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Top 10 Celebrities Who Were On Game Shows Before They Were Famous

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Shane Fraser The rungs of the show business ladder should always include a game show, right? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 celebrities who were on game shows before they were famous. Special thanks to our users Godslayer79for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest. Special thanks to our users drewbrown for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Shane Fraser

Top 10 Celebrities Who Were On Game Shows Before They Were Famous

The rungs of the show business ladder should always include a game show, right? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 celebrities who were on game shows before they were famous.

For this list, we’re looking at famous people and their infamous appearances on game shows. These stints must have occurred before the celebrity becamefamous, or at least before they reached their pinnacle of fame. We’re ranking our list by the entertainment value of each celebrity’s appearance.

#10: Paul Walker
“I’m Telling!” (1987)

“I’m Telling!” was a short-lived Saturday morning game show in which brother and sister teams competed for prizes. The object of the game was to match answers with your sibling in response to embarrassing and entertaining questions, with the highest number of matches resulting in a win. Think “The Newlywed Game,” only with siblings instead of spouses. The late “Fast and Furious” star was just 14-years-old when he stepped onto the “I’m Telling!” stage, playing with his younger sister Ashlie. The duo did quite well, finishing in second place and each taking home a bike, a board game, and a Slurpee gift card.

#9: Vanna White
“The Price Is Right” (1980)

Vanna White’s game show career had to be pre-destined—it’s the only conclusion we can reach due to her fairy tale-like journey. In 1980, White appeared on The Price is Right as one of the initial four contestants. She didn’t make it to the showcase, but her picturesque beauty and bubbly personality made jaws drop. Some of those jaws happened to belong to some very important TV producers. Just two years after her “Price Is Right” appearance, White auditioned for the vacant hostess spot on Wheel of Fortune, beating out hundreds of applicants to be named the regular co-host in December 1982. She is the longest running game show hostess in history, and is THE female icon of the industry.

#8: Kirstie Alley
“Match Game” (1979)

“Match Game” was a super popular show where contestants tried to match their answers with … well let’s say lubricated.... celebrity panellists. In a reversal of roles, Kirstie Alley appeared on the show in 1979 not as a celebrity, but as an unknown contestant. Introduced as an interior designer from Wichita, Kansas, Alley's appearance on Match Game came three years before her movie debut in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” and eight years before “Cheers” made her a household name. Paired with Jamie Lee Curtis, Betty White, and others, Kirstie had one of the best game show performances of a pre-fame celebrity, winning both rounds and taking home $6,000.

#7: Billy Crystal
Various (1977-79)

Before becoming a world-renowned actor and comedian, Billy Crystal was a game show celebrity. Crystal frequented popular game shows during the 70s, making wisecracks and charming viewers, and became a known figure in the entertainment world. This was at a time when everyone watched game shows, so viewers would follow Billy from one game to the next. He made notable appearances on All Star Secrets, Hollywood Squares, and Pyramid, and proved to be as proficient at playing each game as he was charismatic. Notably, Crystal actually holds a $20,000 Pyramid record for getting his partner to the top of the pyramid’s winner’s circle faster than anyone in the show’s history: 26 seconds.

#6: Paul Reubens
“The Gong Show” (1976-77)

Paul Reubens may be best known as Pee-wee Herman, but before Pee-wee hit it big, Reubens was simply a no-name performer. During the 70s, Reubens studied with the renowned Groundlings improv troupe and entertained his way through the lower echelons of show business, playing nightclubs and short spots on TVshows. But the peaks of his early comedy career were his appearances on “The Gong Show,” the wacky variety show that hosted all kinds of bizarre acts. And fewwere weirder than Reubens’.  One of these anti-comedy skits featured a duo called “Suave & Debonair,” which saw Reubens paired with John Paragon in a satirical nightclub setting. Another had Reubens in a dance group called “Les Chats,” which we’ll let you try to decipher.

#5: Simon Cowell
“Sale of the Century” [U.K.] (1990)

“Sale of the Century” was a long-running hybrid game show: equal parts Price is Right and Jeopardy. In 1990, a young Simon Cowell made his TV debut on the show, and he bore no resemblance to the tyrant judge of today. Polite, well-mannered, and docile in character, Cowell competed with deft skill and sportsmanship, answering questions and winning random prizes like... cooking utensils. He won the game handily, but his integrity won in a much larger way: not one rude remark was uttered by Cowell in what has to be the most subdued television appearance of his life.

#4: Olly Murs
“Deal or No Deal” [U.K.] (2007)

Olly Murs first came to public attention in the sixth season of X-Factor... or did he? Two years prior to his X-Factor redemption, Olly appeared on the UK version of “Deal or No Deal,” and the show couldn’t have gone worse. Every case he eliminated had larger and larger figures, and eventually every substantial sum was off the board. Host Noel Edmonds described all our thoughts when he said “this is the most appalling run of luck in the history of the game.” Murs finished the gamewith only 10 pounds, which is one of the smallest totals in “Deal or No Deal” history. It’s obvious his luck has since changed.

#3: Jon Hamm
“The Big Date” (1996)

Long before Jon Hamm conjured the charm of Don Draper, he was just an uncomfortable 25-year-old on a game show. With a strange haircut and an even stranger expression, Hamm disconcerted viewers as a contestant on “The Big Date,” a derivation of “The Dating Game” in which players compete for a date with a near-mythical beauty. Hamm’s eye-assault of the bachelorette didn’t earn him any favors—neither did his creepy answers to the predictably trite questions. Whether his actions came as a result of suggestions from the producers or his own personality is tough to say, although it’s clear he was doomed on this show from his less than “fabulous” start.

#2: Arnold Schwarzenegger
“The Dating Game” (1973)

“The Dating Game” was the cornerstone of 70s game show culture, and many pre and post-fame celebrities were the objects of desire. Probably the most retrospectively famous person to grace the show was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made an impressive appearance in 1973. Arnold had just tiptoed into the public consciousness thanks to his bodybuilding exploits, but this was years before his acting career made him a household name. It was on “The Dating Game” that mainstream American audiences got the first taste of his unique foreign charm, as the Governator wooed the three contestants, one of whom was a Playboy bunny. In the end, he bypassed the bunny, electing to choose the least weird of the three spacey girls.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- Farrah Fawcett
“The Dating Game” (1969)

- Stephen Fry
“University Challenge” (1980)

- Joey Fatone
“Nick Arcade” (1992)

#1: Aaron Paul
“The Price Is Right” (2000)

Aaron Paul might be the only successful actor to owe his career to meth. Not literally, of course, but we wouldn’t blame you if you thought his energetic demeanor during his pre-fame “Price is Right” appearance gave that impression. Even Paul himself stated in an interview that he looked like he was on “serious crack” during the show, as the producers said they wanted energy. Paul went above and beyond the call of duty. The 20-year-old ingested six cans of Red Bull prior to shooting, and he exploded onto the stage when announced; running around, screaming, and even telling Bob Barker that he’s his idol. He failed to win, but the rest of us did when the video of Jesse Pinkman in a much more colorful light surfaced years later.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite celebrity appearance on a game show? For more big money, big money, no whammy, no whammy Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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