"Hey, do you remember the 1999 teen comedy She's All That? Shyamalan had a serious hand in writing it... Surprised? You shouldn't be. You do recall that Shyamalan wrote Stuart Little, right? Turns out that's the secret twist M. Night's career has been setting us up for all this time: He doesn't write very good movies. Oh, you saw that twist coming? "
Mayim Bialik, best known as the title character in Blossom, temporarily left acting and obtained a PHD in neuroscience. When she returned to acting with a role on The Big Bang Theory, her character Amy Farrah Fowler was also a neuroscientist.
Fans of Borat may be surprised to see Sacha Baron Cohen playing supporting roles in stylized period pieces like Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables or even Hugo (albeit typically in roles that still allow for a certain amount of comic relief).
Jackie Chan is known worldwide for his action movies, combining martial arts with slapstick choreography. While some fans outside of southeast Asia know he's also a director and producer, very few know that he's also an accomplished singer. In fact, he did his own singing when he voiced Shang in the Chinese dub of Mulan! (Fans outside of China got to hear him sing during the Closing Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.)
Cam Clarke is a prolific voice actor of cartoons and video games. But he's also a singer, and in 1999 released the album Inside Out, a collection of Cover Versions of love songs sung from a Straight Gay man's prospective.
Misha Collins is known for being an actor, but he also did a stint in politics, set up The Random Act charity, published poems, worked as a carpenter and woodworker, and worked in construction.
Jerry Doyle (Michael Garabaldi on Babylon 5) was a stockbroker and now is a radio talk show host.
Adrian Edmondson, best known for causing trails of destruction in The Young Ones and Bottom is also a well-known video director (for The Pogues among others) and musician with The Bad Shepherds.
Clark Gable served during World War II as a squadron commander, though he was only able to fly a few missions before his employers at MGM pulled strings to have him rotated stateside due to an incident where a piece of flak narrowly missed hitting him in the head (Gable was the A-list actor at the time). After it became clear that he was not going to be sent back into combat, he requested and received a discharge based on his being too old to serve in combat (he was 41 when the US entered the war). As it happens, his discharge papers were signed by Captain Ronald Reagan.
Phil Hartman was a renowned graphic designer who came up with the Crosby, Stills & Nash logo and designed album covers for bands like Poco and REO Speedwagon. He also co-wrote the screenplay to Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, having worked with Paul Reubens in the Groundlings comedy troupe.
Everyone loves how David Hayter, Solid Snake himself, is a successful screenwriter who wrote the screenplay for the first two X-Men films. He also did a draft of Watchmen and ended up being one of the credited screenwriters for that too.
David Hemmings, the star of Antonioni's Blowup, began as a boy soprano and originated the role of Miles in Britten's opera version of The Turn of the Screw. Later in his career, he directed films and many episodes of television shows.
Mickey Jones, the go-to character actor for big, menacing biker/redneck-types (such as the mechanic in ''National Lampoon's Vacation'') was a drummer in the 60s and 70s, working with Johnny Rivers, Kenny Rogers and most famously Bob Dylan on his chaotic 1966 European tour.
Sam Jones, best known for his portrayal of Flash Gordon in the 1980 film these days has his own private security firm, which provides bodyguard services for traveling in high-risk regions around the world. He served in the marines before his acting career, which probably helps.
Brad Kane, most famous as the singing voice of Aladdin, is now a writer and producer and co-wrote and co-produced several episodes of Fringe. He is currently writing the screenplay for the Daredevil film reboot, based on the "Born Again" story arc by Frank Miller. He will be credited as Brad Caleb Kane.
Boris Karloff started out as a stage-trained character in silent movies, then graduated to playing Fu Manchu, Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy, and associated mad scientists and crazy people in horror films. He was also the voice actor for the narration and the Grinch in the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. He also played the titular police detective, specializing in the Locked Room Mystery, in the 1950s TV series Colonel March of Scotland Yard.
Hedy Lamarr (no, not Hedley) was best known as MGM's biggest star. She also had a patent for frequency-hopping spread spectrum, which would eventually lay the groundwork for communications technology that's currently used in wi-fi networks.
Granted, this is likely to happen regardless of how you get to know him. Fans of House may be surprised to find out about his earlier comedy work (or even the fact that he's actually British), while fans who got to know his hilarious performances and strange characters in Blackadder and A Bit of Fry and Laurie'' will likely be surprised to learn he played the lead in an American medical drama.
Mako is best known for his voice acting turns as Aku, Uncle Iroh, and Master Splinter but he was also known as being quite the actor in front of the camera, having been nominated for an Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1966 for The Sand Pebbles.
Steve Martin, the Wild and Crazy Guy? He's also an accomplished banjo player who's performed with Earl Scruggs. He also wrote the serious novella Shopgirl, which he starred in the movie adaptation of. He also did writing on the thriller Traitor and also pens editorial pieces for The New Yorker, many of which were collected in the book Pure Drivel.
Herbert "Zeppo" Marx of the Marx Brothers invented a type of watch with a built-in heart-rate monitor, as well as a new kind of heating pad. His engineering company also popularized the Marman Clamp, which is still widely used for aerospace applications.
David McCallum, most famous as Ilya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and "Ducky" Mallard on NCIS, is also an accomplished composer and orchestral conductor (following in the footsteps of his father - cf. the Music section), having released four albums for Capitol Records between 1966 and 1968. One of his works, "The Edge" is one of the most sampled pieces of music in hip-hop to date.
Leonard Nimoy directed Three Men And A Baby (the highest-grossing film of 1987) and The Good Mother (as well as the less-surprising Star Trek III). He has also released five albums, directed music videos, acted in many non-Star Trek-related roles, and (most notably) he is a succesful photographer.
Before his breakout role in Heroes, Masi Oka was a CG animator for Industrial Light & Magic who worked on all three Star Wars prequels.
Frank Oz is known as the voice of several Muppets, including Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Grover, and Yoda. (He was also the Hands of the Swedish Chef while Jim Henson did the head and voice.) However, he also directed Little Shop of Horrors (which, after all, uses puppetry to portray a major character), The Stepford Wives remake, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and the original British version of Death at a Funeral.
Pauley Perrette has earned a cult following for her role as Perky Goth forensics expert Abby Sciuto on NCIS. Many people don't know that she (the actress, Perrette) actually holds a Master's Degree in Forensic Science. Play what you know, I suppose.
Vincent Price is best known for his horror roles, but most of his early work was dramatic, and he also took a few voice acting roles, notably in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo and The Great Mouse Detective. He was also well-known as an art collector (he donated 90 pieces of art to a community college, making it the first community college to have such a collection), and as a noted gourmet cook (authoring several cookbooks, and once giving a demonstration on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson of how to poach a fish in the dishwasher). He also spoke several languages and was an opera-grade singer. During a segment on What's My Line where the blindfolded regulars were supposed to guess his identity by listening to his voice and his answers to their questions, he sang all his answers in French to keep them from recognizing his distinctive voice.
Ariana Richards, most famous as Lex in Jurassic Park, is an accomplished professional oil painter.
Jimmy Stewart: In addition to being an accomplished movie star (famous in particular for It's a Wonderful Life), he was also a private pilot, which lead to him serving in World War II, rising to the rank of Colonel and serving as a Wing Commander by war's end. He went on to serve in the Reserves during the Cold War and retired as a Brigadier General in 1968. In fact, more than a few celebrities who were eligible to serve during World War II did so.
Later in life, Shirley Temple was an ambassador to the UN, chief of protocol for the State Department, and Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
Jennifer Tilly, she of the big-boobed bimbo roles, has also won a bracelet in the World Series of Poker. In fact, this is a subgenre, as many actors are at least passable in poker (notably Gabe Kaplan, Dick Van Patten (whose son Vince calls the World Poker Tour), and Lou Diamond Phillips, just to name a few).
Dick Van Dyke is well-known for his acting. He's also done 3D computer animation for years, even doing special effects for an episode of Diagnosis: Murder when there was no budget for a motorcycle crash.
Nancy Walker played Ida Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (and its spinoff Rhoda), and appeared in Bounty paper towel commercials. Much of her earlier career was in Broadway musicals, and it was perhaps for this reason that she was chosen to direct the infamous movie musical Cant Stop The Music.
Amusingly (since he played Buckaroo Banzai as mentioned below), Peter Weller has a Master's in art history and has served as an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University. He's currently working on getting his Ph.D.
In addition to voice acting (most famously, he was the original voice of Tigger in the Disney Winnie-the-Pooh adaptations), Paul Winchell was also a puppeteer, an acupuncturist, and an inventor — his most famous inventions being the artificial heart and the blood plasma defroster.
Moe Berg, a journeyman catcher, spoke seven languages, and, as the joke went, could not hit in any of them. During the Second World War, he was a spy for the OSS, investigating the Axis nuclear projects. He was the original spy catcher.
England cricketer Ian Botham is well-known among fans of the sport for his rollercoaster professional career (the high point of which was leading England to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at Headingley in the 1981 Ashes against Australia) and colourful personal life, but his football/soccer career is not as well-known - he made 17 appearances (and scored one goal) for Yeovil Town FC and 11 apppearances for Scunthorpe United FC between 1978 and 1985, at the same time as his heroics on the cricket pitch.
The list of athletes and coaches who have gone on to politics is pretty long. Most notable in this category is Bill Bradley, who made a run for President of the United States in 2000. He played for the New York Knicks in the '60s and '70s.
Jim Brown is an NFL Hall of Famer and is routinely mentioned in every "Who is the greatest football player of all time" debate. He is also a Hall of Famer in Lacrosse, which many of his contemporaries thought was actually his best sport, and after he retired from athletics he established a successful acting career that has spanned more than four decades.
Wilt Chamberlain, in addition to his Hall of Fame basketball career, was an excellent track and field athlete; while in college he won three straight conference championships in the high jump. After retiring from basketball he turned to professional volleyball, playing that sport for several years and earning a ticket to the Volleyball Hall of Fame as well.
Denis Compton was a fixture of the England cricket team throughout the 1940s and 1950s, excelling as both a batsman and a bowler. However, he also played football for Arsenal FC, scoring 15 goals in 54 matches between 1936 and 1950. Conversely, his brother Leslie Compton is more well-remembered as a footballer, having played 253 matches for Arsenal from 1930-52 and being capped twice by England, but he also played cricket at the county level for Middlesex.note Both Comptons were in Middlesex' 1947 County Championship-winning side and Arsenal's 1948 Football League-winning side, making them the only pair of brothers in the history of English sport to win national championships together in two sports.
Jacques Demers was an hockey coach in the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League coaching the Quebec Nordiques from 1979-80, the Saint Louis Blues from 1983-86, the Detroit Red Wings from 1986-90 (winning an unheard of two consecutive Jack Adams awards in 1987 and 1988) and the Montreal Canadiens from 1992-96 (winning the team's most recent Stanley Cup in 1993), and the Tampa Bay Lightning from 1997-99. Later, he served as a hockey commentator. Currently, he is serving as a Canadian senator.
Before he was a trailblazing sports broadcaster Marty Glickman was a star track and field athlete and an All-American football player. He was most famous for the game he did not play. During the 1936 Olympics, held in Nazi Germany, Glickman and fellow Jewish athlete Sam Stoller were withdrawn from the 4 x 100 relay and replaced with two African-American athletes (one of whom was Jessie Owens). The head of the US delegation, Avery Brundage, lobbied against any boycott, and had financial and possible ideological ties to the Nazi regime and likely wanted to spare the host embarrassment of Jews being awarded medals in front of Hitler.
Sam Stoller, the other snubbed sprinter, appeared in bit parts in various movies and had a singing career as well.
