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.
David Baazov, multimillionaire CEO of PokerStars and Cadillac Jack. Bored at school, he dropped out at the age of 16. After telling his parents he was through with school, they kicked him out of their house. He later reconciled with them but he did not go back to school.
Jimmy Santiago Baca, poet, activist, and filmmaker. At a young age, he ran away from the orphanage and lived on the streets, spending some time in juvenile detention centers. Before he was imprisoned for seven years for a narcotics conviction (a charge he’s denied), he was functionally illiterate. During his time in prison, he taught himself to read and write, eventually earning a GED. Baca has written ten books of poetry, a memoir, a book of essays, a book of short stories, a play, and a screenplay for the 1993 film Bound by Honor.
Kevin Bacon, actor, singer, songwriter. He is a high school dropout. At the age of 17, he moved to New York City to pursue a career as an actor. As he noted in an interview in Elle magazine, dating older women “was the closest thing I had to a college education. I will always be grateful.”
Penn Badgley, actor. He passed his high school proficiency exam at the age of 13. He has not attended college.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were Dropouts, including Kevin Bacon, Penn Badgley, Pearl Bailey, Josephine Baker, Mickey Baker William Baldwin, Lucille Ball Click To Tweet
Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, multimillionaire co-founder of Vera Bradley handbag and apparel company. She left college two credits shy of a bachelor’s degree.
Arthur Baer, journalist, cartoonist, and humorist. He left school at the age of 14 to work, then attended art school, and designed lace before joining the army and finally becoming a journalist.
Pearl Bailey, singer, actress. She dropped out of high school.
Josephine Baker, singer, actress, dancer. She was a high school dropout.
Mickey Baker, rhythm and blues guitarist. He fled home at the age of 15 by riding the rails to New York City where he worked many odd jobs while learning to play the guitar. He did not finish high school.
Ireland Basinger Baldwin, model, actress. She left Sierra Canyon School to be homeschooled. She has not yet attended college.
William Baldwin, actor. He attended George Washington University for three years. He then transferred to New York University but dropped out to take an acting job on a network soap opera.
Lucille Ball, actress, comedienne, producer, co-founder of Desilu Studios. She later bought out her husband’s share to become the first woman to own and run a production studio. She dropped out of high school.
Steve Ballesteros, golfer. He turned pro at the age of 16. He did not attend college.
Steve Ballmer, billionaire former chairman of Microsoft. He graduated from college, but dropped out of the Stanford MBA program to join Microsoft.
Jolene Blalock, actress and model. She left home at the age of 15 to pursue a modeling career in Asia and Europe. Her most successful role was as Commander T’Pol of Star Trek: Enterprise.
Hubert Howe Bancroft, historian, bookseller. He was a high school dropout.
Tallulah Bankhead, actress. At the age of 15, she won a magazine beauty contest and eventually persuaded her father to let her go to New York City to pursue an acting career. She never attended college.
Azealia Banks, singer. She dropped out of high school. Her song 212 was viewed by more than 7 million people on YouTube.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were Dropouts, including Tallulah Bankhead, Azealia Banks, Tyra Banks, Ernie Banks, Dean Baquet, Brigitte Bardot, Roseanne Barr, Fantasia Barrino Click To Tweet
Ernie Banks, baseball player, Mr. Cub. He never attended college. He began playing semi-pro baseball between his sophomore and junior years in high school. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he was offered a pro contract as the first black player for the Chicago Cubs.
Tyra Banks, supermodel, actress, TV host, and TV producer. She was all set to attend Loyola Marymount University but deferred college when she received an offer to be a model in Paris, France. While she never finished college, she did graduate from a program at the Harvard Business School.
Dean Baquet, Executive Editor, The New York Times. He is a college dropout.
Brigitte Bardot, actress, model, author, animal rights activist. She was a high school dropout.
Etta Moten Barnett, singer, actress. She dropped out of high school to get married, but six years later attended and graduated from the University of Kansas.
