Even the most famous and revered of our celebrities had to start somewhere, which is why once upon a time Beyonce was just another little girl growing up in Houston and George Clooney was just some kid from Kentucky. And for every person who hits it big, there are dozens, if not hundreds of stories from those who knew them before they were famous. (I went to high school with a soap opera star who changed his name and used to be a magic nerd!)
Such was the point of a recent Reddit thread which poses the question: “Past teachers of present celebrities and/or famous people — what were they like?” Most of the stories come not from the teachers themselves, but friends, relatives, or other students of said teachers, so of course you can take most of these with a slight grain of salt.
FrogCurry starts us off confirming that McConaughey is a nice dude:
My mother’s best friend taught Matthew Mccaughney [sic]. She said he was one of her favorite students because he was so sweet. Apparently he came to see her and talk to her class when he first started acting. Seems pretty cool.
Lazyfirefly writes about Kristen Bell:
One of my high-school teachers had Kristen Bell in her class for a few years. She said that Kristen was a very bright student, always well liked, and she had a beautiful singing voice and was the lead in the school plays. One particular memory she had of Kristen was when she was Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz:” Surprisingly it wasn’t the main cast, but rather the munchkins who stole the show, because they were the varsity football team walking on their knees through the auditorium. Kristen was supposed to sing at her wedding but had to cancel because she had just been hired for a job (which turned out to be “Veronica Mars”).
Patorama adds to the subject:
I was two years behind her at Shrine High School. It was an odd transition seeing someone you vaguely know become very famous. Even in high school, she was in regional Rite Aid commercials. That was strange enough. Then my friends started having viewing parties when she’d make an appearance on ‘The Shield’ or had 10 minutes in a David Mamet movie. She had a couple of TV movies and then suddenly she was Veronica Mars and a star.
Onebigcat remembers Kanye before he was Yeezus:
My mom taught Kanye West’s music-theory class in high school. She said he insisted he would one day be a famous rapper, and that he was a decent student but sometimes a bit stubborn. Overall not that noticeable, although he did like free styling. He and some other students threw a little baby shower for my mom while she was pregnant with my sister, which is nice.
Bugjones was a degree from pop royalty:
My hair stylist was Mariah Carey’s cosmetology teacher when she attended BOCES vocational school in Greenlawn/Huntington, New York.
Said Mariah was a bit of a diva, and was not terribly interested in learning the trade of hair and makeup. Wanted to sing instead. I guess that worked out.
D_Mes on how LeBron James never doubted:
My fourth-grade math teacher also taught LeBron James. She said he was obsessed with basketball. When asked what he was going to be when he grew up he said he was going to be in the NBA. When she told him he needed a backup plan he just looked in to her soul and said “No, I’m going to be in the NBA.”
umop_episdn_ on a certain Olympic swimmer:
My Econ teacher taught Michael Phelps. He said that no one knew who Michael was before the Olympics. As soon as he came back though, whenever he was in school, he was really cocky and obnoxious. But since he rarely was in school, he didn’t really have much experience with him after his freshman year.
DimplePudding with a very believable story about Mr. Rogers:
Not a teacher, but a former supervisor of mine went to college with Fred Rogers. She said he was exactly the same guy as he was on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.
And finally, Sidimazz on Travolta:
My English teacher had John Travolta in his basketball team that he coached at the time; he said he was very annoying and he told him that he wouldn’t make it anywhere in life.
We know what Travolta would respond to that: