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DeVito, the erstwhile cosmetologist

Danny DeVito knew college wasn’t for him, so when he finished high school he started working at his sister's beauty parlor.

Danny DeVito was pretty confused when he got out of high school, said Scott Raab in Esquire. He knew college wasn’t for him, and in his working-class hometown of Asbury Park, N.J., in the 1950s, he says, “there were a lot of things you could have done that were really scary if you were not totally afraid of winding up in a 4-by-6 cell—which I was.” His sister had opened a beauty parlor, so DeVito started working there—as a beautician. To make him a professional cosmetologist, she enrolled DeVito in a makeup class at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. “It was a good excuse to get out of Asbury,” says DeVito, 69, “just to take a drive up a few times a week.” While doing makeup at the Academy, DeVito caught the acting bug. “I tried it out. I got up in front of people. I had a good feeling about it.” His mom and dad were puzzled. “I remember the first time I said to my parents I was going to be an actor. They said, ‘How you gonna do that?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m going to this school that I found.’ So I went for that, and that turned out to be good.” In life, he says, “the toughest thing is just jumping off that ledge into the abyss.”

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