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Famous, Rich, and Successful People
Who Were High School or College Dropouts

You don't have to go to college to be a success. Even if you go for awhile, you don't have to graduate to be a success. Here are just a few of the people who have become famous and/or successful without graduating from college and/or high school.

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Gene Hackman, actor. Discharged after six years in the Marines, he entered college as a journalism major but after six months he dropped out for good. Since then he's earned an Academy Award for best actor (The Conversation) and an Academy Award for best supporting actor (Unforgiven).

Aviv Hadar, CEO of Think Brilliant web-development studio and the tech brains behind SoulPancake. Dropped out of college.

Thomas Haffa, billionaire German media mogul. Dropped out of high school.

Larry Hagman, actor and director. Attended Bard College for one year but then dropped out to begin acting at Margo Jone's theater in Dallas, Texas. Went on to star in the Dallas soap opera (twice now).

Jerry Hall, supermodel. A few weeks before her 17th birthday, she flew to Paris to pursue a modeling career. She later married rock stars Bryan Ferry and Mick Jagger. Never attended college.

Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark. Started selling greeting cards at the age of 18 while living at a YMCA in Kansas City. Did not attend college.

Josh Halloway, actor. Did not attend college.

Keith Gordan Ham, aka Swami Bhaktipada. Became an American leader in the Krishna movement before being expelled for "moral and theological deviations." Dropped out of graduate studies at Columbia University, to become a disciple of Hare Krishna.

Dorothy Hamill, Olympic ice skater. Did not attend college.

Keith Gordon Ham, aka Swami Bhaktipada, swami. Dropped out of graduate studies at Columbia University to become one of the first American disciples of Hare Krishna.

Harold Hamm, billionaire oil wildcatter, Continental Resources, Hiland Holdings. Left home at the age of 17, married, but finished high school a year later. Became a gas jockey before becoming a wildcatter. He later took college classes in geology, chemistry, and mineralogy but never graduated from college.

Joe Hamm, actor. When his father died, Hamm dropped out of college and moved into the basement of his half-sister's house. He eventually found work as a set decorator for soft-porn movies until he made it as an actor.

Armie Hammer, actor. He was kicked out of one high school for burning it's name on the grass outside the school. He did not graduate from college: "I tried college at UCLA. I gave it a fighting effort and I just couldn't do it." Another time he noted: "I didn't care about college. I knew I wanted to make movies."

Chelsea Handler, TV host, producer, comedienne, bestselling author. Moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to pursue a career as an actress. She waited tables for the first six years until she got a spot on the Girls Behaving Badly prank show.

Taylor Handley, actor. Began acting as a teenager. Moved to Los Angeles after high school graduation to pursue acting full-time. Has not yet attended college.

Tom Hanks, Oscar-winning actor. Dropped out of CalState University after a few years to work as an intern at the Great Lakes Theater Festival.

William Hanna, cartoonist, Hanna-Barbera. He briefly attended college but dropped out at the beginning of the Great Depression.

Sean Hannity, radio and TV talk show host. Spent three years in college, but when the money ran out, he dropped out of school and went into the construction business.

Beck Hansen, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. Dropped out of high school to pursue his musical career.

Matt Harding, game designer, world traveler, YouTube dancing viral star. Never attended college. As he notes in his bio (http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/about): Matt was a mediocre student and never went to college. When he got older, he was pleased to discover that no one cares.

Check out his latest viral video below (with over 1.78 million views in 4 days). His YouTube channel has had over 80 million total views.

Elizabeth Hardwick, literary critic and co-founder of The New York Review of Books. Graduated from the University of Kentucky but dropped out of a Columbia University doctoral program.

Mariska Hargitay, actress. After being crowned Miss Beverly Hills at the age of 18, she started getting small acting jobs but didn't really break through until her 30s. Attended UCLA but left before graduating to pursue her acting career.

Angie Harmon, actress and model. After graduating from high school, she headed to Europe to work as a model. She has never attended college.

Martha Matilda Harper, business entrepreneur, founder of the Harper Hair Salons. At the age of seven, she was sent to work as a domestic servant. Worked as a servant for 22 years before saving enough money to start a hair salon. Never attended college.

Ciara Princess Harris, crunk & B singer, songwriter, and actress. Signed with LaFace Records at the age of 16. Has not yet attended college.