Ronald Baron, billionaire money manager, founder of Baron Capital. He dropped out of George Washington University law school to pursue a career on Wall Street.
Roseanne Barr, actress, comedienne, producer, director. She is a high school dropout.
Fantasia Barrino, singer, actress, American Idol winner, reality TV star. She dropped out of high school, but finally earned her GED in 2010.
Drew Barrymore, actress, producer, and director. She was a high school dropout and has never attended college.
John Bartlett, author and publisher, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. He did not attend college, but ended up owning the University Bookstore at Harvard University.
John Barrowman, actor. He dropped out of the United States International University in San Diego six months before graduating. As he noted: I’ve learned more by doing than any teacher could teach me.
Donald Barthelme, bestselling short story author, college professor, museum director, newspaper reporter. Although he continued to take classes at the University of Houston after serving in the army, he never received a degree.
After experimenting with college, journalism, and marriage in Houston, he got sick of the provinces and lit out for New York City at 31 (Time magazine).
Bill Bartman, billionaire businessman, author. He was a high school dropout.
Tianna Madison Bartoletta, track and field star. She dropped out of the University of Tennessee one semester before graduating. She has not yet returned to complete college.
Count Basie, bandleader, pianist. He dropped out of high school.
Benjamin Bass, bookseller, founder of the Strand bookstore. He attended Columbia University for a time, but did not have enough money to finish his degree. So he learned everything from reading.
Florence Knoll Bassett, workplace furniture designer, Knoll Associates. She studied with leading architects in the U.S. and Europe, but never graduated from college.
M.L. Bassett, director. She dropped out school at the age of 15 to become an assistant to a wildlife filmmaker. She never graduated from high school.
Shirley Bassey, singer, author. She was a high school dropout.
Eike Batista, billionaire mining executive. He studied metallurgy at the University of Aachen, Germany., but dropped out of college before graduating. He is now one of the 10 richest men in the world.
Joesley Batista, chairman of JBS SA, the world’s largest meat producer. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to manage a family-owned slaughterhouse.
José Batista, former CEO of JBS SA, the world’s largest meat producer. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to manage a family-owned slaughterhouse.
Wesley Mendonça Batista, CEO of JBS SA, the world’s largest meat producer. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to manage a family-owned slaughterhouse.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were Dropouts, including Drew Barrymore, John Bartlett, Count Basie, Shirley Bassey, Meredith Baxter, Andrew Beal, Billy Beane, Warren Beatty Click To Tweet
Heinz-Georg Baus, billionaire founder of the German home-improvement retail chain Bauhaus AG. He was a carpenter before opening his first home improvement store.
Meredith Baxter, actress. She never attended college.
Andrew Beal, billionaire banker and real estate investor. He dropped out of Michigan State when he was 20 to rehab and flip apartment buildings. He later founded Beal Bank, a Texas bank with $7.4 billion in assets.
Orson Bean, née Dallas Frederick Burrows, actor and game show panelist. After his mother commit suicide when he was 16, he left home to begin working in small comedy clubs.
Billy Beane, baseball player, general manager, and statistician. He turned down a scholarship to Stanford to play as a professional baseball player.
Warren Beatty, Oscar-winning director, actor, producer, and screenwriter. He dropped out of Northwestern University after his freshman year to attend Stella Adler’s Conservatory of Acting (supporting himself as a piano player and construction worker). Beatty is one of the few people ever to receive Oscar nominations in the Best Picture (producer), Actor, Director, and Writer categories from a single film (he did it twice for Heaven Can Wait and Reds).
Bob Beaumont, inventor of the CitiCar electric car, He served in the Air Force and briefly studied business afterwards.
T. Bubba Bechtol, comedian and radio show host. Transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi his junior year but left soon thereafter. As he notes, “There was one course I was looking for that wasn’t in the curriculum catalog: How to Make Money. So I left.” Nonetheless, he was inducted into the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Hall of Fame in 2005.
Beck, see Beck Hansen.
