Celebrities Out of Work

What do celebrities do when they are out of work? I mean you obviously are not going to take an Academy Award winner like Holly Hunter and have her waiting tables! She hasn’t worked in a long time and I find it hard to believe she is wealthy enough to live off savings.

We don’t have to just run with Holly Hunter. Pick any celebrity. They have Talent agents to pay whether they are working or not and I know they are big bucks. So where are they getting their money?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Holly Hunter’s been working. Check her entry at imdb.com.

Do you have a site that I can check?

What about the others? I can safely assume that Tom Hanks, Jodie Foster, Elizabeth Taylor don’t need to work but pick someone else.

Okay, maybe she’s farther down the chart than Holly Hunter, but Jewel Shepard is a celebrity of sorts. She starred in a number of drive-in theatre and straight-to-video movies back in the 80’s and early 90’s. And she’s a fairly talented writer who wrote about the difficulties of trying to make a living as a working actress. At one point, Shepard was stripping to earn a living and had fans coming to her club asking her to autograph copies of movies she starred in. She eventually wrote a book If I’m So Famous, How Come Nobody’s Ever Heard Of Me? and retired from her acting career.

I have never heard of her Little Nemo I guess her book did well if she was able to retire.

I know Kim Bassinger filed bankruptcy a few years back. She hasn’t been very active till the Eminem Movie (8 Mile) because of severe back troubles. I wonder how she is able to survive without an income? Do you know if she lost the city she bought due to her bankruptcy?

Shepard’s book was no best-seller. But when she turned 40, I guess she decided she was never going to make it as an actress. I don’t know what she’s doing to earn a living now.

Most people only see the successful side of Hollwood; we only hear about the rare handful that become famous. Shepard’s book (and other writings) is an interesting view of someone who tried to become a star and failed.

I’ve often wondered that myself. What does an out of B or C level actor due for a living?

“Well, I’m sorry we don’t really have an opening for a former Power Ranger here at Johnson, Webster & Associates, LLC.”
Does Carmen Electra really make enough money doing FHM and Maxim photoshoots and movie cameos to afford a multi-million dollar home?

I heard MC Hammer went back to being a reverend in his church or something.

I did contact Flip Wilson for a charity stunt a few years back and he was an accountant for a group called Zimmer and ?. I bet back in his days they didn’t sign contracts to get residuals.

I posted a related question a couple of weeks ago about Joe Pesci’s lack of film and TV work for the last 5 years. I’ve since heard that he released a CD under the pseudonym of Joe Doggs, but I doubt it’s earning him much money - and I still don’t know why his movie career died.

Meg Tilly is another one I wonder about - she hasn’t appeared onscreen for 8 years.

Flip Wilson was actually very wealthy due to good real estate investments.

A lot of actors are busy doing stage work (which doesn’t pay anywhere near film money but can pay the bills) when they’re not onstage. James Earl Jones, for instance, loves stage but only tolerates most of his movie roles- he uses film strictly to subsidize his stage appearances.
Some celebrities who’ve never had a Tom Cruise/Jim Carrey sized payday have had really excellent money management. Wayne Rogers, for example, played Trapper John on MASH 30 years ago, has an estimated worth in the low nine-figures and now manages the investments of other actors full-time. Krystine Haje (the redhead from HEAD OF THE CLASS) invested in a software company when she was on TV and courtesy of that is worth megamillions today, while the Smothers Brothers sank their earnings into a winery and real estate projects that made them very rich. (Conversely, Burt Reynolds was the highest paid “actor” on Earth for several years running and ended up broke.)
Back end deals also make some stars rich. Don Knotts will always be known as Barney Fife but said in one interview that his residuals for THREE’S COMPANY (a sort of P.S. to his career- people will always say “there’s Barney” rather than “there’s Mr. Furley” when they see him on the street) were more in just one year than he ever earned in all the Andy Griffith years combined. Bob “Col. Hogan” Crane’s odd contract for HOGAN’S HEROES paid him barely enough to pay his rent in the decade after the show’s demise, but his estate received millions and millions after his death due to some sort of delayed pay-off. Bud Cort, who’s not wealthy, turned down a piece of HAROLD & MAUDE’s merchandising in exchange for a larger paycheck and it’s estimated that the decision cost him well over $10 million from his share of profits from the film’s many re-releases, then videotape, then DVD, then whatever happens next.
Also, some actors marry wealthy or highly paid professionals. Norman Fell, who was replaced by Don Knotts on THREE’S COMPANY and never had another major gig, didn’t really need to work as he was married to a psychiatrist; Victoria Principal and Mary Tyler Moore (who’s richer than Croesus due to her production company) are married to surgeons. A few famous actors are even independently wealthy through inheritance (e.g. McLean Stephenson, Robert Wagner, Richard Chamberlain, Dina Merrill [probably the richest actress alive due to her trust funds]). Then there’s always the local and overseas commercial markets.
Then there are a few actors who have odd business interests. Bob “Gilligan” Denver, for example, is a very successful goldfish farmer, Jim “Gomer Pyle” Nabors owns acres and acres and acres of macadamia groves in Hawaii and has interests in a very successful high-end antiques business, and Betty Garrett (Archie’s neighbor on AITF and Laverne’s landlady/stepmother on L&S) is a very successful realtor. (Her first husband, Larry Parks, was a fairly major star who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era and lost his studio contract and ultimately his house, money, and everything but a small realty company that was more of a dummy corporation his manager set up for tax purposes- since it was all they had left they became realtors and made more money in that than they did from show business.)

I also wonder how much regular average actors get paid. I think there is an inclination to think that everyone you see in the movies or MTV is a multi-millionare. Even if an actor is making 200,000 a year, that isn’t exactly P. Diddy money they could buy boats and estates with.

Another celebrity who invested well was Heather Locklear. Apparently she invested the relatively small salary she got from doing Dynasty and T.J. Hooker back in the 80’s and made enough so she’d never have to work again. All of the TV and movie work she’s done since then was gravy.

Donlad Sutherland was another actor who made a bad decision on future profits. He was originally offered $10,000 and percentage of the profit for his role in Animal House. He turned down this offer and held out for a one time payment of $40,000. It’s since been estimated that his percentage payment would have been $11,000,000 (and this is before the current DVD release).

How about Barbra Feldon (Agent 99) from Get Smart.
or Barbra Eden (I Dream Of Jeannie) or Steve Guttenberg (Cocoon) These guys never made it “big” but they are not working.


Some have to do this. Others resort to celebrity boxing. Some do both…

Thank goodness for reality television!