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7 stars who’ve found success in a second career.

10 Jun 2021 | 8 min

With the end of COVID-19 restrictions in the UK in sight (touch wood), and all of us looking forward to a fresh start, we’re talking career changes and start-ups in this latest blog.

So if you’re bored of office politics, or ready to ditch the nine-to-five, here’s seven inspirational figures who accomplished in more than one field:

Johnny Vegas

Brits are used to seeing actor and comedian Johnny Vegas star in quirky sitcoms, films, and talk shows. But his recent endeavour, Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping, has presented the entertainer in an entirely different light as a budding entrepreneur!

The program, which recently aired on Channel 4, saw Vegas and close pal Beverly Dixon take on the glamping trend, which is currently gaining a lot of attention thanks to the UK’s staycation boom. Over the course of the show, the duo successfully turned a series of rundown vintage vehicles – from school buses to fire engines – into Instagram worthy accommodation.

The business man’s efforts have certainly paid off, as the popularity of the program prompted his Yorkshire glampsite to completely sell out for the rest of 2021.

But you don’t need the backing of a TV program to make your dreams of owning a holiday let a success. Recent figures have revealed that bookings for cottages, campsites and glamping pods are already starting to outstrip supply in the UK, which means now may be the ideal time to follow in Vegas’ footsteps and invest in your own holiday business.

For his next project, Vegas stars in a new, three-part comedy airing on Gold – which sees the return of his character Terry from Murder on the Blackpool Express. This time, the character tackles his own career change – from coach tour operator to private detective.

George Foreman

While he’s had a very impressive career in the boxing ring, George Foreman is perhaps better known for being the face of his famous grill – The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine!

Foreman dropped out of school in the ninth grade (that’s 14-15 years old) and ran with street gangs until he was connected to trainer Doc Broaddus, which would ultimately start his professional boxing career. What ensued was an on-and-off relationship with the ring, but a very successful one nonetheless - earning him a gold medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, and the Heavyweight World title in both 1973 and 1994.

During his career, the champion took a ten-year break in to pursue life as a Christian minister, and founded the George Foreman Youth and Community Center in Houston. He returned to professional boxing in 1987 because he was quickly running out of money, and needed to raise the finance to save his youth center.

However, his famous grill endorsement would let him pocket far more money than all of his boxing appearances combined, estimated at a whopping $200 million – though Foreman himself claims it was much more than that.

He scored the deal by chance, after wrestler Hulk Hogan turned the opportunity down, and suggested his agent offer the grill to another client – which happened to be Foreman. To date, over 100 million products have been sold!

While most of us won’t get the opportunity to front a product like this, Foreman’s interesting and varied career can give us something to learn from – that it’s never too late to make a fresh start.

Zeppo (Herbert) Marx

The Marx Brothers were an American family comedy act, known by their stage names Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo, who were successful in Vaudeville Theatre in the first half of the 20th Century.

The youngest brother Zeppo (real name Herbert) joined the stage act in 1918 when his brother Gummo was drafted into the army. At that time, Zeppo was employed as a mechanic for the Ford Motor Company, and had no interest in a career in showbiz. The team’s mother however insisted he replace Gummo to keep the act as a foursome.

Zeppo appeared with his family on Broadway, and in the first five Marx Brothers films, before leaving the act in 1933 to pursue his own interests - inventing and engineering.

Zeppo recognised that the prevention of heart attacks could be handled much more effectively if people could identify early on that something was wrong. So he invented a cardiac pulse rate monitor using an electric-powered magnet, which audibly alerted the wearer to changes in their heart rate, for which he secured his first patent in 1967.

Nowadays, many of us wear fitness devices which measure our heart rates on a daily basis, so it’s even more impressive that Zeppo envisioned and designed his product in the 1960s.

Will Cliff

At Together, we’re avid supporters of Sale Sharks rugby club. And scrumhalf Will Cliff in particular has recently caught our attention, by setting up his own low calorie beer company Bach95 during lockdown.