Glenn Beck, radio and TV political commentator, bestselling book author. He enrolled at Yale University for one class but quickly dropped out because he “spent more time trying to find a parking space” than in class.
I am not anti-college…. There is such a thing as getting an education other than through the gates of a university that are charging our children $100,000 to $150,000 to $250,000 just to be able to have a certificate that doesn’t necessarily mean anything to them…. I’m not anti-education. I am anti-massive debt. I am anti-giving our children’s souls over to these universities.
Boris Becker, tennis player. He did not complete high school or attend college.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including Glenn Beck, Boris Becker, Kate Beckinsale, Natasha Bedingfeld, Art Bell, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Brian Benben Click To Tweet
Kate Beckinsale, actress. She dropped out of Oxford University after three years to pursue her acting career.
Natasha Bedingfield, singer. She dropped out of college after her freshman year to pursue a music career. Her Unwritten album debuted at #1 in England.
Jason Behr, actor. After he graduated from Richfield Senior High School, he soon moved to California to act in commercials and eventually on TV and movies. He is best known for acting in the Roswell TV series. He never attended college.
Anne Beiler, multimillionaire co-founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels restaurants. She is a high school dropout.
Art Bell, radio talk-show host, author. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the U.S. Air Force.
Larry Bell, owner of L.E. Bell Construction. He dropped out of high school to work as a laborer on an oil pipeline.
Jean-Paul Belmondo, actor. He did not do well in school. He is a high school dropout.
Brian Benben, actor. He started acting in off-off Broadway at 17. He attended Ulster County Community College for two years, but did not graduate from college.
André Benjamin, aka André 3000, rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, member of OutKast. He dropped out of high school but later earned a high school equivalency degree.
Rene Benko, billionaire founder of Signa real estate investing company. He had so much fun working for a real estate developer that he missed too many high school classes—so many, in fact, that he wasn’t eligible to graduate. He has never attended college.
Tony Bennett, aka Anthony Benedetto, singer, artist. He attended New York City’s High School of Industrial Art but dropped out at the age of 16 to support his family.
Jack Benny, actor, comedian, violinist. He dropped out of high school.
Robert Bergman, portrait photographer. He dropped out of the University of Minnesota.
Irving Berlin, Oscar-winning songwriter, composer. When his father died when he was 8 years old, he had to work to survive. He wrote such long-lasting hits as God Bless America, White Christmas, There’s No Business Like Show Business, etc.
Carl Bernstein, Watergate reporter, Washington Post. He never finished college. He started as a copy boy at the Washington Star at the age of 16.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including André 3000, Tony Bennett, Jack Benny, Irving Berlin, Carl Bernstein, Yogi Berra, Chuck Berry, Halle Berry Click To Tweet
Yogi Berra, baseball player, coach, and manager. He quit school in the eighth grade.
Claude Berri, Oscar-winning French director, actor, screenwriter, and producer. He was a high school dropout.
Chuck Berry, rock singer. He left high school in the 11th grade. He eventually received a high school equivalency degree at the age of 37. He attended cosmetology school for awhile when younger.
Halle Berry, Oscar-winning actress. After high school, she moved to Chicago to pursue a career in modeling. She has not attended college.
Patrizio Bertelli, billionaire co-founder of the Prada fashion house. He dropped of engineering school to produce leather belts and handbags.
Luc Besson, director, screenwriter, and producer. He dropped out of high school, left home, and went to Paris, France to work in the movie industry.
Swami Bhaktipada, see Keith Gordon Ham.
Manoj Bhargava, billionaire founder of 5-Hour Energy. He dropped out of Princeton University and returned to India to spend 12 years as a monk. He later developed the formula that made him rich.
Jessica Biel, actress. She attended Tufts University for about a year and a half.
In an interview in Glamour magazine, she said that leaving college was one the toughest choices she ever made: “I do still have a desire, a pang in my heart, when I think about it and the fact that I didn’t spend my four years with my friends.”
Michael Connell Biehn, actor. He attended the University of Arizona for two years before dropping out to pursue acting in Hollywood.
