The Alternate-Universe Careers of 5 Celebrities

What they could have been doing

They decided to look beyond their lineage
Although these celebrities could have easily stepped into their family businesses, they decided to look beyond their lineage. But here's what they could have been doing...

1. Vincent Price: Candymaker

He may be best known for his legendary horror movies and voice work, but had Vincent Price followed in his family footsteps, his life would have gone much differently. His grandfather, Dr. Vincent C. Price, invented “Dr. Price’s Baking Powder,” the first cream of tartar baking powder. Dr. Price made a fortune from his creation, then lost it all in the economic Panic of 1893. But the family interest in food didn’t stop there. Price’s father, Vincent Leonard Price, Sr., founded the National Candy Company, a St. Louis-based business that supplied sweets and treats to five-and-dime stores across the country.

Vincent Price, Jr. certainly could have stepped up to be an executive in the family business, but knew at a young age that his heart was in acting. However, his foodie lineage never left him entirely. A gourmet chef, Price authored several cookbooks and even hosted his own show, Cooking Price-Wise.

2. Julia Louis-Dreyfus: International Conglomerate CEO

The Veep star doesn’t just come from a rich family—she comes from one of the richest families in the world. In 2006, Forbes estimated that Julia’s father, Gérard Louis-Dreyfus, was worth approximately $3.4 billion. The family fortune began with Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, a French businessman who founded the Louis Dreyfus Group in 1851 by trading grains with nearby farms. Over time, the company eventually expanded into “a global merchandiser of commodities and processor of agricultural goods,” similar to Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland.

3. Carly Simon: Publishing Magnate

You’re no doubt familiar with the publishing house Simon & Schuster. Well, Carly Simon’s dad made up half of that partnership. The story goes that Richard Simon got the idea to launch the company when his aunt, a New York Times crossword devotee, wondered if there was a book of the puzzles she could purchase to give as a gift. Nothing like that existed, so Simon contacted his friend Max Schuster and made it happen. The crossword puzzle book was a bestseller, and Simon & Schuster went on to become one of the “Big Five” publishers in the U.S.

4. Olivia Newton-John: Academic

Long before singer/actress Olivia Newton-John was getting physical, her grandpa was all-physics. (I’m sorry/you’re welcome.) Her maternal grandfather, Max Born, was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who assisted in the development of quantum mechanics. Later in life, her mother translated a book of letters between Born and Albert Einstein. Newton-John's father was no slouch in the academic department, either: Brinley Newton-John was an MI5 officer during WWII, and later served as the headmaster at Cambridge Boys’ Grammar School and a professor at King’s College in Cambridge.

Newton-John has admitted that the world of academics never interested her much, but believes she did inherit the family work ethic. “Poor mum, I gave her such a hard time but I’m very grateful to her that she always pushed me to be the best at what I could and work hard, so I’ve got that in my genes. I just didn’t do any studying.”

5. Nick Kroll: Private Investigator

For a comedian, Nick Kroll comes from a family with a pretty serious line of work. His father, Jules B. Kroll, founded Kroll, Inc., a corporate investigations and cyber security firm. Though his brother, Jeremy, followed in the family footsteps, Nick knew early on that he wasn’t cut out for that particular line of work:

“I worked as an intern at Kroll, Inc. while I was in college in Washington, D.C.,” he told Fortune magazine in 2010. “But I was so incompetent at digging up information—it took me two hours to get a phone number of a guy who worked at Johnson & Johnson—that I thought maybe I shouldn’t be a private investigator after all.”


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