Posts Tagged ‘living’

Elijah wakes up in a cage, and can barely remember anything about himself or his situation. He fights his way alone to escape a building full of bizarre and deadly monsters, while learning disturbing truths about himself. Once he finds the way out, he has to pass it up and keep fighting to rescue hiw wife and child from his nemesis.

Author Bio.

has previously published three other books and various short stories, as well as spending two years as a journalist for The Michigan Daily Newspaper. He studied creative writing under the tutelage of Jonis Agee, author of “Strange Angels” and “South of Resurrection.”

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Melissa6 portrait Growing up in Ontario, Canada, M.J. was the only child of a single mom.  Her passion for the arts ignited at a young age as she wrote adventure stories and read them aloud to close family and friends.  The dramatic arts became a focus in high school as an aid to understanding character motivation in her writing.  Majoring in Theatre Production at York University, with a minor in English, she went on to teach both elementary and high school for 10 years throughout Simcoe County. M.J. currently lives with her husband and young son in Caledon, Ontario.  She keeps busy these days with her emerging authors’ website Infinite Pathways: hosting writing contests, providing editing services, free publicity tips, book reviews, and opportunities for authors to build their writing platform and portfolio.  In addition she writes articles and edits freelance as she continues her own creative writing working toward completing the next book in the Chronicles Series. Time’s Tempest: The Chronicles of Xannia (1) is M.J.’s debut science fiction novel.  She firmly believes that if she hadn’t been born a Virgo, she wouldn’t be half as organized as she needs to be to get everything done from one day to the next.

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Do you hear stories about people cutting the cable cord and streaming all their TV and movie content “for free” and think, “That could be me – saving money!”

Well, before you pick up your phone, you should do some number-crunching, says Russ Crupnick, a senior vice president and industry analyst with NPD Group, a consulting firm that studies consumer trends.

He says that while some people could indeed save money by streaming their content rather than paying for cable or satellite TV, they’d probably have to give up a lot, such as live sports or news for starters. Even then, he’s not so sure the savings are there.

“I got out the calculator and asked what would happen if I got rid of cable and some premium channels and replaced those hours with other services. And you know what? I didn’t save any money,” says Crupnick.

So, is cutting the cable cord and streaming all your content really a money-saver, or just a big headache? Let’s dig deeper. 

An Outline of the Costs

Before we get into the sometimes messy details of cable and streaming with some real-world examples, let’s outline the general costs of some of your options.

Cable/Satellite TV: This cost varies widely depending on your location and provider, but according to one government study cited by Senator John McCain*, “expanded basic” cable service averages $54 for the nation in 2013. A Consumer Reports 2012 article titled “Cut your Telecom Bill” claimed basic cable, which includes local cable and about 20 basic channels, such as CNN, E!, and Discovery ran $25 to $35. If you add premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax, and others, the price goes up.


Over the Top Content (OTT): This is the streamable stuff – the TV and movies that you can access via an Internet connection even if you don’t subscribe to cable. The best known are Netflix ($7.99 per month, streaming only option; no DVDs), Hulu Plus ($7.99 per month), Amazon Instant Video (start at $2.99 per movie or TV episode), Vudu ($2.99 per TV episode; $3.99 and up for movies), and iTunes (about $1.99 – $2.99 per TV episode; 2.99 and up for movie rentals).

Internet Connection: If you want to dump cable and stream all your content, you’ll need an Internet connection that has enough bandwidth to stream high-definition (HD) video. This, according to the Consumer Reports article, should be at least 6 to 12 Mbps. Again, the cost varies throughout the country, but Crupnick says to expect to pay about $40 per month (the cost comes down if you bundle it with a cable subscription).

Hardware: Finally, you’ll need the actual equipment to access services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the others. There is a wide variety of these, from smart TVs that connect directly to the Internet through your web connection, and have apps for favorite streaming services, to DVD players and game consoles that do the same. Cost varies, of course.


Now for some real life examples…

Free Streaming of Network Shows

It’s hard to beat free, and it turns out that many network shows on channels like NBC, ABC, or Fox, are available for free over the Internet on the proprietary website within days or even hours of their original air date. So, if you have the equipment and an Internet connection, this is a viable alternative to cable for watching some of your favorite shows.

It’s not all pizza and popcorn, however. Issues do arise, as 52-year-old Ann Cody of Honolulu, Hawaii discovered when she did a “test run” to see what life without cable would be like.

“I was thinking of canceling my cable, but before I did I wanted to see if I’d still be able to watch my favorite shows,” says Cody, who pays about $49 for cable and the premium channel HBO.

Cody is “addicted” to three network shows, she says: “Castle” (ABC), “Sleepy Hollow” (Fox), and “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC).

To her delight, those shows were available online the day after they aired, for free, from the network websites. The bad news was that since she didn’t have a smart TV (that could access the Internet), she had to watch them on her computer. Smart TVs are expensive, she says, and she wasn’t about to buy one – that would defeat her goal of saving money.

“If I had a computer that has an [input for an] HDMI cable, I probably could have bought a cable and hooked it up to my HDTV,” Cody says.

So if you have a smart TV, computer with an HDMI input, or if you’ve recently scored a Chromecast, you can stream many network shows and still watch them on your big screen TV – for free.

[Is your Internet plan compatible for online streaming? Click to compare Internet plans and rates.]

Streaming Premium Channels’ Original Series

While network TV shows might be available for free online soon after their original air date, the same is not true for original series aired on premium cable channels such as HBO, AMC, and others.

So, if you’re into one of their programs, you’ll either have to sign up for cable, or wait for it to come out on OTT providers such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, iTunes, or Amazon Instant Video. In some cases, you may be charged per episode.

But, says Crupnick, the cost is not merely monetary.

“The bigger issue for most people is time. If you want to watch the new season of an HBO or AMC show when it comes out, you’ll need cable. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait a year or so for it to be licensed to Netflix or Amazon.”

And if a $7.99 per month subscription to Netflix sounds like a bargain, it could be. Or it couldn’t, as Crupnick himself discovered, the hard way.

Like so many other viewers, Crupnick got hooked on “Breaking Bad,” the hit AMC series about a high school teacher turned drug dealer that hooked so many viewers. Unfortunately, Crupnick came to the party late, accessing season one through his Netflix account, which he had in addition to cable service.

[Want to save on TV costs? Click to compare plans and rates from providers in your area.]

Unfortunately, in real time, on cable, the series was on season five. But Netflix only had seasons one through three at the time.

“So I ended up spending $35 for season four on iTunes to catch up,” he says. At that point, he could watch it on cable on its first air dates. And he was happy about that.

But if he didn’t have cable, it would have been another $2.99 per episode, he says.

The Soft Costs

The truth is, your decision on whether or not to drop cable might not be measured in dollars and cents, but rather soft costs, says Cody.

She calls one the “spoiler” cost which his amplified through Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, with fans and sometimes even show hosts Tweeting as the show airs.  

There are also things like sports and news, two things that are traditionally considered crown jewels of cable, says Rick Herman, chief strategy officer for MobiTV, which works with network and cable providers to make subscribers’ content is available on mobile devices.

“People like to watch news and sports live, as they happen,” says Herman. And because these are difficult to access without cable – he says they’re critical to your equation of whether or not to cut cable.

[Click to compare TV and Internet bundles from providers in your area.]

Is A La Carte Streaming Really Cost Effective? 

Here’s the part where we add up the cost of cutting cable. The trouble is, like the value of your favorite vacation spot, the math gets kind of personal and fuzzy. But let’s do our best with the numbers we do have.

Let’s say your cable bill is $44.50 a month (the average from the Consumer Reports article’s top end of $35 and Senator John McCain’s government average figure of $54). 

Now let’s assume you cut cable and stream your content. Here are some costs. We’ll use the Nielson Q2 2013 Cross-Platform Report, which found the average consumer watched four hours and 43 minutes of TV a day, or 33 hours of TV per week. That’s about 140 hours a month.

If you filled those hours with streaming, here’s a possible breakdown of how you’d do it and what it would cost. (This assumes you have an internet connection):

Netflix subscription: A stream only option, with limited choices and no DVDs: $7.99 per month.

Hulu Plus subscription: A service that allows you to stream many currently running TV shows, with limited commercials: $7.99 per month.

iTunes or Amazon Instant Video: Three episodes a week of shows you can’t find on either Netflix or Hulu Plus using a pay per episode service such as iTunes or Amazon Instant Video: $2.99 per episode; $39 per month.

Grand Total: $54.98.

This price will range depending on what you want to watch after you cut the cord. So, before you make any drastic decisions, make sure to weigh your options carefully to ensure you’re taking the route that will actually save you money.

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  • S. Daniel Abraham, billionaire founder of Slim-Fast. Joined the Army at the age of 18 and fought in Europe during World War II. Did not attend college.
  • Roman Abramovich, richest man in Russia, billionaire. Dropped out of college. He studied at the Moscow State Auto Transport Institute before taking a leave of absence from academics to go into business. He later earned a correspondence degree from the Moscow State Law Academy
  • Abigail Adams, U.S. first lady. Home schooled.
  • Ansel Adams, photographer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Bryan Adams, singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • Calpernia Adams, showgirl, transsexual. Never attended college. As she noted, “My parents thought that college leads you away from God, so they hadn’t saved any money.”
  • Gautam Adani, commodities billionaire from India. Dropped out of college.
  • Sheldon Adelson, billionaire casino owner. Dropped out of City College of New York to become a court reporter. He made his first fortune doing trade shows.
  • Mortimer Adler, author, educator, editor. Left high school at the age of 15 to work. Later received his high school equivalency degree and attended Columbia University.
  • Ferran Adria, chef. Has been called the world’s greatest chef. Did not finish high school.
  • Miguel Adrover, fashion designer. High school dropout.
  • Ben Affleck, actor, screenwriter. Left the University of Vermont after one semester; then dropped out of Occidental College to pursue acting.
  • Andre Agassi, tennis player, winner of 8 Grand Slam titles. Quit school in the ninth grade and turned tennis pro at the age of 16. His father would drive the kids to school but, instead, actually took them to local tennis courts to practice.
  • Dianna Agron, actress. “I didn’t take the typical path and go to college after high school. Instead, I saved up money from teaching dance classes and moved to L.A.”
  • Christina Aguilera, singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • Danny Aiello, actor. Dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to join the army. Later received a high school equivalency degree.
  • Troy Aikman, Superbowl-winning football quarterback, TV sports commentator. In 2009, he finally graduated from UCLA, 20 years after leaving college to play in the National Football League. Aikman had promised his mother, when he left school just two courses shy of a degree, that he would return and finish. In 2009, at the age of 42, he finally fulfilled that commitment, earning A’s in his last two courses, thus earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
  • Malin Akerman, model, actress. Enrolled in York University (Toronto) but left after about a year to see what else was out there. She moved to Los Angeles to become an actress.
  • Dennis Albaugh, billionaire founder of pesticide company Albaugh Inc. Earned a 2-year agriculture business degree from Des Moines Community College. Did not continue on to a 4-year degree.
  • Edward Albee, playwright. Dropped out of Trinity College after three semesters.
  • Jack Albertson, Oscar-winning actor. High school dropout.
  • Paul Allen, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, founder of Xiant software, owner of Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers. Dropped out of Washington State to start up Microsoft with Bill Gates.
  • Peter Allen, singer, songwriter, composer. High school dropout.
  • Rick Allen, rock star member of Def Leppard. High school dropout.
  • Woody Allen, screenwriter, actor, director, and producer. Was thrown out of New York University after one semester for poor grades. Also dropped out of City College of New York. As he admitted, “I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics final. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”
  • Steven-Elliot Altman, author. Left school at the beginning of the 10th grade and ran away from home. Entered college at the age of 16 and earned a degree at 19.
  • Dhirubhai Ambani, billionaire Indian businessman. High school dropout.
  • Wally “Famous” Amos, multimillionaire cookie entrepreneur, author, talent agent. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the U.S. Air Force.
  • Hans Christian Andersen, short story author, fairy tales. Left home at the age of 14 to find work. Later attended Copenhagen Univesity.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, director of such movies as “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia.” He attended film school at New York University but quit after two days because one professor dissed “Terminator 2” and another gave him a C for a writing assignment.
  • Tom Anderson, co-founder of MySpace. A high school dropout.
  • Walter Anderson, publisher, editor. High school dropout who later earned an equivalency degree.
  • Mario Andretti, race-car driver, author. High school dropout who later earned an equivalency degree.
  • Anthony Andrews, actor. High school dropout.
  • Julie Andrews, Oscar-winning actress, singer, author. Dropped out of high school.
  • Jennifer Aniston, actress. Never attended college.
    “Jennifer Aniston says getting a nose job was the best thing she ever did. But keep in mind, she didn’t go to college, her marriage failed, her mom hates her, and she was in that Kevin Costner movie.” — Danielle Fishel, The Dish
  • Christina Applegate, actress. High school dropout.
  • Edwin Apps, British artist. High school dropout.
  • Joan Armatrading, singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • Billie Joe Armstrong, front man for Green Day punk rock band. High school dropout. As he noted, “I finally realized that high school didn’t make any sense for me then. So I quit.”
  • Louis Armstrong, jazz musician, singer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Peter Arnell, advertising executive. Never attended college. Talked his way into the advertising business after graduating from high school.
  • Eddy Arnold, country music singer and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was 11 when his father died, so he turned to singing at church picnics and other venues to support his family. By the age of 17, he was singing in nearby honky-tonks and made his first radio appearance. He debuted at the Grand Ole Opry in 1943. Between 1945 and 1983, 145 of his songs made the country charts, with 28 of them at #1. He sold more than 85 million records.
  • Cliff Arquette, aka Charlie Weaver. Comedian, entertainer. High school dropout.
  • Danni Ahse, multimillionaire businesswoman, adult entertainment website operator, model, producer, dancer. High school dropout who later earned an equivalency degree.
  • Brooke Astor, wealthy socialite, author, philanthropist. Dropped out of high school.
  • John Jacob Astor, multimillionaire businessman. America’s first multimillionaire. High school dropout.
  • Chet Atkins, country singer, author. High school dropout.
  • Jane Austen, novelist. She and her sister attended schools in Oxford, Southampton, and Reading until the age of 11. After that time, their father taught them at home. Did not attend college.
  • Stone Cold” Steve Austin, wrestler, actor. Dropped out of the University of North Texas a few credits shy of a physical education degree.
  • Gene Autry, singing cowboy, actor, songwriter, producer, businessman, author, baseball team owner. High school dropout.
  • Richard Avedon, photographer. High school dropout.
  • Willy Aybar, baseball player. High school dropout.
  • Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian. Dropped out of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.
  • Jimmy Santiago Baca, poet, activist, and filmmaker. At a young age, he ran away from the orphanage and lived on the streets, spending some time in juvenile detention centers. Before he was imprisoned for seven years for a narcotics conviction (a charge he’s denied), he was functionally illiterate. During his time in prison, he taught himself to read and write, eventually earning a GED. Baca has written ten books of poetry, a memoir, a book of essays, a book of short stories, a play, and a screenplay for the 1993 film Bound by Honor.
  • Kevin Bacon, actor, singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • Pearl Bailey, singer, actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Josephine Baker, singer, actress, dancer. High school dropout.
  • Lucille Ball, actress, comedienne, producer. Co-founder of Desilu Studios. Late bought out her husband’s share to become the first woman to own and run a production studio. Dropped out of high school.
  • Steve Ballmer, billionaire chief of Microsoft. Graduated from college, but dropped out of the Stanford MBA program to join Microsoft.
  • Hubert Howe Bancroft, historian, bookseller. High school dropout.
  • Tyra Banks, supermodel, TV host, and TV producer. Applied to college and was accepted by many colleges but deferred college when she received an offer to be a model in Paris.
  • Brigitte Bardot, actress, model, author, animal rights activist. High school dropout.
  • Etta Moten Barnett, singer, actress. Dropped out of high school to get married, but six years later attended and graduated from the University of Kansas.
  • Ronald Baron, billionaire money manager, founder of Baron Capital. Dropped out of George Washington University law school to pursue a career on Wall Street.
  • Roseanne Barr, actress, comedienne, producer, director. High school dropout.
    Fantasia Barrino, singer, actress, American Idol winner. Dropped out of high school.
  • Drew Barrymore, actress, producer, and director. High school dropout. Never attended college.
  • John Bartlett, author and publisher, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Did not attend college, but ended up owning the University Bookstore at Harvard University.
  • Donald Barthelme, bestselling short story author, college professor, museum director, newspaper reporter. “After experimenting with college, journalism, and marriage in Houston, he got sick of the provinces and lit out for New York City at 31.” (Time magazine). Although he continued to take classes at the University of Houston after serving in the army, he never received a degree.
  • Bill Bartman, billionaire businessman, author. High school dropout.
  • Count Basie, bandleader, pianist. Dropped out of high school.
  • Shirley Bassey, singer, author. High school dropout.
  • Eike Batista, billionaire mining executive. Studied matallurgy at the University of Aachen, Germany. Dropped out of college. Now one of the top 10 richest men in the world.
  • Billy Beane, baseball player, general manager, and statistician. Turned down a scholarship to Stanford to play as a professional baseball player.
  • Warren Beatty, Oscar-winning director, actor, producer, and screenwriter. Dropped out of Northwestern University after his freshman year to attend Stella Adler’s Conservatory of Acting. Beatty is one of the few people ever to receive Oscar nominations in the Best Picture, Actor, Directing and Writing categories from a single film (he did it twice for Heaven Can Wait and Reds).
  • T. Bubba Bechtol, comedian and radio show host. Transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi his junior year but left soon thereafter. As he notes, “There was one course I was looking for that wasn’t in the curriculum catalog: How to Make Money. So I left.” Nonetheless, he was inducted into the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Hall of Fame in 2005.
  • Boris Becker, tennis player. Did not complete high school or attend college.
  • Kate Beckinsale, actress. Dropped out of Oxford University to pursue her acting career. Starred in Nothing But the Truth, Much Ado About Nothing, Snow Angels, Winged Creatures, Van Helsing, Whiteout, and the Underworld series.
  • Natasha Bedingfield, singer. Dropped out of college after her freshman year to pursue a music career. Her Unwritten album debuted at #1 in England.
  • Anne Beiler, multimillionaire co-founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants. High school dropout.
  • Art Bell, radio talk-show host, author. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the U.S. Air Force.
  • Jean-Paul Belmondo, actor. Did not do well in school. High school dropout.
  • André Benjamin, aka André 3000, rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, member of OutKast. Dropped out of high school but later earned a high school equivalency degree.
  • Jack Benny, actor, comedian, violinist. Dropped out of high school.
  • Robert Bergman, portrait photographer. Dropped out of the University of Minnesota.
  • Irving Berlin, Oscar-winning songwriter, composer. When his father died when he was 8 years old, he had to work to survive. Wrote such long-lasting hits as God Bless America, White Christmas, There’s No Business Like Show Business, etc.
  • Carl Bernstein, Watergate reporter, Washington Post. Never finished college. Started as a copy boy at the Washington Star at the age of 16.
  • Yogi Berra, baseball player, coach, and manager. Quit school in the eighth grade.
  • Claude Berri, Oscar-winning French director, actor, screenwriter, and producer. High school dropout.
  • Chuck Berry, rock singer. High school dropout, left in the 11th grade. Received high school equivalency degree at the age of 37. Attended cosmetology school for awhile when yournger.
  • Halle Berry, Oscar-winning actress. After high school, she moved to Chicago to pursue a career in modeling. Did not attend college.
  • Luc Besson, French director, screenwriter, and producer. Dropped out of high school. Never attended college.
  • Jessica Biel, actress. Did not graduate from college. In an interview in Glamour magazine, she said that leaving college was one the toughest choices she ever made: “I do still have a desire, a pang in my heart, when I think about it and the fact that I didn’t spend my four years with my friends.”
  • Joey Bishop, actor, comedian. Never finished high school.
  • William Bishop, actor. Enrolled at West Virginia University but got involved in summer theater and left college to tour with a Tobacco Road theater production. Later went to Hollywood and signed an MGM contract.
  • Robert Bisson, founder, EarthWater Global. Had about four years of college spread over seven universities, but he never earned an undergraduate degree.
  • Clint Black, Grammy-winning country singer, songwriter, record producer, actor. Dropped out of Stratford High School in Houston, Texas to play in his brother’s band.
  • Karen Black, actress, screenwriter, producer, singer, songwriter. Left high school to get married. Soon divorced and entered Northwestern University at the age of 16. Left college at 17 to pursue an acting career in New York City.
  • Norman Blake, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Did not finish high school.
  • William Blake, poet, artist. Never attended school, educated at home by his mother.
  • Mary J. Blige, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Timonthy Blixseth, billionaire founder of Yellowstone Club. Skipped college, failed as a professional songwriter. Made his first fortune as a timberland investor. At the age of 15, he bought 3 donkeys for $75 and resold them a week later as pack mules.
  • Orlando Bloom, actor, Left high school at the age of 16 to study acting. Later won a scholarship to the British American Dramatic Academy.
  • Humphrey Bogart, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Peter Bogdanovich, director, screenwriter, actor, author. High school dropout. Began studying acting with Stella Adler when he was only 16.
  • Michael Bolton, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter. High school dropout.
  • William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, aka Henry McCarty, outlaw legend. Orphaned as a teenager, he never finished high school.
  • Cher Bono, singer, Oscar-winning actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Sonny Bono, singer, actor, songwriter, U.S. congressman. Dropped out of high school.
  • Daniel Boone, explorer, frontier leader. Home schooled.
  • Bjorn Borg, tennis player. Joined the professional tennis circuit when he was 14. Never finished high school or attended college.
  • Clara Bow, actress. Dropped out of college to become an actress.
  • David Bowie, singer, songwriter, actor, record producer. Sold 136 million records. May not have graduated from high school. Did not attend college.