In 1968 the Houston Cougars defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 100-6 in the most lopsided game ever between two major college football teams. Houston's second-to-last touchdown was scored by receiver (and future country music star) Larry Gatlin. The middle linebacker for Tulsa's hapless defense was a guy named Phil McGraw.
Magic Johnson, prominent basketball player is a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pitcher Randy Johnson was a drummer for Soundgarden at one point.
John Kitna played 16 years in the NFL as a journeyman quarterback. Had he not gotten the call from Dennis Ericson, he would have gone to his first calling: teaching algebra. Now, 15 years later, he is the algebra teacher and football coach at his old high school. And he didn't just teach: he asked for the hopeless cases, and turned many of them around in less than two years.
Jackie Robinson is known for breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947 and being landmark figure in the history of African-American Civil Rights. However, before that, he won four varsity letters at UCLA (in baseball, basketball, football, and track), played backfield on the school's football team, and won the 1940 NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the Long Jump. Oddly enough, baseball was supposedly the sport he was weakest in.
Babe Ruth's career as a pitcher. While Baseball fans know this very well, it is not as well known outside of Baseball fandom.
Bake Turner spent 9 seasons as a pro football wide receiver (mainly with the New York Jets). He also took a few stabs at a country music career and in 1969 was the first singer to record "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone?", which became a #1 country hit for Charley Pride the next year.
Former Australian Cricket Captain Steve Waugh got an early start be being Captain for Australia's Under 18's Cricket Captain. Not too surprising, but more surprising is that the same year he was also the Captain for Australia's under 18's soccer (or football to Europeans) team.
Ted Williams is widely known as one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball: but he was also an excellent pilot (John Glenn's wingman), and a master fisherman: he was inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame (yes, there is a fishing hall of fame).
Walter Ray Williams, Jr. is a legendary champion in two sports. He's well known for being a great bowler, but he's also a champion horseshoe thrower. His nickname "Dead-Eye" comes from horseshoes, not bowling.
Comic Books and Manga
Japanese cartoonist Fujio Akatsuka is famous in his home country for pioneering in gag manga such as Bakabon the Genius Idiot and Little Osomatsu. He also popularized the Magical Girl genre with Himitsu no Akko-chan. Both Akko and Osomatsu both debuted at the same time on different magazines and despite having very different styles they made Akatsuka a house-hold name in Japan.
Wilhelm Busch of Max and Moritz fame did more (like oil paintings, novels and serious poems) than pictured stories. But even most Germans wouldn't know that, or all of his stories.
Francesco Marciuliano, the writer of the widely lambasted family-friendly syndicated comic strip Sally Forth, is also the author of Medium Large, a significantly more off-beat comic that is surprisingly funny. Although Sally Forthgot rather more clever when he took it over too.
William Moulton Marston created a lie detector (but not, as is often reported, the polygraph). And Wonder Woman.
Going a bit further back, there was a lady by the name of Patricia Highsmith who wrote for two different comic companies (Fawcett and Western Comics) between 1943 and 1947. Certainly notthe work she's remembered for these days.
Anthrax guitarist, Scott Ian, has written a Lobo comic.
Successful romance novelist Marjorie Liu wrote an X-Men novel in 2005, and soon started writing comics for Marvel as well.
Subversion: Contrary to the running gag at Marvel, the Ralph Macchio who works there is not the same person who appeared in The Karate Kid movies.
Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt has written quite a few comic books, including a one-shot Firefly comic featuring Wash.
Brian Posehn, standup comedian and actor, has written several issues of Deadpool.
Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer are subversions as, unlike other "celebrity" Comic writers, they have done it more-or-less regularly (enough where it isn't that much of news if they are doing something), as opposed to many of the above examples which were either "publicity stunts" or comics they themselves created (and, in some examples, published).
Robert Altman was a prolific industrial film and TV director before finally establishing himself in feature films. He also occasionally dabbled in writing song lyrics. He wrote the lyrics for "Black Sheep", which hit #1 on the country charts in 1983 for John Anderson.
