Famous failures

Friday, December 7, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CST; updated 3:17 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feeling down or discouraged during this holiday season? Consider these “famous failures,” which put a face on the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

  • Harry S. Truman was rejected from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis due to his poor eyesight. He worked as a clerk in the mailroom of the Kansas City Star and had a job as a movie theater usher. He also co-owned a haberdashery in Kansas City, but was forced out of business by the Depression.
  • Julia Child graduated from Smith College with a C average.
  • Meriwether Lewis, a protégé of Thomas Jefferson, volunteered at age 18 to lead a 1792 expedition up the Missouri River and down the Columbia River, but he was rejected.
  • Jennifer Aniston auditioned to be a cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” but didn’t make the cut.
  • Salvador Dali was expelled from the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, Spain, for refusing to let his professors critique his paintings.
  • Matt Damon dropped out of Harvard University 12 credits short of earning his degree.
  • Nicole Kidman was nicknamed “Storky” in school because of her height, and no one asked her to dance at her first school dance.
  • Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as an on-air evening news anchor on WJZ-TV in Baltimore and was told that she wasn’t fit for television.
  • Fred Astaire’s first screen test report read: “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”

Source: “Famous Failures” by Joey Green

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