Steve Bing, multi-millionaire screenwriter and movie financier. He dropped out of Stanford University to write for the Missing in Action trilogy.
Joey Bishop, actor, comedian. He never finished high school.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including Luc Besson, Jessica Biel, Joey Bishop, Clint Black, Karen Black, Robert Bisson, Jayson Blair Click To Tweet
William Bishop, actor. He enrolled at West Virginia University but got involved in summer theater and left college to tour with a Tobacco Road theater production. He later went to Hollywood and signed an MGM contract. After serving in the Army during World War II, he signed on with Columbia before freelancing as an actor.
Elliott Bisnow, cofounder of the Summit Series. He left the University of Wisconsin to co-found a newsletter company with his father.
Robert Bisson, founder, EarthWater Global. He had about four years of college spread over seven universities, but he never earned an undergraduate degree.
Clint Black, Grammy-winning country singer, songwriter, record producer, actor. He dropped out of Stratford High School in Houston, Texas to play in his brother’s band.
Karen Black, actress, screenwriter, producer, singer, songwriter. She left high school to get married. She soon divorced and entered Northwestern University at the age of 16. She left college at the age of 17 to pursue an acting career in New York City.
Narvel Blackstock, guitarist, music manager. He dropped out of high school in the 11th grade.
Jayson Blair, newspaper reporter who fabricated and plagiarized news stories. He did not graduate from college.
Timothy Blair, stock investor. A dyslexic, he dropped out of high school at the age of 16, borrowed $3,000 from his father, and turned it into a $26 million investment portfolio.
Dan Blake, co-founder of EcoScraps. He dropped out of Brigham Young University to pursue his composting business.
Norman Blake, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He did not finish high school.
William Blake, poet, artist. He never attended school because he was educated at home by his mother.
Bobby “Blue” Bland, blues singer. He dropped out of high school and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, to sing in a gospel group.
Hal Blaine, drummer. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he toured with various pop singers and then became one of the top session drummers in Los Angeles. He never attended college.
Barbara Jean Blank, aka Kelly Kelly, model, wrestler, wrestling diva. She dropped out of college to become a wrestling diva.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, video gamer. As soon as he was making $70,000 per year video gaming, he dropped out of Silver Lake College to stream full-time.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including William Blake, Mary J Blige, Orlando Bloom, Charles Bluhdorn, Kate Bock, Humphrey Bogart Click To Tweet
Mary J. Blige, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade.
Timonthy Blixseth, billionaire founder of Yellowstone Club. He skipped college and failed as a professional songwriter. He made his first fortune as a timberland investor. At the age of 15, he bought three donkeys for $75 and resold them a week later as pack mules.
Orlando Bloom, actor. He left high school at the age of 16 to study acting. Later won a scholarship to the British American Dramatic Academy.
Charles Bluhdorn, multimillionaire creator of the Gulf & Western conglomerate. He dropped out of Columbia University.
Brendan Blumer, CEO of Block One. He has never attended college.
Zak Boca, co-founder of SingleHop, a web hosting company. He dropped out of college during the first year to work on his first web hosting company, MidPhase.
Kate Bock, model. After high school, she went to France to become a model.
Travis Boersma, cofounder and CEO of Dutch Bros. coffee shops. He dropped out of Southern Oregon State College after his sophomore year.
Humphrey Bogart, Oscar-winning actor. He flunked out of prep school at Andover. He never attended college.
Peter Bogdanovich, director, screenwriter, actor, author. He dropped out of high school and began studying acting with Stella Adler when he was only 16.
Corinne Bohrer, actress and model. She studied journalism at the University of Texas at Arlington but never graduated. She still does lots of commercials as an actress.
Michael Bolton, Grammy-winning singer, songwriter. He was a high school dropout.
William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, aka Henry McCarty, outlaw legend. Orphaned as a teenager, he never finished high school.
Cher Bono, see Cherilyn Sarkisian (under S).
