Lots of people have law degrees but never practice law, or they work as a lawyer for a short time and then start a new career. There are dozens of career politicians and writers who left the law to pursue other ambitions.
There are also well-known celebrities who obtained law degrees before they became actors, singers, TV personalities, or authors. Some of the more surprising include:
1. JERRY SPRINGER
Yes, the guy with the trashiest talk show on television graduated from Northwestern School of Law in Chicago, before he began his political career (Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio) or became the number one news anchor in Cincinnati, winning ten Emmys. He has hosted a variety of other shows, including “America’s Got Talent” and is the subject of “Jerry Springer The Opera” which opened to good reviews in the United Kingdom and is coming to the US soon.
2. JOHN CLEESE
Cleese, one of the funniest comedic actors, best known as part of the Monty Python troupe and the harried innkeeper at Fawlty Towers, obtained his law degree from Cambridge. His writing, directing, and acting credits are prolific. Fawlty Towers was named by the British Film Institute as one of Britain’s Top 100 British Television Shows.
He remains active with TV and film projects and in 2010 went on the road with his “Alimony Tour”, ostensibly to earn extra money after his expensive divorce from his second wife, who was a psychotherapist. It is reported he intends to produce a musical version of “A Fish Called Wanda”.
3. ANDREA BOCELLI
Everyone’s favorite opera singer earned his law degree at the University of Pisa and practiced law for one year before he launched his extraordinary career in opera. Born with limited eyesight he lost his sight completely at the age of twelve. Bocelli has sold millions of records and performed all over the world. His early mentor was Luciano Pavarotti and Bocelli sang at Pavorotti’s second wedding and at his funeral.
He recently received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an honour that pales in comparison to the accolades he has received from numerous countries, but particularly his home country of Italy. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera just recently performing a recital of operatic arias.
4. JULIO INGLESIAS
Spanish singer Julio Inglesias, father of pop star Enrique Inglesias, attended law school in Madrid in the 1960’s. He has had a superlative career, producing 77 albums, recorded in 14 languages, selling over 300 million records.
His awards, honours and prizes are too many to list. According to Sony Entertainment, he is one of the top 30 recording artists in the world.
5. HOWARD COSELL
Legendary sports broadcaster Howard Cosell obtained his law degree from the New York University of Law and practiced as an employment/union lawyer in Manhattan. His clients included high-profile athletes including Willie Mays. Cosell was involved in Little League baseball and agreed to do a weekly radio show featuring these young athletes. He did the show for free for three years and then obtained a sponsor to entice ABC Radio to give him a sports talk show, which was the launching pad for his career as a sports journalist.
His relationship with Mohammed Ali brought him greater fame and fortune and he became a fixture on Monday Night Football.
Cosell was the first to admit he was arrogant and obnoxious and took pride in his nickname “the mouth that roared.” He died in 1995.
In a future post I will write about five more celebrities who chose law first but later entered the world of sports, politics and entertainment.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang