The First Jobs of 11 Celebrities Who Grew Up in the Sixties

Coming of age during the sixties was a tricky feat. Did you go the political activist/protester route or the hippie flower child one? These 11 celebs—who were just starting to get their feet wet as real adults, with real careers and real responsibilities—chose neither. From fire-eater to zookeeper, which first jobs did these now-established personalities have during the swingin’ decade? To paraphrase our dear friend Drake, they “started from... somewhere...and now they’re here.”

Martha Stewart
Occupation: Model

During her teen years in the early sixties, Stewart worked as a model to help pay her way through Barnard College. The lifestyle guru appeared in a handful of campaigns (including Chanel) and was featured in the pages of Glamour for a “Best Dressed College Girls” editorial.

Jimi Hendrix
Occupation: U.S. Army soldier
In 1961, the rock star enlisted in the army after the police caught him riding in stolen cars, twice. They gave him an ultimatum: he could either spend time behind bars or sign up to join Team Uncle Sam. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t gel well in the military, and with little interest in taking it seriously, he was later discharged.

Pierce Brosnan
Occupation: Fire-eater
Before he went on to become James Bond, Pierce Brosnan (like 007) was a man of many talents—one of which was fire-eating. As a rookie actor in 1969, he learned how to perform the not-to-be-tried-at-home stunt after stumbling upon a workshop at London’s Ovalhouse theater. And, not surprisingly, it was his love of women that initially drew his attention to the class: “There was a big group of people in there but I noticed that there were women and they had their tops off,” he said in an interview with The Guardian. “So I thought I’d join in.”
Reminisce about the sixties with more celebrities who defined the decade, including Henry Winkler, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, and Peggy Lipton in this short film by Bryce Dallas Howard.

Harrison Ford
Occupation: Carpenter
In the late sixties, Ford paved the way for the transition from carpenter to actor (you’re welcome, Nick Offerman). Before catching his big break, the Han Solo and Indiana Jones actor worked as a self-taught woodworker for the rich and famous, creating pieces for the likes of Joan Didion and Richard Dreyfuss.

Morgan Freeman
Occupation: Dancer at the 1964 World’s Fair
The voice. The acting. And...the dancing? While the Academy Award winner was involved in theater from a young age, in the early 1960s he also took dancing lessons, which helped him land a gig performing a routine at the 1964 World’s Fair.

Madeleine Albright
Occupation: Encyclopedia Britannica editor
It wasn’t until her forties that Madeleine Albright began her political career. Long before she cracked the boys’ club and became the first female secretary of state, she worked as a journalist and editor for a local paper and the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Vera Wang
Occupation: Competitive figure skater
In 1968, instead of prepping for runway shows, Vera Wang was prepping for the U.S. national figure-skating championship. After failing to make the U.S. Olympic team as she had hoped, she wound up trading in her double axels for bridal couture.

Ralph Lauren
Occupation: U.S. Army soldier
Today his line is associated with good ol’-fashioned Americana, which makes sense considering the polo king served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964 before launching his fashion empire.

Bill Murray
Occupation: Golf caddy
As a teenager in the mid-1960s, Murray worked as a caddy for a high-end club in Illinois to help pay his tuition at a private high school. He worked alongside his older brother Brian, who, incidentally, ended up co-writing the script for Caddyshack.

Sylvester Stallone
Occupation: Zookeeper
In the late ’60s when he was a struggling actor in New York, the Rocky star took a job cleaning lion cages at the Central Park Zoo for a reported $1.12 an hour. Ironically, it all came full circle when he performed the voice of Joe the Lion in the 2011 comedy Zookeeper.

Gene Hackman
Occupation: Doorman
Hackman, and his good buddies Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall, worked any job they could get. Of Hackman’s many odd jobs, he once clocked time as a hotel doorman, where he had an uncomfortable encounter with his former marine officer who told him he looked like a “sorry son of a bitch.”