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Before earning the big bucks, these eight A-listers worked mixing drinks and stopping bar fights in divey watering holes. Most of these celebs who used to be bartenders went on to have successful acting and comedy careers, so they must have learned a thing or two from entertaining their rowdy patrons.

1. Ellen Pompeo

The Grey’s Anatomy star spent time working as a bartender in NYC before landing the role of Meredith Grey. In the late 90s, Pompeo was scouted by a commercial casting director who offered her a job in a L’Oreal ad. Not long after, Pompeo was also granted a small role in the hit film, Old School. In 2005, she landed the biggest role of her career when she was cast in the ABC medical drama.

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2. Bill Cosby

The controversial comedian never had dreams of working in show business. While studying and playing football at Temple University in Philadelphia, Cosby took a job serving drinks at a local watering hole. Here, he learned how great he was at entertaining his customers and soon found himself interested in stand-up comedy. Cosby began performing at local comedy clubs in the city and eventually moved to NYC. Cosby got his big break when he performed on The Tonight Show in 1963, and was signed by Warner Bros. Records.

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