30 Famous People Who Were Kicked Out of School

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Success in school doesn't necessarily equate to success later in life. There are plenty of businesses where other factors take precedence over high school diplomas or college degrees, but perhaps none more visible than show business. Indeed, many of the world's most beloved celebrities have spotty educational histories — even to the point of getting kicked out of school — and the same holds true even for a few of its most prominent entrepreneurs and thinkers.

Charlie Sheen


Charlie Sheen was a star pitcher at Santa Monica High School, where he also developed an interest in film by making Super 8 films with friends including fellow future stars Sean Penn and Rob Lowe. Sheen was never a distinguished student, however, and was expelled mere weeks before graduation due to poor grades and attendance. His acting career began in earnest shortly after, with a role in "Red Dawn" (1984) at age 18.

Salma Hayek


Salma Hayek was born in Veracruz, Mexico, but she was sent to attend the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Louisiana at age 12. She later recalled pulling minor pranks on classmates and sleeping fully dressed atop her premade bed to avoid having to get ready in the mornings. Eventually, she left after one of the nuns warned her, "'You should go now before we kick you out.'"

Harrison Ford


Harrison Ford dropped out of Wisconsin's Ripon College due to bad grades, but not before discovering his passion for acting through a drama class he took in his final year, hoping to overcome his shyness and earn an easy A. "I was terrified to get up in front of people, but I really enjoyed the storytelling part," he recalled later to People.

Ryan Gosling


Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Ryan Gosling was far from the cinematic heartthrob he's known as today. He made few friends as a child and was evaluated for but never diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He was famously suspended for throwing steak knives at school in first grade to emulate Rambo in the film "First Blood," then later dropped out of high school to pursue acting at age 17.

Robert Pattinson


Robert Pattinson was expelled from the Harrodian School in London for stealing and reselling pornographic magazines on campus. The "Twilight" star recalled on "The Howard Stern Show" how he was eventually caught by a store clerk who informed his parents and the school. "A couple days later, everything fell down. Basically every single one of my friends snitched on me … across the board."

Marlon Brando
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"I was a bad student, chronic truant and all-around incorrigible," legendary Hollywood star Marlon Brando later wrote of his high school days in Libertyville, Illinois. Before being expelled in 1941, Brando allegedly rode a motorcycle through the halls, threw firecrackers, and wrote one class essay on a roll of toilet paper. He only moved to New York to pursue acting after also being kicked out of Minnesota's Shattuck Military Academy, for what seemed an enduring disrespect for authority.

Ted Turner


CNN founder and media mogul Ted Turner attended Brown University and majored in the classics, a decision that left his critical father "appalled, even horrified." Turner would later change his major to economics and become vice-president of the Brown Debating Unit, before being expelled for having a woman in his dorm.

Humphrey Bogart
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Before he became a smooth-talking, hard-edged icon of Old Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart was a wealthy yet sullen child with little interest in school or classmates, who mocked his pampered appearance and lack of athleticism. He was sent to Phillips Academy in 1917 but got expelled after one year — allegedly for throwing the headmaster into an on-campus pond — and subsequently enlisted in the Navy.

Cary Grant
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Screwball comedy star and the debonair-est of debonair leading men, Cary Grant had a passion for theatrics even as a young student at Bristol's Fairfield Grammar School, running away briefly to join a travelling comedy troupe. His father brought him back to attend school, but Grant was expelled anyway soon after for climbing into the girls' lavatories.

Amy Winehouse
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Amy Winehouse was accepted to London's Sylvia Young Theatre School at age 12, where she honed her performance skills and vocal abilities for the next several years. She was expelled at 16 for piercing her nose and general apathy for schoolwork, but received a break the same year when her friend and pop singer Tyler James gave her demo tape to A&R Recording.

Benito Mussolini
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Before he was Italy's Il Duce, Benito Mussolini was a defiant bully who was suspended from several schools for violent outbursts, including stabbing another student in the hand and throwing an inkpot at a disciplinary Catholic priest. Despite these difficulties, the future-fascist dictator briefly worked as a schoolmaster, when he was unsurprisingly notorious for being stern.

Salvador Dali
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Though he won praise for his distinct paintings while attending Madrid's Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, pioneering surrealist Salvador Dali was never fond of the faculty, writing, "I immediately understood that those old professors covered with honors and decorations could teach me nothing." He was first suspended for leading a protest against the faculty selection process, then expelled permanently upon claiming his professors weren't good enough to evaluate his work.

Ted Kennedy
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Ted Kennedy, who served in the U.S. Senate for over 40 years before his death in 2009, followed in the footsteps of his esteemed father and older brothers by attending Harvard University. To remain eligible for athletics despite his lacking grades, Kennedy hired a classmate to take a Spanish exam in his stead, but was caught and expelled almost immediately — an offense he unsuccessfully tried to keep under wraps during his initial Senate run in 1962.

Snoop Dogg


Calvin Broadus Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, had his run-ins with the law as a young teen in Long Beach, California, but the incident that got him expelled occurred while he was a student at Lakewood's Cleveland Elementary School. Snoop was kicked out for exposing himself to a female classmate in the lunch line.

