There are more than 153 million orphans worldwide and close to 8 million children living in orphanages—without parents and without access to proper healthcare and education. Tinnitus 911 is on a mission to raise awareness to the adversities orphans face in their daily lives with the hopes of expanding support for orphans and orphanages across the globe.
“At the age of four, his father died, and his mother had trouble raising him on her own. By six, him and his younger brother found themselves in an orphanage in Jackson, Michigan.”
“You always get negative reactions. If you worry about that, you would never do anything.” -Tom Monaghan
Tom Monaghan founded Domino’s Pizza in 1960. The entrepreneur owned the Detroit Tigers from 1983 to 1992. At the age of 38, Monaghan retired, selling 93% of Domino’s Pizza to Bain Capital, Inc. for nearly $1 billion. A night while delivering pizza is how he met his wife, Majorie Zybach. They have been married since 1962 and have four daughters and 10 grandchildren.
Prior to the successes in his life, Monaghan faced many challenges. At the age of four, his father died, and his mother had trouble raising him on her own. By six, him and his younger brother found themselves in an orphanage in Jackson, Michigan. While the nuns in his orphanage had a positive effect on Monaghan, he would eventually be expelled from the seminary for his lack of discipline. He learned about discipline during his three years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
After his time in the Marines, he enrolled in the University of Michigan to become an architect. One year later, he let that dream go to buy a pizzeria for $500, money of which he borrowed. His company would go on to become an innovator in the pizza industry. He is known for creating dough trays, the pizza screen, a conveyor oven, and a unique franchise system that allows supervisors and managers to become franchisees. Eventually his company grew to over 6,100 franchised and company-owned stores in 64 countries and the second-largest pizza chain in the world.
Dave Thomas is one of the most successful philanthropist and businessmen. He was the chief executive officer and founder of Wendy’s. He opened Wendy’s, the fast food restaurant specializing in hamburgers, in 1968. Dave quickly began promoting his business, producing than 800 commercials for the Wendy’s franchise. The company soon became the third most popular burger restaurant in the United States.
“The more you give, the more you get in return.” -Dave Thomas
Dave never knew his birth mother. She was unwed when she became pregnant with Dave and put him up for adoption when he was 6 weeks old. His own adoption, combined with the success of Wendy’s, led him to create the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, an organization with the goal of increasing the number of children adopted from foster care. Dave used his platform to bring awareness about children seeking forever homes. He went to Congress to advocate for an adoption tax credit, to reduce the cost of adoption. He made many public service announcements in the U.S. and Canada. He even went to the U.S. Postal Service to create an adoption stamp.
Dave Thomas passed away in January 2002. His mission to help children in foster care find forever homes lives on through his foundation. Grants are provided to adoption agencies by the foundation to train dedicated professionals on how to help children who have trouble finding permanent families, including older children, children with special needs, and sibling groups. The foundation has helped over 5,500 children leave foster care and find permanent families.
Marilyn Monroe was an American model, singer, and actress. She is known as one of the most famous women of the 20th century. Throughout her life, she established herself as an icon for female beauty.
Monroe was born in 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortenson. Her mother’s mental state was less than stable, which made it difficult for her to raise Monroe. Monroe was raised by foster parents for the first six years of her life in California. Her mother tried to take her back but was unable due to severe mental breakdowns. This forced Monroe to travel between orphanages and foster homes.
“Cutting negative people from my life does not mean I hate them, it simply means I respect me.” -Marilyn Monroe
At the age of 16, Marilyn married her neighbor Jimmy Dougherty. She became a housewife, although a bored one. When her husband left to join the Marines, they split up. She supported herself by getting a job at a local munitions factory. There she had her photograph taken by David Conover, who went on to use her in many of his projects. This kicked off her modeling career. Eventually, Monroe was featured on the covers of magazines.
Marilyn changed her name from Norma to Marilyn Monroe, after her grandmother. After taking drama lessons, she landed her first movie deal with Twentieth Century Fox. The first films she was featured in were not very popular. However, she became known for her roles in All About Eve, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and How to Marry a Millionaire. These films allowed her to become an icon for glamour and fashion. Monroe later married Joe DiMaggio, a baseball player and friend of hers.
Monroe found independence from Fox in 1955 when she created her own movie and studied method acting. She became critically acclaimed for the roles to follow thanks to her studying. Her role in Bus Stop led her to a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress and her role in Some Like It Hot brought her to winning a Golden Globe.
Larry Ellison is the co-founder and former CEO of the Oracle Corporation. He was named as one of the richest people in the world in 2017, with a net worth of $55.2 billion.
Larry was born in 1944 in New York City. His mother, Florence Spellman, was an unwed Odessa immigrant. She was just 19 years old and not ready to raise a child. Larry was raised by his uncle and aunt. Larry never met his father and did not know that he was adopted until he was a teenager. His adoptive father was an immigrant from Russia and used Ellis Island as inspiration for the last name Ellison.
“When I do something, it is all about self-discovery. I want to learn and discover my own limits.” -Larry Ellison
In school, Larry was interested in complicated subjects like high technology, engineering, and spaceship construction. Larry attended the University of Illinois but dropped out after the passing of his adoptive mother. Larry moved to California and lived in poverty. Larry, with an interest in technology, worked for an electronic company. There he worked on a database for the CIA, which he named Oracle. A few months later, he left the company to join Bruce Scott and Ed Oates’ company Software Development Laboratories.
Software Development Laboratories was renamed Relational Software Inc. in 1979 and Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982. The company provided solutions to organizing large amounts of data in ways that were efficient and allowed for quick retrieval. As success continued for the company, Ellison became Oracle’s largest shareholder. Thus, leading him to become one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Manny Lopez is a speaker, writer, educator and app creator. He is the founder and CEO of Custom Online Branding. He teaches people how they can monetize their brands through automation. Lopez builds socially conscious business models that help companies to profit and give back. He is the co-author of the bestselling book, The Hustle Code. His successes have led him to be featured on NBC, Bloomberg Radio, Inc. magazine, and Huffington Post. He now has a wife and three children.
Lopez became an orphan at just 18 months old. He was sent into the foster system seven times throughout his life. After aging out of the foster system, he found himself homeless twice. Throughout his time in foster care, Lopez was abused and tortured. Lopez worked to overcome fears and doubts, pushing forward to reach success. He knew he would never be able to afford college, so began searching for other solutions.
At the age of 19 he met the love of his life and had his first child. This propelled him forward into adulthood, responsibility, and ultimately entrepreneurship. His first business attempt failed, and he was left homeless with a wife and child. Thanks to a mentor, he was able to try again and find real success. Lopez became a master in branding and online marketing and eventually formed three agencies that fall under Customer Online Branding.
After Lopez became a successful app creator, he used his status to launch an organization called From Orphan to CEO. The non-profit works to help children who have aged out of the foster system to find jobs and become entrepreneurs.
Frederick Jones transformed America’s eating habits and the entire food industry with the invention of refrigerated trucks and railroad cars. In his lifetime he patented more than 60 inventions, but refrigerated long-haul trucks became what he was most famous for.