Donald F. Glut is a screenwriter (children's television) and director (exploitation films), but is best known for having written the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back. He does this apparently to support his amateur paleontology habit. He has written many books about dinosaurs, including the seven (so far) volumes of the award-winning reference series, Dinosaurs: An Encyclopedia, which are NOT for the casual dinophile, being intended for folk who know the difference between the quadrate, squamosal, occipital and jugal.
Jim Henson, the creator of The Muppets, did a surrealistic teleplay called The Cube in the 1960s about a man trapped in a small cube who's visited by various strange people as he tries to find his way out. Henson also wrote a screenplay for a surrealist movie titled 'Tale of Sand' (imagine a Looney Tunes episode performed live by humans and you'd basically have this movie). It was never produced in his lifetime, but it was turned into a graphic novel posthumously, with art done by Ramon Perez.
David Lynch is best known for directing Mind Screw films like Eraserhead, Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr. and Inland Empire. Another one of his best-known films is The Elephant Man, which is for the most part a straight forward and extremely emotional drama. He also directed the contested 1984 adaptation of Dune and The Straight Story, the latter of which is a G-rated Disney film. He has also done a number of shorts and directed a few documentaries. Oh, and he started as a painter. He's also done some rather bizarre web shorts, such as the crudely animated series Dumbland, which is... just... well... just watch it.
Seth MacFarlane is also a jazz/swing singer. He has a particularly strong reputation for it in the UK, where he's not only toured but performed several times at the very prestigious BBC Proms and had his own TV and radio specials.
Before becoming a celebrated director, Terrence Malick studied philosophy and published his own translation of one of the works of Martin Heidegger; after that he was a journalist, whose published works included an extensive obituary for Che Guevara in The New Yorker. After entering Hollywood as a screenwriter but before becoming a director with Badlands, his work included a rewrite of the script for Dirty Harry.
Sam Mendes is known to film fans for directing such varied works as American Beauty and Skyfall, but he was a big-name theatre director long before he turned his talents to film — the revival of Cabaret in The Nineties that made Alan Cumming famous? That was his work. He still directs for the stage today, and as an example of his range, he went from Skyfall directly to the 2013 West End musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then to a new staging of King Lear!
Cult film director Russ Meyer was also a prolific photographer for Playboy and other girlie magazines.
Mad Max director George Miller was also responsible for producing Babe, going on to direct its sequel and from there the Happy Feet films. He's also a medical doctor.
Oren Peli, notable for writing/producing/directing the smash hit Paranormal Activity is also a video game programmer, having notably worked on the PC version of Mortal Kombat 3 and the 2007 and 2008 editions of Sony's best-selling MLB The Show. In the latter games, Peli has his own player named after him, as MLB players who are not part of the player's union cannot be represented in a MLBPA-licensed game, so the developers have fictional stand-ins using the names of various members of the programming team, Peli among them.
M. Night Shyamalan, (in)famous for films with supernatural slants and shocking plot twists, co-wrote the screenplay for the first Stuart Little movie. He also made the relatively obscure Miramax film Wide Awake. He also stated in a 2013 interview that he ghost-wrote She's All That.
The Wachowskis creating the Speed Racer film. Their screenplays for Assassins and Bound would also count. According to The Art of The Matrix, it was hard to get funding for the trilogy because everyone thought of them as "those guys who did the movie with the lesbians" (Bound).
Ghost was directed by Jerry Zucker. Yes, as in Jerry Zucker of the ZAZ team that wrote and directed Airplane!. The advertising for the third The Naked Gun included the following tagline: "From the brother of the director of Ghost".
Bill Anderson, a Country Music singer known as "Whisperin' Bill" for his soft, often spoken-word delivery, has written songs for several artists from the 1960s to the present. He also hosted the game shows The Better Sex and Fandago (the former with Sarah Purcell), and owned a stake in the Po' Folks restaurant chain.
