42 Little Known Facts About Famous People

Mathew Burke

How well do you really know your favorite celebrity? Read on to test your knowledge and find out things you never would’ve guessed about Elvis, Bruno Mars, and even Madonna.

Famous People Facts

42. Who You Gonna Call?

Before he was famous, Bill Murray was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on his 20th birthday after joking that he had two bombs in his luggage. While no explosives were found, he was carrying 10 pounds of marijuana. The actor, who later starred in Ghostbusters, avoided jail but spent five years on probation.

41. Elvis Had a Twin

35 minutes before Elvis Presley was born, his mother gave birth to his stillborn identical twin. Throughout his life, Presley believed his brother was a spiritual guide, referring to him as his “original bodyguard.”

40. Off-Limits

Model Chrissy Teigen is pretty comfortable in her skin, but there’s one body part she refuses to show in photos: her feet.

39. Long Lost Siblings?

Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake were once basically brothers: as kids, they starred on the Mickey Mouse Show, and Timberlake’s mom was once Gosling’s legal guardian for six months during filming while the Canadian actor (Gosling) lived with the US singer’s family during one season of the show.

38. A Bit Fishy

Steve Jobs became a vegan because he believed it would stop him having body odor, reducing his need to shower.

37. Doing Time

Long before he was an actor, Mark Wahlberg was a rapper. Before that, in 1988, the 16-year-old Wahlberg was in prison after attacking a Vietnamese man in the street. Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, plead guilty to assault, and served 45 days in prison. Wahlberg’s victim has forgiven Mark, and Mark sought out a pardon for these crimes so that he could work with troubled youth in the Boston area.

36. Not Just a Pretty Face

Natalie Portman has had papers published in two scientific journals. Her high school paper, “A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar,” was published in the Journal of Chemical Education, and while at Harvard, she co-authored a study called “Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence: Data from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy.”

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35. Buying Back his Best Friend

In the early days of his career, Sylvester Stallone was so poor that he sold his dog Butkus for $50. After striking it rich by selling the script for Rocky, Stallone bought him back at a markup: $3,000. Both Butkus and his interim owner made appearances in Rocky.

Famous People FactsGetty Images

34. In Lock-Up

A far cry from her upper-class role on Gossip Girl, Leighton Meester was born in prison; her mother was serving time for smuggling drugs.

33. Out of This World

Bruno Mars is one of the greatest names in showbiz—but he was actually born Peter Gene Hernandez. Bruno was his childhood nickname because as a baby he was chubby like wrestler Bruno Sammartino, and he chose “Mars” because girls said he was out of this world. Really!

32. He’s Got the Magic

Neil Patrick Harris is a talented magician. The How I Met Your Mother star is a former President of the Board of Directors at the Academy of Magical Arts, an LA organization “devoted to the promotion and development of the art of magic.”

31. Big Spender

Nicolas Cage might be one of Hollywood’s most outrageous spenders: throughout his career, the Con Air actor has bought more than a dozen properties—including one of America’s most haunted houses, two European castles, and an island in the Bahamas. But his strangest purchase? It’s a tie between shrunken pygmy heads, a burial tomb, and a $150,000 pet octopus.

30. Out of Fashion

As well as his career as a rapper, Kanye West has found success as a fashion designer—but he was actually rejected from studying at the world’s most famous fashion school, Central Saint Martins, because he’s “too famous.”

Famous People FactsGetty Images

29. Big Spoon

Plenty of celebrities have strange habits and even phobias but One Direction singer Liam Payne might take the cake: he’s afraid of spoons… specifically used, dirty spoons.

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28. Horror Deaths

Frasier and Cheers actor Kelsey Grammer has spent his life surrounded by tragedy. When he was 13, his father was shot dead outside of the family house. Seven years later, in 1975, his 18-year-old sister was abducted, raped, and murdered by spree killer Freddie Glenn. In 1980, his twin half-brothers died in a scuba diving accident.

27. The Job That Didn’t Stick

Before she was a megastar, Madonna worked at Dunkin Donuts. She got fired for squirting jelly on a customer.

26. Super(stitious) Serena

Tennis great Serena Williams attributes much of her success to superstition: She always takes her shower sandals down to the court, ties her shoelaces a certain way, and may even wear the same pair of socks for a whole tournament. She also bounces the ball the exact right amount of times—five before a first serve and twice before a second serve.

25. A Great Shot

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is best known as a TV sex therapist—but she’s also a trained sniper.

24. What’s Bugging Taylor Swift

Before she was the biggest name in pop music, Taylor Swift was knocking praying mantises out of Christmas trees. Her family lived on a tree farm, and the superstar’s job was to ensure customers’ christmas trees weren’t full of bugs.

23. You Are Feeling Sleepy

Winston Churchill suffered from narcolepsy but said the disorder, which made him suddenly fall asleep, gave him two days in one.

22. Unbeatable

Before they became (arguably) the biggest pop act of all time, The Beatles had a hard time convincing record labels to sign them. In 1962, they were rejected by Decca Records, whose boss said “guitar groups are on the way out.”

