images, Shutterstock / Matt Baron, Shutterstock / Erik Pendzich, Shutterstock

It’s never easy to take your passion and build a career out of it. It’s always more stable and reliable to work a steady 9-5 job, but that’s not possible when you’re an aspiring actor or singer. You need to be ready at any moment for gigs and auditions, so an office job isn’t the most suitable option. Here are some of your favorite celebrities who spent time working at McDonald’s before making it in showbiz!

Check out these stars who were flipping burgers before gracing our screens.

Rachel McAdams

Believe it or not, before Rachel McAdams was the queen of The Plastics, she was an ordinary girl trying to make it in a tough industry. Before she got her big break, she had to find a different way to pay the bills. McAdams told the New York Times, “I worked at the local McDonald’s for three years.”

Rachel McAdams 2016
‘Sonic Sea’ film screening, New York, America – 04 May 2016, Rachel McAdams. Photo By Mediapunch/Shutterstock

She went on to explain: “I’m not sure why they kept me: I am something of a daydreamer and a dawdler, so they would only let me be the ‘friendly voice’ that greeted you when you entered the restaurant. I was slow – I would be organizing the sweet-and-sour packets in the customer’s takeout bag while the line snaked out.” Needless to say, she wasn’t the best at her job.

Jay Leno

Before he was a late-night host, Jay Leno was flipping burgers at McDonald’s. That’s right; back in the early 70s, Leno was a regular guy trying to make ends meet. This experience taught Leno that you have to work hard to succeed, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t take advantage of his job a little.

Hudson River Park Gala, Inside, New York, USA - 11 Oct 2018, Jay Leno. Photo By Stephen Lovekin/Variety/Shutterstock
Hudson River Park Gala, Inside, New York, USA – 11 Oct 2018, Jay Leno. Photo By Stephen Lovekin/Variety/Shutterstock

Whenever his friends would come into the McDonalds in Andover, Massachusetts, Leno would charge them just one dollar for 15 hamburgers and ten orders of fries. That’s a pretty sweet deal! I’m sure his manager wasn’t too happy about it, but hey, what’s the point of working at a restaurant if you can’t hook your friends up?

Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone is so beautiful, you probably think she came out of the womb modeling. As it turns out, this stunner had to work hard to make it, just like everyone else. There was a time before she was a successful actress. Before she made a name for herself, the aspiring model picked up a part-time job working behind the counter at McDonald’s.

Sharon Stone 2019
Photo by Matt Baron / Shutterstock

However, it clearly didn’t take long for the girl to get noticed. She no longer had to work as a counter girl, and instead, she was modeling for Ford. She quickly transitioned into acting and landed some major roles in films such as Total Recall and Basic Instinct.

Jeff Bezos

Nowadays, Jeff Bezos is one of the richest men on the planet, but he had to start somewhere. When he was just 16-years-old, way before he was the famous founder of Amazon, Bezos picked up a job at McDonald’s. Working at the fast-food joint certainly paid off for Bezos, considering it was a stop on the road of becoming a billionaire.

Jeff Bezos 2017
Photo by Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

The Amazon CEO spoke to Fast Company about his position at McDonald’s when he was a high schooler: “One of the great gifts I got from a job is that I can crack eggs with one hand. My favorite shift was Saturday morning. I would get a bowl and crack 300 eggs in it.” Very important life skills!


Seal is another famous name that spent some time working at McDonald’s but saying he didn’t enjoy it is an understatement. For many stars, McDonald’s was an experience that taught them important life lessons such as working hard to succeed. It’s not the most exciting job in the world, but Seal absolutely despised it.

Seal at an event in 2016
Photo by Rob Latour / Variety / Shutterstock

The British singer spoke to the Paper about his time working at the Golden Arches: “The worst job I ever had was in McDonald’s in Kentish Town. I was 16, and they gave me a brown uniform that was two sizes too small. I stayed for two weeks until I got my first paycheck, then I was outta there.”

