Celebrity 8 Celebrities Who Were Teachers Before They Got Famous These stars went from the classroom to superstardom, but not without punching a student (well, one of them) first By Diane J. Cho Diane J. Cho Diane J. Cho was the Features Editor of PEOPLE Digital from 2019 to 2022. She worked at the brand for nearly four years covering news, features, human interest, evergreen, holiday gift guides and more. She launched the How I Parent and What It's Really Like to Be …. digital series and has interviewed several celebrities and influential leaders within the entertainment industry. Prior to joining PEOPLE, Diane worked at Bustle, VH1 and Complex. She received her bachelor's degree in Journalism from Rutgers University and her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School. People Editorial Guidelines Updated on August 16, 2021 02:15 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 08 Gene Simmons Gene Simmons. Harry How/Getty Before performing in front of thousands in full makeup and tight leather pants, the Kiss bassist and co-lead singer spent several months teaching sixth grade at a public school in New York City's Upper West Side neighborhood. "The reason I quit after six months is that I discovered the real reason I became a teacher," Simmons explained during a June 1978 interview with the Lakeland Ledger. "It was because I wanted to get up on stage and have people notice me. I had to quit because the stage was too small. Forty people wasn't enough, I wanted 400,000." 02 of 08 Sylvester Stallone BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Actor Sylvester Stallone attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards nominee luncheon on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) At 18, the creator of the hit Rocky series was hired by a Swiss boarding school for girls as a gym teacher and dorm bouncer. The teaching gig helped him discover his love of acting. He took that passion and applied it to studying drama at the University of Miami before moving to N.Y.C. to make his dreams come true. 03 of 08 Sheryl Crow Monica Schipper/Getty Images The "Soak Up the Sun" singer got her start teaching music during the week and playing gigs on the weekends back in the '80s, according to The Telegraph. 04 of 08 Billy Crystal Corey Nickols/Contour/Getty Among the many interesting tidbits that make up the notable actor's fascinating life - such as hosting the Academy Awards nine times and being Jay Leno's very first guest on The Tonight Show - fans may be surprised to know that Crystal worked as a substitute teacher at Long Beach Junior High School in New York, according to CNN. 05 of 08 Stephen King Francois Mori/AP Known for his supernatural horror novels, King chipped away at building his career as a writer while teaching high school English at Hampden Academy in Maine in the fall of 1971, according to his website. King kept teaching until the spring of 1973, when a major sale of his novel Carrie would allow him to quit his job and write full-time. 06 of 08 Hugh Jackman Andreas Rentz/Getty Before Broadway and Hollywood got a hold on him, Jackman spent one year working as a teaching assistant at a top British boarding school called Uppingham School in 1987. He was "an 18-year-old Aussie teaching English to a bunch of English kids," he recalled, according to BBC. "I thought, if that was my school fees, I'd be pretty annoyed." 07 of 08 Liam Neeson Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Being an action star in Hollywood for decades is nothing compared to the two years Neeson took to train to become a teacher. Neeson called it the "most difficult job" he's ever had to master, before opening up about the time he had to punch a 15-year-old kid for pulling a knife on him during a 2012 interview with ESPN. 08 of 08 J.K. Rowling J.K. Rowling. Dan Hallman/Invision/AP After conceiving the idea of Harry Potter while sitting on a train from Manchester to London King's Cross in 1990, Rowling spent the next five years mapping out her highly successful series. During that time, she gathered up her notes and moved to northern Portugal to teach English, according to her website. In those years, she got married, had a daughter, got divorced and headed back to the U.K. to teach in Edinburgh schools while writing at any chance she could on the side. Although choosing to teach helped her get by, her decision to continue working on the Harry Potter series proved to be the wiser one.