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Celebrity Salaries: Then & Now

Parade Magazine

Celebrities weren’t always raking in the dough. Find out what some of your favorite stars were earning before they struck it rich in Hollywood.

[Related: How happy are you at your job? Take the job happiness survey now.]

Ever imagine Don Draper serving sandwiches? Actor Jon Hamm, 41, spent much of the 1990s going on auditions and waiting tables (earning $14,350) to pay the rent. He now earns $2.3 million for his role on AMC's Mad Men [for which he's paid $175,000 per episode]. "I loved the original script, but i thought, 'Who's going to watch this kind of show on some random cable channel?'" Millions of people, it turns out.

[Related: 15 Green Celebrities]

Before she became an American Idol, Carrie Underwood was slinging slices as a part-time waitress at Ella’s Pizza Joint while she attended Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. The country star now earns a whopping $20 million.

As a struggling actor in the 1980s, Steve Buscemi, 54, worked as New York City firefighter [and, at various points, as a dishwasher and an ice cream truck driver], earning $22,700 before he went on to star on Boardwalk Empire, bringing home $75,000 per episode.

Fist Pump! Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, 24, currently earns $1.6 million on Jersey Shore; In 2009, Snooki earned $45,000. With her mini-empire of self-branded products, the mom-to-be will likely enjoy an even bigger windfall next year.

Growing up outside Atlanta, Ryan Seacrest dreamed of one day being a successful broadcaster like Dick Clark, and “from the time I was 15 or 16 years old, every single thing I did, every single day of my life, was to get closer to that dream.” In 1995, Ryan Seacrest, then age 20, earned  $10,800 as a radio host. Now, Seacrest earns $15 million as the Host of a little enterprise called American Idol.

[Related: Are You Having a Party? Rent a Celebrity!]

How Happy Are You?

Many of the people pictured said they had found their dream job, while others told that they were off track.  Now we want to hear from you.

PARADE and Yahoo! Finance are teaming up to discover how Americans view their jobs and work cultures, their career priorities and prospects.  Would you fire your boss if you could?  Would you rather have a 5 percent raise or two more weeks of vacation? 

Take the survey now.

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