Macy Gray

Macy Gray is another starlet that used to work at McDonald’s. In Macy’s case, McDonald’s may have helped her get her big break. Sure, she was burger stacking before she made it in the industry, but your big break can come from anywhere at any time. Unlike Seal, this musician loved working with the fast-food company and even appeared in one of their commercials.

Macy Gray in 2012
Photo by Mediapunch / Shutterstock

In a Press Release, Macy admitted: “I worked as a McDonald’s crew person, and there is so much more to working at McDonald’s than people know. The action, the fun, the people, the sense of accomplishment – it truly was my first big break.” It’s beautiful when huge stars remember and appreciate their humble beginnings.

Shania Twain

The talented country musician didn’t have the easiest road to success. Clearly, Shania Twain was born with unbelievable talent, but there were a lot of personal struggles that stalled her career. She didn’t have the easiest childhood. The country crooner opened up to Us Weekly about how she balanced everything: “I worked at a McDonald’s for several years as a teenager after school while singing in bars at night.”

Shania Twain in 2019
Photo by Christopher Polk / Variety / Shutterstock

After her parents passed away, the aspiring musician needed to take care of her younger siblings. She was only 18 and was forced to halt her music career. Thankfully, the determined singer didn’t let a few setbacks hold her back. She has since become extremely successful in the country music world.

James Franco

After dropping out of college and moving to LA to pursue an acting career, James Franco picked up a job working the late shift at the McDonald’s drive-thru. He quickly moved to daytime hours and worked at the counter. Many people don’t enjoy flipping burgers, but James Franco is forever grateful that he got that job. The beloved star hadn’t forgotten who was there before he made it big.

James Franco 2017
Photo by Kristina Bumphrey / Starpix / Shutterstock

Franco wrote an article for The Washington Post and expressed his appreciation for the establishment: “All I know is that when I needed McDonald’s, McDonald’s was there for me – when no one else was.” The actor has had a soft spot for the Golden Arches ever since.

Keenen Ivory Wayans

Nowadays, Keenen Ivory Wayans is known for his role in White Chicks.’ But before that, he was starring as a manager at Mickey D’s. That’s right; this guy worked his way up to manager before his high school graduation. It clearly taught him how to work his way up in the entertainment industry as well.

Keenen Ivory Wayans 2019
Photo by Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

However, his part-time high school job flipping burgers wasn’t to help him pursue an acting career. At the time, Wayans struggled to work 70 hours a week so that he could support his family. Sure, he was just a kid, but he had to help support his parents and his nine siblings. You heard that right; 10 kids!


It’s clear that Pink is a strong independent woman, and she has always been that way. Her parents wanted her to learn the value of a dollar and that you need to work hard to succeed. The pop star told Food & Wine, “It was important to my family that I make my own money. I was a drive-through girl at McDonald’s. I had a Janet Jackson microphone – I had power.”

Photo by Matt Baron / Shutterstock

Even though it sounds like she had her moments where she enjoyed it, Pink revealed how she truly feels to Bosh: “Sometimes I dream I am back there, broke and working at McDonald’s. It’s like, the worst nightmare because I never want to be back there. I’ve worked hard to get where I am.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Before composing, writing, and starring in the extremely impressive Broadway musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel was a struggling artist trying to make it. The now-beloved composer also spent some time working behind the McDonald’s register. Sometimes, you need to pick up jobs that you don’t like to pay the bills. These days, he no longer needs to flip burgers, but he appreciates his experience there.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in 2019.
Photo by Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

The Playwright posted on Twitter: “My first job was working the cash registers and deliveries for McDonald’s.” He then shared a song that was inspired by his time working at the fast-food joint. I guess the Golden Arches were his muse. The actor even got some admiration from the McDonald’s Twitter account.

Pharrell Williams

This is a pretty cool story. Like many other aspiring artists, Ferrell Williams was trying to make ends meet before making it in the music world. He picked up a job at McDonald’s; the only problem was he didn’t really like to work. The singer wasn’t very “Happy” when he was fired from the fast-food restaurant – three times!

Pharrell Williams at the Empire State Building Lighting Ceremony in 2018
Photo by Emily Taylor / Shutterstock

During an interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Williams said, “I was lazy. I was very lazy.” He went on to explain that the only thing he was good for there was eating all the McNuggets. In a strange twist of events, years later, Farrell Williams ended up co-wring the jingle, “I’m Lovin’ It.”

Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis is an incredibly talented athlete and won 10 Olympic medals in track and field. Lewis learned the importance of working fast when he took on a job at McDonald’s when he was 16-years-old. He told Fox News, “Time is very important… you couldn’t let the fries get cold. If I was 10 seconds off, I’d have no gold medal.”

Carl Lewis during pregame at the Arizona Wildcats game at the University of Houston Cougars stadium
Photo by Maria Lysaker / CSM / Shutterstock

People who look at everything in life as a learning experience seem to go on to become successful. The athlete later starred in an advertisement for the McDonald’s company. In the ad, he said that his job at the Golden Arches was his “first race against the clock.”

DL Hughley

D.L. Hughley has had a successful profession as a radio host, but the stand-up comedian kicked off his career as a janitor for Mickey D’s. The Dancing with the Stars alum revealed that he used to clean the McDonald’s lobby to pay the bills. If McDonald’s didn’t give him a job, he might not have been able to cover his bills and become the success story he is today.

DL Hughley 2009
Photo by Marion Curtis / Starpix / Shutterstock

Although he worked there for a little while, D.L. Hughley doesn’t seem to have the same core values as the fast-food chain. The actor once tweeted: “It’s funny that McDonald’s uses a heart in their commercials when you consider how many hearts their food has stopped!” Yikes! But he’s not wrong…

Andy Card

Singers and actors aren’t the only famous faces that worked at McDonald’s while they were waiting for their big break. Aspiring politicians also needed a way to cover the bills. Chief of Staff under George W. Bush, Andrew Card, is most notably remembered as the guy who whispered the news of the 9/11 attack in the former president’s ear. As it turns out, in 1967, he also worked at a McDonald’s in South Carolina.

Chief of Staff Andy Card with National Security Advisor Steve Hadley
Chief of Staff Andy Card with National Security Advisor Steve Hadley 2006. Photo by Ron Sachs / Shutterstock

According to Bloomberg, Andrew Card once said: “I remember thinking that McDonald’s was unique as a great equalizer. Wealthy and poor, black and white all came to McDonald’s and stood in the same lines and sat at the same booths.”

Andie MacDowell

Most of us recognize Andie MacDowell as Rita from Groundhog Day. In addition to being an actress, she’s also a fashion model. However, she didn’t make it in Hollywood over-night; this star had to work hard to get where she is. Before she was rocking the runway, she was serving fries.

Andie MacDowell 2019
Photo by Jordan Strauss / January Images / Shutterstock

Like many other celebrities on this list, Andie MacDowell needed to cover the bills before she got her big break. She worked part-time at McDonald’s in South Carolina and referred to the job as being “a great environment to work in with lots of camaraderie and teamwork.” She also spent some time working at Pizza Hut. Do you think she prefers pizza or patties?

Andy Grammer

Andy Grammer is another hard worker who didn’t have his career handed to him on a silver platter. Instead, he was the one carrying the platters. He may be a famous country singer now, but there’s a chance he served you your McNuggets back in the day. Working at the fast-food chain was his first-ever job.

Andy Grammar 2019
Photo by MJ Photos / Shutterstock

But the singer didn’t have the greatest experience there. In an interview with US Weekly, he said: My first job was McDonald’s – terrible! Lucky for him, I don’t think he has to go back to flipping burgers anytime soon. He has made it in the music business, and his first job was just a stepping stone to get there.