Fredrick was born in 1893 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His biological father was an Irish American railroad worker and his biological mother was an African American woman. His mother died when he was very young, leaving Jones orphaned at the age of 9. He lived in a Catholic church in Kentucky. Jones had little education, dropping out of school in 8th grade. After leaving the church, he returned to Cincinnati. There he landed a job as an apprentice automobile mechanic.
His interest in mechanics lead him to read extensively on the subject. He educated himself in his spare time, eventually getting himself an engineering license. He served in the U.S Army in World War I. After returning from the war, he began developing devices for broadcast radio and sound equipment for the film industry. In the 1930’s he designed and patented his famous portable air-cooling unit for food trucks and founded the U.S Thermo Control Company. In addition to food, the cooling unit helped in the transportation of blood and medicine for soldiers in World War II. Nearly 15 years later and the company was worth millions of dollars.
Jones received recognition for his achievements, both while alive and after his passing. He was the first African American elected to the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers in 1944. In 1991, he was given the National Medal of Technology by President George H.W. Bush. The award was accepted by his widow. He was the first African American to receive the award.
George Washington Carver was an inventor and agricultural scientist. He created hundreds of products using sweet potatoes, soybeans, and peanuts. Carver was born an African-American slave just one year before the practice was outlawed. After leaving home at a young age, Carver pursued education. He went to Iowa State University, where he received his master’s degree in agricultural science.
Carver was born in 1864. His father died shortly after his birth and slave raiders kidnapped his mother when he was 6 weeks old. Carver was left a nameless orphan. The owner of his parent, Moses Carver, sent out a rescue party to recover the abandoned Carver. Carver was a sick, motherless child. Moses Carver waited until Carver could talk and work before giving him a name.
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” -George Washington Carver
In search of a formal education, Carver left his home at the age of 12. He moved to Newton County in Missouri, where he worked as a farm hand and went to a one-room school. He received his high school education from Minneapolis High School in Kansas. Carver struggled to get into college because of racial barriers. It was not until the age of 30 that Carver was accepted into Simpson College as the school’s first black student. He later transferred to Iowa State University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Upon graduating, Carver became the first black faculty member at Iowa College, teaching classes about chemurgy and soil conservation.
Carver used his agricultural research to help Southern farmers free themselves of poverty. Carver shared instructions with farmers on how to create peanut soup and peanut carrot fudge, increasing the number of peanut fields as farmers took to his recipes. Seeking for farming solutions beyond cotton, Carver also discovered new uses for many products, including the sweet potato. At his death, Carver dedicated his estate to creating the George Washington Carver Foundation, which continues to help South farmers by funding agricultural research.
Bill Clinton, an American politician, served as the 42nd President of the United States between 1993 and 2001. In addition to his presidency, Clinton served as Governor of Arkansas.
“We must teach our children to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.” -Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton was born in 1946 in Hope, Arkansas. His father, a traveling salesman, died three months before his birth after a car accident. Clinton’s mother left for New Orleans after his birth to study nursing. Bill was left with his mother’s parents, Eldridge and Edith Cassidy. Four years later his mother returned from nursing school and married Roger Clinton Sr., a man who owned an automobile dealership in Arkansas. Bill was formally adopted by his stepfather when he turned 15. Bill remembers his mother and half-brother regularly facing abuse at the hands of his alcoholic stepfather.
In high school Bill became interested in law after participating in a mock trial in his Latin class. After graduating high school, he attended Georgetown University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in foreign service. In 1968, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. Clinton participated in Vietnam War protests during his time at Oxford. Clinton attended Yale Law School after Oxford where he earned Juris Doctor degree in 1973. This is where he met his future wife Hilary Rodham.
Clinton returned to Arkansas after law school and became a professor of law at the University of Arkansas. In his first political race, for a seat in the House of Representatives, Clinton lost. He won his first election for Arkansas Attorney General. Two years later he was elected as the Governor of Arkansas. In 1987, Clinton entered the Presidential race.
Under Clinton’s presidency America saw the longest economic expansion in its history. More than 22 million new jobs were created, and the number of American homeowners were higher than they had ever been. Unemployment hit a record low and education standards were raised thanks to the doubling of education and training investment dollars. After much success in his two terms, Clinton went on to create the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation was created to create economic opportunity, inspire civic engagement and service, and improve public health.
Darryl McDaniels is an American musician and a founding member of Run-D.M.C., an influential group in hip hop culture. Darryl spent most of his life unaware that he was adopted. It wasn’t until he was 35 years old that he found out the history of his biological family. His mother was unwed when he was born in New York City. She gave him up to the New York Foundling home. Darryl spent time in foster care until he was placed with the McDaniels and adopted.
“I was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who opened their hearts and home to me.” -Darryl McDaniels
McDaniels went to Rice High School in Manhattan and attended St. John’s University in Queens. He eventually taught himself to DJ in his parents’ basement. McDaniels sold his DJ equipment when his friend Joseph “Run” Simmons acquired turntables and a mixer. McDaniels turned to rapping, instead of DJing, at the suggestion of Run. McDaniels grew to love rapping and took the name “Easy D.” His name transformed into D.M.C., standing for Devastating Mic Control. He and his friend, Run, would go on to form the group Run-D.M.C. Run-D.M.C. became extremely successful. The group was often featured in the Billboard charts.
In 2006, McDaniels released a documentary, DMC: My Adoption Journey, about his journey to find his birth mother. In the end, McDaniels meets his birth mother and thanks her for her choice to let him go. If she had not done that, he never would have created Run-D.M.C. That same year McDaniels won a Congressional Angel in Adoption Award for work he had done with children in foster care. A summer camp he founded provided over 170 foster care children with access to resources and experiences they would not normally have.
Andrew Jackson was born in Lancaster, South Carolina on March 15, 1767. Shortly after his birth, Jackson’s father passed. He grew up with his widowed mother who hoped he would become a minister. However, Jackson and his brothers volunteered to fight in the American Revolutionary War when he was just thirteen.
During battle, both of Jackson’s brothers passed. His eldest brother died of a heat stroke, and his other brother succumbing to illness. Jackson’s own mother went to aid war efforts as a nurse. She contacted a disease and died, leaving Jackson the sole survivor of his family at the age of fourteen. Jackson survived his teen years with an inheritance sent from his grandfather in Ireland. By the age of seventeen his money had run out and he decided to become an attorney.
“The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that would operate with perfect equality.” -Andrew Jackson
After three years of apprenticeships with lawyers, Jackson received his license to practice law. Eventually, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he mostly carried out debt collection lawsuits. Having an interest in politics, Jackson became a member of the convention that drafted the constitution for the new state of Tennessee. That same year he was elected as the first U.S House Representative for Tennessee. After his term was over, he vowed an exit from public life. However, he was soon elected to the U.S Senate. After a year in the senate seat, he resigned and was elected as a judge of the superior court.
When the War of 1812 began, Jackson offered his services to the United States militia. Jackson succeeded in his command and was named commander of the southern district at the close of the war. His triumphs in the war led many to believe he was fit to run for president, a title and position Jackson was not interested in taking. In 1822, the Tennessee legislature formally nominated Jackson. Jackson won the election, beating out John Quincy Adams, among other candidates. Jackson was the seventh president of the United States and the first president born in poverty. During his time in politics, Jackson founded what became the Democratic Party of today.
Nelson Mandela was an activist and the former president of South Africa. Mandela served as President from 1994 to 1999. He is known as a global advocate for human rights and assisted in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa. As President, Mandela was South Africa’s first black head of state. In addition, he was the first president fully elected through a democratic election. While in power, Mandela used his government to tackle institutionalized racism.
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo. His father was principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people. When Mandela was just 12 years old his father died, and Mandela became a ward of the Acting King. He lived with the royal family of Mvezo.
“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.” -Nelson Mandela
Mandela attended the University of Fort Hare and the University of the Witwatersrand, studying law. Upon graduating, he moved to Johannesburg to work as a lawyer. Mandela joined the African National Congress and co-founded the Youth League in 1944. During that time the National Party established apartheid, allowing segregation and a white only government. Mandela was determined to overthrow the segregated government. After his extreme involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People, he was appointed President of the African National Congress’ Transvaal branch. His efforts to overthrow apartheid frequently landed Mandela in prison.
Mandela joined the South African Communist Party, after being influenced by Marxism. There he co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe, a militant group that led a sabotage campaign against the government. Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for co-founding the prison and attempting to overthrow the state. He spent 27 years in prison. Mandela had many supporters. His supporters, both domestic and international, pressured the President F.W. de Klerk to release Mandela in 1990, under threat of a racial civil war. Upon release, Mandela and de Klerk worked to negotiate an end to apartheid. In 1994, the first multiracial election ensued and Mandela was elected President.
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, literary critic, and editor. Throughout his life he created poetry and short stories that are still read today. Many consider Poe the inventor of the detective literary genre, as well as the science fiction genre. Although he faced much financial difficulty, Poe was one of the first American writers who tried to sustain himself through writing alone.
“The true genius shudders at incompleteness — imperfection — and usually prefers silence to saying the something which is not everything that should be said.” –Edgar Allan Poe
In 1809, Poe was born the second child to two actors in Boston. Poe’s father left the family in 1810. A year later his mother died. Upon being orphaned, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan who lived in Richmond, Virginia. The family never formally adopted Poe. Poe and John Allan regularly fought over the debts Poe had from gambling and his secondary education. Poe attempted to graduate from the University of Virginia but was unable to finish his education due to lack of funds. Instead of continuing his education, Poe enlisted in the Army. Poe failed as an officer cadet at West Point, leaving to pursue his writing career.
Poe’s publishing career began with an anonymous collection, Tamerlane and Other Poems. As Poe worked on his literary journals, he traveled to many cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. Poe moved back to Virginia after his travels to marry Virginia Clemm in 1836. He published his famous poem “The Raven” in 1845. Two years later his wife died of tuberculosis. Poe died at the age of 40 in 1849.
Debbie Harry is an American model, actress, singer, and songwriter. She is known as the lead singer of the band Blondie. Through the 1980’s, she saw much success in the United States and the United Kingdom. Many of Blondie’s songs reached number one in the charts. Throughout her acting career, Debbie appeared in over 60 films and many television appearances.
Debbie was born in Miami, Florida in 1945. At three months, she was put up for adoption and welcomed into the home of Catherine and Richard Smith Harry. The family took Debbie to Hawthorne, New Jersey. Debbie did not learn about her adoption until she was four years old. During the late 1980’s, Debbie sought out to find her birth mother, but her mother refused any contact.
“The only person I really believe in is me.” -Debbie Harry
Harry went to Hawthorne High School and Centenary College. She graduated with an Associate’s of Arts degree from the college in 1965. Prior to kicking off her singing career, she moved to New York City to become a secretary at BBC Radio’s office. Other jobs she had were as a waitress at Max’s Kansas City, a go-go dancer in Union City, New Jersey, and a Playboy Bunny. She officially began her singing career as a backup singer for the group The Wind in the Willows. By 1974, she joined the band the Stilettos, where she met her boyfriend Chris Stein. After leaving the Stilettos, Harry and Stein formed Angel and the Snake with two other artists. After that did not work out, Stein and Harry formed Blondie. Her band quickly became a regular performance at Max’s Kansas City in New York. After finding commercial success, the band broke up in 1982.
Harry began a solo career, releasing five solo albums, and began acting in movies and television series. After drawing inspiration from Elton John, the singer began showing her support for AIDS/HIV charities.
Ray Liotta is an American voice actor, film producer, and actor. He is known for his acting and voice roles in Goodfellas, Something Wild, Field of Dreams, Hannibal, Grand Theft Auto, and more.
Liotta was born in 1954 in Newark, New Jersey. At six months, Liotta was adopted by Mary and Alfred Liotta. He knew from a young age that he was adopted, even doing a report on his adoption in kindergarten. In the 2000’s, he located his biological mother after hiring a private investigator. Through conversations with his biological mother he learned he had a sister, five half-sisters, and one half-brother.
“I really believe that you never stop learning.” -Ray Liotta
Liotta went to Union High School in New Jersey. Upon graduating, he attended the University of Miami. There he graduated with a degree in Fine Arts. Throughout college he starred in musicals such as Cabaret, Dames at Sea, Sound of Music, and Oklahoma. After graduating, Liotta moved to New York City and landed an agent within six months. Liotta’s first major role was in Something Wild. His performance earned him his first Golden Globe nomination. Throughout his career he appeared in many major films, had voice acting roles in popular video games, and even made appearances on Broadway.
Frances McDormand is an American actress who has won numerous awards, including two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, and two Primetime Emmy Awards. McDormand was born in Gibson City, Illinois in 1957 as Cynthia Ann Smith. When she was one and a half years old she was adopted by Noreen and Vernon McDormand and given her name. McDormand claimed that her biological mother was white trash.
“Not everything comes along just when you want it. There are times when choices just have to be made or you’ll simply miss out.” -Frances McDormand
McDormand graduated from Monessen High School in 1975 and attended Bethany College in West Virginia, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in theater in 1979. She attended the Yale School of Drama in 1982, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts degree. She landed her first professional acting role in the play In a Fine Castle. She debuted in her first film, Blood Simple, in 1984. McDormand married director Joel Coen in 1984. In 1995, they adopted their son from Paraguay.
McDormand became critically acclaimed for her dramatic work in film, after appearing in many television and theatrical roles during the 1980’s. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mississippi Burning, won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Fargo, was nominated for Academy Award for Best Support Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her performance in Almost Famous, and many more nominations after that.
Gary Coleman was an American comedian, actor, writer. He was born in 1968 just outside of Chicago, Illinois. He was born to a homeless woman and was adopted by a nurse practitioner and a fork-lift operator when he was just a few days old. Coleman suffered many health issues before the age of two, leaving him with permanently stunted growth.
“I know the difference between true love and the love of my fans.” -Gary Coleman
Coleman’s career began at a young age, as he appeared in local Chicago commercials. When he was nine years old, a talent scout spotted him in a Chicago bank commercial. Coleman took on roles in sitcoms like The Jeffersons and Good Times. By the age of 10, NBC gave him his own prime-time sitcom, Diff’rent Strokes. His character soon became known for the catchphrase, “What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” At its prime, Coleman was earning $100,000 per episode of Diff’rent Strokes. After the end of the series, Coleman went on to appear in a series of TV movies. Gary made nearly $18 million after a decade of appearances on television. In 2009, a bout with pneumonia caused serious heart complications requiring surgery. The actor died due to a brain hemorrhage in 2010.
Faith Hill is an American record producer and singer. With over 40 million albums sold, she has established herself as one of the most successful country artists of all time. She has won 15 Academy of Country Music Awards, six American Music Awards, five Grammy Awards, and many other honors.
“I don’t know why ‘happy’ can’t be a story.” -Faith Hill
Hill was born in Mississippi in 1967. Just a few days after she was born, she was adopted. From a very early age, Hill recognized her talents and gave her first performance at the age of seven. By the time she was 17, she formed a band that played at local rodeos. She went to school at McLaurin Attendance Center and briefly attended Hinds Junior College. When she turned 19, she dropped out of school to move to Nashville in pursuance of her dreams to become a country singer.
Hill did not find success right away when she moved to Nashville. She failed to become a backup singer for Reba McEntire, but found a job as a secretary at a publishing firm. In 1988, she married Daniel Hill, a publishing executive. Her talents weren’t recognized in Nashville until a co-worker heard her singing one day, told the head of the company, and the company asked her to record a demo. During a backup performance at the Bluebird Café, a Warner Bros. Records executive noticed Hill and offered her a recording contract. After the release of her first album, her marriage failed and she divorced Daniel Hill. Her first two albums saw three number one spots on the Billboard’s country charts. Her albums even saw international success.
Sarah McLachlan is a Canadian singer, songwriter who has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. The singer is widely known for her emotional ballads. Sarah has been nominated for Grammy Awards four times, winning two of those nominations. She has also won four Juno Awards.
Sarah was born in Canada in 1968. Upon her birth she was adopted by the McLachlan family. Her father was a marine biologist, but Sarah quickly chose music over science. She learned ukulele at the age of four. She went on to study classical piano, guitar, and voice at the Maritime Conservatory of Music. When she was 17 she formed her first rock-band, The October Game. In high school she was elected “most destined to become a famous rock star.”
“The more we take the less we become, the fortune of one man means less for some.” -Sarah McLachlan
After her band The October Game performed at Dalhousie University, a Vancouver-based independent label offered McLachlan her own recording contract. Before signing her contract, Sarah followed her parents’ wishes and attended one year at Novia Scotia College of Art and Design. She then left to begin her recording career. When she turned 19, an acquaintance introduced Sarah to her biological mother.
After her own musical success, Sarah turned to more philanthropic efforts. She is widely known for her support of animal welfare organizations like the ASPCA. Many ASPCA commercials featured Sarah’s hit song “Angel.” In addition, she used her talents to promote and support disaster relief, AIDs, and music education organizations.
Nicole Richie is an American author, fashion designer, actress, and television personality. She became well known after starring in the series The Simple Life. The show featured her and her best friend Paris Hilton. The friends appeared on the show for five years.
Nicole was born in California in 1981. Richie’s biological parents were unable to support her financially when she was three. Her parents placed her in the care of their friends Lionel Richie and Brenda Harvey. Lionel Richie suggested her biological parents put Nicole in his care until the couple sort out their issues. Lionel fell in love with the four-year-old Nicole and decided to officially adopt her when she was nine. Michael Jackson soon became her godfather.
Nicole went to Montclair College Preparatory School and studied arts and media at the University of Arizona for two years before dropping out. Shortly after dropping out of college, Richie appeared on the television series The Simple Life. Richie then starred in a variety of television shows including Eve, American Dreams, Six Feet Under, Chuck, and more.
In the world of fashion, Richie has represented Jimmy Choo and Bongo Jeans in many advertising campaigns. She debuted a jewelry line of her own in 2008. By 2009, she had created a line of clothing for A Pea in the Pod that tailored to expecting mothers. She won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 for her jewelry line during the Glamour Women of the Year Awards. She unveiled a handbag collection in 2011 and it quickly found its place in Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Shopbop.com, and Bergdorf Goodman. In 2012, Richie launched a collection for Macy’s that was sold in over 100 stores.
Kristin Chenoweth is an American singer and actress. She has starred in musicals, film, and television. Through her performances she has won and been nominated for many Tony and Emmy Awards.
Five days after her birth Kristin was adopted by mechanical engineers, Jerry and Junie Chenoweth. Although she found background information on her birth parents as an adult, she did not have any interest in getting to know them. Prior to becoming a critically acclaimed actress, Kristin sang gospel music as a child in Oklahoma. Kristin participated in high school plays during her time at Arrow Senior High and eventually attended Oklahoma University where she joined the sorority Gamma Phi Beta. Kristin graduated with a degree in musical theater, and a master’s degree in opera performance.
“If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy.” -Kristin Chenoweth
After receiving her master’s degree, Kristin was offered a place at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts with a full scholarship. However, she turned the offer down to move to New York and pursue a career in musical theatre. Her first appearance on Broadway was in 1997 in the musical Steel Pier. After many Tony Awards and much success in musical theatre, Kristin began to split her time between television and stage roles. Kristin is widely known for her role as Glinda in the hit Broadway musical Wicked. For that performance she has been nominated for many awards and the cast even won a Grammy. Her success in film led her to star in her own sitcom, Kristin, in 2001. She also had guest performances in shows like Glee and Sesame Street. Those guest appearances led her to Emmy Award nominations.
Jamie Foxx is an American singer, actor, songwriter, record and film producer, and comedian. His film performances have won him Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globe Awards. His musical performances have landed him Grammy Award recognition and spots in the Billboard charts.
“If you look at how long the Earth has been here, we’re living in the blink of an eye. So, whatever it is you want to do, you go out and do it.” -Jamie Foxx
Foxx was born Eric Marlon Bishop on December 13, 1967. Foxx’s parents separated after he was born. His biological mother was unable to raise him on his own. When he was just 7 months old he was adopted by his grandmother and has become an advocate for adoption. Foxx was raised in Terrel, Texas, a racially segregated community during the time he lived there. Foxx is thankful for his adoption and attributes much of his success to his grandmother’s influence.
When Foxx was five he began playing the piano. He became a part-time pianist and choir-leader at his church during his teenage years. When he was in third grade, Foxx realized his talent for telling jokes. In high school, Foxx played basketball and football, and received top grades. Upon graduating, Foxx received a scholarship to the United States International University. There he studied musical and performing arts composition.
Foxx began his comedy career during an open mic night in 1989. Foxx changed his name from Eric Bishop to Jamie Foxx after he realized that female performers were more often called during open mic nights. His last name was chosen as a tribute to Redd Foxx, a black comedian. His success in comedy led him to star in the sitcoms In Living Color, Roc, and eventually his own show The Jamie Foxx Show. Foxx’s roles in film began in 1992 with the comedy Toys. He continued on to have award winning performances. His most notable performance was in his role in Ray where he portrayed Ray Charles. Foxx now produces and host the Fox game show Beat Shazam.
Melissa Gilbert is an American television director and actress. In the late 1960’s, Gilbert appeared in commercials and guest roles in television shows. For nearly ten years she starred in the NBC series Little House on the Prairie. The actress won many Young Artists Awards for her role in the show. During that time, she also appeared in television films The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker.
