When I was in high school I briefly worked at a crappy little hot dog stand in Milwaukee.
One day, a dumb-ass friend of mine thought it would be hilarious to throw an ice cube into the deep fryer I was working as he walked by. Rather than investigate and find out the truth behind the grease geyser that erupted out of the fryer, the lazy owners instead decided to fire both of us.
Someday soon, people will ask their friends “Did you know that Justin Shady worked at a crappy little hot dog stand in Milwaukee before he got famous?” Until then, I'll write posts that ask readers “Did you know that these celebrities worked at Disney before they became famous?”
Learn more after the jump.
5. Harlan Ellison
Ellison didn't work in the parks, but he was an official Disney employee… for less than one day. After being hired on by the Walt Disney Studios as a writer, Harlan spent his first morning at the studio figuring out where everything was. Around noon, he grabbed lunch in the commissary where the usual “getting to know you” banter between fellow writers somehow turned into a joke about writing a Disney porno that would feature the Seven Dwarfs gang-banging Minnie Mouse. Unfortunately, Roy O. Disney and other suits were also grabbing lunch in the commissary at the same time. By the time he returned to his office after lunch his secretary was gone and a pink slip was sitting on his desk. He was a Disney employee for four hours. Ellison wrote about his Disney experience in the third part (titled “Labor Relations”) of an essay called The 3 Most Important Things in Life. Give it a read here.
4. Michelle Pfeiffer
Long before she took on the role of Catwoman in 1992's Batman Returns, Pfeiffer was busy portraying another female fictional character. During the mid-seventies, she portrayed the role of Alice in the Main Street Electrical Parade. Nerds the world over are still trying to figure out which fantasy is hotter.
3. Josh Freese
He's the drummer of A Perfect Circle, The Vandals, and Devo, and a former member of both Guns N' Roses and Nine Inch Nails (and former OC Weekly cover man). But before Freese found himself fully immersed in the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, he was a kid growing up in a family of musicians. His mother, Tera, is a classical pianist, and his father, Stan, conducted the Disney World and Disneyland Bands. That led to Josh's first professional gig at the age of 12 when he played drums for a Top 40 band at Disneyland. A few years later, he played electronic drums in Polo, an all-child rock band that also performed regularly in the park. It's pretty amazing to think that he went from that to playing alongside this guy.
2. John Lasseter
While in college, Lasseter spent a summer as a Jungle Cruise skipper. Today, he's the Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering. Talk about working your way up from the mail room.
1. Steve Martin
In the mid-fifties, Martin got his start at age eleven selling guidebooks in the front of the park. (Reportedly, he even makes his first cameo in the home movie “Disneyland Dreams” that is now a part of the Library of Congress' film collection.) From there, Martin made his way to the Main Street Magic Shop. While working there, he honed his banjo strumming, juggling, magic tricks and balloon animal-making skills. Years later, he would make millions doing the very same things he once got paid minimum wage for. Not bad for a guy who was born a poor black child.