Lorenz Hart, lyricist. At the age of 21, he had everything he needed from Columbia University academics, so he left college without a degree and began translating song lyrics.

Lucy Hart, actress. When she was 15, she moved with her mother from Tennessee to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actress. Has not yet attended college.

Melissa Joan Hart, actress, singer, director, producer, candy store operator. Started acting at the age of 3. Appeared in hundreds of commercials before getting the job of acting in the Sabrina TV show. Attended New York University for two years but deferred further studies when she got the TV show.

Sheldon Harvey, Navajo artist, winner of the Best of Show at the 2008 Santa Fe Indian Market. Dropped out of high school to care for his wife and son. "When I dropped out of school, no one in my family thought it was the end of the world. My grandparents were from the old school, traditional people who didn't think an education was necessary to make your way in the world." He later convinced the people at Dine Community College to let him attend even though he had not graduated from high school. He took classes there but apparently did not graduate.

Anne Hathaway, actress, The Princess Diaries. Began acting professionally at the age of 16. Briefly attended Vassar and New York University, but has not graduated from either.

Rutger Hauer, actor. Dropped out of school to join the Dutch merchant navy. After his discharge, he went to acting school before starting a career as an actor. Did not attend college.

Leif Hauge, inventor. Never finished college.

Louise Hay, one of the bestselling authors in history and founder of Hay House. Of other famous women authors, Levine Breaking News has noted, "They did not change the spiritual landscape of America and several of its Western allies. They were not pregnant at 15 and they did not lack high-school diplomas." Louise Hay did.

Amber Heard, actress. Got her GED and quit a Catholic high school during her junior year to move to New York to be a model. Finding modeling unrewarding, she moved to Hollywood to become an actress. At 17, she landed a small role in the movie Friday Night Lights. Has not attended college.

William Randolph Hearst, newspaper publisher and movie producer, was thrown out of Harvard for poor grades (apparently due to heavy partying).

Richard Heckmann, billionaire investor, CEO of U.S. Filter, founder of Heckmann Corporation. Went to college in Hawaii but did not graduate. "I went to Vietnam in '65 and was assigned to the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron. When I came back in '66, I wasn't in any mood to go back to school. I got a job selling insurance." He later attended the Harvard Business School small-company management program.

Levon Helm, rock singer, member of The Band. Left home at the age of 17 to play music. Never attended college.

Sherman Hemsley, actor. Dropped out of high school and served in the Air Force for four years before returning home to work in a post office while trying out for acting jobs in his spare time. Eventually found success as George Jefferson in All in the Family and The Jeffersons TV shows.

Christina Hendricks, model and actress. At the age of 18, she moved to New York to become a model. Has not yet attended college.

Diane Hendricks, billionaire co-founder of ABC Supply, the largest supplier of roofing and siding materials to contractors. Never attended college.

Kenneth Hendricks, billionaire co-founder of ABC Supply, the largest supplier of roofing and siding materials to contractors. Dropped out of high school, never attended college, and eventually joined the family roofing company.

Kevin Hendricks, roofing store operator. Skipped college to go into the roofing business. His high school graduation present was $100, a nail bag, and a roofing hammer. Later, he turned a money-losing store into ABC Supply's biggest profit center.

Jimi Hendrix, rock 'n roll guitarist. A high school dropout.

Lance Henriksen, actor. He dropped out of the eighth grade and ran away from home. He barely learned to read. After a stint in the Navy, he did odd jobs such as picking fruit and shrimping. As he began acting, he taught himself to read.

Patrick Henry, Virginia governor, revolutionary patriot. Home schooled. Later studied on his own and became a lawyer.

John Henton, actor, comedian. Never finished at Ohio State University. "I never ended up going back to Ohio State. I just wanted to be a comedian, you know, and I was getting a good response."

John Hewitt, CEO of Jackson Hewitt. College dropout.

Tony Hillerman, mystery novelist. In 1943, he dropped out of college to enter the army. He later returned to college to get his degree and also earn a master's degree.

Paris Hilton, model, realty show star, singer, professional celebrity, socialite, fashion designer. Expelled in her senior year from the Canterbury Boarding School for violating school rules. Later earned her GED. Never attended college.

Cheryl Hines, actress and director. Never attended college. Had a short stint in beauty school.

