Unless you’re benefitting from nepotism, most people don’t wake up one day with a fantastic career. While many Hollywood celebrities have special privileges like wealth, connections, and notoriety to help them get a boost, a lot of them also start from the bottom like the rest of working-class America.
Did you know there are celebrities out there who began their entertainment careers by working for the Mouse at Disneyland? You might be surprised to learn actresses like Michelle Pfeiffer once worked at a theme park. Even comedy legends like Steve Martin didn’t immediately begin making hit films out of nowhere. Learn more about some of the male celebrities who got their start working at Disneyland on the list below.
These days Steve Martin is a beloved and successful actor and comedian. Before getting his big break in Hollywood, he worked at Disneyland when it first opened in 1955. The Hollywood Reporter claims his job involved demonstrating “magic tricks and balloon animal-making.” He did so at Merlin’s Magic Shop in Fantasyland.
Since then, Martin has become a monumental success in the entertainment industry. He has earned himself an Emmy, Grammy, and numerous other accolades. He recently appeared as Roger Stone in an episode of Saturday Night Live earlier this year and is currently in post-production on a new film called Magic Camp.
Richard W. Cook, or Dick Cook, is a notable film executive who formerly served as the Chairman of Walt Disney Studios. His relationship with Disney goes back as far as 1970 when the company employed him to be a steam locomotive operator at Disneyland.
This information comes from The Hollywood Reporter article we cited above. Nowadays, Cook works on the Board of Directors for Legendary Pictures and has since 2011. The company currently has big film projects like Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune, and Jurassic World 3 in the works.
A reporter at Mental Floss claims that Wayne Brady once worked at Disneyland as a costumed character. Supposedly, Brady portrayed Tigger when he was just 16-years-old. He is quoted saying, “Inside that costume, it was about 90,000 degrees, I should have paced myself. But I fell flat on my face. They carried me off with my recorded voice still going, ‘Ooh-hoo-hoo!”
Brady is best known for his improv comedy on the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? He also stars in long-running daytime soap opera, The Bold and The Beautiful and has been recurring in The CW’s Black Lightning in its third season.
In the aforementioned Hollywood Reporter article, actor Kevin Costner met his former wife Cindy Silva while working as a skipper on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. Cindy played Snow White at the park when they met. Costner is now an established A-list actor with multiple awards, including two Academy Awards and multiple Golden Globe Awards.
He is best known for his work in Field of Dreams, JFK, The Bodyguard, and more. Costner is currently starring the Paramount Network drama series, Yellowstone. He also serves as an executive producer on the series.
John McEuen is a notable folk musician and founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He is also a member of Steve Martin’s band and won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album on Steve Martin’s album, The Crow.
According to the on John McEuen’s official website, McEuen worked as a magician in Disneyland’s Magic Shop. After leaving Disney behind, he went on to procure a lengthy and successful solo career before eventually originating the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band back in 1966. Altogether McEuen has performed more than 10,000 concerts, both on his own and with his bandmates.
Ronald L. Ziegler is not technically a “celebrity” by our modern definition of the word. But he was a prominent politician and a former White House Press Secretary during Richard Nixon’s administration. According to an old article written by Nick Thimmesch, Ziegler once worked as a skipper on the Jungle Cruise, similar to Costner.
The report further elaborates that this was his tenure as a Jungle Cruise guide at Disneyland was his only official training in talking to people. Ziegler was criticized for being insensitive to the press due to his lack of experience in the field.
Taye Diggs might be most well-known for starring on the popular ABC medical drama from Shonda Rhimes, Private Practice. However, he wasn’t always the Hollywood heartthrob we all see him as today. Diggs once did a get-to-know-you article with . In it, he told 25 things no one knew about him.
In the piece, he revealed that he “worked as a performer at Tokyo Disneyland for almost a year.” Diggs didn’t elaborate on what the job entailed. Currently, you can catch Diggs starring as Coach Billy Baker on The CW series All American.
Kevin Richardson is best known for being a member of the popular boy band, the Backstreet Boys. He and fellow bandmate, Brian Littrell, were even nominated into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. But before Richardson became a musical heartthrob, he was stealing hearts as Aladdin at Disneyland.
Richardson shared a photo of himself on the job a few years ago to a fan on Twitter. Despite the Backstreet Boys taking a hiatus a while back, they’re together again and still going strong. The group has a new exhibit at the Grammy Museum and also has plans to release a holiday album.
It has never been confirmed definitively whether or not Robin Williams once worked at Disney. But it is rumored that the all-star comedian was, like several other celebrities on this list, a tour guide on the Jungle Cruise at Anaheim’s Disneyland park in the past.
Due to Williams’ tragic and untimely passing, we will likely never know if this rumor is true or not, although it should be noted that one of his most notable projects was a Disney animated film. His portrayal of Genie in the original Aladdin is still considered iconic.
If the name Richard Carpenter doesn’t ring a bell, surely the duo known as The Carpenters does. Richard is one half of the sibling musical act. He got his start singing on Main Street in Disneyland, according to a cover story by Rolling Stone. He dressed in an ice-cream suit, and during his downtime, Richard would write lyrics on napkins.
Richard composed many of The Carpenters hit songs along with their lyricist, John Bettis, who also worked with him at Disneyland. Tragically, Richard’s sister and musical partner, Karen Carpenter, died in 1983. Richard is still active in the music industry. Earlier this year he interviewed with The Wall Street Journal and talked about helping to produce Carpenters With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
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