Sonny Bono, singer, actor, songwriter, U.S. congressman. He dropped out of high school.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including Billy the Kid, Peter Bogdanovich, Sonny Bono, Daniel Boone, Bjorn Borg, Ernest Borgnine Click To Tweet
Daniel Boone, explorer, frontier leader. He was home schooled.
Jeff Booth, real estate investor and founder of BuildDirect.com. He dropped out of the University of British Columbia and soon made his first million flipping homes in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Scott Borchetta, musician, music promoter. He did not attend college.
Bjorn Borg, tennis player. He joined the professional tennis circuit when he was 14. He never finished high school or attended college.
Ernest Borgnine, actor. He joined the navy when he was 18, then served in World War II. He began acting after he returned from the war. He did not attend college.
Kate Bosworth, actress. She was accepted by Princeton University but she has deferred going to college to continue acting.
Alain Bouchard, billionaire co-founder of Alimentation Couche-Tard convenience store chain (including the Circle K stores in the U.S.). He never attended college. He began working at the age of 19 in one of his brother’s stores.
Clara Bow, actress. She dropped out of college to become an actress.
David Bowie, singer, songwriter, actor, record producer. He sold 136 million records. He may not have graduated from high school. He did not attend college.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including Kate Bosworth, Clara Bow, David Bowie, Ray Bradbury, Russell Brand, Marlon Brando, Stan Brakhage Click To Tweet
Boy George, see George Alan O’Dowd.
John Boyega, actor. He dropped out of the University of Greenwich in England after he saw a movie scene shooting outside of his college classroom window—an explosion for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. He dropped of college that day to become an actor.
I thought God sent the whole film set right here. He sent a film that I would love to star in, that I’d love to be a part of. I never went back. — John Boyega
Christopher John Boyle. See Chris Cornell.
Ray Bradbury, award-winning science fiction author. He never went to college because his parents couldn’t afford to send him. So he sold newspapers on Los Angeles street corners during the day and educated himself at libraries at night. “I never went to college. I went to the library.” He graduated from the library at the age of 28.
Harold Bradley, country music guitarist and session musician. By the time he was in high school, he was playing for Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours band. Soon he was playing as a session musician on such hits as “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy,” “Crazy,” “Battle of New Orleans,” “Crying,” “Stand by Your Man,” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” He never went to college.
Stan Brakhage, experimental filmmaker. He dropped out of Dartmouth College after a few months to make films.
Michelle Branch, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter. She left home in the middle of her high school years (she did not graduate). Pursuing a music career, she wrote and performed her first major label album at the age of 17.
Russell Brand, comedian and actor. After high school, he attended two drama schools in London but got kicked out of both of them.
Marlon Brando Jr., Oscar-winning actor. He was expelled from Libertyville High School for riding his motorcycle through the school. He later attended Shattuck Military Academy but was also expelled from there. He was eventually invited to come back, but he decided not to finish school.
Buck Brannaman, horse whisperer, rancher. At the age of 17 he began working with the great horseman Ray Hunt. He did not attend college. He was the inspiration for Robert Redford’s movie The Horse Whisperer.
Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Music, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and other Virgin enterprises, balloonist. He left Stowe School when he was 16. He never attended college.
Eva Braun, girlfriend of Adolf Hitler. She did not graduate from high school.
Ralph Braun, founder of BraunAbility, inventor of battery-powered scooters and wheelchair lifts. He attended college at Indiana State for a year, but dropped out.
Jacques Brel, Belgium singer, songwriter, actor, and director. He did not finish high school. He never attended college.
Neal Brennan, comedian. He spent a half year at the New York University Film School before landing a job at a comedy club.
Jimmy Breslin, journalist and bestselling book author. He attended Long Island University for awhile but never graduated.
Ryan Breslow, billionaire co-founder of Bolt. He dropped out of Stanford University to build Bolt after his co-founder lost interest, his grandfather died, and his mother was diagnosed with cancer.
Jeff Bridges, Oscar-winning actor, singer. He joined the Coast Guard Reserve rather than attending college.