“To me, at forty-four years old, my book was a search for truth and identity.” -Melissa Gilbert
Gilbert was born on May 8, 1964 in Los Angeles, California. Her biological parents were newly engaged and immediately put her up for adoption. Luckily, she was adopted after only one day by actor and comedian Paul Gilbert and his wife Barbara Crane. When she was 8 years old her adoptive parents divorced.
Gilbert starred in many television films as an adult. In addition to guest starring roles, she dabbled in voice work for animated shows like Batman: The Animated Series. Gilbert also appeared as a contestant on the ABC show Dancing with the Stars. From 2001 to 2005, Gilbert was the President of the Screen Actors Guild. Gilbert ran for U.S. congress in Michigan as a Democrat in 2016. She won the democratic primary, but later dropped out of the race due to head and neck injuries.
Patrick Labyorteaux is an American television writer, actor, and producer. He is widely known for his role as Andrew Garvey on the NBC series Little House on the Prairie. His role as Bud Roberts on the CBS shows JAG and NCIS are also widely known roles. Patrick was born in 1965 and adopted by the interior designer and talent agent Ronald Labyorteaux. Patrick was labeled “unadoptable” before Ronald adopted him into his family.
Patrick made his first appearance in the film Mame in 1974. His next role was as Andrew Garvey in Little House on the Prairie, his most well-known role. In addition, he landed roles in the film Prince of Bel Air, the comedy movie Summer School, the film Heathers, the comedy Ski School, and the action-comedy 3 Ninjas. Patrick also appeared in voice roles for shows like Spider Man: The Animated Series and Godzilla: The Series.
Matthew Labyorteaux is an American television, film, and voice actor. The actor is best known for his role of Albert Quinn Ingalls in Little House in the Prairie. He also appeared in many made for television movies. Throughout his career he appeared in many television shows and as the voice-over for many advertisements.
Matthew was born in 1966 and adopted by Ronald Labyorteaux as a baby. He often had tantrums and did not speak until he was five. He was diagnosed as autistic and experts feared he would never live a normal life. His adoptive family supported him throughout his struggles and Matthew became a well-known child actor. His older brother Patrick was also adopted and appeared on Little House on the Prairie with him.
After his brother Patrick found success as a child actor, Matthew was invited to audition for a role as well. The family was surprised when the boy did not throw a tantrum and landed the part. In 1976, he joined the cast of Little House in the Prairie. He appeared on the show all the way through its eighth season. Matthew was a successful voice actor as an adult. He used his voice acting skills for video games, live-action films, and animated projects.
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“When I started out as a contractor, I never thought I would come this far” -Leonardo Del Vecchio
“He [Leonardo Del Vecchio] owes his success to his own abilities. He was an orphan, he didn’t benefit from privilege. And despite that, he built an empire.” -Andrea Sianesi, dean of Milan Polytechnic University business school
Leonardo Del Vecchio was born in Milan in 1935. He is the founder and chairman of Luxottica, an eye wear company, that he founded in 1961. He started the company when he was just 25 years old. Forbes ranked Del Vecchio as the world’s 40th billionaire. His net worth is $20.4 billion.
“I’m a living proof that you can make money and be honest at the same time.” -Leonardo Del Vecchio
Del Vecchio’s father died five months before he was born. When he was just seven years old, his mother could no longer support or feed him. She was assisting the World War II efforts and did not have the time or funds she needed to take care of Del Vecchio, so she gave him to an orphanage. He stayed there until he was 14 years old. After he left he started working as a shop boy. In just four years he became the head of the company. When World War II ended, Del Vecchio returned home to live with his mother, who still couldn’t afford to buy much food.
In 1961, Del Vecchio moved to the home of the Italian eyewear industry, Agorda. There he established his company. In 1967, the company started selling complete eyeglass frames and by 1971 he entered the contract manufacturing business. His company led him to become the world’s largest producer and seller of glasses and lenses.
Steve Jobs was the co-founder of Apple Computers. With his guidance, he created a company that produced a series of innovative technologies, including the iPad and the iPhone. Through the success of Apple, Jobs found himself an American inventor, designer, chief executive, and chairman of Apple Computer.
Jobs was born in 1955. He was given up for adoption by two graduate students who went to the University of Wisconsin. His biological mother’s family did not approve of her mixed relationship, as his biological father was a Syrian Muslim. This led to his adoption. Jobs spent much of his life never knowing anything about his biological parents. It wasn’t until he was 27 that he was able to uncover any information. Jobs’ adoptive father taught him how to work on electronics at an early age. Him and Jobs would spend time taking apart and reconstructing electronics, which led Jobs to his confidence in his mechanical prowess.
“I was, I remember right here on the lawn, telling Lisa McMoylar from across the street that I was adopted. And she said, “So does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?” Ooooh, lightning bolts went off in my head. I remember running into the house, I think I was like crying, asking my parents. And they sat me down and they said, ‘No, you don’t understand. We specifically picked you out.'” -Steve Jobs
Jobs went to Reed College in 1972, eventually dropping out and traveling to India is search of enlightenment. By 1976 he was back in the states, co-founding Apple. In 1985, Jobs was forced out of Apple after a power struggle with the company’s board.
“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” -Steve Jobs
Jobs would go on to create a new company, Pixar. There he created the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story. Eventually, Jobs found his way back to Apple, becoming CEO. Jobs passed away at the age of 56 due to pancreatic cancer.
Jonathan Gilbert is an American stockbroker and former film and television actor. He was born in California in 1967. Soon after his birth he was adopted by Paul Gilbert and Barbara Crane. His adoptive sisters were Melissa and Sara Gilbert. Melissa Gilbert is an actress is TV director herself.
“Reinventing the wheel is sometimes the right thing, when the result is the radial tire.” -Jonathan Gilbert
Gilbert began acting as a child and has always had an interest. He studied at Hamilton College and later the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, graduating with an MBA in Finance. The young actor made his first appearance on television when he was 7, appearing on Little House on the Prairie. He remained on the show for nine years and grew a large fan base. His next role was on the television film The Miracle Worker. Gilbert switched gears in 2003 and began a career as a stockbroker. He now has an estimated net worth of $2.4 million.
J.C. Chasez is an American songwriter, singer, record producer, dancer, and actor. His career first began on The Mickey Mouse Club. He later rose to stardom in the boy band *NSYNC. Chasez was born in Maryland in 1976. At the age of five, his mother transferred guardianship to her own former foster parents. They legally adopted Chasez and gave him their surname.
“The beauty of music is that everyone hears it their own way, and every song you hear leaves an impression on you that alters the way you hear everything from that point on.” -J.C. Chasez
Chasez discovered his talents after performing in a talent show on a bet for $20. He won the contest and realized he could sing and enjoyed it. After auditioning for The Mickey Mouse Club, he landed a role in the cast for the fourth season. During that time, he met future bandmate Justin Timberlake.
Chasez and Timberlake became the two lead singers of *NSYNC. The group officially formed in 1995. Their debut album sold 11 million copies. Their second album was the fastest-selling album of all time, with 2.4 million copies sold in the first week. The band took a hiatus in 2002. The band did not reunite until 2013 when they performed together at the MTV Awards.
Eartha Kitt was an American actress, singer, dancer, comedian, and activist. Kitt is widely known for her performance as Catwoman in the 1960’s Batman television show and the holiday song “Santa Baby.”