Chris Sabo

Aspiring actors and singers aren’t the only ones who need to pick up a part-time job before making their dreams come true. Athletes also struggle before making it to the big leagues. Former professional baseball player Chris Sabo also took on a job working at the McDonald’s counter in Tampa.

Chris Sabo with the Cincinnati Reds uniform on
Source: Flickr

He was still playing for the little leagues at the time and needed to make ends meet. To support himself while still following his passion, McDonald’s seemed to be the perfect option. His talent didn’t go unrecognized, and he was able to make a career for himself in the sport. Although it was a temporary job, it certainly helped him get where he is today.

Paul Ryan

When he was just 16 years old, Paul Ryan was flipping burgers at Mickey D’s. That’s right. Even the former speaker of the house landed a job at the Golden Arches, but he knew bigger things were coming. It was just a stepping stone on his road to success, as he stated in a speech he gave at a campaign rally.

Paul Ryan making remarks during the Lying in State ceremony honoring John McCain
Source: Shutterstock

“When I was flipping burgers at McDonald’s, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I thought to myself, ‘I’m the American Dream on a path and journey so that I can find happiness however I can find it myself.’” He even once Tweeted, “If you work at McDonald’s, someday you can be Speaker of House.”

Star Jones

Star Jones is mostly known for her time co-hosting The View. But before she was expressing her opinions to the people of the world, she was handing them their order of fries. This talk-show host had no idea what she wanted to with her life when she was working as a French fries fryer at McDonald’s.

Star Jones 2014
Photo by Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

She started working there while she was in high school, but she made quite an impression on her managers. She was soon promoted to cashier and didn’t have to get her hands greasy, making French fries anymore. Jones shared a Twitter post, saying: “Being a fry girl for McDonald’s started me on my professional path! It taught me responsibility.”

Fred Durst

Like many other musicians, Fred Durst had to work hard to make it in a cut-throat industry. Music is a very competitive career field, and it’s pretty rare to become a famous singer. Well, Fred Durst did whatever he needed to do, and it seemed to work out pretty well for him.

Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit performing in 2018
Photo by Vianney Le Caer / Shutterstock

Sure, nowadays, he is known for being the lead singer of the 90’s rock band Limp Bizkit, but like all the best things in life, it came with blood, sweat, and tears. Durst even took on the morning shift in a McDonald’s in Florida so that he can follow his dreams – and accomplish them. It seems like working at the fast-food chain is the first step to a music career.

James D’Arcy

You most likely recognize this dashing British fella from his roles on Homeland or Dunkirk. Although his good looks make it seem like his face was destined to be on screen, he wasn’t always working as an actor. Before this guy got his acting career on track, he picked up some fast food skills at McDonald’s.

James D'Arcy in 2017
Photo by Jo Davidson / Shutterstock

However, D’Arcy was faced with a pretty scary situation while he worked there. He told Metro that once he was working the register at night when someone pulled a gun on him. He quit his job there shortly after the life-threatening incident. Thankfully, he is on a whole new career path now, and that terrifying experience is in the past.

Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill has been a pretty big deal in Hollywood since his incredibly famous role as Luke Skywalker. But before his successful career took off, Hamill was flipping burgers at Mickey D’s. It was actually his first job… well, sort of. He shared his experience of working at the fast-food chain on Twitter:

Mark Hamill at the ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ film premiere in 2019
Photo by John Salangsang / Shutterstock

“If you don’t count paperboy, the time I was hired to play Santa’s helper in a department store or the countless backyard puppet/magic/ventriloquist shows I did… My 1st real job WAS at McDonald’s in Annandale, Virginia, when I was 16.” I don’t know about you, but I consider all of those other things jobs. But either way, McDonald’s helped teach him the value of a dollar.