The player had been pondering the idea for a while, alongside fellow rugby stars Tom Holmes and Jesse Coulson, but he decided to put their plan into action following a barbecue with some of the Sale Sharks team. He noticed that one of the players was drinking champagne rather than beer, simply because he needed a lower calorie drink to keep his body fat down.

From there, the team worked for two years to create their full size, full strength sub-100 calorie drink. The launch of Bach95 has already received an extremely positive response, and in a recent interview, Will revealed it’s allowed him to broaden his horizons, and give him something else to get excited about besides rugby.

If you’ve got a business idea yourself, and you’ve built up enough equity in your home, you could apply for a business purpose secured loan to make your ambitions a reality. You can also read our top tips for starting a small business here.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, once named the most beautiful woman in the world, was far more than just a famous actress. During World War II, she made female history, by becoming an inventor in the hopes of supporting the war effort.

Lamarr’s fascination with invention began at just five years old, when she dismantled and reassembled a music box, but her breakthrough came when trying to invent a device which could block enemy ships from jamming US torpedo guidance signals.

Lamarr found a way for the radio guidance transmitter and the torpedo’s receiver to jump simultaneously from frequency to frequency, which made it impossible for the enemy to locate and block a message before it moved to another frequency. The approach became known as ‘frequency hopping’.

Hedy submitted her ‘spread spectrum communication technology’to the National Inventor’s Council, and received her patent in 1942. When she offered the technology to the US military however, it was ignored by them.

The US Navy eventually saw its potential in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and all ships on a blockade line around Cuba were armed with torpedoes guided by a frequency hopping system.

But it’s only in recent years that Lamarr has received public recognition for her contributions to science. And it’s well deserved - her technology would eventually be used in the development of GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth.

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda was an Austrian Formula One driver, and F1 World Drivers' Champion in 1975, 1977 and 1984. Lauda was seriously injured in a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix, during which his Ferrari burst into flames. He came very close to death after inhaling toxic fumes and suffering severe burns, but notoriously returned to racing just six weeks later.

Lauda was a rare example of someone who managed to succeed in two very different industries. In 1979, he founded his first airline Lauda Air, which he sold to Austrian Airlines following a crash of one of his planes in 1991.

Though Lauda says the crash and death of 223 passengers was the worst moment of his life (worse than his own near-fatal race), he caught the aviation bug again in 2003, starting up two other airlines before his passing in 2019.

Lauda was one of a small number of airline owners who was also a qualified pilot, and racked up thousands of hours flying his company’s aircraft. If you’ve got dreams of becoming a pilot, or going into another profession which requires a lot of expensive training, you could apply for a secured loan to kick-start your new career.

Simon O’Brien

We simply couldn’t write this blog without mentioning our firm favourite, Simon O’Brien.

While not a movie star, Simon did star on the small screen on the popular British soap Brookside from its first episode in 1982 until 1987. Playing the cheeky Damon Grant, a character who continually suffered unemployment, you wouldn’t know that Simon’s family roots are in property development – a career he’d go on to pursue after leaving Brookside to follow in their footsteps.

Now a successful property ‘flipper’ in his own right, you may have seen him present a number of renovation programs over the years, such as Find it, Fix It, Flog it on Channel 4.

Most recently however, Simon was the face of recent TV series The Great House Giveaway, which sees two strangers paired up and given a budget to buy and renovate an auction property, in the hopes they can sell it for a profit and keep the money for themselves.

As partners of The Great House Giveaway, we’re big fans of the series, but also because it shows that people from all kinds of backgrounds can make a success of property renovation with a little hard work. If you’re considering turning your hand to something new, a recent report revealed that UK house prices have soared 10.9% since May last year, so now may be the right time to invest in the property boom.

Could we help?

Have you been inspired to take a fresh start, and take up a new career opportunity or business venture of your own? You can read seven questions to ask yourself first here.

You can also learn more about our Secured Loans or Bridging Finance for budding property investors, or get in touch with one of our experts.

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