  • Ray Bradbury, science fiction author. Never went to college. “I never went to college. I went to the library.”
  • Stan Brakhage, experimental filmmaker. Dropped out of Dartmouth College after a few months to make films.
  • Russell Brand, comedian and actor. After high school, he attended two drama schools in London but got kicked out of both of them.
  • Marlon Brando Jr., Oscar-winning actor. Expelled from Libertyville High School for riding his motorcycle through the school. Later attended Shattuck Military Academy but was also expelled from there. Was invited to come back, but he decided not to finish school.
  • Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Music, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and other Virgin enterprises, balloonist. Left high school when he was 16.
  • Ralph Braun, founder of BraunAbility, inventor of battery-powered scooters and wheelchair lifts. Attended college at Indiana State for a year, but dropped out.
  • Jacques Brel, Belgium singer, songwriter, actor, and director. Did not finish high school. Never attended college.
  • Sergey Brin, billionaire co-founder of Google. Dropped out of Stanford Ph.D. program in computer science to start Google in 1998 working out of a friend’s garage. He did earn a masters degree.
  • Christie Brinkley, aka Christie Lee Hudson, model, actress, political activist. After graduating from high school in Los Angeles, she moved to the Left Bank of Paris, France.
    Joseph Brodsky, Nobel prize-winning Russian poet and essayist, Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 1991 to 1992. Left school at the age of 15 and tried to enter the School of Submariners, but was not accepted.
  • Edgar Bronfman Jr., billionaire heir to the Seagram liquor fortune. Skipped college to pursue a career as a songwriter and movie producer, but soon began running the Seagram corporation.
  • Charles Bronson, actor. He was 10 when his father died, and he went to work in the coal mines to help support the family.
  • Gary Brooker, singer, songwriter, founder of Procol Harum rock band. Did not finish high school.
  • Louise Brooks, actress, dancer, model, showgirl. Began dancing at the age of 16. Never finished high school.
  • Pierce Brosnan, actor. He left school in England at the age of 15 to draw and paint. He also did odd jobs like washing dishes, cleaning houses, and driving a cab. But, as he noted, “Once I found the world of theater, I was off to the races!”
  • Herbert Brown, Nobel Prize-winning chemist. Dropped out of high school to support his family. Later return to school and graduated from high school and college.
    James Joseph Brown, mining engineer, husband of Unsinkable Molly Brown. Self-educated.
  • Margaret “Molly” Brown, socialite, philanthropist, social activist, survivor of the Titanic. High school dropout.
    V. V. Brown, singer. After attending a top-line prep school, she left England at the age of 18 to got to Los Angeles to make an album. Later returned to England but never went to college.
  • Carla Bruni, folk singer, songwriter, model, and first lady of France. After graduating from high school, she went to Paris to study art and architecture, but left school at the age of 19 to pursue modeling.
  • Joy Bryant, model, singer, surfer, snowboarder. Dropped out of Yale University to become a Victoria’s Secret model and, later, the face of CoverGirl.
  • Peter Buffett, musician, author, son of Warren Buffett. Dropped out of Stanford University to make music. “When I turned 19, I received my inheritance. … My inheritance came to me around the time I was finally committing to the pursuit of a career in music. … I decided to leave Stanford and use my inheritance to buy the time it would take to figure out if I could make a go of it in music.”
  • Warren Buffett, billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania after two years. But later he did get his bachelor’s degree and MBA.
  • Gisele Caroline Bündchen, Brazilian multimillionaire supermodel. High school dropout. Left home at the age of 14 to begin her modeling career. Moved to New York City at the age of 16 to continue her career as a model. “Reading things is so important to me—things that can open up your mind. You need to feed your mind.”
  • Ronald Burkle, billionaire supermarket owner and investor, Yucaipa. Dropped out of California State Polytechnic University and returned home to work in a Stater Brothers grocery store. Had started early stocking shelves; joined union local as a box boy at age 13.
  • Abner Burnett, singer, guitarist. High school dropout who later earned an equivalency diploma.
  • George Burns, Oscar-winning actor, comedian. Elementary school dropout.
  • Pete Burns, singer, songwriter, member of Dead or Alive rock band, reality TV star. Elementary school dropout.
  • Ellen Burnstyn, Oscar-winning actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Raymond Burr, actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Terry Butters, singer, pianist. High school dropout.
  • Robert Byrd, U.S. senator. Graduated from high school but could not afford to attend college.
  • David Byrne, singer and songwriter, member of Talking Heads rock band. Dropped out of the Rhode Island School of Design after one year to form the Talking Heads. He also attend the Maryland Institute College of Art for one year only.
  • James Francis Byrnes, U.S. representative, U.S. senator, Supreme Court justice, U.S. secretary of state, South Carolina governor. At the age of 14, he left St. Patrick’s Catholic school to apprentice in a law office. Never attended college or law school.
  • James Cagney, actor, song-and-dance man. Worked from the age of 14 as an office boy, janitor, package wrapper, and finally vaudeville dancer.
  • Sam Cahnmy , Oscar-winning songwriter. Dropped out of high school.
  • Michael Caine, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • James Cameron, Oscar-winning director, producer, and screenwriter. Dropped out of California State University, Fullerton. Then took up street racing while working as a truck driver and a high school janitor, eventually getting a job building models for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.
  • Ben Nighthorse Campbell, U.S. representative and senator. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the U.S. Air Force, where he earned his GED. Later attended and graduated from San Jose State College.
  • Glen Campbell, singer, songwriter, actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Jack Cardiff, cinematographer. His formal education was spotty because his family moved every week or so. He started in the movie business as a gofer and later graduated to camera work.
  • George Carlin, comedian, author 4-time Grammy winner. Never finished high school. As he noted, “The fact that I didn’t finish school left me with a lifelong need to prove that I’m smart.” He also noted, “When you’re a dropout and the culture accepts you and begins to quote you and teach your stuff in class and textbooks, this is my honorary baccalaureate.”
  • Kitty Carlisle, actress, panelist on To Tell the Truth. “I went to boarding schools in Lausanne. And then I went to school in Neuilly. I stopped school when I was about 16. I went to Rome to come out. I never got any degrees or anything, but I am better educated than people who went to college.”
  • John Carmack, founder of Armadillo Aerospace, cofounder of Id Software (sold 10 million copies of Dome and Quake games). At the age of 14, he was sent to a juvenile home after breaking into a school to steal an Apple II computer. Quit college early to become a game programmer.
  • Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist. Elementary school dropout. Started work at the age of 13 as a bobbin boy in a textile mill. One of the first mega-billionaires in the U.S.
  • Scott Carpenter, astronaut. He twice flunked out of the University of Colorado.
  • Jim Carrey, actor, comedian. Dropped out of high school.
  • Adam Carolla, comedian, radio/TV personality, podcast superstar. “He was a wrong-side-of-the-tracks North Hollywood high-school graduate who could barely read and who worked a series of menial jobs before breaking into radio and then TV” (Fast Company). Did not attend college.
  • Julia Carson, U.S. congress representative, did not graduate from college. She was the first woman and first African American to represent Indianapolis.
  • Amon G. Carter, multimillionaire oilman, civic promoter, newspaper publisher, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Never finished eighth grade.
  • Maverick Carter, CEO of LRMR. Didn’t finish his sports management degree at Western Michigan University. Instead, he apprenticed for a year and a half under a basketball senior director.
  • Tom Carvel, inventor of the soft-serve ice cream machine, founder of Carvel ice cream stores. Did not attend college. Before he began selling ice cream, he was an auto mechanic, Dixieland band drummer, and test driver for Studebaker.
  • Pete Cashmore, founder of Founded the blog website when he was 19. Retired from active blogging three years later.
  • John Catsimatidis, billionaire oilman and real estate magnate. Studied engineering at NYU but dropped out to help a friend save his family’s supermarket business. Owned 10 stores of his own by the age of 24 with $25 million per year in income. During college, he “did not study much. Would not tell my kids that.”
  • Bruce Catton, historian, editor of American Heritage, author. World War I interrupted his studies at Oberlin College. He tried twice after the war to finish college but kept getting pulled away by real jobs at a succession of newspapers.
  • John Chancellor, TV journalist and anchorman. Dropped out of high school.
    Coco Chanel (Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel) fashion designer. Left the orphanage at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a cabaret singer.
  • Charles Chaplin, Oscar-winning actor, screenwriter, producer, director. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Ray Charles, singer, pianist. Dropped out of high school.
  • Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel. Started the company when he was a high school senior. Never attended college.
  • Gurbaksh Chahal, multimillionaire founder of online ad networks Click Again and BlueLithium. Dropped out of school at the age of 16 to found Click Again.
  • Maurice Chevalier, Oscar-winning actor, singer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Chingy, aka Howard Bailey Jr., rapper. Began writing lyrics at the age of 9 and recording raps when he was 10. Never attended college.
  • Madonna Ciccone, singer, actress. Dropped out of the University of Michigan, where she was studying dance, to move to New York to pursue a singing career.
    Grover Cleveland, U.S. president (22nd and 24th). Never attended college. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
  • Lee Clow, global director of media arts, TBWA\Worldwide. A college dropout.
  • Winston Churchill, British prime minister, historian, artist. Rebellious by nature, he generally did poorly in school. Flunked sixth grade. After he left Harrow, he applied to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, but it took him three times before he passed the entrance exam. He graduated 8th out of a class of 150 a year and a half later. He never attended college.
  • Joe Cirulli, founder of GHFC, a multimillion dollar fitness club company. After two years at Corning Community College, he decided to take a year off and travel around the country. Ended up following his girlfriend to Gainesville, Florida, where he started his live in health and fitness.
  • James H. Clark, billionaire founder of Silicon Graphics and co-founder of Netscape. Dropped out of high school at the age of 17 and entered the Navy. Later took night classes and attended the University of New Orleans, where he earned a Master’s degree in physics. He eventually earned a PhD in computer science from the University of Utah.
  • Kelly Clarkson, pop singer. Got several college music scholarships but passed on them to move to Los Angeles to pursue a singing career.
  • Grover Cleveland, U.S. president. Dropped out of school to help his family. Studied law while clerking at a law firm.
  • Eleanor Clift, reporter, Newsweek. No college degree. Went to night school for several years while working as a secretary.
  • Hank Cochran, country singer and songwriter. Worked in the oil fields of New Mexico while still a teenager. Then moved to California to sing before moving to Nashville and building a career as a songwriter of such hits as “I Fall to Pieces,” “Make the World Go Away,” and “She’s Got You.” Never graduated from high school.
  • Paulo Coelho, songwriter, bestselling novelist. Was institutionalized from age 17 to 20. He later enrolled in law school but dropped out after one year, became a hippie, traveled the world,and later worked as a songwriter before writing his first novel. His
    novel The Alchemist has sold more than 60 million copies.
  • Bram Cohen, developer of BitTorrent. He left the State University of New York at Buffalo for one year and then left. As he noted, “Were I to have to redo high school, I would just drop out immediately.”
  • Taylor Cole, actress and model. Started modeling after graduating from high school.
  • Toni Collette, actress. Quit high school at the age of 16 to study musical theater at Australia’s National Institute for Dramatic Art, but then left school there after she got her first paying gigs.
  • Patrick Collison, software wizard. Dropped out of MIT during his freshman year to help two friends develop and eventually sell Auctomatic for millions of dollars.
  • Christopher Columbus, explorer, discover of America. Little formal education. Home schooled.
  • Christine Comaford-Lynch, founder of Artemis Ventures (venture capital firm) and Mighty Ventures. Dropped out of high school. Later also dropped out of the University of California at San Diego and UCLA. Dabbled as a model, trained as a geisha, spent years as a Buddhist monk, dated Bill Gates and Larry Ellison. She is the author of Rules of Renegades.
  • Sean John Combs, rapper, producer, fashion designer, entertainer, actor, and entrepreneur. Did not finish college. As he said in an interview in Time magazine, “I’m just not that type of person. As soon as I got out of the womb, I was ready to do this. Then there’s other times—I’m not really high-tech computer savvy, and there’s some things that I do have weaknesses with. I don’t know if school would have made that better for me. I’m cool the way I’ve turned out.”
  • Sean Connery, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of high school.
  • Harry Connick, Jr., Grammy-winning pianist, singer, actor. Has sold over 25 million albums. At the age of 18, he left New Orleans to move to New York City. Did study at Loyola University, Hunter College, and the Manhattan School of Music, but apparently did not graduate.
  • Kevin Connolly, actor. Skipped college, moved to Los Angeles to live with a bunch of unemployed actors, and finally had success as an actor in Entourage.
  • Lauren Conrad, reality show actress, bestselling novelist, fashion designer. Moved to Los Angeles fresh out of high school to pursue acting. Never attended college.
  • Jackie Coogan, actor. Flunked out of Santa Clara University and transferred to the University of Southern California, but never graduated.
  • Jack Kent Cooke, billionaire media mogul, owner of Washington Redskins football team. Dropped out of high school.
  • James Fenimore Cooper, novelist. Was kicked out of college for a prank.
  • Noel Coward, Oscar-winning actor, playwright, director, producer, composer. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Simon Cowell, TV producer, music judge, American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent, and The X Factor. A member of Forbes 2008 Celebrity 100, he made $72 million in 2007. He dropped out of school at the age of 16.
  • James M. Cox, newspaper publisher, 3-term governor of Ohio, presidential nominee in 1920, founded Cox Enterprises. A high school dropout.
  • Gerard Craft, restaurateur. Dropped out of culinary school, saying “I never did well in the classroom—I got bored.” Then worked at a car wash and pool hall.
  • Cindy Crawford, actress, model, entrepreneur. Graduated high school as the valedictorian. Then studied chemical engineering at Northwestern University for half a year before dropping out to model.
