Thursday, February 24, 2005
7 News Features: Before They Were Famous
South Florida is known as a place where stars like to get away. But it's also a place where many stars got their start. In tonight's special assignment report, the nighteam's Louis Aguirre is showing us what some local celebrities were like before they were famous.
WSVN -- Earlier tonight on Fox, we saw what some of Hollywood hottest look like without makeup. But have you ever wondered what they were like before a life of fame and fortune. Well, we found the road from South Florida to stardom is one commonly traveled.
Different Celebrity Pictures: Do you know who this is? How about this guy...Or this guy. Or even this guy.
Well, here's a hint. They're all big stars who partially owe their fame to south Florida.
Sharon McCarthy: "That photo is from the class of 1980."
Sharron McCarthy knew Johnnie Depp before he was swashbuckling on the big screen. The two of them were classmates at Miramar High School.
Sharon: "He was young and he was very cute and he was very sweet. Johnnie is a sweet man."
But even back then, Sharron knew Depp was headed for big things.
Sharon: "I knew him because he was in a local band called the kids."
A band Johnnie believed in so much, he quit school to play out in California, and the rest as they say is history.
Sharon: "I knew he wanted to go to California. But, I had no clue it was going to get this big."
Nobody knew Kelsey Grammer was going to get this big. Before he was sitting on a barstool at Cheers and giving advice on the radio, he was a student at Pine Crest Academy in Ft. Lauderdale.
Kelsey Grammer's Teacher Leon Bryant: "Back then, he absolutely, he's one of the few kids I ever knew who focused in on what he wanted to do and made it work at that level. That has achieved at the level he has achieved."
Even as a teenager, Grammer was grooming himself for stardom.
Leon: "He was performing all the time. He'd walk in the room and he'd perform. He was always up. He was always classically Kelsey."
But just like his famous character Fraser, art teacher Leon Bryant remembers Grammer had another interest...
Classmate: "Used to hang around my room to see the girls. He liked the atmosphere and the kids that hung around the art room. Mostly the girls. He hasn't changed a lot."
The University of Miami doesn't just turn out football stars. UM can also boast about a few movie stars. This is the place where Sylvester Stallone got started.
Sylvester Stallone: "That's where I got the bug, that's where I started to write."
And it's the place where one very famous actor completely exposed himself on stage.
Ray Liotta's Drama Teacher: "At the end of the first act, everyone is supposed to drop clothes."
Drama Teacher: "We had a big huge screen at the back of the stage and Ray stands behinds the screen, drops his cover and there he stands buck naked."
This Drama teacher is of course talking about Ray Liotta.He had to bare his soul so to speak for the show hair.
Drama Teacher:"He said I'm going to make it successfully some day. And you knew that was going to be true. You knew he could do that."
But Liotta apparently only made the switch to show business after failing at his first major.
Drama Teacher: "He supposedly had to take a math class. And he didn't think he could pass a math class, so he decided to go into theater."
The path for John Secada wasn't always so smooth either.In fact, he wasn't always John Secada.
John Secada's Former Student Teddy Harrel: "We called him Juan back then."
That's right, he was Juan Secada and he was a student at U of M before becoming a music teacher at Miami-Dade Community College.
Teddy: "That's how I met him, taking voice lessons from John Secada."
Teddy Harrel Jr. was one of Secada's students. He still has the singer's first real album.
Teddy: "This album right here is an album produced by the University of Miami Jazz Ensemble one."
Even back then, Harrel knew Secada was somebody special.
Teddy: "Jon was the type of coach, he would give you everything you needed. As soon as he heard your voice, he knew exactly what he needed to do to punch your buttons."
Secada also has something in common with his fellow famous Floridians. Before they were famous, they were driven.
Teddy: "The discipline of being in the business... because it's all about discipline."
Of course, these aren't the only famous South Floridians. Ben Vereen, Andy Garcia, and Sidney Portier - just to name a few are also from the area.
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