Top 10 Successful Celebrities Who Dropped Out of School

Most of you have been told by your parents how important it is to stay in school, get good grades and a diploma, to attend college, and have a successful career. But there are some celebrities who did not do well at school or were drop-outs that later became successful as they are today. Here is a list of celebrities who dropped out due to poor performance, a controversial incidents, financial problems, signing up for the military, or to pursue their dreams.
The Top Ten
1 Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American animator, film producer and entrepreneur. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film producer, he holds the record for most Academy Awards earned... read more

Walt Disney was very imaginative from childhood. As a teenager, he focused on drawing instead of assignments, leading to negative feedback from teachers. He dropped out at 16 to join the army but was too young, so he joined the Red Cross instead. After leaving, he founded The Walt Disney Company.

Disney changed not only animation but also television, amusement parks, society, business, and the world with creations like Steamboat Willie, Snow White, Disneyland, and Mary Poppins. He also planned a new type of city called EPCOT. Sadly, Disney died at 65 in 1966. He received his high school diploma at 58.

2 Marlon Brando Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American actor, film director, and activist. He is credited with bringing a gripping realism to film acting, and is often cited as one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time. He died on July 1, 2004 at the age of 80.

As a teenager, Marlon Brando was a troublemaker and was held back a year in school. He even rode a motorcycle in the hallways of Libertyville High School, leading to his expulsion. He was sent to Shattuck Military Academy, where he excelled in theater and academics.

One day, he sneaked out of town, and the school wanted to expel him, but his friends supported him, believing expulsion was too harsh. Brando returned the following year but decided to drop out to pursue his acting career. He became famous for roles in A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, On the Waterfront, Sayonara, One-Eyed Jacks, The Ugly American, The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris, and A Dry White Season. Brando passed away in 2004.

3 Eminem Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is an American rapper, actor and music producer born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Eminem has sold over 300 million records making him the bestselling hip-hop artist of all time. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of D12 and (with Royce... read more

Even during high school, Eminem was starting his rap career with rap battles. He failed freshman year three times and eventually dropped out to get a job to help his mother pay the bills. He also struggled with living in a rough neighborhood, being fired, and taking care of his daughter, Hailie Jade.

He made his first album, Infinite, in 1996 after releasing several mixtapes with his rap group, Soul Intent. The following year, he gained attention with his Slim Shady persona in the Slim Shady EP. A man who worked for Interscope got Eminem's demo after a rap battle, showed it to Jimmy Iovine, who then played it for Dr. Dre. Dr. Dre wanted Eminem immediately.

After they met and finished The Slim Shady LP, Eminem rose to fame and shocked rap fans by breaking racial barriers, despite predecessors like the Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill, and 3rd Bass (though Vanilla Ice was not a positive influence). He became a superstar with The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show. Today, he is famous and worth $230 million.

4 Jay-Z Shawn Corey Carter, known by his stage name JAY-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur and investor born on December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York. He is best known for his albums Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, and The Black Album. He is considered to be one of the best rappers of... read more

When Jay-Z was a teenager, he attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with Busta Rhymes and The Notorious B.I.G., before moving to New Jersey to attend Trenton Central High School. During this period, he sold crack cocaine and was shot three times. He began his rap career in 1986 with the help of his mentor Jaz-O.

Over the next 10 years, he gained popularity through appearances with Jaz-O, rap battles, and features on albums by Big Daddy Kane and Big L. He also rapped with DMX and Ja Rule early in their careers. Jay-Z eventually founded Roc-A-Fella Records and released his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. He was later signed to Def Jam and became one of rap's greatest artists.

Jay-Z also became a successful entrepreneur, owning restaurants, a tech company, a media streaming service, and a line of cannabis products.

5 Johnny Depp John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II (born June 9, 1963) is an American actor, producer, and musician. He has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor... read more

Johnny Depp dropped out at 15 to pursue a career as a rock star, joining the group Rock City Angels. He later transitioned to acting, starting with 21 Jump Street. Depp has starred in Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and most famously, as Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean series.

6 Jim Carrey James Eugene "Jim" Carrey is a Canadian American actor, comedian, impressionist, screenwriter, and producer. He is well known for comedic roles in films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask , Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, The Cable Guy, Liar Liar, How the Grinch Stole Christmas,... read more

Jim Carrey spent his late teenage years in poverty and dropped out of school to financially support his family. He then did impressionist work in Toronto, appeared on Letterman, gained fame on In Living Color, and achieved widespread critical acclaim starting with Ace Ventura.

Doing impressionist work might seem like an unusual path after dropping out of school, but I could be wrong.

7 Rihanna Robyn Rihanna Fenty is a Barbadian-American pop singer. Born in Saint Michael and raised in Bridgetown, she first entered the music industry by recording demo tapes under the direction of record producer Evan Rogers in 2003. She ultimately signed a recording contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning... read more

Rihanna dropped out of school at 16 to sign a deal with Def Jam and moved to America from Barbados. Although she wanted to graduate, she chose to pursue music. After a series of successful albums and tours, she became a fashion designer, businesswoman, and entrepreneur. She founded the fashion house Fenty under the luxury fashion group LVMH. In 2015, she became the first non-white woman to appear in a Dior promotional image, marking her start in fashion.

8 Al Pacino Alfredo James "Al" (April 25, 1940) Pacino is an American actor and filmmaker. Pacino has had a career spanning more than five decades, during which time he has received numerous accolades and honors.

Al Pacino, an associate of Marlon Brando, is known for his role as Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy. He struggled in school, excelling only in English, and dropped out to pursue acting. He became famous for roles in The Godfather trilogy, Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, and Heat.

9 Leonardo DiCaprio Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio (born November 11, 1974) is an American actor and film producer. Known for his work in biopics and period films, he is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and three Golden Globe Awards. As of 2019, his films have grossed... read more

Leonardo DiCaprio dropped out after his senior year to pursue acting and joined a local drama center. He went on to have a successful acting career with roles in The Basketball Diaries, Titanic, The Aviator, Inception, Django Unchained, The Great Gatsby, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

10 Chris Rock Christopher Julius Rock III is an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director. After working as a standup comic and appearing in small film roles, Rock came to wider prominence as a cast member of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s.

Chris Rock dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and later obtained his GED. He worked a series of odd jobs before pursuing a career in comedy and the film industry.

The Contenders
11 Jennifer Lawrence Jennifer Shrader Lawrence is an American actress. Lawrence began her career in television, playing her first major role as a main cast member on the TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show... read more
12 Mark Zuckerberg Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American technology entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is known for co-founding and leading Facebook as its chairman and chief executive officer.
13 Avril Lavigne Avril Ramona Lavigne is a Canadian–French singer-songwriter and actress. By the age of 15, she had appeared on stage with Shania Twain; by 16, she had signed a two-album recording contract with Arista Records worth more than $2 million.
14 Billie Joe Armstrong Billie Joe Armstrong is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and actor who is best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Green Day, which he co-founded with Mike Dirnt. He's also in side-project groups such as The Network, Foxboro HotTubs, Pinhead Gunpowder,... read more
15 Richard Branson
16 Joan Crawford Joan Crawford, born Lucille Fay LeSueur (March 23, c. 1904 – May 10, 1977) was an American film and television actress who began her career as a dancer and stage showgirl. The American Film Institute ranked Crawford 10th on their list of the greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema .
17 Quentin Tarantino Quentin Jerome Tarantino (born March 27, 1963) is an American filmmaker, actor, film critic and author. His films are characterized by frequent references to popular culture and film history, nonlinear storylines, dark humor, stylized violence, extended dialogue, pervasive use of profanity, cameos and... read more
18 George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732– December 14, 1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continental Congress as commander of the Continental Army, Washington led the Patriot... read more
19 Harry Styles Harry Edward Styles is an English singer and songwriter. He was initially known as a member of the boy band One Direction. He has since become well known as a solo artist with three albums, "Harry Styles", "Fine Line", and "Harry's House", and has had multiple global hits in his solo career such as... read more
20 Ringo Starr Richard Starkey known professionally as Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles.
21 Josephine Baker
22 Dave Thomas
23 Thomas Edison Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor.
24 Diego Maradona Diego Armando Maradona (October 30, 1960 - November 25, 2020) was an Argentine professional footballer. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, he was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe... read more
25 Bob Marley Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley was a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, musician, and guitarist who achieved international fame and acclaim.
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