Celebrity career changes

  • Emma Finamore
  • 23 Mar 2019

From Stephen King to Vera Wang, we look at some dramatic career U-turns.

Vera Wang’s fashion design career didn’t start until she was nearing her 40th birthday.

Sometimes, you just have to take a chance. That’s exactly what these famous faces did when they ditched their previous careers for a brand-new venture — which certainly paid off. In this article, award-winning stairlifts suppler, Acorn Stairlifts, explores the most dramatic career changes.

From teaching to writing: Stephen King

Stephen King is in a league of his own in terms of horror and fantasy novels. If you haven’t been chilled from reading one of his books, it’s likely you’ve been shocked and engrossed when one of his stories was adapted for the big or small screen. The American hasn’t always been writing New York Times-bestselling novels, however, as he graduated from the University of Maine in 1970 after gaining a bachelor’s degree in English and then worked as a teacher and janitor, among various other jobs.

In fact, it wasn’t until he was in his late 20s that King published Carrie. The book, which centres around a tormented girl who is gifted with telekinetic powers, became such a huge hit that King was able to quit his other jobs and begin to write on a full-time basis.

From skating to fashion: Vera Wang

Another star in the fashion industry is Vera Wang. Her career hasn’t always been within the fashion industry. The daughter of affluent Chinese immigrants, Wang was a talented figure skater to the point that she competed professionally during her teenage years. Alongside her partner James Stuart, Wang was able to place fifth in the junior pairs competition at both the 1968 and 1969 US National Championships.

After graduating from college though, Wang decided to pursue a career with Vogue magazine instead of skating. She became senior fashion editor at the publication within a year, aged 23 years old. After 15 years working under that title, Wang stepped away from Vogue and took up the role of being Ralph Lauren’s design director for accessories. The American’s venture into fashion design had begun, as she was getting near to her 40th birthday.

After leaving the military in 1953, Armani secured a job as a window dresser at the Milan department store La Rinascente — a company where he would eventually become a seller in the men’s clothing department.

From carpentry to acting: Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford’s story really does show how it pays to keep your options open. Ford took an interest in acting when he joined an acting class during his junior year at Ripon College. Eventually, he managed to sign a contract with Columbia Pictures to act in small fill-in roles for various films. Ford could be seen in TV shows like Gunsmoke, American Style, Ironside and Kung Fu during the 1960s too, though he didn’t receive his first credited role until he appeared in the movie A Time for Killing in 1967. But Ford later decided to focus more on carpentry as a career, due to the small acting roles he seemed to be getting.

Though Ford walked away from acting, he had been spotted by casting director Fred Roos. Roos secured Ford an audition with director George Lucas for the 1973 movie American Graffiti, where he was cast to play the role of Bob Falfa — a performance which was so well received that it encouraged Lucas to audition Ford for Star Wars: A New Hope. The rest is history.

From medicine to fashion: Giorgio Armani

Fashion really wouldn’t be the same without Giorgio Armani. However, Armani’s career path wasn’t always linked to the fashion industry. In fact, the Italian was once studying medicine in Milan and then joined the Italian army after leaving university, where he worked at a military hospital based in Verona.

After leaving the military in 1953, Armani secured a job as a window dresser at the Milan department store La Rinascente — a company where he would eventually become a seller in the men’s clothing department. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that Armani started to design his own clothes, while his own company, named Armani, wasn’t founded until 1975. By that point, the Italian was in his 40s.


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