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21. One Really Old Pet

Since he was 10, controversial NFL figure Colin Kaepernick has had a pet tortoise called Sammy. Back then, Sammy fit in a shoebox; today, he weighs 115 lbs, and could live to be 135 years old.

20. Chip Off the Old Block

Although he’s one of the world’s most handsome men, Brad Pitt’s looks come second to his work. While playing Tyler Durden in Fight Club, Pitt went to the dentist and got his front teeth chipped to ensure he looked the part. Once the film wrapped, he got his perfect teeth fixed back up.

19. Dreaming of Star Trek

Martin Luther King Jr. convinced Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, not to quit Star Trek. Nichols, one of few black women on TV in the mid-1960s, planned to leave after the first season until King urged her to stay; he said her character had opened a door for black Americans.

18. Duck, Duck…

Ashton Kutcher, who has always been a hit with the ladies, has webbed toes, and has revealed them on TV.

Famous People FactsGetty Images

17. A Close Shave

Julie Andrews’ singing voice was almost ruined by surgery. The star of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins had benign nodules removed from her vocal chords in 1997, and awoke unable to sing. She later recovered, and sang again professionally in The Princess Diaries 2.

16. Handy With a Hammer

Before he was a star, Harrison Ford was a carpenter. He landed the role of Han Solo in the original Star Wars film. “I was quite surprised when I was offered the part,” Ford later said.

15. The Look in His Eyes

David Bowie was well-known for his eyes, which were different colours—or actually, just appear to be. In fact, one of his pupils was permanently dilated after his eyeball was scratched during a punch-up with a friend, creating the illusion of different colours.

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14. Big Business

At 10 years old and while still in elementary school, Warren Buffett started having lunch meetings with a New York Stock Exchange member. He bought his first stock at age 11. Today, he’s worth $80 billion.

13. In a Pinch

Friends actor Matthew Perry is missing the tip of the middle finger on his right hand; he shut it in a door when he was three years old.

Famous People FactsGetty Images

12. G.O.A.T

Shakira was banned from her school’s choir, and her classmates said she sounded like a goat. The Hips Don’t Lie superstar sure showed them!

11. Rhyme on a Dime

After Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat using just 225 different words, his publisher bet he couldn’t write a book with even fewer. Dr. Seuss won the bet by writing Green Eggs and Ham, which uses just 50 words.

10. Big Brother

If a mentor is the key to career success, then it’s paying off for Justin Bieber. His mentor is none other than Will Smith, and the pair speak every week.

9. Bad Dad

Actor Woody Harrelson’s dad was a hitman. As a boy, the Cheers and No Country for Old Men actor first found out about his dad’s job when he heard a radio report about his father’s murder trial. Charles Harrelson spent five years in prison for killing a grain dealer before receiving two life sentences for killing a district judge. Harrelson Sr. also claimed to have shot US President John F. Kennedy. He died in prison in 2007.

8. Rebel With a Cause

What inspired Rebel Wilson to become an actress? Quite simply: malaria. At 17, she fell ill while in Zimbabwe on a year abroad, and hallucinated about winning an Oscar. The Pitch Perfect star later said she saw it as a sign about what she had to do with her life.

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7. Whopper Discovery

Robert Downey Jr. has struggled with drug addiction throughout his life, and he credits Burger King with helping him get clean. In 2003, the Iron Man star was driving with a carload of drugs when he went through the fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru. His burger was terrible, and it made him think “something really bad was going to happen,” so he threw his drugs into the ocean.

6. Giving Like Mike

Michael Jordan came out of retirement twice, and the second time, he gave an entire year’s salary to charity. In 2001, shortly after 9/11, the Chicago Bulls great announced he was joining Washington Wizards, and would give all of his earnings that year—more than $1 million—to relief efforts.

5. The Rock Clock

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has his own motivational alarm clock app, which fans can download. It has no snooze button.

4. Cult Following

Actor Joaquin Phoenix was born in a cult, which might help explain why his siblings were named River, Rain, Liberty, and Summer. Their parents were members of Children of God group, which was founded in the 1960s.

3. Plane Sailing

Rowan Atkinson, best known as Mr Bean, had a brush with death while flying over Africa in 2001 when his private plane’s pilot fainted. Atkinson had to take the controls despite never having flown a plane before. The pilot regained consciousness and landed the plane.

2. Big Giver

Keanu Reeves gave away the back-end deal money (the kick-back money an actor gets according to a film’s success) he made on The Matrix sequels to the film’s special effects and costume teams, giving them credit for their crucial roles in the movie.

1. I Swear

Although Eminem’s known for the profanity in his music, he’s banned swearing in his house. Eminem also lied to his ex-wife, him, and said he was taking Hailie to Chuck E. Cheese, but in reality he took her to record her part in “97 Bonnie and Clyde.” These song lyrics include, “And Mama said she wants to show how far she can float. And don’t worry about that little boo-boo on her throat. It’s just a little scratch – it don’t hurt. Her was eating dinner while you were sweeping. And spilled ketchup on her shirt
Mama’s messy, ain’t she? We’ll let her wash off in the water.”

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