Jordan Hinson, actress. Home-schooled, graduated from high school at the age of 15. Has not yet attended college.

Adolph Hitler, Nazi leader. Did not graduate from high school. For some people, staying in school might actually be good for you.

Stanley Ho, billionaire casino operator, King of Gambling. Dropped out of college.

Lillian Hochberg, founder of Lillian Vernon catalog. Did not attend college. Started the catalog out of her home.

Amanda Hocking, multi-millionaire self-publisher, novelist, blogger. A few months of college.

I went to college, but I only went to my writing class, so I dropped out after a semester. A few years later, I went to college again, but I only went to my English class, so I dropped out after a semester.

Eric Hoffer, longshoreman, philosopher, and author. A self-educated philosopher, he was at various times a dishwasher, lumberjack, gold prospector, migrant farm worker, and longshoreman. He is author of The True Believer, Working and Thinking at the Waterfront, and Reflections on the Human Condition.

Dustin Hoffman, two-time Oscar-winning actor. Enrolled at Santa Monica College, caught the acting bug after taking an acting class for an easy grade, then left after a year to join the Pasadena Playhouse.

Ernest Holmes, founder of the Science of Mind churches and author of The Science of Mind, ended his formal schooling when he was fifteen.

Katie Holmes, actress. Her acceptance letter for Columbia University came a week after she did the pilot for the Dawson's Creek TV show. She spent the next six years acting in the TV series. She now admits that going to college as a celebrity would be very difficult. "But," she says, "Maybe I could hire a cute professor to home-school me."

Odetta Holmes, the queen of American folk music, singer, songwriter, actress, and human rights activist. Studied music at night at the Los Angeles City College, but did not graduate.

Dustin Hoffman, Oscar-winning actor, director. Dropped out of college in his first year. Worked odd jobs such as fragrance tester, coat checker, typist, and lei stringer between building a career as an actor.

Dennis Hopper, actor. Did not attend college, but did study acting at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego and the Actors' Studio in New York City. When people asked him what school he went to, he would reply "Warner Bros."

Jay Catherwood Hormel, multimillionaire president of Hormel Foods, inventor of Spam. Left college to work for his father's company.

Heidi Horten, billionaire. Met her husband in a hotel bar when she was 19. Never attended college. Inherited most of her wealth when her billionaire husband died.

Whitney Houston, Grammy-winning singer and actress. At the age of 19, she was discovered singing in a New York City supper club by Clive Davis, who immediately signed her to a contract with Arista Records. Her first album, and the next six, all went multi-platinum. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most awarded female artist of all time. Her soundtrack for The Bodyguard is the bestselling soundtrack album of all time.

Hugh Howey, millionaire novelist, self-publisher, and bookseller. Dropped out of college. Was working in a bookstore when he began writing and publishing a series of sci-fi novellas called Wool.

Vanessa Hudgens, actress and singer. Homeschooled during high school. Did not attend college. Homeschooling was great for her: "It was nice to stay away from all the drama. I'm not good with catty girls. I'm too laid-back."

John Hughes, director, producer, and screenwriter. Dropped out of Arizona State University in his junior year.

D. L. Hughley, sales manager, actor, comedian. Never finished high school. He got his job as a sales manager by paying "a guy I knew at Cal State Long Beach $100 to tell personnel that I was just a few credits short of graduating from college."

H. Wayne Huizenga, billionaire founder of WMX garbage company, builder of Blockbuster video chain, owner of Miami Dolphins. Skipped college to join the Army. Later dropped out of Calvin College after three semesters. Started business in 1962 with a used garbage truck.

Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, billionaire oilman. Only had a fifth grade education. Worked as a farmhand until he invested $50 in an Arkansas oil field.

John Huston, Oscar-winning director, actor. High school dropout.

Gary Hustwit, author and publisher, Incommunicado Press. Dropped out of San Diego State.

John Hutchison, discoverer of the Hutchison Effect. Had no formal schooling after the 8th grade although he was privately tutored in radio astronomy, chemistry, and physics.

Lauren Hutton, first supermodel, actress. Attended Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans while working at a bar. Met Steve McQueen and got into acting. Dropped out of college.

Dropouts with last names starting with I

Drop out of school before your mind rots from our mediocre educational system. Frank Zappa, musician, liner notes from the Freak Out album

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