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Pursuing Fame: Celebrities Who Dropped Out Of High School

Pop Legend David Bowie In Concert, At The Hammersmith Apollo, In London,
Source: Getty

May. 15 2019, Updated 4:02 p.m. ET

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For some celebs, time was ticking and high school was just getting in the way, so they had to drop out. They may have upset their parents but ultimately the likes of Johnny Depp, Katy Perry and Cameron Diaz found that dropping out meant finding star status.

MORE: Beauty Queen Dropouts!

Eminem didn’t have to bother with SAT scores. Lindsay Lohan didn’t waste time with college interviews. These celebs hoped they would make it no matter what, and the good news is that they did without prom or graduation night.

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MORE: Johnny Depp Was Flat Out Broke Before Hollywood Fame

According to DoSomething.org, over 1.3 million students drop out of high school in the U.S. every year and they are ineligible for 90% of jobs in America. With that said, have a look at the high school dropout Hall of Fame.

1. Johnny Depp:

American actor Johnny Depp attended the Masterclass Session Enabling Tomorrow's Talents during the 1st Hainan International Film Festival on December 15, 2018 in Sanya, Hainan Province of China.
Source: Getty

Johnny Depp made his first movie appearance in A Nightmare On Elm Street , but according to CBS News, dropped out of school at just 15. He wasn’t looking to be an actor at that point ... he wanted to be a musician, but it turned out the job was already taken by his style twin Keith Richards.

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2. Katy Perry:

Katy Perry at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcast live on FOX at Microsoft Theater on March 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Source: Getty

Another celeb to drop out of high school at the tender age of 15 is Katy Perry who, according to Ranker, left the Santa Barbara Dos Pueblos High School to chase a career in music. Katy’s since won five American Music Awards, 16 ASCAP Pop Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, 10 BMI Awards, four Guinness World Records, five MTV Video Music Awards, 14 People's Choice Awards, a Juno Award, a Brit Award, two Myx Music Awards, three NRJ Music Awards and five Teen Choice Awards. Oh, she’s also completed her GED.

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3. Nicole Kidman:

Nicole Kidman was seen on March 29, 2019 in New York City
Source: Getty

Nicole Kidman is the daughter of a biochemist and a nursing teacher, but those credentials couldn’t stop 16-year-old Nicole turning her education upside down when, according to CBS News, she dropped out of high school in her native Australia. According to Wonderwall.com, she left school to support her family after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Once her mom had recovered, Nicole attended the Victorian College of the Arts as well as Australian Theatre for Young People.

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4. Elton John:

Elton John attended the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 24, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California
Source: Getty

When he was 11-years-old, Sir Elton John — known then as Reg Dwight — entered London’s Royal Academy of Music on a piano scholarship. But, according to HowStuffWorks.com, young Reg preferred rock music to classical and dropped out at 16. Within a year, his new band Bluesology was touring with Patti LaBelle and the Isley Brothers. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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5. Chris Rock:

Chris Rock attended the 50th NAACP Image Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 30, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Source: Getty

Chris Rock hails from the tough area of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant (known colloquially as Bed-Sty) and was bussed to a white school where, according to an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he was constantly bullied. So in 10th grade, Chris dropped out. He worked odd jobs, got his GED, went to community college and became incredibly rich and famous.

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6. David Bowie:

6 David Bowie.
Source: Getty

David Bowie was an artist, singer and songwriter without comparison. But as a teenage, David Robert Jones just wanted to play sax. According to the NME, Bowie was attending Bromley Technical High School but — according to Ranker — he dropped out and picked up his GED years later.

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7. Eminem:

7 Eminem.
Source: Getty

Eminem failed ninth grade three separate times and so, according to ThoughtCo.com, dropped out at 17. It didn’t stop his desire to learn though. Biography.com reported that Eminem read dictionaries saying, “I just felt like I wanna be able to have all of these words at my disposal, in my vocabulary at all times whenever I need to pull 'em out."

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8. Lindsay Lohan:

Lindsay Lohan was seen out and about in Manhattan on March 29, 2019 in New York City.
Source: Getty

Lindsay Lohan was attending Cold Spring Harbor High School while starring in The Parent Trap and modeling. Ultimately, one thing had to go. According to Business Insider, Lindsay dropped out and began homeschooling her junior year. According to TheFamousPeople.com, Lindsay has since been in and out of rehab, faced several legal suits and launched her own clothing line.

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9. Whoopi Goldberg:

9 Whoopi Goldberg.
Source: Getty

Whoopi Goldberg did not have a great time in high school. According to Ranker, Whoopi says she dropped out because it was too hard. It was only years later that Whoopi discovered she was an undiagnosed dyslexic. She’s since won a Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar making her an EGOT recipient.

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10. Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne:

10 Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne.
Source: Getty

Like father, like daughter. The Osbournes have a history of dropping out of high school. According to CBSNews, Ozzy Osbourne left school at 15 due to a wealth of learning difficulties and instead worked on construction sites. According to the Independent, his daughter Kelly Osbourne was suspended from a girls school in England. After moving to the US she dropped out of high school in 10th grade.

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11. Drake:

11 Drake.
Source: Getty

Drake, real name Aubrey Graham, dropped out of high school to play a high school student in the Canadian TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation. But according to Rolling Stone, Drake got his GED in 2012. Drake told Kentucky Sports Television that; “I actually dropped out of high school, which I don’t know if a lot of people know that.” They do now.

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12. Boy George:

12 Boy George.
Source: Getty

Boy George, real name George O’Dowd, didn’t actually drop out of high school. According to TheFamousPeople.com, he was expelled instead for his style of dress. George kept it together with a series of odd jobs that resulted in being asked to join Bow Wow Wow, an early 80’s UK band. When that stint didn’t work out, George formed Culture Club.

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13. George Michael:

13 George Michael.
Source: Getty

Another massive British pop star named George, George Michael, also had a tough time with high school. According to Biography.com, George dropped out along with BFF, Andrew Ridgeley, and began a ska band that played only a handful of gigs before disbanding. George went on to win multiple Grammys and scale the world before his untimely death at 53 on Christmas Day, 2016.

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14. Robert De Niro:

Robert De Niro attended the screening of 'The Untouchables' at Jemaa El Fna Place during 17th Marrakech International Film Festival, on December 2, 2018 in Marrakech, Morocco.
Source: Getty

Robert De Niro quit high school to chase a career in acting, and boy did he catch it. According to the Denver Post, Robert received an honorary doctorate from Bates College where he told graduating seniors, “In many ways, leaving school when I did was an advantage. I saved nearly $6,000 by not having to pay tuition and expenses for four years of education. I feel a little foolish, because if I had waited until now not to go to college, I could have saved around a quarter of a million.”

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15. Seth Rogen:

15 Seth Rogen.
Source: Getty

Seth Rogen told CNN that “I dropped out of high school and went and worked on a TV show.” If only everyone was that lucky, but not everyone was cast in Freaks and Geeks. Seth also spent his time in high school doing stand-up comedy and writing scripts. His homework paid off big time.

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16. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

16 Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Source: Getty

How many Californians know that their former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t have a high school education? A teenage Arnold was obsessed with weightlifting and bodybuilding. He said an early goodbye to high school, but that didn’t mean he was done with education. According to Psycholocrazy.com, Arnold enrolled in several English classes upon moving to America that then led to business and math courses.

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