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15 Stars Who Had The Last Laugh, Proving Themselves From Failure To Stardom

Many of us, far too often, interpret rejection as a roadblock rather than a step toward success. Yes, rejection is harsh, and it can be crushing at times. But it is not as simple as that. After all, why do we fall? So we can get back up again. Even the brightest among us have had our aspirations dashed. Here are a few who overcame adversity to become some of the world’s most famous persons. Some stories in this list will be unbelievable, such as The Beatles being rejected, and Marilyn Monroe being told she is better off as a secretary. Just read and see how fame is not something created overnight.

#1 Lastly, the Beatles’ audition tape was rejected by Decca Records.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

On New Year’s Day 1962, the Beatles auditioned for Decca Records A&R executive Dick Rowe. Dick, on the other hand, was unimpressed, reportedly informing the band that “guitar groups are on their way out.” They were also advised after the audition that “they had no future in the show industry.”

#2 Chicken Soup for the Soul’s co-authors Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield were rejected by over 100 publishers.

Source: Bennett Raglin / WireImage / Getty Images

“I would not be where I am today if we had given up after 100 publishers,” Jack stated. “I strongly advise you to refuse rejection. If someone replies no, simply respond with NEXT! Here are some more rejection letters…and judging by the success of the recipients, they certainly did not let the rejection stop them.”

#3 Marilyn Monroe was told she’d only be a secretary.

Source: Baron/Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Before she made it big, Marilyn was met with a lot of “no’s” in the business. In fact, Frank H. Ferguson, a former 20th Century Fox associate director, reportedly told her she’d never be more than a secretary.

#4 Elvis Presley was told he’d never make it as a singer.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Elvis Presley struggled to persuade others of his musical abilities before being named the “King of Rock & Roll.” While working as a truck driver for Crown Electric Company in the early 1950s, Elvis secured an audition with rockabilly singer and guitarist Eddie Bond for an open vocalist slot in a band. Eddie turned down Elvis, telling him, “Stick to driving trucks in Memphis, because you’ll never make it as a singer.”

#5 Lucille Ball was told she “had no talent.”

Source: Herbert Dorfman / Corbis via Getty Images

Lucy left her birthplace when she was younger, anxious to get her feet wet in the profession, and traveled to New York to pursue acting classes. Her attempt to enter into show industry, however, was cut short.

Lucy’s daughter Lucie Arnaz told the Television Academy Foundation, “She left Jamestown, New York, where she was born, and she traveled to New York City and sought to take acting lessons.” “And they sent her home, saying she had no talent and was squandering her mother’s money.”

#6 Lucky Daye was eliminated from American Idol.

Source: Bennett Raglin / Getty Images for BET

Lucky Daye, the actual name David Brown, auditioned for Season 4 of American Idol as a teenager with the song “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. He received a “yes” from each of the four judges, advancing him to the next round. He made it to the Top 24 and sang “Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson 5 to win enough votes to stay “safe.” He later made it to the Top 20, where he performed Stevie Wonder’s “All in Love Is Fair,” but his American Idol career stopped there. He was eliminated after obtaining the second-fewest votes.

#7 Gisele Bündchen was turned down for numerous model casting opportunities because of her facial features.

Source: Tristar Media / Getty Images

The former Victoria’s Secret Angel has walked a lot of runways, but when she was younger and trying to launch her modeling career in Brazil, a lot of people didn’t think she had what it required. During casting calls, she was frequently turned down because her nose was too large and her eyes were too small.

#8 Stephen King’s first book was rejected 30 times.

Source: John Lamparski / WireImage / Getty Images

But, before his writing career actually took off, Stephen had to overcome a few challenges.

Stephen actually tossed away his Carrie manuscript because reviewers told him he didn’t know how to write from a woman’s point of view. Fortunately, his wife, Tabitha (herself an author), noticed the potential in Carrie and saved it from the garbage. She provided him advice on how to write and shape female characters, and he finished his first draft nine months later. Despite being rejected by 30 publishers, he sold the paperback rights to Carrie to Signet Books for $400,000 in 2008.

#9 Beyoncé’s girl group lost on Star Search.

Source: CBS

Beyoncé was a member of an amateur girl group called Girls Tyme in her teenage years, long before she became a multi-Grammy Award-winning solo artist and one of the best-selling girl groups of all time with Destiny’s Child. Girls Tyme, a six-member group that included Kelly Rowland, competed on Star Search in the 1990s, but lost to Skeleton Crew – garnering three stars to Skeleton’s four.

#10 Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times.

Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images

Steven was turned down three times by the University of Southern California’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television. He even had an in-person interview with the school, but they rejected him down right in front of him.

#11 Shakira’s teacher banned her from choir class.

Source: Simone Joyner / Getty Images

When Shakira was in elementary school, her voice was often mocked. They used to tell her that her vibrato range made her sound like a goat. When Shakira tried out for choir, the choir teacher told her she had a poor voice and refused to allow her join the choir during the school day.

#12 Walt Disney was told he “lacked imagination.”

Source: Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty Images

In 1919, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor said he “lacked vision and had no decent ideas.” Walt went on to create his own animation firm, Laugh-O-Gram, which he finally drove bankrupt.

#13 Oprah Winfrey was told that she was “unfit for television news.”

Source: Steve Jennings / Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey worked as an evening news reporter at Baltimore’s WJZ-TV before becoming the face of daytime television, but she was eventually fired because she was allegedly unfit for television news and couldn’t divorce her emotions from her reports.

#14 Harrison Ford was told by an unknown Hollywood executive that he didn’t possess the star quality needed to become successful in the industry.

Source: Desiree Navarro / WireImage / Getty Images

Harrison spoke with the man in charge of Columbia Pictures’ new talent program. “‘Sit down, child,’ he said as he invited me into his office. I saw your rushes from yesterday; you’ll never make it in this profession. ‘Forget about it.'”

#15 Lady Gaga was dropped from her first record label.

Source: Axelle / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Lady Gaga signed with Island Def Jam Records at the age of 19. They let her go barely three months after she signed a massive album deal. Former Def Jam CEO LA Reid reportedly acknowledged to making the decision after listening to a couple of her unfinished demos on a “poor day.” Gaga’s “Marry the Night” music video is about her label rejection.

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