  • Joan Crawford, Oscar-winning actress, dancer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Davy Crockett, frontiersman, U.S. congressman. Less than six months of formal education. Home schooled.
  • Tom Cruise, actor, producer. Never attended college.
  • Roy Cullen, oilman billionaire. Dropped out of fifth grade.
  • Robert Culp, actor. Bounced around 4 colleges before dropping out and moving to New York to study acting and pursue an acting career.
  • Charles Culpeper, multimillionaire owner and CEO of Coca Cola. Dropped out of high school
  • Claire Danes, actress. Left Yale after two years to return to acting, but did say that “College was just so essential for my sense of self and my development.”
  • Sharon Daniels, author, The World of Truth. “Eventually I came to conclude that I could not find real knowledge in academic life, only hierarchies of knowledge that led, ultimately, to more hierarchies, not to more knowledge. I began to see university learning as limited, human, and relative. What was seen as absolutely up-to-date did not consider the infinite and timeless.”
  • Fred N. Davis III, political advertising copywriter and director. Attended drama school in college but never graduated. Left school to take over his family’s PR business in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Sammy Davis, Jr., singer, actor, comedian. Never finished high school.
  • Rosario Dawson, actress and political activist. Did not graduate from college, but she did take precalculus and calculus at the Cooper Union and a civil-engineering course at Columbia. She is a firm believer in the value of education.
  • Dorothy Day, journalist, socialist, political activist, pacifist, anarchist, suffragist. Co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a scholarship, but dropped out after two years to move to New York City to become a social activist.
  • James Dean, actor. Attended Santa Monica College but transferred to UCLA where he dropped out during his sophomore year to pursue a career as an actor.
  • Jimmy Dean, singer, songwriter, actor, multimillionaire founder of Jimmy Dean Foods. Dropped out of high school to join the Merchant Marines at the age of 16. Later joined the Air Force at the age of 18.
  • Ellen DeGeneres, comedienne, actress, talk show host. Dropped out of the University of New Orleans. As he noted in an interview with Us Magazine, “I didn’t go to no college.”
  • John Paul DeJoria, billionaire co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems hair care products and founder of Patron Spirits tequilla. Joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school. After the Navy, he spent time doing many odd jobs, sometimes living out of a car, before finding an entry-level marketing job with Time magazine.
  • Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers, billionaire, among top ten wealthiest Americans. Founded his company out of his college dorm room. Dropped out of the University of Texas to run the company.
  • Dom DeLuise, comedian, actor. Graduated from high school, but never attended college. Instead, he began acting at the Cleveland Play House.
  • Patrick Demarchelier, fashion photographer. His stepfather gave him a Kodak camera when he was 17. He started working at a photography store right away and never attended college.
  • Patrick Dempsey, actor, Dr. McDreamy, juggler, race car driver. Left Maine when he was 17 for a stage-acting career.
  • Robert De Niro, Oscar-winning actor, producer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Felix Dennis, multimillionaire magazine publisher, Maxim, Blender, and others. Left home before his sixteenth birthday and dropped out of art college.
    The bottom line is that if I did it, you can do it. I got rich without the benefit of a college education or a penny of capital but making many errors along the way. I went from being a pauper, a hippie dropout on the dole, living in a crummy room without the proverbial pot to piss in, without even the money to pay the rent, without a clue as to what to do next… to being rich. — Felix Dennis, magazine publisher, How to Get Rich
  • Gerard Depardieu, actor. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Richard Desmond, billionaire publisher. Dropped out of high school.
  • Richard DeVos, billionaire co-founder of Amway (now Alticor), owner of Orlando Magic basketball team. Served in the Army after high school. Founded Amway along with his best friend Jay Van Andel.
  • Maria Diaz, CEO and founder of Pursuit of Excellence. Dropped out of college as a recent widow to work three jobs and care for her son. Later worked for Jenny Craig. Then set up a coaching practice that led to founding Pursuit of Excellence.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, actor. At the age of 14, he signed with an agent and began doing commercial work as well as acting. He complete high school with a tutor, but put off college. As he has noted, “Life is my college now.”
  • Charles Dickens, bestselling novelist. Elementary school dropout.
  • Bo Diddley (Ellas Otha Bates), rock & roll singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Never attended college.
  • Barry Diller, billionaire, Hollywood mogul, Internet maven, chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp (owner of, Ticketmaster, CitySearch, Evite,, etc.). The son of a wealthy real estate developer, he attended Beverly Hills High School but dropped out of UCLA to work in the mail room of William Morris.
  • Joe DiMaggio, baseball player, husband of Marilyn Monroe. High school dropout.
  • Walt Disney, producer, director, screenwriter, animator, developer of Disneyland. Winner of 26 Oscars and 7 Emmy awards. While attending McKinley High School, he also took night classes at the Chicago Art Institute. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to join the army. Rejected because he was under aged, he joined the Red Cross and was sent to war in Europe. Upon his return from war, he began his artistic career.
  • Snoop Dogg, rapper and actor. Never attended college. “A lot of people like to fool you and say that you’re not smart if you never went to college, but common sense rules over everything. That’s what I learned from selling crack.”
  • Thomas Dolby, musician, composer, music producer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Robert Downey, Jr., actor. Dropped out of Santa Monica High School during his sophomore year.
  • Betsy Drake, actress, novelist. Dropped out of high school to model and act. Much later in life, she enrolled at Harvard where she earned a master’s degree of education in psychology.
  • Francis Drake, British admiral and explorer. Home schooled.
  • Dominique Dunne, actress. Went to the University of Colorado to study acting, leaving after one year to pursue her career as an actress.
  • Eliza Dushku, actress. Moved from Boston to Los Angeles at the age of 17 to act.
  • Tom Dwan, millionaire online poker player. Dropped out of Boston University. He started with a $50 investment and built it into millions playing poker online.
  • Johnny Earle, founder of Johnny Cupcakes. Dropped out of music school to sell limited-edition T-shirts out of the trunk of his ’89 Camry.
  • Steve Earle, singer, songwriter, actor, playwright. At 16, he dropped out of college to become a songwriter.
  • George Eastman, multimillionaire inventor and founder of Kodak. High school dropout.
  • Clint Eastwood, Oscar-winning actor, director, and producer. Attended at least half a dozen schools and excelled at none of them. Enrolled at Los Angeles City College, but never graduated. Among other jobs, he bagged groceries, delivered papers, fought forest fires, and dug swimming pools. Also worked as a steelworker and logger.
    Mark Ecko, founder urbanwear company Mark Ecko Enterprises. Left Rutgers University during his third year to start his company with his sister, Marci, who also left college to work on the business.
  • Thomas Edison, multimillionaire inventor of the phonograph, light bulb, and many other inventions. He quit formal schooling after his teacher called him addled. Was home-schooled by his mother.
  • Don Edwards, cowboy singer. Never finished high school.
  • Zac Efron, actor, singer. Has not attended college, but also has not ruled out more study.
  • William Eggleston, photographic artist. A major retrospective of his work opened in November, 2008, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He attended Vanderbilt and the University of Mississippi without graduating. At Ole Miss, he did study painting which eventually led to his interest in artistic photography.
  • Duke Ellington, bandleader, composer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Dropped out of the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois.
  • Queen Elizabeth II, queen of England. Tutored at the palace. Did not attend school.
  • Philip Emeagwali, supercomputer scientist. High school dropout: left school in native Nigeria due to war but later earned an equivalency degree. Won a scholarship to Oregon College of Education but transferred after one year to Oregon State University.
  • Eminem, rapper. Has a limited formal education, but “by the time I was 18 I had probably read the dictionary front to back like 10 times.”
    Israel Englander, billionaire hedge fund manager, Millennium Partners. Dropped out of NYU’s MBA program to work as a floor manager at the American Stock Exchange.
  • Tom Epperson, novelist and screenwriter. After taking some classes at Henderson State University in Arkansas, he dropped out and headed for New York City to become a novelist. Four years later, he headed to Los Angeles to write screenplays.
  • Shawn Fanning, developer of Napster. Dropped out of Northeastern University when 19 to move to Silicon Valley to further develop Napster.
  • William Faulkner, Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning novelist. Dropped out of high school after his second year. Also later attended but dropped out of the University of Mississippi.
  • Perry Farrell (Peretz Bernstein), musician, Jane’s Addiction, Porno for Pyros, and Satellite Party. Also producer and founder of the Lollapalooza music tour. Never attended college.
  • Arash Ferdowsi, cofounder, Dropped out of MIT to start up
  • Craig Ferguson, late night talk show host. As he noted recently, “Economists are saying that a college degree may not be necessary to succeed in life. Look at me, I didn’t go to college and here I am. Seriously kids, go to college.”
  • Mel Ferrer, actor, director, producer, husband of Audrey Hepburn. Dropped out of Princeton to get into acting.
  • Sally Field, Oscar-winning and Emmy-winning actress. Never attended college.
  • Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies. Founded the company when she was a 21-year-old mother with no business experience. Did not graduate from college.
    50 Cent, rapper. Did not attend college. As he noted, “If I had a choice, I would’ve been a college kid. I would’ve majored in business.”
  • Millard Fillmore, U.S. president. Six months of formal schooling. Studied law while a legal clerk for a judge and law firm. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
  • David Filo, billionaire co-founder of Yahoo! Dropped out of Stanford University PhD program to create Yahoo!
  • Carly Fiorina, CEO, Hewlett-Packard. Disappointed her parents by dropping out of law school after one semester.
  • Bobby Fischer, Grandmaster chess player. A high school dropout.
  • Eddie Fisher, singer and actor. Never attended college. Began his singing career while still in high school.
  • Ella Fitzgerald, singer. Dropped out of high school.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, novelist. Dropped out of Princeton University.
  • Sean Flynn, actor, photojournalist. Son of Errol Flynn, Sean left Duke University after his freshman year to star in The Son of Captain Blood. He later became a famous photojournalist covering the Vietnam War where he apparently died (MIA and still unaccounted for).
  • Harrison Ford, actor. Dropped out of Ripon College. He worked as a carpenter for almost ten years before finding success as an actor in Star Wars and other movies.
  • Henry Ford, billionaire founder of Ford Motor Company. Received only a modest rural education. Left his home on the farm to work as an apprentice machinist in Detroit, Michigan. Later ran a sawmill and became a chief engineer for Edison Illuminating Company before starting the Ford Motor Company.
  • Henry Ford II, CEO, Ford Motor Company. Dropped out of Yale University.
  • George Foreman, heavyweight champion boxer, author, designer of the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine. Quit school in the ninth grade, but did get his GED. Never attended college.
  • Charles Forman, founder of iminlikewithyou social networking website. Left home when he was 18 to work in Korea and Japan as a programmer.
  • John Forsythe, actor. He won an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina but he left after three years to pursue a career in show business. He started out as an announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers and then, noting that he liked to eat in the winter, left to pursue acting.
  • Sutton Foster, Tony award-winning actress, singer, and dancer. Attended Carnegie Mellon University for one year and then left to pursue a theatrical career full-time.
  • Andrew Fox, Internet entrepreneur, multi-millionaire. A high school dropout.
  • Megan Fox, actress. Tested out of high school via correspondence and moved to Los Angeles. Landed a role in a movie after only two months. Never attended college.
  • Michael J. Fox, actor. Dropped out of high school. Co-starred in a Canadian television series at the age of 15. Left Canada at the age of 18 to go to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.
  • Dick Francis, novelist, jockey. Never graduated from high school because his father, as noted by the London Times, felt “that a day’s hunting or show jumping was more valuable” than formal schooling.
  • Aretha Franklin, singer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Benjamin Franklin, inventor, scientist, inventor, diplomat, author, printer, publisher, politician, patriot, signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Dropped out of Boston Latin. Home schooled with less than two years of formal education.
    Joe Frazier, heavyweight boxing champion. Never finished high school. Left home at the age of 15 to go to New York City.
  • Markus Frind, software programmer, multimillionaire founder of Plenty of Fish dating website. Graduated from technical school with a two-year degree in computer programming. Did not attend any further higher education.
  • Robert Frost, poet. Dropped out of Dartmouth College.
  • R. Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome, visionary, philosopher, poet, architect, futurist. He never finished college, after being expelled from Harvard twice (one involving some chorus girls).
  • J. B. Fuqua, industrialist, philanthropist. Never attended college, but learned about business by checking out books from the Duke University library through the mail. Later donated $36 million to support a business school at Duke.
  • Clark Gable, Oscar-winning actor. High school dropout.
  • Lady Gaga, aka Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, rock singer and songwriter. Dropped out of NYU to pursue her music career full time.
  • Melody Gardot, singer and songwriter. At the age of 19, while studying fashion at the Community College of Philadelphia, she was injured in a serious automobile accident that left her unable to continue college.
  • Brad Garrett, actor, comedian. Left UCLA after six weeks to do standup comedy.
  • Bill Gates, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, one of the richest men in the world, philanthropist. Dropped out of Harvard after his second year. As he noted, “I realized the error of my ways and decided I could make do with a high school diploma.”
  • Richard Gere, Golden Globe-winning actor. Dropped out of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after two years.
  • David Geffen, billionaire founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of DreamWorks. Dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin after his freshman year. Also flunked out of Brooklyn College. Admittedly, “I was a lousy student.” Started work by sorting mail at the William Morris Agency.