Judge Greg Mathis

There was a time before Judge Greg Mathis was an attorney and starring on Judge Mathis. Back in his college days, Mathis took on a job at McDonald’s to help him get through school. During the day, he was leading a voting registration campaign on his college campus (which doesn’t come as a surprise at all).

Judge Greg Mathis 1999
Photo by Warner Bros / Kobal / Shutterstock

At night, he was working as a shift manager at the Golden Arches. He may have been struggling then, but it all paid off in the long run. Not only did he get through school, but he also achieved his dreams of becoming a judge. He has had an impressive professional career, and his job at McDonald’s may have had something to do with that.

Boris Berian

Boris Berian has made a name for himself as a talented Olympic runner. The athlete dropped out of school in Colorado Springs, and that’s when he started taking on shifts at McDonald’s. He was crashing at a friend’s house and took the train at night, according to The New York Times. His mom was mortified and not happy with the situation at all.

Boris Berian running
Source: Twitter

His mom was disappointed because she wanted to see her son doing something he was passionate about. At first, she really thought he would be working there forever, but he eventually qualified for the Rio Olympics less than one year later. These days, his mother looks at her son and is proud of his success.

Scott Walker

Scott Walker had political dreams, and he made it when he was elected governor of Wisconsin in 2011. But like everyone else on this list, he needed to support himself while he was working his way up the political ladder. He now has a successful career and an impressive resume, but it started off at McDonald’s.

Governor Scott Walker 2016
Source: Shutterstock

Even the former governor of Wisconsin flipped burgers at the fast-food chain. After his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Walker stopped by at the old McDonald’s restaurant he used to work at Delavan, Wisconsin. He even turned at the drive-thru window, for memories. We should all be nicer to the employees at McDonald’s. We never know who they will end up becoming.

Amy Van Dyken

Amy Van Dyken made a name for herself as an Olympic swimmer and later became a radio personality. But did you know that the charming national radio sports talk show co-host got her start working at Mickey D’s? Before she was swimming for medals, she was swimming in grease.

Amy Van Dyken winning gold in the 50-meter Freestyle Atlanta Olympics 1996
Photo by Colorsport / Shutterstock

According to the Chuck Edwards Group – which supervises operations for the franchise – the former Olympic swimmer took a job at the fast-food chain before making a name for herself. Amy thinks that her experience there really helped her in her professional career. She explained how working at McDonald’s taught her teamwork, which is obviously important when it comes to sports.

Debbye Turner

It’s not just aspiring actors and singers who need to hustle to accomplish their passions. Even the most glamourous people need to make some cash. Take former Miss America, for example. Debbye Turner is determined and hard-working, but the pageant beauty isn’t all glitz and makeup; she knows how to get her hands dirty.

Miss America Debbye Turner standing next to George Bush Sr in 1989
Photo by Globe Photos / mediapunch / Shutterstock

The beauty queen wrote on her website: “When I reached ‘real’ working age, I marched right down to McDonald’s and got a job serving burgers (do you want fries with that!).” It taught her the importance of hard work. You never know, if it wasn’t for her job at Mickey D’s, she might have never had the work ethic to become Miss America.

Daniel Johnston

Daniel Johnston is known as being an alternative rock musician. I can’t picture him doing anything else. Well, as you probably guessed, he worked at McDonald’s before he made it in the music world. However, this guy had a clever way of using his job flipping burgers to support his singing career.

Daniel Johnston sitting down at McDonald's with a meal sitting in front of him
Photo by Jeff Feuerzeig / Sony Classic / Kobal / Shutterstock

During his shifts, Johnston would pass out his music recordings. He would greet his hungry customers saying, “Hi, how are you? I’m Daniel Johnston, and I’m gonna be famous,” according to Texas Monthly. That’s pretty confident, but he wasn’t wrong. I wonder if any of his customers believed him and held on to his recordings… just in case.

