17 Photos of Old Hollywood Stars Before They Were Famous – GoodHousekeeping.com

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See Monroe, Sinatra and Dean before they made it big time.
The names Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Lucille Ball, among others, are synonymous with fame and fortune. They go beyond just being actors, singers and performers and forever live on as pop culture icons. But given their legendary status, it’s easy to forget that before these entertainers became shining Hollywood stars, they were just ordinary people with a glimmer of hope and a dream. From Marilyn Monroe getting her start as a brunette model to Humphrey Bogart’s early days in the Navy, let’s take a revealing peek behind the flashing cameras and explore old Hollywood stars before they were famous.
While Ball is most known for her comedic chops in I Love Lucy, the iconic redhead actually got her start in show business working as a fashion model.
Even as a toddler, Dean exuded a cool-guy attitude. The actor skyrocketed to fame with his breakout roles in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause in 1955. However, the actor didn’t get to enjoy the success for long as he died tragically in a car accident later that same year.
RELATED: James Dean’s Life in Photos
As seen here, actress Janet Leigh shows the camera some love as she poses with a heart-shaped purse. The California native made her big-screen debut in The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947) and later went on to star in Little Women (1949), Touch of Evil (1958) and Psycho (1960).
Before releasing his debut solo album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra, in 1946, the would-be rat pack member got his start singing in clubs as a member of the Hoboken Four.
Prior to becoming a household name, the (future) Gone With the Wind starlet was a typical teen living near the San Francisco bay.
The screen legend passed away in 2020 at the age of 104 and held the record of being one of the longest living stars to stem from the Golden Hollywood era.
Here, English film director and “Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock poses on a film set in 1940. The 1940s turned out to be a massive decade for the director with the release of his titles Rebecca (1940), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), and Spellbound (1945), among others.
Hitchcock later went on to direct Rear Window (1954), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963) – garnering him worldwide recognition.
Before becoming a legend on the screen, the Casablanca star served in the Navy between 1918-1919. Nearly a decade later, the actor started landing roles and gaining notoriety, debuting on the big-screen in Up the River in 1930.
The Hungarian actor poses for a headshot several years before landing the part of Count Dracula in the stage and screen adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He was 45 years old when he sunk his teeth into the (now) legendary role.
Before Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Hepburn played with pups at the park. The British actress rose to fame with her early turns in Roman Holiday (1953) and Sabrina (1954).
The legendary Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? star got her start not by acting but for dancing in a traveling theater troupe. It was during a performance that an MGM producer spotted the eager star and essentially gave her a ticket to Hollywood.
The Hollywood leading man, known for his roles in North by Northwest (1959) and To Catch a Thief (1955), sharpened his acting chops on the stage before transitioning to the big screen in 1932, when he signed a contract with Paramount Pictures, earning a couple of hundred bucks each week.
Although Garland found fame at a very young age (she was only 16 when she filmed The Wizard of Oz), she spent much of her early tween years performing in dance groups and honing her craft.
The Queen of Jazz tuned her vocal cords performing at various amateur nights and as a member in several different bands before making a solo name for herself.
Before she became the world’s most famous blonde bombshell, Monroe, born Norma Jeane, was a brunette with a dream. The starlet broke out in the 1950s after landing roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire.
RELATED: 16 Things We Learned About Marilyn Monroe From Her Final Interview
The Hollywood starlet turned Princess of Monaco may have lived a lavish adult life full of elite power, but at her core, she was still the same 7-year-old girl who used to play in the sand on the beach.
Before the Grammy Award-winning songstress landed in Hollywood, she started out singing in the chorus at nightclubs at a mere 16 years old.
Hudson, as seen here shuffling through a refrigerator, landed his first big-screen roles in the early 1950s, but the actor really took off following his part in the breakout movie Magnificent Obsession in 1954.
RELATED: Rock Hudson’s Life in Photos

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