  • Alan Gerry, billionaire cable TV executive, philanthropist. Dropped out of high school during World War II to join the Marines. Trained as a TV repairman on the GI bill. Launched his cable business with $1,500 in 1956.
  • George Gershwin, songwriter, composer. High school dropout.
  • J. Paul Getty, billionaire oilman, once the richest man in the world. Failed to graduate from the University of Southern California, Berkley, or Oxford University.
  • Amadeo Peter Giannini, multimillionaire founder of Bank of America. High school dropout.
  • William Gibson, science fiction novelist, first to use the word cyberspace. Was orphaned at the age of 18. To avoid the draft and the war in Vietnam, he moved to Canada where he worked odd jobs. Years later he finally finished his first novel, Neuromancer. Never attended college.
  • Daniel Gilbert, psychology professor at Harvard University. Dropped out of high school but later earned an equivalency diploma.
  • Dizzy Gillespie, musician, songwriter. Dropped out of high school but later received an honorary diploma from the high school he attended.
  • Jackie Gleason, actor and comedian. With 36 cents in his pocket, he left home after his mom died while he was still in his teens. He soon moved beyond amateur night shows and began working as a professional. He never finish high school.
  • John Glenn, astronaut, U.S. senator. Did not finish at Muskingum College in Ohio. According to Wikipedia, “In April 1959, despite the fact that Glenn failed to earn the required college degree, he was assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as one of the original group of Mercury astronauts.”
  • Whoopi Goldberg, Oscar-winning actress, comedienne, talk show host. Dropped out of high school after getting hooked on heroin. Got cleaned up at the age of 20. Worked as a bricklayer and trained as a beautician before hitting it big as a comedienne.
  • Hyman Golden, multimillionaire cofounder of Snapple. A high school dropout and one-time window washer.
  • Barry Goldwater, U.S. senator and presidential candidate. He dropped out of the University of Arizona after one year to take over the family department store.
  • Benny Goodman, clarinetist, bandleader. Dropped out of high school.
  • Bob Goodson, CEO, Dropped out of Oxford University where he was studying for a master’s degree in medieval literature and philosophy.
  • Alex Gordon, professional baseball player. “What would I do if I weren’t a ballplayer? I would have finished college. I went to Nebraska, and I’m good with animals, so being a veterinarian would have been cool. I looked into it in college, but I was so busy with baseball that I didn’t have time for it.”
  • Lew Grade, producer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Steffi Graf, tennis star. Turned professional in her teens when she ran out of players good enough to challenge her. Never attended college.
  • Kelsey Grammar, actor. Attended Juilliard for two years but was kicked out for poor attendance. Went on to acting success in Cheers, Frasier, and Back to You television shows.
  • Cary Grant, Oscar-winning actor. High school dropout. Left home at the age of 16 to become an acrobat and later an actor.
  • W.T. Grant, multimillionaire founder of W.T. Grant department store chain. High school dropout.
  • Horace Greeley, newspaper editor and publisher, U.S. congressman, presidential candidate, co-founder of the Republican Party. Dropped out of high school.
  • David Green, billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby, religious philanthropist. Did not attend college. Started the Hobby Lobby chain with a $600 loan.
  • Mart Green, multimillionaire founder of Mardel retail stores, CEO of Bearing Fruit Communications (aka EthnoGraphic Media), CEO and executive producer for Every Tribe Entertainment, chairman of the board of Oral Roberts University. Dropped out of college after one year. Founded Mardel at the age of 19.
  • Philip Green, billionaire retail mogul, Topshop. Dropped out of high school to apprentice with a shoe importer.
  • Arlo Guthrie, singer and songwriter. Dropped out of Rocky Mountain College.
  • Gene Hackman, actor. Discharged after six years in the Marines, he entered college as a journalism major but after six months he dropped out for good. Since then he’s earned an Academy Award for best actor (The Conversation) and an Academy Award for best supporting actor (Unforgiven).
  • Aviv Hadar, CEO of Think Brilliant web-development studio and the tech brains behind SoulPanckage. Dropped out of college.
  • Thomas Haffa, billionaire German media mogul. Dropped out of high school.
  • Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark. Started selling greeting cards at the age of 18 while living at a YMCA in Kansas City. Did not attend college.
  • Josh Halloway, actor. Did not attend college.
  • Dorothy Hamill, Olympic ice skater. Did not attend college.
  • Harold Hamm, billionaire oil wildcatter, Continental Resources, Hiland Holdings. Left home at the age of 17, finished school a year later. Became a gas jockey before becoming a wildcatter. Never attended college.
  • Armie Hammer, actor, born into wealth. Did not graduate from
    college: “I tried college at UCLA. I gave it a fighting effort and I just couldn’t do it.”
  • Chelsea Handler, TV host, producer, comedienne, bestselling author. Moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to pursue a career as an actress.
  • Tom Hanks, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of CalState University after a few years to work as an intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival.
  • William Hanna, cartoonist, Hanna-Barbera. He briefly attended college but dropped out at the beginning of the Great Depression.
  • Beck Hansen, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. Dropped out of high school to pursue his musical career.
  • Elizabeth Hardwick, literary critic and co-founder of The New York Review of Books. Graduated from the University of Kentucky but dropped out of a Columbia University doctoral program.
  • Martha Matilda Harper, business entrepreneur, founder of the Harper Hair Salons. At the age of seven, she was sent to work as a domestic servant. Worked as a servant for 22 years before saving enough money to start a hair salon. Never attended college.
  • Melissa Joan Hart, actress, singer, director, producer, candy store operator. Started acting at the age of 3. Appeared in hundreds of commercials before getting the job of acting in the Sabrina TV show. Attended New York University for two years but deferred further studies when she got the TV show.
  • Sheldon Harvey, Navajo artist, winner of the Best of Show at the 2008 Santa Fe Indian Market. Dropped out of high school to care for his wife and son. “When I dropped out of school, no one in my family thought it was the end of the world. My grandparents were from the old school, traditional people who didn’t think an education was necessary to make your way in the world.” He later convinced the people at Dine Community College to let him attend even though he had not graduated from high school. He took classes there but apparently did not graduate.
  • Anne Hathaway, actress, The Princess Diaries. Began acting professionally at the age of 16. Briefly attended Vassar and New York University, but has not graduated from either.
  • Leif Hauge, inventor. Never finished college.
  • Louise Hay, one of the bestselling authors in history and founder of Hay House. Of other famous women authors, Levine Breaking News has noted, “They did not change the spiritual landscape of America and several of its Western allies. They were not pregnant at 15 and they did not lack high-school diplomas.” Louise Hay did.
  • Amber Heard, actress. Quit a Catholic high school during her junior year to move to Hollywood to become an actress. She quickly landed a small role in Friday Night Lights.
  • William Randolph Hearst, newspaper publisher and movie producer, was thrown out of Harvard for poor grades (apparently due to heavy partying).
  • Richard Heckmann, billionaire investor, CEO of U.S. Filter, founder of Heckmann Corporation. Went to college in Hawaii but did not graduate. “I went to Vietnam in ’65 and was assigned to the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron. When I came back in ’66, I wasn’t in any mood to go back to school. I got a job selling insurance.” He later attended the Harvard Business School small-company management program.
  • Diane Hendricks, billionaire co-founder of ABC Supply, the largest supplier of roofing and siding materials to contractors. Never attended college.
  • Kenneth Hendricks, billionaire co-founder of ABC Supply, the largest supplier of roofing and siding materials to contractors. Dropped out of high school, never attended college, and eventually joined the family roofing company.
  • Kevin Hendricks, roofing store operator. Skipped college to go into the roofing business. His high school graduation present was $100, a nail bag, and a roofing hammer. Later, he turned a money-losing store into ABC Supply’s biggest profit center.
  • Jimi Hendrix, rock ‘n roll guitarist. A high school dropout.
  • Lance Henriksen, actor. He dropped out of the eighth grade and ran away from home. He barely learned to read. After a stint in the Navy, he did odd jobs such as picking fruit and shrimping. As he began acting, he taught himself to read.
  • Patrick Henry, Virginia governor, revolutionary patriot. Home schooled. Later studied on his own and became a lawyer.
  • John Henton, actor, comedian. Never finished at Ohio State University. “I never ended up going back to Ohio State. I just wanted to be a comedian, you know, and I was getting a good response.”
  • Tony Hillerman, mystery novelist. In 1943, he dropped out of college to enter the army. He later returned to college to get his degree and also earn a master’s degree.
  • Paris Hilton, model, realty show star, singer, professional celebrity, socialite, fashion designer. Expelled in her senior year from the Canterbury Boarding School for violating school rules. Later earned her GED. Never attended college.
  • Cheryl Hines, actress and director. Never attended college. Had a short stint in beauty school.
  • Stanley Ho, billionaire casino operator, King of Gambling. Dropped out of college.
  • Lillian Hochberg, founder of Lillian Vernon catalog. Did not attend college. Started the catalog out of her home.
  • Eric Hoffer, longshoreman, philosopher, and author. A self-educated philosopher, he was at various times a dishwasher, lumberjack, gold prospector, migrant farm worker, and longshoreman. He is author of The True Believer, Working and Thinking at the Waterfront, and Reflections on the Human Condition.
  • Dustin Hoffman, two-time Oscar-winning actor. Enrolled at Santa Monica College, caught the acting bug after taking an acting class for an easy grade, then left after a year to join the Pasadena Playhouse.
  • Ernest Holmes, founder of the Science of Mind churches and author of The Science of Mind, ended his formal schooling when he was fifteen.
  • Katie Holmes, actress. Her acceptance letter for Columbia University came a week after she did the pilot for the Dawson’s Creek TV show. She spent the next six years acting in the TV series. She now admits that going to college as a celebrity would be very difficult. “But,” she says, “Maybe I could hire a cute professor to home-school me.”
  • Odetta Holmes, the queen of American folk music, singer, songwriter, actress, and human rights activist. Studied music at night at the Los Angeles City College, but did not graduate.
  • Dennis Hopper, actor. Did not attend college, but did study acting at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego and the Actors’ Studio in New York City. When people asked him what school he went to, he would reply “Warner Bros.”
  • Vanessa Hudgens, actress and singer. Homeschooled during high school. Did not attend college. Homeschooling was great for her: “It was nice to stay away from all the drama. I’m not good with catty girls. I’m too laid-back.”
  • John Hughes, director, producer, and screenwriter. Dropped out of Arizona State University in his junior year.
  • D. L. Hughley, sales manager, actor, comedian. Never finished high school. He got his job as a sales manager by paying “a guy I knew at Cal State Long Beach $100 to tell personnel that I was just a few credits short of graduating from college.”
  • H. Wayne Huizenga, billionaire founder of WMX garbage company, builder of Blockbuster video chain, owner of Miami Dolphins. Skipped college to join the Army. Later dropped out of Calvin College after three semesters. Started business in 1962 with a used garbage truck.
  • Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, billionaire oilman. Only had a fifth grade education. Worked as a farmhand until he invested $50 in an Arkansas oil field.
  • John Huston, Oscar-winning director, actor. High school dropout.
  • Gary Hustwit, author and publisher, Incommunicado Press. Dropped out of San Diego State.
  • Lauren Hutton, first supermodel, actress. Attended Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans while working at a bar. Met Steve McQueen and got into acting. Dropped out of college.
  • Don Imus, national radio host, bestselling book author. Dropped out of college after a week.
  • Julie Inouye, actress, singer, health care advocate. Dropped out of Chico State University after dancer Harold Lang told her that she should be in New York or Los Angeles (after he had heard her sing).
  • Burl Ives, Oscar-winning actor, folk music singer. Dropped out of Eastern Illinois State Teachers College (now Eastern Illinois University) during his junior year. As he was sitting in an English class listening to a lecture on Beowolf, he realized he was wasting his time and walked out of the class and out of college.
  • Andrew Jackson, U.S. president, general, attorney, judge, congressman. Orphaned at 14. Home schooled. By the age of 35 without formal education, he became a practicing attorney. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
  • Reggie Jackson, baseball player. Attended Arizona State University for two years before he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics.
  • Jane Jacobs, author, political activist, urban planner. After high school, she worked at a variety of office jobs and as a freelance writer. She studied for two years at Columbia University’s extension school, but did not graduate.
  • Micky Jagtiani, billionaire retailer, Landmark International. Flunked several exams and dropped out of accounting school in London. Started out cleaning hotel rooms and driving a taxi. Eventually started a retail business in the Middle East.
  • T. D. Jakes, pastor, bestselling novelist. Dropped out of high school.
  • Betty Mattas James, CEO, James Industry. Named the Slinky toy. Member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. She attended Pennsylvania State University but left when she married Richard James, who later invented the Slinky. More than 300 million Slinkies have been sold.
  • Josh James, multimillionaire co-founder of Omniture. Dropped out of Brigham Young University during his final semester to co-found, which became Omniture.
  • Kevin James, aka Kevin George Knipfing, comedian and actor. Attended the State University of New York at Cortland but dropped out of college after his junior year (after taking a course in public speaking) to perform stand-up comedy.
  • Brandon Jennings, basketball player. He was the first high school player to skip collage and jump straight into pro basketball in Europe.
  • Peter Jennings, news anchor, ABC’s World News Tonight. Failed the 10th grade. Left high school at 16 to work as a bank teller. He later attributed his failure in high school to boredom and laziness.
  • Chris Jericho, aka Chris Irvine, WWE world champion wrestler, actor, author, radio and TV host, rock musician. Never attended college.
  • Steve Jobs, billionaire co-founder of Apple Computers and Pixar Animation; Disney’s largest shareholder. Dropped out of Reed College after six months and went to India before returning to Silicon Valley. As he said, “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and how college was going to help me figure it out.”
  • Billy Joel, singer and songwriter. A high school dropout.
  • John Johannesson, founder of Bauger Group fashion retailing group, finished Commercial College in Iceland (the equivalent of something between high school and junior college in the U.S.) and then launched a discount grocery with his father.
