Is it possible to get famous these days if you're ugly?

So, I was watching DirecTV last night, and I noticed that they’re running a Neil Young freebie concert somewhere in the 100’s range of channels, and it occurred to me that Neil Young is…mmmmm, how shall we say…not an attractive man.

In this day and age of Britney Spears (and assorted other lip-synching teenage girl-wonders), those boy groups full of good-looking (and IMO talentless) dancin’ fools, etc…is it possible to get famous these days if you’re talented, yet butt ugly? Would Neil Young have been able to break into the music industry today, with his enormous talent and otherwise lack of physical attractiveness?

Has television made it near impossible for ugly but talented people to get a break?

two words: Kid Rock

“God created rock’n’roll so ugly guys could get laid too” --Kid Rock

The only way to get famous and have throngs of adoring fans is if you have a lot of money. I am pursuing the money angle furiously.

It’s probably more likely you’ll find ugly rockers than ugly teenyboppers (or anyone in the pop music world now!). But hey, let’s look at movies! What about Billy Bob Thornton, huh? :slight_smile:

The key words were “ugly but talented


Quentin Tarantino
Sandra Bernhard

Ewww, I’m glad I already ate lunch.

Billy Bob Thornton,

Calista Flockhart.

Well, to be fair, Quentin Tarantino’s forte is in making movies, not appearing in them…to the best of my knowledge, he’s only ever appeared in his own movies. I don’t think he’s ever landed a role on his acting talent (snort) alone.

You’ve got me on Sandra Bernhard. I saw her recently on an episode of Will & Grace, and I was amazed, yet again, at how someone so exceedingly unattractive and lacking the slightest glimmer of talent could possibly have landed where she is. Ick.

Does anyone find The Rolling Stones attractive?

Because I don’t. Bleh.

sure. Who thinks Bette Midler or Barbra Steaisand are pretty? TV was around then.

Deniro and Hoffman aren’t exactly classical leading man material either.

Yabbut . . . in the OP, the questions were:


And you also gave Neil Young as an example – musician, not actor.

No fair changing the requirements in the middle of the thread! :wink:

Tenacious D comes to mind immediately. They played one of the best concerts I’d ever been to, but they’re a comedy act so it doesn’t count nearly as much.

Also the Screaming Trees (actually they’re kind of obscure, huh?).

Mea culpa. I should have been more clear in my query. I was referring basically to people whose primary role would cast them into the public eye…some sort of performer, be it actor, musician, etc. Someone whose fame revolves around being seen. Quentin Tarantino didn’t fit, in my mind, because his fame is related to his directing talent…his public appearances, to me, are secondary.

It just seems to me that despite someone’s talent, it’s getting harder and harder to “make it” unless you’ve got a pretty face (Sandra Bernhardt being the notable exception). :smiley: Seriously…even some of the “ugly” people mentioned in this thread aren’t who I’d personally call downright unattractive. People squawk about how Calista Flockhart is too thin, blah blah blah…but there must be a hell of a lot of people out there who appreciate that look, because it’s everywhere. And to be honest, I’d even classify Quentin Tarantino as an average looking guy…no hunk, to be sure…but I sure as heck wouldn’t run screaming in the street if I happened upon him.

There are certainly a lot of people out there who have made their living not being conventionally attactive…DeNiro and Hoffman being cases in point. I was just pondering the recent preponderance of good-looking, yet relatively talentless, cardboard cutouts that are being propped up as cultural icons.

I’ll stop rambling now. :slight_smile:

Hmmmm . . . well, in this case, I wonder if we’re not begging the question.

<Scarlett pauses as the Teeming Millions swoon at correct use of the phrase “begging the question”>

If a person’s fame revolves around being seen, wouldn’t it logically follow that for people to want to see them, they would have to be attractive? Or are we getting into the area of people who deliberately make themselves (conventionally) unattractive for shock/entertainment value – say, Marilyn Manson?

Then of course we can get into the subjectivity of attractiveness. One man’s babe is another man’s skank.

Another point lies in how game show contestants are chosen (recently discussed in another thread) – by their stage presence rather than any aptitude for the game. Think of all the now-famous actors whose first TV appearances were on game shows. (Kirstie Alley and (?)Tom Selleck come immediately to mind.) It’s all showbiz, baby.

What if we turn the question around and ask this: In the past, were there people whose fame was based on their being seen who were patently unattractive? Gertrude Stein and Madame de Stael were considered unattractive, but their fame lay in their wit and intelligence, not their beauty. Anyone have more/better examples?

Quotes you’ll never hear:

“That Steve Buscemi, he’s so dreamy!”

::raises hand sheepishly:: Yeah. What?! Don’t give me that Look, Welfy.

Okay but does anyone really find Eminem good looking? Fred Durst? I wouldn’t consider them all that attractive-looking if they weren’t famous. (Hell I don’t even now.)

Most of the backstreet boys seem so weird looking. Not in a good way.

It seems that you need to be good looking to “succeed” if you’re female but its not as mandatory if you’re female. Just my observations…there was thread on this awhile back.

Hmmm…interesting point. I’m hard-pressed to think of any big female stars who are out-and-out unattractive (Sandra Bernhardt yet again being the noted exception…and does she even qualify as a “big female star”? :D) Men do seem to have a lot more leeway in terms of their physical appearance.

It seems, also, that men who have “character” (i.e. not conventionally attractive) are able to rise above being repeatedly cast in the same old role. For instance, I think that Billy Bob Thornton has a wide range of acting ability. Picture him in Slingblade, A Simple Plan, Armageddon & Pushing Tin. I concede that they’re not all great movies, but he certainly didn’t play the same old charcater in each one. On the flip side, for example, I think that Bette Midler has played pretty much the same character in every piece I’ve ever seen her in…the sassy loud-mouth.


I don’t consider the Hollywood-type as “real” people. Because of that, I can’t really name a famous person I find attractive…

…aside from The Naked Chef. Mmmm, accent. And food.

Callista Flockhart ugly? Okay she’s a bit too svelte for me… way to skinny… okay, off the goddamn scale way too freaking skinny but she’s pretty in an elfin way. I just don’t date she-elves. Bette Midler has an attractive face with character. There is a vast gulf between Barbie Doll and ugly, I don’t like either extreme. Granted Bette doesn’t have a personality that makes straight men swoon but you can’t have everything.

Cynical beat me with Steve Buscemi. I’ll add pizza faces Bill Murray, Edward James Olmos and James Woods.