10 Celebrities Who Got Their Start On ‘Star Search’


Back in the day, there were plenty of celebrities who went on Star Search in hopes of kickstarting their careers. The show searched for all kinds of talent from singing, to dancing, and even comedy. Some of the most famous celebrities have appeared on the show, and thanks to a place where anyone and everyone could showcase their talents, plenty of careers were made.

Believe it or not, even though there have been plenty of stars who have gone on Star Search, many of them didn’t win, which seems like a surprise considering they’re rich and famous today. Digging through the archives you’d find people like Usher, Alanis Morissette, and LeAnn Rimes. All of these careers were launched thanks to Star Search.

10 Drew Carey

Before he was the host of The Price Is Right, Drew Carey had to get his start somewhere. He decided that he was going to give Star Search a shot in 1988 where he performed a stand-up comedy routine. Like many other celebrities who have competed on the show, Drew didn’t win. He lost to a comedian named Joe Yannetty. Despite not winning, we all know that Drew Carey went on to have a very successful career as a comedian, actor, and game show host.

9 Aaliyah

We all know that Aaliyah tragically died way too early when she was in a plane crash back in 2001, however, before her terrible passing, she was one of the biggest singers at the time, and he music still lives on today. Aaliyah decided to get her career started back in 1989 when she appeared on Star Search. The judges enjoyed Aaliyah’s performance of “My Funny Valentine,” and she was able to beat the returning champion and move on. Aaliyah would then go on to have a very successful music career before her untimely death in 2001.

8 Billy Porter

Many people might not realize that actor and performer Billy Porter got his start on an episode of Star Search. While on the show, Billy sang, and the judges absolutely loved him. Billy even revealed that he appeared on the same episode that Britney Spears was also on. Billy gave his performance his all, and he did so well that he actually wound up winning, and he was able to take home $100,000.

Billy appeared on the show back in 1991 and was just 22 years old at the time. He revealed that even though he won $100,000, he only got $44,000 after taxes, and he used that money to get his teeth redone, which is how he has a beautiful smile today, and how he got his career up and running to where he is today.

7 LeAnn Rimes

LeAnn Rimes was the youngest singer to win a Grammy for Best New Artist when she was just 14 years old back in 1996. If it wasn’t for her decision to go on Star Search back in 1990, LeAnn probably wouldn’t have won that Grammy. She appeared on the show back in 1990 when she was just 8 years old. She sang “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me,” and gave an amazing performance that was so good, that the judges gave her a score to beat her opponent. She managed to stay on the show for a week and that’s when her career kicked off.

6 Alanis Morissette

Back in 1990, Alanis Morissette made an appearance on Star Search. She did really well on the show, and it was what gave her the springboard to take her career to the next level. Five years after appearing on the show, “You Oughta Know” came out and took the world by storm. Her album, Jagged Little Pill went on to be one of the most successful albums, selling over 30 million copies and won four Grammy Awards. Thanks to Star Search, Alanis was able to make a career for herself.

5 Kevin James

Kevin James is another celeb who started their career on Star Search. Back in 1995, Kevin competed on the show as a stand-up comedian. The judges and the viewers absolutely loved him as he won the comedy category on the show quite a few times.

Being on the show definitely helped him out, as he went on to perform at bigger comedy shows. In 1996 he performed at the Just for Laughs Montreal comedy festival where Ray Romano caught his set and decided that he was going to give Kevin a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond. And the rest, as we know, is history!

4 Ben Bailey

We all know Ben Bailey as the host and cab driver in the popular game show Cash Cab, but besides reading questions and hosting a game show while driving an actual New York City taxi cab, he’s also a very talented comedian. He decided that he would give a career in comedy a shot when he went on Star Search. Appearing on the show and showcasing his talents was what kick-started his career in the comedy world, and allowed him to become the question-asking cab driver that we know and love.

3 Brad Garrett

Brad Garrett is most known for playing Ray Romano’s older brother Robert on Everybody Loves Raymond. Before he scored that gig, he took his talents to Star Search. He appeared on the show back in 1984 where he went to perform a stand-up comedy routine. The judges loved him, and he wound up becoming the first contestant to win the $100,000 grand prize in the comedy category. Winning launched his career where he went on to open for celebrities like Frank Sinatra as well as Smokey Robinson in Las Vegas.

2 Usher

Not many people know that singer and performer Usher began his career as a contestant on Star Search. When he was just 13 years old, Usher appeared on the show. He wowed the judges, and even beat the record for the longest sustained note ever held by a child on the show at 12 seconds. Because of this, he got the attention of LaFace Records, where Usher met L.A. Reid. From then on, we know the rest is history as Usher went on to have an insanely successful music career, and he has Star Search to thank for that.

1 Adam Sandler

These days Adam Sandler is one of the most famous comedians and actors of all time. He didn’t get there overnight, though and with the help of Star Search, his career was able to get the kick-start that it needed. In the 1980s, Adam appeared on the show where he performed a stand-up comedy routine, of course. He did pretty well, and it was enough to get his name out there. Appearing on Star Search was just the bigging for Adam Sandler, and the rest we know is pretty much history.

NEXT: 15 Actors Who Got Their Careers Started In Commercials


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About The Author

Danielle Gittleman
(251 Articles Published)

Danielle Gittleman is a writer and editor from Freehold, New Jersey.

Passionate about music, entertainment, and writing, Danielle has put her love for them together, and specializes in music and entertainment journalism.

Danielle is a freelance writer, where she has written for websites such as TheTravel, contributing travel and vacation articles, as well as TheRichest, where she wrote celebrity and entertainment content until it stopped publishing in the Fall of 2018.

Danielle currently writes pop culture stories for TheThings, where she contributes several articles a week to the website.

Additionally, Danielle was also a co-founder of her own online music magazine, White Noise Zine, where she conducted interviews with musicians, wrote music news and features, and helped produce bi-monthly online issues of the magazine. Danielle also did press for the Vans Warped tour for three years in a row, and worked with ReverbNation on campaigns to find artists to feature in White Noise Zine.

Danielle is a dedicated person and puts her heart and soul into everything she does. She is a hard worker, and is extremely passionate about her writing, and couldn’t dream of doing anything else.

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