  • Andrew Johnson, U.S. president, vice-president. Never attended college. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
  • Bruce Johnson, cosmetologist and owner of Avatar Salon & Wellness Spa. Dropped out of the University of Maryland 26 credits shy of an engineering degree to study cosmetology. “I wasn’t loving engineering. I was just doing it. … I don’t think I would have been as stimulated by a career in engineering. I wanted to be happy and successful,” he says. “You’re not supposed to leave college. It was a struggle. But my heart was in this.” Now his clients include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
  • Kenny Johnson, founder of Dial-A-Waiter restaurant delivery service. Dropped out of Wichita State University.
  • Alan Jones, founder of Check Into Cash, former CEO of Credit Bureau Services. Dropped out of Tennessee State University to work at his father’s credit agency.
  • January Jones, model, actress. Left home three days after graduating from high school to go to New York to become a model. Later became an actress.
  • John Paul Jones, patriot, navy admiral. Home schooled. Went to sea early.
  • Henry J. Kaiser, multimillionaire founder of Kaiser Aluminum. High school dropout.
  • Rob Kalin, founder of Esty (a website that helps artisans sell handmade crafts and clothing). Flunked out of high school, briefly enrolled in an art school, and then faked an MIT student ID so he could take classes on the sly. His professors were so impressed that they helped him get into NYU where he learned out to build a website. Founded Esty with two classmates.
  • Jeffrey Kalmikoff, cofounder and chief creative officer of Never graduated from college.
  • Dean Kamen, multimillionaire inventor of the Segway. Dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
  • Ingvar Kamprad, billionaire founder of IKEA, one of the richest people in the world. A dyslexic, he never attended college. When he was 17, his father gave him a reward for succeeding in his studies. He used this money to establish what became IKEA. As a child, he peddled matches, Christmas decorations, fish, and other sundries via his bicycle.
  • Garson Kanin, screenwriter, playwright, novelist, memoirist, director. A high school dropout.
  • David Karp, founder of Tumblr. Dropped out of Bronx Science at the age of 15 to be homeschooled and work for his Davidville company. Did not attend college. At the age of 17, he moved to Japan and worked remotely for an American Internet company.
  • Alex Karras, football player, actor. Never graduated from college. As he pointed out, “I never graduated college, but I was only there for two terms – Truman’s and Eisenhower’s.”
  • Li Ka-Shing, billionaire, one of the wealthiest investors in Asia, plastics manufacturer, real estate investor. Had to leave school at the age of 15 to support his family after his father’s death.
  • Byron Katie, spiritual leader and author. Dropped out of the University of Northern Arizona before the end of freshman year to get married.
  • Ben Kaufman, 21-year-old serial entrepreneur, founder of Kluster (a virtual forum that allows consumers and businesses to collaborate on the design of products and services). Dropped out of college in his freshman year.
  • Michael Keaton (Michael John Douglas) actor. Dropped out of Kent State University after two years.
  • Toby Keith, country music singer. After high school, he joined his father to work in the oil fields. His biggest regret, though, is never having attended college.
  • Brad Kelley, billionaire landowner. Never attended college.
  • Kirk Kerkorian, billionaire investor and casino operator, owner of MGM movie studio, Mirage Resorts, and Mandalay Bay Resorts. An eighth-grade dropout who trained fighter pilots during World War II.
  • Alicia Keys, singer and songwriter. Graduated from New York’s Professional Performing Arts School at age 16. She enrolled at Columbia University but dropped out after a semester to sign with Columbia Records.
  • Jared Kim, founder of WeGame. Dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley halfway through the spring semester of his freshman year to devote himself full-time to starting the online gaming site WeGame.
  • B.B. King, blues musician, songwriter, and legend. Never finished high school. “I have two laptops. I didn’t finish high school, so one is my tutor: I buy software on things I don’t know. I write music with the other.” (People magazine)
  • Eartha Kitt, Emmy-winning actress, dancer, singer, author, and sex kitten. She dropped out of the High School of Performing Arts to take various odd jobs. Eventually landed a job with the Katherine Dunham dance troupe.
  • Heidi Klum, German supermodel, actress, fashion designer, television producer, and host of Project Runway and Germany’s Next Topmodel. One of Forbe’s 2008 Celebrity 100, she makes $14 million per year. Became a model immediately after graduating from high school.
  • Keira Knightley, actress. Did not attend college, but wishes she did.
  • Allan Kornblum, author, poet, and publisher, Coffee House Press. Dropped out of New York University
  • Bruce Kovner, billionaire hedge fund operator, founder of Caxton Associates, chairman of Julliard. Dropped out of a Ph.D. economics program at Harvard to drive a taxi in New York City.
  • Jan Kramer, ice skater, actress, country singer. “The day I graduated from high school, I left for New York City,” where she began acting in All My Children. Soon after, she left for Los Angeles to pursue her acting career, get parts on 90210, Entourage, and Friday Night Lights before getting a role on One Tree Hill.
  • Ray Kroc, multimillionaire founder of McDonald’s. High school dropout.
  • Chad Kroeger, frontman for Nickelback rock group. In a Playboy magazine interview, he noted that “I didn’t go to school. I mean, after the eighth or ninth grade, I don’t remember going to school five days out of the week, ever.” He was a few credits short of
    graduating from high school when he left school and took to the road.
  • Stanley Kubrick, movie director and producer, screenwriter, photographer. His poor high school grades made it impossible to attend college. He did take some photography classes at CCNY but never graduated from any college.
  • Mila Kunis, actress. She briefly attended college, but had an epiphany: “I decided I wasn’t going to take [my career] seriously and make my job who I am. I just want to be happy with my life.”
  • Olga Kurylenko, model, actress, Bond girl. Began modeling at the age of 14 in Moscow, Russia. Soon moved to Paris, France for more modeling work. Then moved on into acting.
  • James Lafferty, actor. Has not yet attended college. But he did note in an interview that if he weren’t an actor, he’d “be a junior in college.”
  • Don LaFontaine, voice-over artist who narrated more than 350,000 commercials, thousands of TV promos, and more than 5,000 movie trailers. After graduating from high school and serving in the Army, he went into business as a voice-over artist. He never attended college.
  • Peter La Haye, Sr., inventor of plastic replacement lenses for cataract patients, owner of La Haye Laboratories and Neoptx. Dropped out of high school.
  • Frederick “Freddy” Laker, billionaire airline entrepreneur. Dropped out of high school.
  • Sharmen Lane, millionaire mortgage wholesaler, life coach, motivational speaker. A high-school dropout.
  • Cathy Lanier, Chief of Police of Washington, DC. A 14-year-old pregnant high school dropout.
  • Angela Lansbury, Tony and Golden Globe award-winning actress. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her first film, Gaslight, in 1944. Her Broadway stage work earned her four Tony Awards in sixteen years for Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, and Sweeney Todd. But she never won an Emmy for her work on the Murder, She Wrote television series. She also won six Golden Globes and was nominated for 18 Emmys and 3 Academy Awards. She never
    attended college.
  • Ring Lardner, sportswriter and short story writer. Began his career as a teenager writing for the South Bend Tribune. He continued writing for many other newspapers, eventually landing a nationally syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune.
  • Albert Lasker, advertising pioneer, CEO of Lord & Thomas. After graduating from high school, he started at an advertising agency as an entry-level salesman.
  • Tommy Lasorda, baseball manager. Dropped out of high school.
  • Jillian Lauren, author. Quit New York University during her freshman year to become a party guest for a wealthy Singapore businessman. Went on to live in the harem of the prince of Brunei for a year-and-a-half. Wrote about her experiences.
  • Ralph Lauren, billionaire fashion designer, founder of Polo. Left the City College of New York business school (Baruch College) to design ties for Beau Brummel. Launched Polo later that same year.
  • Avril Lavigne, singer, songwriter, actress, fashion designer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Peter Lawford, actor. Never finished high school.
  • Mike Lazaridis, billionaire founder of Research in Motion. “Two months before I graduated from college, I answered a request for proposal from General Motors with a five-page pitch to develop a network computer control display system. They offered me a half-million dollar contract…. I went to the president of the university to get his permission to take a leave of absence. He tried to persuade me to finish out my year, but when I told him about the contract, he wished me the best of luck.” Since that time, he hasn’t had time to go back and finish.
  • David Lean, Oscar-winning director. Dropped out of high school.
  • Stan Lee, comics creator, Marvel Comics (Spiderman, The Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four). Started working when he was still in high school. Never attended college.
  • Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz, portrait photographer, cover photographer for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines. Attended the San Francisco Art Institute, but apparently did not graduate. As she has said, “I was very lucky, in working for these magazines, to learn by doing, but I always regretted not having a formal education. I had to teach myself.”
  • Tia Leoni, actress. Dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College as a 20-year-old to model and act.
  • James Leprino, billionaire, Leprino Foods. Joined family business at the age of 18. Turned business into the world’s largest mozzarella producer.
  • Doris Lessing, novelist. At the age of 14, she chose to end her formal schooling. She then worked as a nanny, telephone operator, office worker, stenographer, and journalist. Her first novel was published when she was 31. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.
  • Jerry Lewis, comedian, actor, singer, humanitarian. High school dropout.
  • Joe Lewis, billionaire businessman. Dropped out of high school.
  • Juliette Lewis, actress, singer, musician. At the age of 14, she left her parents and went to live with actress Karen Black, a family friend. She then dropped out of high school.
  • Rush Limbaugh, multi-millionaire media mogul, the most popular radio talk show host ever. bestselling book author. Dropped out of college after being required to take ballroom dancing.
  • Abraham Lincoln, lawyer, U.S. president. Finished barely a year of formal schooling. He self-taught himself trigonometry (for his work as a surveyor) and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.
  • Charles Lindbergh, aviator, first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Quit the University of Wisconsin after two years to learn how to fly an airplane.
  • Carl Lindner, billionaire investor, founder of United Dairy Farmers. Dropped out of high school at the age of 14 to deliver milk for the family store during the Depression.
  • John Llewellyn, labor leader, president of the United Mine Workers. Dropped out of high school.
  • Hank Locklin, country singer. Never attended college.
  • Marcus Loew, multimillionaire founder of Loews movie theaters, co-founder of MGM movie studio. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Lindsay Lohan, actress. Never finished high school.
  • Dan Lok, multi-millionaire business mentor, founder of Quick Turn Marketing. College dropout. His CreativitySucks website notes: A former college dropout, Dan Lok transformed himself from a grocery bagger in a local supermarket to a multi-millionaire. Dan came to North America with little knowledge of the English language and few contacts. Today, Dan is one of the most sought-after business mentors on the Web, as well as a best-selling author. His reputation includes his title as the World’s #1 Website Conversion Expert.
  • Jack London, bestselling novelist. Dropped out of high school to work. Later was admitted to the University of California but left after one semester.
  • Julie London, singer, actress. Dropped out of high school.
  • Sophia Loren, Oscar-winning actress, author, model. Dropped out of elementary school.
  • Joe Louis, boxer. Dropped out of high school.
  • Nat Love, member of the National Cowboys of Color Hall of Fame, known as Deadwood Dick, one of the first American cowboys to write his autobiography. Born into slavery. After being emancipated, he won a horse in a raffle and headed west to become a cowboy.
  • Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazilian president. With a fifth grade education only, he shined shoes on the streets of Sao Paulo as a kid but later became a steelworker union leader.
  • Barbara Lynch, chef, owner of a $10 million group of restaurants in Boston. Dropped out of high school to be a runner for local bookies. Later worked for celebrity chef Todd English. “I started my first business venture in high school, placing bets for some of my teachers with bookies in Southie…. I never did homework. I was failing everything. Senior year, they said I would have to go to summer school. There was no way I was doing that, so I dropped out.”
  • Mary Lyon, education pioneer, teacher, founder of Mount Holyoke College (America’s first women’s college). Dropped out of high school. Started teaching at the age of 17.
  • Andie MacDowell, Golden Globe-winning actress and model. Dropped out of Winthrop College during her sophomore year.
  • John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods and developer of Conscious Capitalism. Dropped out of the University of Texas six times. Never took a business course.
  • Harry Macklowe, billionaire real estate developer. Dropped out of college to become a real estate broker.
  • Steve Madden, shoe designer. Dropped out of college to sell shoes on Long Island.
  • Ivory Madison, comic book author and founder of the Red Room social network for authors. Dropped out of school at the age of 13. Eventually went to law school without finishing high school or attending college.
  • John Major, British prime minister. High school dropout.
  • Howie Mandel, comedian, game show host. Was expelled from Toronto’s Northview Heights secondary school for practical jokes gone too far. Finally got his GED in 2010.
  • Bruno Mars, singer, songwriter, music producer. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles and signed with Motown Records. He later wrote songs for other singers and release a bestselling record with Elektra.
  • Clancy Martin, ethics professor, novelist. Dropped out of high school, but later graduated from college. Dropped out of graduate school.
  • Dean Martin, singer, actor, comedian. Never finished high school.
  • Steve Martin, comedian, actor. Dropped out of Long Beach State College. He became disillusioned upon reading Wittgenstein’s view that “all philosophical problems can be reduced to problems of semantics.”
  • Manuel Marulanda, aka Pedro Antonio Marin, leader of the revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The son of a peasant farmer, he had only a sixth-grade education.
  • Robert Maxwell, billionaire publisher. Dropped out of high school.
  • John Mayer, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter. Left the Berklee College of Music after two semesters to pursue a singing career in Atlanta, Georgia. “I’ve already won one of the biggest gambles of all time, which was to forgo an education so I could pursue a real all-or-none scenario