The B-52s did "Revolution Earth." You know, that slow, vaguely Celtic-sounding, completely sober hope-for-the-future song with a single, female vocalist throughout?
Tony Banks, better known as a founding member of/keyboard player in the prog rock band Genesis, also did Seven: A Suite For Orchestra, an album of original classical music performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Aleksander Borodin, the Russian 19th-century composer most famous for his opera Prince Igor, was also a notable chemist.
John Cage, 20th-century composer known for his avant-garde works, was also an amateur mycologist (botanist specializing in mushrooms).
David Allan Coe, a country singer best known among mainstream audiences for the popular hit "Take This Job And Shove It", also did a couple of dirty comedy albums in 1978 and 1982.
Jill Colucci, writer of "I'm Gonna Be Somebody" by Travis Tritt and "No One Else on Earth" by Wynonna, also co-wrote and sang "The Funny Things You Do", the original theme to America's Funniest Home Videos.
Devo is best known for "Whip It" and their "energy dome" hats. However, most people have heard a few works by lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh: all of the music on Rugrats, most Wes Anderson movies, and even the jingle from the "Get A Mac" commercials. Several members of Devo have been composing under the company Mutato Muzika since the mid-90's; Mutato Muzika is best known as the musical talent behind the Naughty DogCrash Bandicoot series.
Howard Dietz was a songwriter who often worked with Arthur Schwartz, and many of their songs were featured in the Jukebox Musical movie The Band Wagon. But before he started writing songs for musicals, as a Hollywood advertising man he created the world-famous trademark of Leo the Lion. No wonder Dietz revised the lyrics of "Triplets" for the movie The Band Wagon to include the line "MGM has got a Leo."
Sure, you've heard "Hotel California" and "Take It Easy" dozens of times. But did you know that the Eagles also did the theme song from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Yep, that's "Journey of the Sorcerer", from the album One of These Nights, the same album that gave us "Lyin' Eyes".
Musician Yamantaka Eye, best known as the frontman of the avant-garde band Boredoms, has done many art, most famously designing the cover for BECK's Midnite Vultures.
Singer-songwriter Amelia Fletcher, besides being effectively the mother and Trope Codifier of the twee pop genre, is also an economics professor noted for her work on competition theory, and her OBE is for services to economics.
Peter Garrett, the lead singer of the band Midnight Oil, was elected to the Australian parliament and now serves as a cabinet minister.
Leroy Gomez, lead singer of the 70s Latin-Disco band Santa Esmeralda ("Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood") played saxophone on the Elton John album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
Victor Herbert is best remembered as an operetta composer, but he also wrote a concerto for the cello (which he played) and put his musical theatre career on hold for a few years while leading the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Yes, the same James Newton Howard who played keyboards with Elton John on his albums and tours from 1975 through 1981 (he also played with Elton during his 1980 Central Park concert, and scored Elton's Gnomeo and Juliet film project years later) and scored Elton's 1987 Live In Australia album went on to score Batman Begins, The Sixth Sense, The Hunger Games and The Prince Of Tides. He also wrote and conducted the orchestral score to Toto's 1982 hit, "I Won't Hold You Back".
Charles Ives is famous now for his innovative musical works, but had the habit of not trying hard to have his stuff performed or published in his lifetime. He was known in his day for his innovative business practices as the head of an insurance company, where he wrote such books as Life Insurance with Relation to Inheritance Tax.
Fusion/smooth jazz keyboardist Bob James produced the first two solo albums by Kenny Loggins.
Sidemen for Joey Dee and the Starlighters ("The Peppermint Twist") included, at one time or another, Joe Pesci (on guitar!), Jimi Hendrix, Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers and members of The Young Rascals. Often the Ronettes would dance and sing back-up at the Peppermint Lounge.
