10 Weirdest Paths to Stardom: Jennifer Lopez, Bruno Mars, Sean Combs - Rolling Stone
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The 10 Weirdest Paths to Superstardom

Sheryl Crow wrote McDonald’s jingles, Paula Abdul was a Laker Girl and Diddy washed cars

The Mickey Mouse Club, (clockwise from upper center): Nikki DeLoach, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, T.J. Fantini, Tate Lynche, 1989-94.

The Mickey Mouse Club, (clockwise from upper center): Nikki DeLoach, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, T.J. Fantini, Tate Lynche, 1989-94.

© Buena Vista Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

Superstars often seem to incubate behind closed doors, honing their craft until they can burst on the scene and stun us all into buying whatever they make. In reality, few masters of the celebrity biz can make it without testing their wings in the kinds of small, often embarrassing public venues they wouldn’t be caught dead in after the Grammys are in hand. Whether it’s the hip-hop mogul who once washed the cars of record label execs or the many who sang total nonsense on TV, there isn’t one one among our list of superstars who didn’t lick a boot or two to get to the Promise Land.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Diana Ross

Before Diana Ross signed to Motown Records, she worked as a secretary for Motown CEO Berry Gordy. At the time, Gordy considered Ross too young to represent, so he paid her to file papers in the Motown offices until she turned 17, at which point he relented. What followed was a storied singing career and an equally storied romance between Ross and the thrice-married Gordy, who's managed to sire eight children with six women ­ (Ross included) ­ over the course of a romantic life that reads like a Playboy manual. Let the secretary innuendos begin!

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