Owen Wilson


"Wedding Crashers" and "Cars" star Owen Wilson has supplemented his acting with acclaimed screenwriting efforts — often collaborating with director Wes Anderson — but that doesn't mean he was a good student growing up. He was expelled as a 10th grader from St. Mark's Prep School in Dallas for stealing a geometry teacher's textbook to obtain test answers, and then sent by his parents to the New Mexico Military Institute.

Willem Dafoe


Willem Dafoe was suspended from Appleton High School in Wisconsin for making what his parents and teachers considered "pornography." As the actor explained on a recent "Late Show" appearance, he had actually filmed interviews with three classmates respectively interested in nudism, marijuana, and Satanism, before a teacher discovered the unedited footage. "I went down to the principal and my parents are there and said, 'Oh, Willy, you're making pornography!' ... I said, 'This is far too complicated,' so I left town and I slept on a friend's couch in Milwaukee and started to go to [Lawrence] University."

Keanu Reeves


Keanu Reeves attended four high schools in five years, thanks to the frequent moves he made with his mother throughout his early life. Reeves was even expelled from Toronto's Etobicoke School of the Arts despite his acting talents, and explained the reasons thusly: "I was one of those 'Why?' kids — I asked too many questions about everything."

John Lennon
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Beatle John Lennon was notoriously troubled as a child, and his disciplinary problems at school continued into his time at the Liverpool College of Art, where he cheekily misinterpreted assignments and once leapt into the lap of a nude model. He failed his exams despite help from fellow student and future-wife Cynthia Powell and was kicked out of the college before his final year.

50 Cent


Raised by his grandparents in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, Curtis James Jackson III began dealing crack cocaine at age 12. He was later arrested and expelled from high school in 10th grade for selling to an undercover police officer, and served only six months in a boot camp, where he earned his GED.

Richard Branson


The founder of Virgin Records and one of the world's most well-known entrepreneurs, Richard Branson had less success in school, nearly failing out of England's Scaitcliffe School at age 13. After transferring to Stowe School where his poor academic performance continued, Branson dropped out and began publishing a youth culture magazine that earned $8,000 through advertising in its first edition.

Jon Bon Jovi
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Jon Bon Jovi (then Bongiovi) frequently ditched classes to concentrate on musical pursuits as a teen, but truancy wasn't the cause of his eventual expulsion from Catholic school. Instead, the '80s hair rocker was expelled for allegedly slapping a female classmate.



English pop singer Adele was actually kicked out of school for only a week, but the reason why is too bizarre not to include. She was at the time obsessed with Will Young, winning contestant from the UK TV show "Pop Idol," and got suspended for picking a fight with a classmate who preferred the first season's runner-up, Gareth Gates.

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The wildly successful rapper Eminem has been very open about his troubled upbringing and homelife in a predominantly black neighborhood of Detroit, which may have contributed to his academic struggles as well. The young Marshall Mathers was made to repeat the ninth grade at Lincoln High School three times before dropping out.

Eric Clapton
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At the age of 16, Eric Clapton was accepted to Kingston College of Art for a one-year probationary period, during which time he preferred drinking liquor and playing blues guitar to completing assignments. "Even when you got to art school, it wasn't just a rock 'n' roll holiday camp," Clapton recalled. "I got thrown out after a year for not doing any work. That was a real shock. I was always in the pub or playing the guitar."

Samuel L. Jackson
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As strange as it sounds, "Pulp Fiction" star Samuel L. Jackson was once arrested for holding Martin Luther King Jr.'s father hostage. In 1969, he and a group of other radical students at the predominantly black Morehouse College held King and the rest of the board of trustees hostage, demanding curriculum changes and more blacks on the college's governing board. Morehouse acquiesced, but Jackson was still suspended from the college for two years before obtaining his degree.

R. Buckminster Fuller
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Architect and former world president of Mensa, Richard Buckminster Fuller is best known today for inventing the geodesic dome as well as the technological principle of ephemeralization. Despite his noted intellectual capabilities, he was expelled from Harvard University not once but twice for bad behavior — first, for partying with a vaudeville troupe, then for simple "irresponsibility and lack of interest."

William Randolph Hearst
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Newspaper mogul, sensationalist, and "Citizen Kane" inspiration William Randolph Hearst also happened to be one of the most misbehaved students in Harvard University's class of 1885. Among his antics were hosting massive beer parties, keeping a pet alligator, throwing custard pies at a Boston Theater performance, leaving a donkey in a teacher's classroom with the note "now there are two of you," and finally, sending professors chamber pots engraved with their photographs.

Edgar Allan Poe
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American poet and author Edgar Allan Poe left the University of Virginia to relieve his debts from drinking and gambling, and later enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After a falling out with his father and reluctant provider John Allan, Poe tried to get himself kicked out and succeeded by going to the local bar in lieu of classes, racking up more than 200 offenses before being dismissed in 1831.

Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Though never popular in his lifetime, Percy Bysshe Shelley is now regarded as one of the finest and most influential of English romantic poets. His sometimes risqué and heretical works sometimes ran afoul of his instructors at Eton College and then Oxford, where he was punished with expulsion for co-authoring a pamphlet titled "The Necessity of Atheism."

Albert Einstein
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"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school," Einstein once quipped. As a child, he was thought to be mentally handicapped by some teachers due to difficulties with language, and as a teen, he was already seeking to leave his Munich's Luitpold Gymnasium when they expelled him instead. The school is today known as the Albert Einstein Gymnasium.