“It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self love deficit.” -Eartha Kitt
Kitt was born in South Carolina in 1927. She was born on a cotton plantation. Her father was the son of the owner of the farm where she was born. It is believed that Kitt was conceived by rape. After Kitt’s birth, her mother lived with a black man who would not allow Kitt in the house due to her pale complexion. Kitt was sent to live with her Aunt Rosa, a home where she was frequently abused. After the death of her aunt, Kitt was sent to live with Mamie Kitt, another relative, in Harlem, New York City. There she attended Metropolitan Vocational High School.
In 1943, Kitt joined the Katherine Dunham Company and began her singing career. While performing in Europe, Kitt became fluent in French. She soon became a popular nightclub singer in Paris before returning to the U.S. to star on Broadway and in films. Her success in the Broadway show New Faces of 1952 launched her musical career. The hit song “Santa Baby” debuted in 1953. Her role in the film Anna Lucasta landed her an Academy Award nomination. She received a Tony Award nomination for her role in the Broadway play Timbuktu. Her performance also led to an invitation to the White House by President Jimmy Carter. Tony Award and Emmy Award nominations continued through her life. In 2006 she developed colon cancer. By 2008 Kitt had passed.
Carl Theodor Dreyer was a film director from Denmark. Many regard him as one of the greatest directors in cinema.
Dreyer was born to an unwed maid in 1889. He was put up for adoption by his father, who was his birth mother’s employer. The first two years of his life Dreyer lived in orphanages. He lived without a family to call his own until he was adopted by Carl Theodor Dreyer, a typographer, and his wife Inger Marie. Dreyer’s life was sad for him, as his parents were distant. As a child, he was constantly reminded that his mother had left him and that he should be grateful that the Dreyer family took him in. A high performer in school, Dreyer left home at sixteen to pursue a formal education. He stopped associating himself with his adoptive family. His time spent with the Dryers translated into many themes in his films.
“Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face. It is a land one can never tire of exploring. There is no greater experience in a studio than to witness the expression of a sensitive face under the mysterious power of inspiration. To see it animated from inside, and turning into poetry.” -Carl Theodor Dreyer
Dreyer was a journalist before he decided to enter the film industry. When he did join the industry, he worked writing title cards for title films. Dreyer was not successful in his first attempts to direct films. This led him to leave Denmark and enter the French film industry. In France he directed the film The Passion of Joan of Arc, the film flopped at the box office. While under Nazi occupation in 1943, Dreyer filmed Day of Wrath. Nearly a decade later he created two documentaries.
Nicole Polizzi is widely known as a reality television personality on the shows Jersey Shore and Snooki & Jwoww. Polizzi’s nickname on the shows is Snooki. The debut of the MTV shows led Polizzi to appear on a variety of talk shows including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The View, Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and The Wendy Williams Show.
“Don’t let negativity affect your vision. People say harsh things, but don’t let them affect you.” -Nicole Polizzi
Snooki’s original birth place is Santiago, Chile. At just six months old she was adopted by Italian Americans. The family lived in New Jersey. Snooki received her nickname in middle school in reference to Snookie, a character in Save the Last Dance. Snooki went to school at Marlboro High School in New York. She then attended community college with the plans to become a veterinary technician.
Snooki’s first appearance on reality television was on the MTV show Is She Really Going Out with Him? A casting director scouted her out shortly after that and asked her to become part of the television series Jersey Shore. In the first season Snooki earned $5,000 per episode. She now makes $30,000 per episode. Snooki appeared in the spin-off series Snooki & Jwoww in 2012. The spin-off ran for four seasons.
Liz Phair is a songwriter, singer, composer, guitarist, and actress in America. She was born in Connecticut in 1967, although she was adopted at birth and raised in Chicago. Phair had an older brother who was also adopted. During her life, Phair never tried to contact or find any information about her mother.
Phair attended New Trier High School. Upon graduating, she went to Oberlin College in Ohio. She graduated college with a degree in art history in 1990. After graduating from college, she moved to California to pursue a musical career. She soon returned to Chicago and sold audio cassettes under the name Girly Sound. These tapes led her to a deal with Matador Records.
Her debut album released in 1993. Exile in Guyville was critically acclaimed and ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Her next album, Whip-Smart, earned her a nomination for the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Grammy Award. Phair continued to release albums through 2010. In 2016 she was the opening act for The Smashing Pumpkins. Phair has sold over three million albums worldwide.
Victoria Rowell is an actress, producer, dancer, and writer in America. She was born in 1959 in Portland, Maine. Rowell did not know much about her birth father. However, she knew that her birth mother, Dorothy Rowell, suffered from schizophrenia. Dorothy left a son and two small daughters unsupervised when she took a taxi to the hospital to give birth to Rowell. At just a little over two weeks old, Rowell and her two sisters were given to child services. Rowell ended up living in Maine with foster parents.
At the age of eight Rowell started taking ballet lessons. In college, she was a member of an African-American Greek-letter sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho. Rowell danced with the Juilliard School of Music Dance Extension Program and the American Ballet Theater II. After that she accepted guest-artist teaching jobs in New England. In the 1980’s, she began working as a runway and catalog model.
Rowell made her film debut in 1987 in the comedy Leonard Part 6. She joined the cast of The Young and the Restless in 1990. Her role in this show was her longest role on television. Her performance led her to three Daytime Emmy Award nominations. At the same time, she appeared on the CBS medical-drama Diagnosis: Murder. She left The Young and the Restless in 2007. In the 2000’s, Rowell co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson in Home of the Brave and had recurring roles on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Single Ladies.
Jenna Ushkowitz is an actress, singer, and podcast host in America. She is widely known for her role as Tina Cohen-Chang on the Fox show Glee and has performed in Broadway musicals The King and I and Waitress.
Jenna was born in 1986 in Seoul, South Korea. She was adopted at three months and moved to New York. There she attended Parkway Elementary School and Holy Trinity High School. Her high school is in Long Island and known for its successful theater department. In high school, Jenna performed in many musicals. After she graduated she attended Marymount Manhattan College and continued her musical performing. She graduated in 2007 with a degree in theatre arts, with a concentration in performance and a minor in musical theatre.
“Live in the moment, day by day, and don’t stress about the future. People are so caught up in looking into the future, that they kind of lose what’s in front of them.” -Jenna Ushkowitz
Jenna’s first showbusiness appearance was on Sesame Street when she was just three. She first performed on Broadway in the musical The King and I. When she was thirteen she sang the American National Anthem at a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. Jenna landed her role on Glee in 2009. The series creator Ryan Murphy found her after he searched Broadway for three months, seeking actors who could relate to the rush of theater performances. Glee took Jenna on a live concert tour through the United States, England, Canada, and Ireland in 2010 and 2011.
Jenna, along-side follow adoptee Samantha Futerman, founded Kindred: The Foundation for Adoption in 2014 to provide services for adoptees and families. The foundation provides travel, translation, and other kinds of support for those who wish to reunite. Jenna executive produced a documentary following twins separated at birth, Twinsters, in 2015. She started her own podcast network At Will Radio in 2016. On the network she hosted a podcast called Infinite Positivities.
Simone Biles is an American gymnast and 2016 Olympian. She was a gold medalist in the 2016 Olympics for individual all-around, vault, and floor. She was also a bronze medalist on balance beam.
