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First gigs of the famous

By Meg Donohue
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( -- Paris Hilton aside, most celebrities aren't born filthy rich.

Stars generally work their way up the job ladder like professionals in any other field, and it may surprise you to learn just how low the first rung of the ladder to luxury can be.

Each of these celebs has tasted his or her share of humble pie -- hey, turns out we've all got to start somewhere!

Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey was self-helping her way to the top long before the world ever heard of Dr. Phil. Arriving at a radio station to collect a watch she had won through a promotional contest, a 16-year-old Winfrey read for producers and secured herself a spot as an on-air reporter earning $100 per week.

Radio announcer'sexternal link current income: $10.64 per hour. Winfrey's current income: $225 million from June 2005 to June 2006.

Steven Spielberg

Sure, Spielberg has three Academy Awards and millions of dollars in the bank now, but back when he was a 16-year-old intern at Universal Studios his paycheck wasn't anything to "phone home" about.

An intern'sexternal link current income: Zero. Nada. Spielberg's current income:$332 million from June 2005 to June 2006.

Teri Hatcher

Looks like Hatcher's wardrobe included short skirts decades before she made the move to Wisteria Lane. Back in 1984, Hatcher was lifting football fans' spirits as a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers.

Professional cheerleader'sexternal link current income: $15-$50 game. Hatcher's current income: Estimated $285,000 per Desperate Housewives episode.

Sean "Diddy" Combs

Diddy's first job as a paperboy at 12 years old may have been a humble beginning for the hip-hop mogul, but he's since soared from lowly to loaded.

Newspaper carrierexternal link's current income: Minors delivering newspapers are exempt from federal child labor laws and can be paid less than the minimum wage ($5.15 per hour). Combs' current income: $16 million from June 2005 to June 2006.

Dan Brown

Prior to papering the world many times over with his best-selling art historical novel, "The Da Vinci Code," Brown sculpted young minds as a high school English teacher.

Teacher'sexternal link current income: Median ranges from $41,400 to $45,920. Brown's current income: $88 million from June 2005 to June 2006.

Jennifer Lopez

Long before Jennifer Lopez sang, danced and acted her way to superstardom, she briefly traded in her velour tracksuit for a suit of the pin-striped variety while working at a law office.

Legal assistant'sexternal link current income: 39,130. Lopez's current income: $10 million from June 2005 to June 2006.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (, Forbes' Celebrity 100 list (, Internet Movie Database (

Meg Donohue is a writer and blogger for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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