Elton John had, prior to making it as a singer-songwriter, worked as a session musician (he played piano on the Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", and sang on low-budget soundalike covers of famous songs, which were sold in local department stores; he was basically Drew's Famous before the fact. This is the source material for the unofficial covers album, "Elton John: Chartbusters Go Pop!" Some of these covers include "In The Summertime" by Mungo Jerry, "Spirit In The Sky" by Norman Greenbaum and..."Young, Gifted And Black" by Aretha Franklin. He also came up with the story for and produced Gnomeo and Juliet.
Led Zeppelin could qualify for this trope. While casual listeners may know them strictly for their rock songs, the band has done other songs (especially folk) that are so far removed from rock they cannot even be properly classified as the genre. Especially "That's The Way".
Jimmy Page was a respected session guitarist and John Paul Jones a respected arranger in The Sixties. They were instrumental in helping to create the Herman's Hermits sound, and worked on Donovan hits. John Bonham was, in fact, the drummer on Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man", and Jimmy Page played rhythm guitar on The Kinks' debut album. Page did not, however, play lead guitar on "You Really Got Me", according to interviews given to Dave Davies despite claims to the contrary.
David McCallum Sr. (father of the actor of the same name) was, for many years, the concertmaster (first chair of the first violin section) of the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. He was also the leader of Mantovani's orchestra throughout the 1960snote When The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was at its peak, Mantovani joked "We can afford the father, but not the son.", was part of the orchestra that performed on The Beatles' songs "A Day in the Life" and "All You Need is Love", and gave Jimmy Page the idea to play his guitar with a cello bow during live performances of "Dazed and Confused".
Yoshikazu Mera is a countertenor who has recorded Bach cantatas and other Baroque music with the Bach Collegium Japan. He also did the Princess MononokeTheme Tune.
Elvis Presley sang a lot of gospel. Listen to a satellite radio station that is all-Elvis, all-the-time and you will realize this. In fact, all three of Elvis' competitive Grammy wins were in the Gospel category. More generally, Elvis sang a lot of many different things. Besides rock 'n' roll and variety, he also sang gospel, yes, but also country, jazz, soul (listen to his Ray Charles covers), funk (If You Talk In Your Sleep), blues and many other genres. Many, many of Elvis' first singles would have Country on one side and R&B on the other, partially as a way to get white folks to listen to 'black' music.
Music/Video game related, Turbo Lover of The Protomen (who voices Dr. Wily) has another band called Cheer Up, Charlie Daniels which can only be described as innocent, happy sounding rockabilly as opposed to Orwellian and villainous (albeit laced with Double Entendres). Female lead The Gambler (the voice of Emily, Light's love interest) and lead guitarist Sir Robert Bakker (who are married in real life) form the center (or formed, as the group recently disbanded) of the Nashville-based, dinosaur-centric band 'Happy Birthday Amy'. Before that, The Gambler and lead singer Panther were also in yet another band together. Not to mention current drummer (they've had four) The Reanimator and second guitarist Cobra T. Washington, who also perform as part of Nashville metal band 'Destroy Destroy Destroy'... The band is like a supergroup composed of members from all across the Nashville indie music scene, fighting in an all-out last-ditch effort to save music from itself.
Guitarist Brian May is also an astrophysicist. At the Turn of the Millennium, he returned to his studies after a break and got his PhD. He is now chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University in England.
Bassist John Deacon is an electrical engineer who built an amplifier good enough for Brian to record with it.
Tim Staffell, the co-writer of 'Doing All Right', and the bassist for Brian May and Roger Taylor's earlier band Smile, went on to become a model maker for the first series of Thomas the Tank Engine. Among his contributions are the faces for the engines, many of the human figures, at least one truck, and, most notably, the system which enabled the engines to 'puff'.
Gerry Rafferty, best known as the singer and guitarist from Stealers Wheel, was formerly (during The Sixties) in a folk music duo called The Humblebums. The other person in the group was Billy Connolly, who's better known as a comedian and actor.
Ramin's lyricist for the Patty Duke theme, Bob Wells, is better known for writing the words of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire)". Two other classic Christmas songs were written by composers who went on to write classic TV themes: "Silver Bells" by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans (Mister Ed), and "It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year", co-written by George Wyle (Gilligan's Island).