1.“We just get richer and richer.”


In 2013, the wealth of the world’s billionaires reached a record high — helped by 200 newcomers like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The 2013 Forbes Billionaires List names 1,426 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $5.4 trillion, up a whopping 17% from $4.6 trillion last year. And that doesn’t include royalty or, um, dictators. Of those, some 442 make their home in the U.S. (there are 386 in the Asia-Pacific region, 366 in Europe, 129 in the rest of the Americas and 103 in the Middle East and Africa combined, according to Forbes). The average net worth of each U.S. billionaire: $10.8 billion, up from $9.1 billion last year, according to a separate survey released this month by private wealth consultancy Wealth-X and UBS.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country’s net worth has actually fallen since the Great Recession — and has yet to recover. Adjusting for inflation, real net worth per U.S. household hovered at $652,449 by the end of June 2013, according to the Federal Reserve, or about 95% of its 2007 level of $684,662. If that seems inordinately high, that’s because the majority of U.S. households carry their net worth in their home. That average also is inflated by, well, millionaires and billionaires: In fact, around half of U.S. households have a net worth of no more than $83,000, a Pew Research Center’s analysis of 2010 Federal Reserve survey found.) And while ordinary Americans have seen their net worth fall since the recession, billionaires saw their net worth rise by over 50% from $3.5 trillion in 2007.