Sergey Brin, billionaire co-founder of Google. He dropped out of Stanford’s Ph.D. program in computer science to start Google in 1998 working out of a friend’s garage. He eventually finished the Ph.D. program so at this point he’s no longer a college dropout.
Christie Brinkley, aka Christie Lee Hudson, model, actress, political activist. After graduating from high school in Los Angeles, she moved to the Left Bank of Paris, France.
Gabriel Bristol, founder of Intelicare Direct call center business. He dropped out of high school after a bullying incident. Later he started rooming with a friend who got him a job in a call center and fell in love with the work.
Joseph Brodsky, Nobel prize-winning Russian poet and essayist, Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 1991 to 1992. He left school at the age of 15 and tried to enter the School of Submariners, but was not accepted.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including Jeff Bridges, Christine Brinkley, Josh Brolin, Charles Bronson, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Joseph Brodsky Click To Tweet
Josh Brolin, actor. He moved to Venice, California at the age of 17 to pursue a career as an actor.
Edgar Bronfman Jr., billionaire heir to the Seagram liquor fortune. He skipped college to pursue a career as a songwriter and movie producer, but soon began running the Seagram corporation.
Charles Bronson, actor. He was 10 when his father died, so he went to work in the coal mines to help support his family. He never attended college.
Gary Brooker, singer, songwriter, founder of Procol Harum rock band. He did not finish high school.
Louise Brooks, actress, dancer, model, showgirl. She began dancing at the age of 16. She never finished high school.
Pierce Brosnan, actor. He left school in England at the age of 15 to draw and paint. He also did odd jobs like washing dishes, cleaning houses, and driving a cab. But, as he noted, “Once I found the world of theater, I was off to the races!”
Helen Gurley Brown, author, copywriter, and editor. She studied briefly at Texas State College for Women before money ran out and she had to drop out. She returned to Los Angeles to finish business school and start working as a secretary. She then went on to become the highest-paid woman in advertising on the West Coast. When her first book, Sex and the Single Girl, became a bestseller, she soon was offered the editorship of Cosmopolitan, where she remained for 32 years.
Herbert Brown, Nobel Prize-winning chemist. He dropped out of high school to support his family. He later return to school and graduated from high school and college.
James Joseph Brown, mining engineer, husband of Unsinkable Molly Brown. He was self-educated.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including Pierce Brosnan, Helen Gurley Brown, Molly Brown, Jack Bruce, Carla Bruni, Joy Bryant Click To Tweet
Kane Brown, country singer and songwriter. He never attended college.
Margaret “Molly” Brown, socialite, philanthropist, social activist, survivor of the Titanic. She was a high school dropout.
V. V. Brown, singer. After attending a top-line prep school, she left England at the age of 18 to got to Los Angeles to make an album. She later returned to England but never went to college.
Jack Bruce, singer, songwriter, and bassist. He dropped out of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music at the age of 17 to play with a number of different bands (Graham Bond Organization, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Manfred Mann, and Cream).
Carla Bruni, folk singer, songwriter, model, and first lady of France. After graduating from high school, she went to Paris to study art and architecture but left school at the age of 19 to pursue modeling.
Aaron Bruno, singer, songwriter, member of AWOLNATION rock band. He dropped out of Moorpark Community College after taking two classes. His Sail became the second-longest-charting song in Billboard Hot 100 history.
Joy Bryant, model, singer, surfer, snowboarder. She dropped out of Yale University to become a Victoria’s Secret model and, later, the face of CoverGirl.
Bill Buckner, baseball All-Star player. He never attended college. He was famous for an error he made in the 1986 World Series that cost the Boston Red Sox the sixth game of the series.
Bebe Buell, singer. She did not go to college. Instead she went to New York City to become a model but instead became a singer and rock star paramour (and mother of actress Liv Tyler).
Peter Buffett, musician, author, son of Warren Buffett. He dropped out of Stanford University to make music.
