16 Extraordinarily Successful People Who Failed Miserably Before They Made It

    If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again. List inspired by these answers on Quora.

    1. Will Smith's life got flip turned upside down when he owed the IRS $2.8 million in taxes in 1989.

    2. Vincent van Gogh only sold ONE painting out of 900 in his life, Red Vineyard at Arles.

    3. Lady Gaga got dropped by a major record label after only three months.

    4. Sidney Poitier was brutally rejected by the American Negro Theater for his Bahamian accent and difficulty reading.

    5. Michelle Yeoh's dreams of being a ballerina were crushed by a spinal injury.

    6. Steven Spielberg was denied by USC's prestigious film school not once, but twice.

    7. In her lifetime, Emily Dickinson published fewer than a dozen of her 1,800 poems.

    8. As a sophomore, Michael Jordan was rejected from his high school's varsity basketball team.

    9. Lisa Kudrow was cast as the original Roz in Frasier, but cut shortly after.

    10. Dr. Seuss' first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was refused by 27 publishers.

    11. Ang Lee failed Taiwan's college entrance exam TWICE.

    12. At 18, Frida Kahlo was in a car accident that caused her to have more than 30 operations in her lifetime and left her unable to bear children.

    13. Allegedly, Bruno Mars was passed over by a music industry exec because he wasn't white.

    14. Winston Churchill lost his first campaign for Parliament.

    15. Vera Wang failed to make the U.S. Olympic figure-skating team.

    16. And Oprah Winfrey was fired from Baltimore’s WJZ-TV for being too "emotionally involved" with the stories she reported.

    Correction: Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1939 for Gone with the Wind. An earlier version of this post said Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win an Oscar. He was the first black actor to win a competitive Oscar for a leading role.