For some, a job in insurance is a career. For others, it’s a starting point that can open the doors to other opportunities. And for others still, it’s both.
The eight celebrities featured in this slideshow represent all three. From a now-celebrated composer who worked in insurance his whole life and went unnoticed in the music world until after his death, to an Olympic hero who worked in insurance to help fund the training that helped him win, to a Pulitzer-winning poet who declined literary positions to stick with his executive-level job in insurance, these celebrities are all members of the insurance family.
Click “next” to see a countdown of the top eight celebrities who worked in insurance.
8. Mark Burnett
Television producer Mark Burnett is best known as the producer of Survivor and the creator of the Apprentice. But before becoming a TV mogul, Burnett worked odd jobs including a nanny job that eventually led to a spot at an insurance firm owned by the father of the boys he took care of. Burnett left the job after two years in favor of a weekend job selling tee shirts, and eventually went on to produce Survivor after participating in a French adventure competition called the Raid Gauloises.
7. Charles Ives
Despite being one of the first American composers to achieve international renown, Charles Ives’ music was largely ignored and unperformed during his life. But while his works—which would later make a large impact on music in the 20th century—went unplayed, Ives had a prosperous career as the director of a successful insurance agency.
Ives began working with the insurance agency Charles H. Raymond & Co. in 1899 and when the company failed in 1907, he and his friend Julian Myrick formed their own agency, Ives & Co., which later became Ives & Myrick. Ives was an executive at the company until he retired, being responsible for devising creative ways to structure life-insurance packages for people of means, laying the foundation for estate planning.
6. Charles Lane
Long before he appeared in hundreds of films and television shows (including It’s a Wonderful Life and I Love Lucy) portraying his trademark sourpuss scowl, character actor Charles Lane started out as an insurance salesman. Lane left the job and joined the Pasadena Playhouse company in 1928, sparking a career as an unforgettable face that spanned decades.
5. Wallace Stevens
Like a previous artist in the countdown, American Modernist poet Wallace Stevens spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut.
Stevens’ insurance career started with he was hired as a lawyer for the American Bonding Co. After a few years he became the vice president of the New York office of the Equitable Surety Co., and later was named vice president of The Hartford.
Stevens was so dedicated to his role in the insurance industry that after he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955, he declined a faculty position at Harvard because it would have required him to give up his position at Hartford.
4. Anne Rice
Before the days of sparkly, “Twilight” vampires, best-selling gothic author Anne Rice was the queen of undead lit. Her novel Interview with the Vampire was made into a hit film in the ‘90s, sparking a mainstream obsession with the blood-sucking creatures that lives on today.
But early on in her career, Rice worked as an insurance claims processor. After dropping out of school in Texas and moving to San Francisco to find work, Rice found the job and worked in insurance until marrying Stan Rice in 1961 and going on to write her best-sellers.
3. Bruce Jenner
When he won the gold medal for the decathlon in the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics, Bruce Jenner was considered an American hero. A job selling insurance outside of training hours supported Jenner in the years prior to winning at the Olympics while he devoted himself to an intense training regimen.
2. Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy is best known for his military thriller novels, but before throwing caution to the wind and becoming a writer in the 1980s, Clancy was making a living as the owner of the O.F. Bowen Agency, writers of auto, fire and casualty insurance.
Clancy’s wife, Wanda Thomas, was an insurance agency manager when they wed. Clancy followed suit, working at his wife’s grandmother’s company, which he eventually purchased from her.
1. Colonel Sanders
Harland “Colonel” Sanders’ iconic likeness is printed on boxes, bags and advertisements for the fast-food chain he founded. Famous for developing his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices, Colonel Sanders worked a number of jobs before starting the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food chain.
Among those jobs—which included steamboat pilot, railroad fireman and farmer—was insurance salesman, which may have helped him develop his sales strategy for when he began selling chicken dinners out of his service station in Corbin, Kentucky at the age of 40.