When I turned 19, I received my inheritance. … My inheritance came to me around the time I was finally committing to the pursuit of a career in music. … I decided to leave Stanford and use my inheritance to buy the time it would take to figure out if I could make a go of it in music.
Warren Buffett, billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. He dropped out of the University of Pennsylvania after two years. But later he did get his bachelor’s degree and MBA.
Gisele Caroline Bündchen, Brazilian multimillionaire supermodel. She is a high school dropout. She left home at the age of 14 to begin her modeling career. She moved to New York City at the age of 16 to continue her career as a model.
Reading things is so important to me—things that can open up your mind. You need to feed your mind. — Gisele Bündchen
Chuck Bundrant, billionaire co-founder of Trident Seafoods. At the age of 19, he drove from Tennessee to Seattle to start work as a fisherman.
Julie Burchill, journalist, author. She dropped out of school at 17 to write for the New Musical Express in England. Soon after that she wrote a novel filled with sex (based on her experience in the British music scene).
Horace “Corky” Burger, concert promoter. He dropped out of college to start up a concert production company with Harvey Weinstein.
Stuart Burguiere, radio talk show host, producer. He slacked his way through high school and did not attend college. Here’s what he has to say about college:
We’re damning our children to hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Before they work a day in their life—and they spend over half the time there in recreation. It’s insanity.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including Warren Buffett, Stuart Burguiere, Gisele Bündchen, Solomon Burke, Ronald Burkle, Mark Burnett Click To Tweet
Solomon Burke, singer, the King of Rock and Roll, preacher, actor, entrepreneur. He never attended college.
Ronald Burkle, billionaire supermarket owner and investor, Yucaipa. He dropped out of California State Polytechnic University and returned home to work in a Stater Brothers grocery store. He had started early stocking shelves and joined the local union as a box boy at age 13.
Mark Burnett, TV producer, Survivor and other reality shows. He joined the British Army at the age of 17. He never attended college.
Abner Burnett, singer, guitarist. He dropped out of high school but later earned an equivalency diploma.
Bo Burnham, singer, songwriter, actor, screenwriter, director, stand-up comedian. He skipped college to do stand-up comedy.
George Burns, Oscar-winning actor, comedian. He was an elementary school dropout.
Pete Burns, singer, songwriter, member of Dead or Alive rock band, reality TV star. He was an elementary school dropout.
Ellen Burnstyn, Oscar-winning actress. She dropped out of high school.
Raymond Burr, actor. He dropped out of high school.
Hilarie Burton, actress. After high school, she moved to New York City to work as a veejay on MTV. She later won the role of Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill.
Barbara Bush, nee Barbara Pierce, U.S. first lady. She dropped out of Smith College at the age of 19.
Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum (Ether currency). He dropped out of the University of Waterloo during his freshman year.
Brett Butler, actress. She dropped out of the University of George to focus full-time on her career as a comic and actress.
Mark Butler, multimillionaire CEO and co-founder of Ollie’s Bargain Outlets. He skipped going to college to found Ollie’s with three other people.
Terry Butters, singer, pianist. He was a high school dropout.Famous, Rich, and Successful People Who Were High School or College Dropouts, including George Burns, Ellen Burnstyn, Raymond Burr, Barbara Bush, Terry Butters, David Byrne, Rose Byrne Click To Tweet
Robert Byrd, U.S. senator. He graduated from high school but could not afford to attend college.
David Byrne, singer and songwriter, member of Talking Heads rock band. He dropped out of the Rhode Island School of Design after one year to form the Talking Heads. He also attended the Maryland Institute College of Art for one year only.
Rose Byrne, actress. She started taking acting classes at the age of 8. She got her first big acting break at the age of 18. She has not yet attended college.
James Francis Byrnes, U.S. representative, U.S. senator, Supreme Court justice, U.S. secretary of state, South Carolina governor. At the age of 14, he left St. Patrick’s Catholic school to apprentice in a law office. He never attended college or law school.
If you know of any other famous, successful, or rich people who did not graduate from high school and/or college, please comment below. Thanks!
More: The College Dropouts Hall of Fame