In 1997, Biles was born in Columbus, Ohio. She had three other siblings. Biles’ mother Shannon was unable to take care of the children. Her mother struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction. The children spent much of their lives in and out of foster care. Her biological father had his own addiction struggles and abandoned the family, never being present in Simone’s life. In 2000, Simone’s grandparents took care of Simon and her siblings in Texas. The grandparents adopted Simone in 2003.
“Today do what others won’t, so tomorrow you can accomplish what other can’t.” -Simone Biles
During a day-care field trip, at the age of 6, Simone first tried gymnastics. The instructors saw potential in her and suggested she continue. She enrolled at Bannon’s Gymnastix for training shortly after. Her career began in 2011 at the American Classic in Houston. She placed third-all around. Later in 2011, she competed in the U.S Classic in Chicago and placed fifth on balance beam and floor exercise. Around this time Simone switched to homeschooling, providing her with 32 hours a week to train. She accredits the increase in training time for her improved performance during the 2012 season. At the 2012 American Classic she placed first all-around and on vault. This landed her a spot at the 2012 USA Gymnastics National Championships. Her performance there got her onto the United States Junior National Team.
Her successes continued throughout 2013 and 2014. She found herself competing in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. In 2014, she committed to attending UCLA. However, she deferred her enrollment to attend the 2016 Summer Olympics. In 2015, she turned professional and forfeited her NCAA eligibility. Biles successfully performed at the 2016 Olympics winning both gold and bronze medals.
Ingrid Bergman was a Swedish-American actress. She is known as one of the greatest actresses from the Golden Era in Hollywood. She was naturally beautiful and had incredible acting talent. She was one of the most Oscar-awarded actresses, second only to Katharine Hepburn.
“Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better!” -Ingrid Bergman
Bergman was born in Sweden in 1915. Bergman’s mother passed when she was two years old. Her father later passed when she was twelve. Upon her father’s passing, she went to live with an aunt. Six months after Ingrid moved in, her aunt died. This led her to live with an uncle.
After finishing formal schooling, Bergman decided she wanted to be an actress. Her first acting role was in a Swedish film in 1932, when she was just 17. A year later she attended the Royal Dramatic Theatre School, but later decided that stage acting was not the path she wanted to pursue. In Stockholm Ingrid appeared in The Count of the Old Town and several other films. Her appearance in Intermezzo caught the attention of American producer David O. Sleznick. He gained the rights to the Intermezzo story and signed Ingrid. She then moved to California and starred in a remake of Intermezzo in 1939.
Ingrid was nominated for an Academy Award after her performance in For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1943. She received an Oscar for Best Actress in 1944 for her role in Gaslight. The Oscar Awards continued throughout her roles in the 1940s and well into the 1950s. Ingrid traveled between England and the United States making movies. Her last on-screen performance was in Autumn Sonata in 1978, for which he received her final Academy Award nomination. Ingrid died from cancer on her 67th birthday in 1982 in London, England.
Bo Diddley was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and music producer in America. He had a major influence on the transition of blues into rock and roll. Many artists were influenced by his work including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, and the Clash.
Diddley was born in Mississippi in 1928 as Ellas Otha Bates. His mother’s cousin adopted him and raised him. Diddley assumed her surname, McDaniel. He dropped Otha and took on the name Ellas McDaniel after his family moved to the South Side of Chicago in 1934. At church Diddley studied the violin and the trombone. He excelled at the violin and was asked by the musical director to join the orchestra. He performed with the orchestra until he was 18. He later took up the guitar.
Diddley began his musical career playing on street corners. He landed a spot at the 708 Club in Chicago in 1951. Diddle, Billy Boy Arnold, Clifton James, and Roosevelt Jackson teamed up in 1954 to record a few demos. Their record became a number one R&B hit. Diddley earned his stage name as a nickname given to him by his peers. The name also first belonged to someone his adoptive mother knew.
Diddley’s signature, five-accent hambone rhythm, along with his African rhythms, became a cornerstone for rock, pop, and hip hop music. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, a Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Thomas Davidson is a film and television actor and comedian in America. Davidson was born in Mississippi in 1963. He was left in the trash and abandoned when he was 18 months old. His soon to be adoptive mother rescued him. He was adopted by a Caucasian couple. Davidson moved from Colorado to Wyoming to Oregon with his family when he was five. His family finally settled in Maryland. Tommy went to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Upon graduating, he went to the University of the District of Columbia to study communications. The one semester he was there he interned at a radio station.
Davidson began his career as a comedian in 1986 after a friend convinced him to give a stand-up performance. This brought on a string of performances in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore. He even performed for a fundraising telethon for WHMM in 1987. In 1987, he won an amateur stand-up competition at the Apollo Theater. Davidson later moved to California. Robert Townsend saw him perform at the Comedy Store and asked Davidson to be the warm-up comic for an HBO special. Davidson performed on the Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, and the Arsenio Hall Shows.
Davidson became well known for his variety roles and impersonations on In Living Color. He released a stand-up performance on VHS in 1991, which became regularly aired on Comedy Central. His comedy led him to appear in films like Strictly Business, Juwanna Mann, Booty Call, and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Davidson even was the voice of Oscar Proud in the Disney series The Proud Family.
Chance Malone was born in 1941. His mother died when he was young, and his father was a prisoner of war. Malone’s grandmother raised him. Malone was extremely poor growing up and often had to use cardboard to cover the holes in his shoes. He was raised with six other children in a three-bedroom house with no bathroom, an outside toilet, and no hot water.
When Malone was 9 years old he got his first job delivering newspapers for the Gloucester Citizen. He delivered papers for five years until he got a job cleaning the wheels of trains 11 hours a day. After his work on the railway, he took up an apprenticeship as a mechanic. The skills he learned as a mechanic led him to open and run M & O Gates. He ran the company for 40 years before closing it and focusing entirely on development. Later in his life he founded an engineering and building company. Now, Malone works as a developer and landlord, with over 100 properties. He turned his life around after he bought the Gloucester Citizen offices and converted them into luxury apartments.
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, was an African-American philanthropist, entrepreneur, and political and social activist. She is widely known as the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. She is also one of the most successful African-American women business owners of all time. Walker developed and marketed a line of hair and beauty products for black women.
Walker was born in Louisiana in 1867. She had five brothers and sisters. Walker’s parents and siblings were slaves to the Robert W. Burney’s Madison Parish plantation. She was the first in her family to be born into freedom, right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Walker’s mother passed in 1872. Her father remarried, but within a few years he passed as well. She was an orphan by the age of seven. When she was 10 she moved to Mississippi and worked as a domestic. There she lived with an older sister and brother in law. To escape the abuse of her brother in law, Walker married Moses McWilliams when she was 14. Together they had one daughter. He died when she was 20. In 1903, Walker remarried and moved to Colorado.