Tony Stewart

Anthony Wayne Stewart, otherwise known as Smoke, made a name for himself as a race car driver and NASCAR team owner. He took his love for driving and made an incredibly impressive career for himself. The former professional racer is yet another famous face who might have given you your McDonald’s order.

Tony Stewart standing next to the Nascar Trophy
Photo by Carolyn Contino / BEI / Shutterstock

According to the Chuck Edwards Group, who supervises the fast-food’s business operations, stated that Tony actually worked with the burger franchise back when he was a teenager. Years later, an ESPN Tony Stewart Racing toy came in McDonald’s happy meals. How ironic? I guess everything comes full circle at the end. He went from flipping the burgers, to being a famous face on the company’s toys.


T-Pain is the only one on this list who didn’t technically work at McDonald’s. However, in an interview with the day, he admitted that he was pretty close to taking a job at the Golden Arches. The singer revealed, “The most horrible time was the day that Akon called me. He called me right when I went to get my application from McDonald’s.”

T-Pain 2019
Photo by AFF-USA / Shutterstock

That right. The Buy U a Drank singer was about to apply for a job at McDonald’s when he got interrupted by none other than Akon. T-pain obviously went on to become an extremely popular and successful singer. He no longer needs the job flipping burgers, but like everyone else, he needed to make the bills before he could make money off of his talent.

Leroy Chiao

Leroy Joey is an incredibly intelligent Chinese-American engineer. The entrepreneur and motivational speaker made a name for himself as a former NASA astronaut. But he too needed to work a couple of odd jobs before landing his dream job. Believe it or not, 16-year-old Leroy worked at a McDonald’s in California’s Walnut Creek.

Leroy Chiao giving a thumbs up on the ride from suiting up to the launch pad with his crewmates
Source: Shutterstock

In an interview with Teets for ‘Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That’s Began at McDonald’s,’ Chiao said: “My experiences at McDonald’s have translated me into almost anything I’ve done.” I have personally always wanted to be an astronaut. I probably should have taken a job in McDonald’s to make that happen. It certainly worked out well for Leroy.

Don Jazzy

Michael Collins Ajereh used that name back when he was a teenager applying for a job at Mickey D’s. However, you probably know him by his stage name, Don Jazzy. The Nigerian singer, producer, and rapper also spent some time smelling like grease and French fries before his big break.

Don Jazzy
Source: Pinterest

Like everyone else on this list, this talented musician had to hustle! Not only did 18-year-old Jazzy take on a job flipping burgers, but he also worked as a bodyguard. Nowadays, he has his own bodyguards and can afford to eat at expensive restaurants; but I’m sure he gets a McNugget fix every once in a while.

Willard Scott

Willard Scott is a talented actor and comedian who will forever be known as “The Weatherman.” There are plenty of weather reporters out there, but Willard Scott is arguably the most famous. However, this guy wasn’t always on The Today Show reporting the temperatures.

Willard Scott at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2007
Photo by Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

Before he was an iconic weatherman, Scott spent time working at McDonald’s, but he wasn’t flipping burgers. Scott didn’t do the typical over the counter job at the fast-food franchise. Instead, he was the first-ever person to portray the beloved (yet creepy) Ronald McDonald on TV commercials. Sure, he was wearing a clown costume covering his face, but it was a stepping stone to his successful career.

Laurieann Gibson

Laurieann Gibson is one of the most talented choreographers in the industry. She worked with huge names, including Lady Gaga and P. Diddy. But before that, she worked with Ronald McDonald. Back in 1983, this aspiring and talented dancer was waiting for her time to shine; meanwhile, she needed to make ends meet.

Laurieann Gibson
Photo by Gregory Pace / BEI / Shutterstock

Gibson ended using the money she made at the fast food joint to buy a ticket to New York City. She told Teets for ‘Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That Began at McDonald’s,’ “For a long time no one ever knew about my humble beginnings. Now it’s something I like to tell people. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Might as well be proud of how far you’ve come.