If you've ever been unemployed, then you know how scary it can be as those checks start to dry up. Here are 7 people who went from those government checks to much BIGGER checks in the blink of an eye.
Before he was directing films like Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino was just another unemployed actor in Hollywood. In 1988 the 25-year-old Tarantino would land a role as an Elvis impersonator on an episode of Golden Girls. Tarantino made $3000 over the course of year for his work on the sitcom and the money temporarily sustained him while he worked on the scripts for True Romance and his breakout hit, 1992's Reservoir Dogs.
In the mid-1950s Larry King moved to Miami, Florida, to start a career in radio. By 1957 he was making $55 a week as an AM Disc Jockey and by 1960 he was hosting a weekly issue-themed television show called Miami Undercover. Soon enough, King was penning weekly columns for the Miami Herald and served as a color commentator for the Miami Dolphins. A scandal broke in the early 70s when the Miami Herald fired King for writing too frequently about his friends. He lost his other radio and TV gigs as well. King suffered mounting debt and even claimed personal bankruptcy. King, however, worked a series of mediocre TV and radio gigs throughout the late 70s and early 80s to revive his fledgling career. Then in 1985 he started Larry King Live, an interview call-in show that consistently ranks as CNN's most watched program.
Susan Boyle rose to international prominence when her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" was watched by tens of millions on YouTube. Before her rise to fame, however, Boyle had a quiet life at home caring for her ailing mother. She was unemployed at the time she auditioned for Britain's Got Talent in 2008, and kept busy by volunteering at her local church. Her first album, I Dreamed a Dream, was released in 2009 and has since sold more than 3 million copies, making Boyle one of the highest-selling debut artists in decades.
In 1935, President Roosevelt created the Federal Writers' Project. The program aided more than 6,000 out of work writers, researchers and editors that were hit hard by the Great Depression. One of the program's beneficiaries was novelist John Steinbeck. While employed by the project, Steinbeck wrote guidebooks that highlighted the history, culture and geography of both states and major American cities. The Nobel laureate to be would later use these guides when he set out to write his popular travelogue, Travels with Charley: In Search of America.
Before he co-created Seinfeld, Larry David was consistently unemployed. It became a pattern of David's to work an odd job for a few months then either quit or get fired so he could collect unemployment and concentrate on his comedy. David survived by living in a subsidized housing complex on the West Side of Manhattan, while performing stand-up at any low-level club that would have him. He met Jerry Seinfeld while working the New York comedy circuit, and found that they shared a fascination for oddball observations on daily life. When Seinfeld was approached by NBC to start his own show, he recruited David to assist in its development. Much of their friendly banter would end up in episodes of Seinfeld.
When David Sedaris moved to New York in the 1980s, he was unemployed and desperate for cash. As the story goes, he took a temp job as a SantaLand elf at a Macy's. The experience turned out to be a horrific one, but good enough for Sedaris to write about in his journal. A few years later Sedaris moved to Chicago and read his SantaLand diary entry at a local club. Radio host Ira Glass just happened to be in the audience and invited Sedaris to appear on his radio program, The Wild Room. Sedaris's "SantaLand Diares" was a huge hit with radio listeners and word spread. Before long he was appearing regularly on Ira Glass's This American Life and had a two-book deal with Little, Brown and Company. Sedaris is now a literary superstar and makes regular appearances to sell-out crowds, most of them college students, who come simply to hear him read.
After a brief stint on Broadway, Gillian Anderson moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film acting. She supported herself by waiting tables, but eventually went on unemployment to devote more time to auditioning. Anderson had a starring role in the 1992 drama, The Turning, which turned out to be a flop, and landed a small role in the short-lived TV series, Class of '96. The budding actress was about to pack it all in and move back to New York when on the day her last unemployment check arrived, she was offered the role of Special Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files.