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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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Nick Lachey, singer and actor. "I was trying to be an athletic trainer. That's what I was studying in school when I quit to do music."

James Lafferty, actor. Has not yet attended college. But he did note in an interview that if he weren't an actor, he'd "be a junior in college."

Don LaFontaine, voice-over artist who narrated more than 350,000 commercials, thousands of TV promos, and more than 5,000 movie trailers. After graduating from high school and serving in the Army, he went into business as a voice-over artist. He never attended college.

Peter La Haye, Sr., inventor of plastic replacement lenses for cataract patients, owner of La Haye Laboratories and Neoptx. Dropped out of high school.

Frederick “Freddy” Laker, billionaire airline entrepreneur. Dropped out of high school.

Miranda Lambert, country singer. Began singing as a professional while still in high school. Did not attend college.

Sharmen Lane, millionaire mortgage wholesaler, life coach, motivational speaker. A high-school dropout.

Cathy Lanier, Chief of Police of Washington, DC. A 14-year-old pregnant high school dropout.

Angela Lansbury, Tony and Golden Globe award-winning actress. She was contracted by MGM while still a teenager and nominated for an Academy Award for her first film, Gaslight, in 1944. Her Broadway stage work earned her four Tony Awards in sixteen years for Mame, Dear World, Gypsy, and Sweeney Todd. But she never won an Emmy for her work on the Murder, She Wrote television series. She also won six Golden Globes and was nominated for 18 Emmys and 3 Academy Awards. She never attended college.

Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere, aka Cher, singer, Oscar-winning actress. Dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and started taking acting lessons. At 16, she moved out of her house. Soon she met Sonny Bono and they formed Sonny and Cher, created many hits, and started in The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

Ring Lardner, sportswriter and short story writer. Began his career as a teenager writing for the South Bend Tribune. He continued writing for many other newspapers, eventually landing a nationally syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune.

Stan Lark, rock musician, Fireballs. Dropped out of New Mexico State University (actually dropped out days before classes were to begin) to become a rock star.

Albert Lasker, advertising pioneer, CEO of Lord & Thomas. After graduating from high school, he started at an advertising agency as an entry-level salesman.

Tommy Lasorda, baseball manager. Dropped out of high school.

Queen Latifah, aka Dana Elaine Owens. Singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, television producer, record producer, talk show hostess. Never attended college. Has won the following awards: Golden Globe, Grammy Award, Screen Actors Guild (and been nominated for many more).

Cyndi Lauper, singer, songwriter, actress. Left home at 17 to work a number of odd jobs and sing in bars until she was able to break through as a bestselling singer.

Jillian Lauren, author. Quit New York University during her freshman year to become a party guest for a wealthy Singapore businessman. Went on to live in the harem of the prince of Brunei for a year-and-a-half. Wrote about her experiences.

Ralph Lauren, billionaire fashion designer, founder of Polo. Dropped out of the City College of New York business school (Baruch College) to design ties for Beau Brummel. Launched Polo later that same year.

Avril Lavigne, singer, songwriter, actress, fashion designer. Dropped out of high school.

Peter Lawford, actor. Never finished high school.

Annie Lawless, cofounder of Suja Juice, dropped out of law school to become a yoga instructor.

Jennifer Lawrence, actress. She started acting at the age of 14 and has been in demand since then. Has not yet attended college.

Mike Lazaridis, billionaire founder of Research in Motion. "Two months before I graduated from college, I answered a request for proposal from General Motors with a five-page pitch to develop a network computer control display system. They offered me a half-million dollar contract.... I went to the president of the university to get his permission to take a leave of absence. He tried to persuade me to finish out my year, but when I told him about the contract, he wished me the best of luck." Since that time, he hasn't had time to go back and finish.

David Lean, Oscar-winning director. Dropped out of high school.

Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, To Kill a Mockingbird. Dropped out of college during her senior year. Moved to New York to become a writer.

Sandra Lee, TV show host, entrepreneur, cookbook author, magazine editor. Spent three years at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse before founding a craft company.

Stan Lee, comics creator, Marvel Comics (Spiderman, The Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four). Started working when he was still in high school. Never attended college.

Anna-Lou "Annie" Leibovitz, portrait photographer, cover photographer for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines. Attended the San Francisco Art Institute, but apparently did not graduate. As she has said, "I was very lucky, in working for these magazines, to learn by doing, but I always regretted not having a formal education. I had to teach myself."

Tim Leiweke, CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group. Skipped college to get into sports management.

Tia Leoni, actress. Dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College as a 20-year-old to model and act.

James Leprino, billionaire, Leprino Foods. Joined family business at the age of 18. Turned business into the world's largest mozzarella producer.

Doris Lessing, novelist. At the age of 14, she chose to end her formal schooling. She then worked as a nanny, telephone operator, office worker, stenographer, and journalist. Her first novel was published when she was 31. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.

Aaron Levie, multi-millionair software developer, co-founder of Box.net. Dropped out of the University of Southern California in 2005 to create Box.net.

Aaron Levine, fashion designer, vice president of Club Monaco. Left Virginia Tech to work at Abercrombie & Fitch. Never finished college.

Jerry Lewis, comedian, actor, singer, humanitarian. High school dropout.

Joe Lewis, billionaire businessman. Dropped out of high school.

Juliette Lewis, actress, singer, musician. At the age of 14, she left her parents and went to live with actress Karen Black, a family friend. She then dropped out of high school.

Rush Limbaugh, multi-millionaire media mogul, the most popular radio talk show host ever. bestselling book author. Dropped out of college after being required to take ballroom dancing.

Abraham Lincoln, lawyer, U.S. president. Finished barely a year of formal schooling. He self-taught himself trigonometry (for his work as a surveyor) and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer. Of the 43 people who served as president of the United States, 8 never went to college.

Charles Lindbergh, aviator, first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Quit the University of Wisconsin after two years to learn how to fly an airplane.

Carl Lindner, billionaire investor, founder of United Dairy Farmers, former owner of Chiquita Brands. Dropped out of high school at the age of 14 to deliver milk for the family store during the Depression.

Meg Lindsay, model. Has not yet attended college. Began working fulltime as a model at the age of 17.

Blake Lively, actress. At the age of 16, she got her first major movie role in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She started acting in the Gossip Girl TV series right after high school. She has not yet attended college, but has expressed a strong desire to do so.

John Llewellyn, labor leader, president of the United Mine Workers. Dropped out of high school.

Hank Locklin, country singer. Never attended college.

Marcus Loew, multimillionaire founder of Loews movie theaters, co-founder of MGM movie studio. Dropped out of elementary school.

Lindsay Lohan, actress. Never finished high school.

Dan Lok, multi-millionaire business mentor, founder of Quick Turn Marketing. College dropout. His CreativitySucks website notes: A former college dropout, Dan Lok transformed himself from a grocery bagger in a local supermarket to a multi-millionaire. Dan came to North America with little knowledge of the English language and few contacts. Today, Dan is one of the most sought-after business mentors on the Web, as well as a best-selling author. His reputation includes his title as the World's #1 Website Conversion Expert.

His books include:

How to Publish Your Own Best-Selling eBook in 21 Days or Less Without Writing

The Niche Formula: How to Quickly and Easily Find Hidden Niche Markets You Can Profit from Now

Turn Knowledge into Money: How to Get Rich Selling Information - Even if You Hate to Write or Aren't an Expert on Anything

Turn Words into Cash: How to Write a Sales Letter That Will Make You Rich

Jack London, bestselling novelist. Dropped out of high school to work. Later was admitted to the University of California but left after one semester.

Julie London, singer, actress. Dropped out of high school.

Sophia Loren, aka Sofia Scicolone, Oscar-winning actress, author, model. Dropped out of elementary school.

Caity Lotz, actress, dancer, stuntwoman, model, singer. Has not gone to college. Started out as a background dancer for music videos and tours. As she noted, “After I stopped going to school, my life was changed forever.”

Joe Louis, boxer. Dropped out of high school.

Demi Lovato, singer and actress. Did not attend college.

Nat Love, member of the National Cowboys of Color Hall of Fame, known as Deadwood Dick, one of the first American cowboys to write his autobiography. Born into slavery. After being emancipated, he won a horse in a raffle and headed west to become a cowboy.

Tom Love, billionaire founder of Love's Travel Stops. Dropped out of the University of Oklahoma.

Forrest Lucas, long-haul trucker, multi-millionaire founder of Lucas Oil Products, race team sponsor. Left home at the age of 15 to work for a small cattle ranch. When he was 21, he bought his first semi. He later formed a trucking company.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazilian president. With a fifth grade education only, he shined shoes on the streets of Sao Paulo as a kid but later became a steelworker union leader.

Sidney Lumet, film director. Dropped out of Columbia University after one year.

Peder Lund, publisher of Paladin Press. Dropped out of Kenyon College and headed to Miami to join the fight against Castro. Later enlisted in the Army where he attended Officer Candidate School, jump school, and Ranger training.

Dolph Lundgren, actor, model, bodyguard. Won the European karate championships in 1980 and 1981. He was then awarded a Fulbright scholarship to MIT, but he lost interest in college after he was hired to be a bodyguard for singer Grace Jones, who helped him build a career as a model and actor.

Barbara Lynch, chef, owner of a $10 million group of restaurants in Boston. Dropped out of high school to be a runner for local bookies. Later worked for celebrity chef Todd English. "I started my first business venture in high school, placing bets for some of my teachers with bookies in Southie.... I never did homework. I was failing everything. Senior year, they said I would have to go to summer school. There was no way I was doing that, so I dropped out."

Susan Lyne, journalist, editor in chief, Hollywood executive, multimedia mogul. Never finished college at the University of California at Berkeley. As he noted, "The lure of taking a job in the grown-up world was greater."

Mary Lyon, education pioneer, teacher, founder of Mount Holyoke College (America's first women's college). Dropped out of high school. Started teaching at the age of 17.

Natasha Lyonne, actress. Was accepted by New York University intending to study film and philosophy but she never went to class.

Dropouts with last names starting with M

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