“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” -Chance Malone
Walker and her daughter moved to Missouri in 1888. Making less than one dollar per day, she worked as a laundress. Throughout her life she dealt with dandruff, baldness, and other skin disorders due to products that were harsh on her skin and clothes. Her brothers were barbers in Missouri and she learned about hair care from them. In 1904, she started to sell products from the African American hair care entrepreneur, Annie Turnbo Malone. Walker began to use her knowledge to adapt the hair products and develop her own line. She later moved to Colorado to sell products for Malone while she created her own hair-care company. After she married her second husband, Charles Walker, she became known as Madam C.J. Walker. People knew her as an independent hairdresser and cosmetic cream retailer. Her husband gave her advice on all of her promotion and advertising efforts. She would go door to door selling her products and teaching people how to use them.
Eventually they traveled throughout the eastern and southern United States to expand her brand. She relocated her business to Indianapolis in 1910 and officially established a headquarters for Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She ended up owning a factory, hair salon, laboratory for research, and a beauty school to train her sales agents. Her company employed thousands of sales people. She trained nearly 20,000 women by 1917. She also taught the agents how to build their own businesses and become financially independent. Walker passed in 1919 due to kidney failure.
Henry Ford was born in 1863 in Michigan. His father was born in Ireland and his mother was a Michigan native. His mother’s parents died when she was young, and she was adopted by her neighbors. Ford’s mother passed when he was 16. Ford’s father wanted him to take over the family farm, but he had other ideas. He left home in 1879 to become an apprentice machinist in Detroit, Michigan. When his apprenticeship ended, he moved back to his family’s farm and learned how to operate the Westinghouse portable steam engine. Westinghouse later hired him to service their steam engines. While doing that, he learned bookkeeping from Goldsmith, Bryant & Stratton Business College.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” -Henry Ford
Ford was the founder of the Ford Motor Company. The company makes trucks, tractors, passenger cars, and automotive parts and accessories. Ford is attributed with creating the assembly line technique for mass production. Ford did not invent the technique, but by mastering it he was able to create cars the middle class could afford to buy. Ford was one of the most well-known and richest people during his lifetime. His method of production was named “Fordism,” attributing to when a company mass produces inexpensive goods and highly compensates its employees. One of his business innovations was the franchise system, that allowed dealerships to be created throughout the United States.
Howard Lutnick is a businessman in America and the Chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald. He is also the Chairman and CEO of BGC Partners. Lutnick is widely known for his charitable support and the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund. He created the fund after losing nearly 700 employees in the September 11 terrorist attacks, including his brother. The fund supports families who are victims of natural disasters and attacks.
“I believe in what I call ‘the surfer’s theory.’ You see a really, really big wave. You keep surfing, keep going forward. You just don’t look back.” -Howard Lutnick
Lutnick was born in 1961 to a Jewish family in Long Island. When Lutnick was in his senior year of high school his mother passed from lymphoma. A year after she passed Lutnick attended Haverford College. His first week at Haverford his father passed due to lung and colon cancer. Lutnick and his sibling became orphans. Their extended family members did not provide any support and the kids were on their own. The dean and president of Haverford offered Lutnick a full scholarship after his father’s passing.
When Lutnick graduated from college he began his career at Cantor Fitzgerald. The firm’s founder, Bernard Cantor, became Lutnick’s personal mentor. By 1991, Lutnick was the President and CEO of the company and in 1996, he was the Chairman. In 2001, the Cantor Fitzgerald offices were on the 101-105th floors of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. On September 11th the hijacked planes hit the building just below where the company’s offices were located. All the employees in the office that day passed. Lutnick was not in the office that day, as he was taking his son to his first day of kindergarten. The attack is what pushed Lutnick to create a fund to support victims of attacks and natural disasters.
Mubarak Muyika is a computer programmer, business executive, and internet entrepreneur. When he was 16 he founded his first company, Hype Century. He later sold the web hosting company for six figures. Muyika is now the founder and CEO of Zagace. Zagace runs an app store that helps businesses access software for human resource management, accounting, marketing, and more.
Muyika was born in Kenya. His father passed when he was two and his mother passed when he was eleven. After his parents died Muyika was taken in by his aunt and her husband. While in school, Muyika won awards for his talents in science and technology. His adoptive parents owned a book publishing and distribution company. Muyika used his skills to develop the company’s website.
Muyika founded his first company in 2001, Hype Century Technologies & Investments Limited. He received a young entrepreneurs award from the African Leadership Academy for the creation of his business. In 2013 he sold the company. When he left the company, it had 14 employees and over 700 companies as clients. That same year he founded Zagace, a company that now operates out of San Jose, California.
Roman Abramovich is an Israeli-Russian billionaire businessman, politician, and investor. He owns Millhouse LLC, a private investment company that is known outside Russia for its ownership of the Chelsea Football Club. From 2000 to 2008 he served as the governor of Chutotka Autonomous Okrug. In 2018, Forbes name Roman the richest person in Israel, the 11th richest in Russia, and the 140th richest in the world. He has an estimated net worth of $11.5 billion.
Roman lost his parents at a young age. He was raised by relatives. He spent a lot of time living in northern Russia with his relatives. He is now Chairman of the Federation for Jewish Communities of Russia, donates to the Chabad movement, and is a trustee of the Moscow Jewish Museum.
“I have no Napoleonic dream. I’m just hard-working and pragmatic.” -Roman Abramovich
Roman was in the army when he started his multi-billion-dollar business. He first began selling rubber ducks from him apartment in Moscow. He went from selling car tires to trading commodities for a Swiss trading company. Next, he set up a company that made dolls. He kept investing in various businesses as time went on. He set up over 20 companies in the 1990s in a variety of sectors. He founded five companies from 1992 to 1995. Those companies did everything from resale and producing consumer goods to acting as intermediaries, trading oil and oil products. In 1995 he established five companies and another 10 firms in 1996.
His political career was in full swing in 1999 when he was elected to the State Duma. In 2000 he was the governor of Chukotka.
Li Ka-Shing is a business magnate, philanthropist, and investor in Hong Kong. In 2018 he was named the 23rd richest person in the world, with a net worth of $37.7 billion. After he retired as Chairman of the Board in 2018, he became the senior advisor to CK Hutchison Holdings. The company aided him in becoming the world’s leading developer, investor, and operator of the largest beauty and health retailer in Asia and Europe.
“A good reputation for yourself and your company is an invaluable asset not reflected in the balance sheets.” -Li Ka-Shing
Li was born in China in 1928. After his father died, Li was forced to drop out of school and work. He worked at a plastics trading company for 22 hours a day. He created his own company Cheung Kong Industries in 1950. In addition to manufacturing plastics, he developed the company into a leading real estate investment company. His company expanded in 1979 when it acquired Hutchinson Whampoa and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited.
Li is known throughout Asia as an influential entrepreneur. His business empire has a diverse portfolio of companies, working in real estate, transportation, retail, financial services, and energy and utilities. He is also known in Asia as one of the most generous philanthropists. He owns the second largest private foundation in the world, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mohed Altrad is a billionaire businessman in France. He is Syrian born. He is also a rugby chairman and a writer. Altrad was born in 1948 in a Syrian desert. His mother was very young when she had him. When he was four his mother passed away and his father left him to his grandparents. He was named World Entrepreneur of the Year by EY in 2015.
“The real challenge is not to do, but to dare.” -Mohed Altrad
Altrad earned his PhD from the University of Montpellier in computer science. Upon graduating, he started working for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. He left that company to purchase a scaffolding company in 1985 in France. That company, Groupe Altrad, now employs over 7,000 people.