Why are billionaires on the rise? “Daily record highs in the financial markets have caused surging net worth for the richest 1%,” says Mark Martiak, a wealth strategist at Premier Financial Advisors in New York. Commercial and residential real estate values have also been rebounding, he says. “Combined with low inflation and low interest rates for borrowing, this big picture presents a favorable backdrop for the wealthy, in spite of higher taxes, stubbornly high unemployment, the potential Fed tapering and wrangling in Washington,” Martiak says.

2.“One million — or 10 — ain’t what it used to be.”

In a time when the median price of a home in Manhattan is just over $1 million, according to real-estate website Trulia, experts say that being a millionaire no longer means that you’re rich. It could just as easily mean you own your own a home in New York or San Francisco, or have a vacation home on the Jersey Shore. “The word now doesn’t have as much power,” says Charles Merlot, author of “The Billionaire’s Apprentice: How 21 Billionaires Used Drive, Luck and Risk to Achieve Colossal Success.” “In the eyes of the public, even $10 million is considered at the low end of high-net-worth.”

For the global elite, keeping up with the Joneses, Gateses and Buffetts can require, at bare minimum, an eight-figure annual income. The online listing site, a Craigslist for the super-rich, lists helicopters for a snip at $7 million-plus. (Failing that, one could always quietly take a share in one through a site like FlexJet.) For those who believe a Bentley is too — well, obvious — the fastest and most expensive production car in the world is the $2.4 million Bugatti Veyron Super Sport car. Billionaires who don’t want (or like) their neighbors can check out, which has a collection of hideaways around the world to choose from. The 225-acre Katafanga Island in Fiji in the South Pacific is currently on the market with a price tag of $20 million.

In the movie “The Social Network,” a semi-fictionalized account of the founding of Facebook (FB), Justin Timberlake, in the role of Napster founder and early Facebook backer Sean Parker, tells the Mark Zuckerberg character, “A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion dollars.” (Parker has, in interviews, denied he ever said that in real life.) Indeed, those who have worked with billionaires say that, to be considered rich among their elite, a million doesn’t cut it. Billionaires and millionaires may sit side-by-side on boards, Martiak says, but handshakes and smiles aside, billionaires don’t see millionaires as their equals.

3. “This is basically a boys’ club.”

Women are making some progress: There are 138 women among the 1,426 people on Forbes’s Billionaires List this year, up from 104 last year.

Still, more than 90% of billionaires are men. Perhaps that should come as no surprise, considering that just 4% of CEO positions at Fortune 1,000 companies are held by women — a strikingly small proportion considering that 18% of members of Congress and 30% of U.S. District Court Judges are female.

Luckily, rising through the corporate ranks isn’t the only or even the most common way to become a billionaire. The richest woman in the world — Liliane Bettencourt, 91, who has $30 billion — inherited her fortune from her father, who founded the cosmetics giant L’Oréal. And the late Rosalia Mera, one of the 20 richest women in the world, was self-made: Although she dropped out of school at age 11, she co-founded the global clothing chain Zara (she died in August).

A more novel theory for the boys’ club: For some young male billionaires, testosterone may have given them their start. “The coolest thing about Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin is that they never did it for the money,” says Ben Mezrich, author of “The Accidental Billionaires” and “Bringing Down the House,” which became the sources for “The Social Network.” “The main impetus for them at the very beginning was to meet girls. It turned into a billion dollars.”

4.“I may be smart, but I got a head start.”

America’s billionaires tend to also be among its most well-educated, recent research suggests. In “Investigating America’s Elite,” published in the journal Intelligence, Duke University psychologist Jonathan Wai found that billionaires are more likely than CEOs, judges, senators or House members to have attended colleges with the most rigorous admission standards

But were they born smart, or born lucky? Wai says it’s a bit of both. Most billionaires — including Bill Gates, America’s richest man, and son of a successful lawyer — were born into a upper middle-class backgrounds, he says. The father of billionaires David and Charles Koch was Fred C. Koch, the founder of Wood River Oil and Refining Company, today known as Koch Industries; granted, the Koch brothers turned the company into the multi-billion dollar conglomerate it is today. S. Robson Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart, is the son of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. “The first trick to becoming a billionaire is being born a millionaire,” says author Mezrich.

In fact, plenty of billionaires were not born with financial advantages. Sheldon Adelson, 80, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands casino and resort, was born in a working-class neighborhood in Boston; his father was a cab driver. Stephen Bisciotti, 53, the majority shareholder of the Baltimore Ravens, worked his way through school; his father died when he was eight. Lynn Tilton, 54, founder of private equity firm Patriarch Partners, grew up in the Bronx, and was a single mother working 100 hours on Wall Street in her 20s. “I can’t even remember my 20s,” she says, “they were so dark.”

5.“It’s like Monopoly money.”

Billionaire Donald Trump offered to build a $100 million ballroom for the White House in 2011, but that’s nothing compared with what some of the mega-rich have actually spent without blinking. In 2010, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich purchased his latest yacht — the 536-foot-long “Eclipse”— for a reported price of about $1 billion. In 2009, Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud bought an Airbus A380 for $400 million. In 2006, Mexican businessman David Martinez bought a Jackson Pollock classic drip painting from music producer David Geffen for $140 million. And in 2012, real estate mogul Stan Kroenke bought a 240,000-acre Montana ranch for more than $132 million.

But in some cases, the lavish spending is all relative. Oprah Winfrey, 59, was reportedly recently in the market for a $38,000 Tom Ford handbag, but she’s worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes — so the handbag would cost just 0.001% of her wealth.

Indeed, “most billionaires can actually be very cheap,” says David Friedman of Wealth-X. Many have spent their lives trying to make a profit and doing accounting in their heads. “They’ll ask for the receipt in a restaurant and argue over 50 cents,” he says. “But then they’ll go buy a jet for $50 million.”

6. “What scares us? Divorce lawyers.”

Luckily, and perhaps not coincidentally, divorce is relatively rare among the moneyed set. Of the 84% of billionaires who are married, only 8% are divorced, according to a survey of the world’s billionaires published by Wealth-X earlier this month. That’s far lower than the U.S. divorce rate: Some 40% to 50% of marriages overall end in divorce, according to the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

Billionaire divorces can cost hundreds of millions of dollars and exact a heavy toll on the couple’s privacy, says Janet Lowe, author of books about biographies of several billionaires, including Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-A) Charlie Munger and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The 2003 divorce between former General Electric head Jack Welch and his second wife Jane Welch, she says, is a prime example: Divorce paperwork filed in Connecticut revealed the couple’s high (and previously undisclosed) standard of living, and major newspapers throughout the U.S. publicized the details, focusing on the generous benefits Welch received as a retired GE exec. The Securities and Exchange Commission then launched a formal inquiry into Welch’s compensation agreement, and Welch voluntarily gave up his GE retirement package, valued at $2.5 million a year. “In this environment, I don’t want a great company with the highest integrity dragged into a public fight because of my divorce proceedings,” Welch wrote in a column for The Wall Street Journal at the time, explaining his decision.

7.“We didn’t get rich investing in stocks.”

If you want to be a billionaire and you’re starting from scratch, don’t bet on the stock market, some advisers say. Sure, an individual who happens to invest at the bottom of the market and sell at the top can do quite well. In general, “if you beat stock indexes by 1% consistently over 20 years, you’re a massive superstar,” says Martin Fridson, author of “How to Be a Billionaire: Proven Strategies From the Titans of Wealth.” But at that rate, it’ll be a long time before the average investor becomes a billionaire. Here’s another way to look at it: If you earned 15% a year on your investments — an astronomical benchmark that almost nobody has consistently hit — you’d still have to start with about $65 million in order to wind up with $1 billion after 20 years.

Many billionaires — Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg — instead made their fortunes in start-ups, says Robert Klein, founder and president of Retirement Income Center, a retirement and income planning firm in Newport Beach, Calif. (Klein is also a MarketWatch RetireMentor) The founders of Twitter likewise became billionaires with their IPO earlier this month. “You’re far more likely to become a billionaire in Silicon Valley than on Wall Street”, says wealth strategist Martiak. “Wall Street becomes far more important later on when you’re preserving their wealth.”

8.“You say evading, we say avoiding.”

There’s no data on whether the ultrawealthy shirk their responsibility to pay taxes more often than the average citizen, but incidents involving billionaires certainly garner more media attention — presumably because of the vast sums involved. “A lot of billionaires try to avoid paying taxes,” says Friedman of Wealth-X. The latest to be named and shamed — and face jail time: Ty Warner, 69, CEO of Ty, the maker of stuffed Beanie Babies and worth an estimated $2.6 billion, according to Forbes. “I apologize for my conduct,” Warner told a U.S. District Court in Chicago in October. “I made a mistake. I’m fully responsible.” He owes the government $53.6 million for failing to file a report on foreign financial accounts, one of the largest offshore-account penalties ever.

The line certainly gets blurred between illegal tax evasion and lawful tax avoidance. For the most part, Martiak says, “no-one is deliberately or intentionally avoiding paying tax.” The very wealthy — billionaires included — also have the opportunity to pay a far smaller percentage of their income in taxes, since most of their income is from investments and, therefore, taxed at lower rates than wages and salary.

Around 25% of all millionaires — 94,500 taxpayers — pay a lower tax rate than 10.4 million moderate income tax payers, according to a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service, a government agency that analyzes public policy data.

9. “My family hates me, loves my money.”

Spare a thought for Gina Rinehart, 59, Australia’s richest woman — whose children, John Hancock, 37, and Bianca Rinehart, 36, are suing her. They allege that she engaged in serious misconduct as trustee of the family’s multibillion-dollar trust by trying to delay the date when the trust’s beneficiaries — her four children — could access their money. (Gina Rinehart’s law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, says she denies all wrongdoing and, in a statement released to the press, said she’s offering to give up her role as trustee to end the litigation.)

Not all family disputes are about money, however. Nor is it always the kids suing the parents: Financier T. Boone Pickens sued his son Michael in February for alleged defamation, libel, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of distress and harmful access by computer, after Michael began writing about the family in a blog called “5 Days In Connecticut.” Collin Porterfield, an attorney representing Michael Pickens, says the case is being considered by Dallas County Court and no decision had been reached.

10. “King Lear taught me everything I know.”

Most billionaires have traditionally left their fortune to their offspring or brought them into the family business. Case in point: Three of Donald Trump’s children work in the family business and even appear on his reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” These days, however, more billionaires are taking a slightly different tack. At least 30 billionaires have chosen to sign the “Giving Pledge,” an initiative started in 2009 to encourage the ultrawealthy to give away half their wealth. (Warren Buffett has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth. He once told a television interviewer: “I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.”)

Others who have made the pledge thus far include hotelier Barron Hilton, banker David Rockefeller, financier Ronald Perelman, Citigroup founder Sandy Weill and his wife, Joan, hedge-fund managers Julian Robertson Jr. and Jim Simons, private-equity financier David Rubenstein and “Star Wars” creator George Lucas. In fact, Lucas, 69, also sold off the bulk of his business empire last year, which some experts say will prevent a power struggle among his three adopted children after he’s gone.

For many billionaires, their legacy becomes more important than their money, says Martin Fridson, author of “How to be a Billionaire: Proven Strategies from the Titans of Wealth.” Although they obviously didn’t become billionaires by accident, he says many billionaires mellow with age: “They’ll usually tell you, ‘I never set out to be a billionaire, I set out to do good.’”


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