Tapio Rautavaara, one of the most beloved singers in Finland, also won the Olympic gold in javelin at the 1948 London Olympics.
Mike Reid, the county singer/songwriter known for Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" and Ronnie Milsap's "Stranger in My House" (which won him a Grammy), has written several award-winning musicals. Oh, and he played defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals for five years.
Mary Rodgers, like her father Richard, was once a composer for Broadway musicals, one of which was Once Upon a Mattress. Then she retired from musical theatre and wrote a book called Freaky Friday.
The classic hit "Come On a-My House" was written by two cousins who were much better known for their other work: Pulitzer-winning writer William Saroyan and Chipmunks creator (and the original David Seville) Ross Bagdasarian (In fact, you hear Miss Miller singing the tune in The Chipmunk Movie).
Paul Shaffer, besides being the longtime bandleader/sidekick for David Letterman, was a mainstay during the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live as musician and featured player in sketches, starred in a short-lived 1977 sitcom called A Year at The Top, played Artie Fufkin note Polymer Records in This Is Spinal Tap, and co-wrote the campy dance anthem "It's Raining Men".
Slash, musician and songwriter of Guns N' Roses, is a pinball player and collector, who owned over twenty tables at one point. He designed the Guns N' Roses pinball game (produced by Data East) because he realized there hadn't been a music-based table in a while and decided to remedy that.
Stephen Sondheim was a writer for the series Topper. He wrote the screenplay to The Last of Sheila with Anthony Perkins, and wrote the non-musical play Getting Away With Murder with George Furth.
Sir Arthur Sullivan would be disappointed to learn that he's now mostly known as "Gilbert and" (although probably not surprised, as it had already started in his lifetime). He wanted to be known more for his serious music and wrote a large number of hymns including "Onward Christian Soldiers".
One of the first credits for Country Music artist Keith Urban was singing backup on a live album... by INXS. He also had a cameo in the video for Alan Jackson's 1994 song "Summertime Blues", wrote a few songs (including one for Toby Keith), and played guitar on several artists' albums. He did one album in 1997 as one-third of The Ranch, and one of his last "he also did" gigs was playing guitar on Garth Brooks' Double Live, recorded at Central Park in 1998.
Voltaire is most well known for his gallows-humor music, but prior to becoming a musician in the late 1990s, he was an award-winning stop-motion animator who did commercials for IKEA, Wendy's, MTV, Nickelodeon and even a Super Bowl commercial for Budweiser. He's also published two non-fiction books and three graphic novels, as well as being a college professor at the School of Visual Arts (New York), and designing toys.
Hank Williams III is a Country Music singer...who also plays Hardcore Punk and Death Metal from time to time. He's made his punk influences blatantly obvious by using a modified Black Flag logo, but his albums usually fell under the line of Country Music, until his label put out his Country Metal album Hillbilly Joker without his permission, not even bothering to advertise the fact that it was a metal album. His independently-released metal albums under his own name escaped the confusion, as did his band Assjack.
"Weird Al" Yankovic compiled an album of Desi Arnaz's best musical numbers from I Love Lucy (Babalu Music) and has directed a number of music videos, both his own and others. He also has a degree in architecture.
Koji Igarashi alias "IGA", and Mikio Saito alias "Metal Yuhki", both big names in the Castlevania series (the first as the man in charge of the series, and the second as the music composer of popular entry Castlevania: Rondo of Blood), are respectively the scenario writer of Tokimeki Memorial 1, and the music producer and composer of the Tokimeki Memorial series.
Toys for Bob, best known for developing Star Control were also a developer for the first two Skylanders games.
Yoko Shimomura is known for composing the awesome soundtracks of games series like Kingdom Hearts and the Mario & Luigi games, as well as Live A Live and the first Parasite Eve game. However, most people don't know that she also composed most of the Street Fighter II soundtrack (Sagat's theme and the Round Start and New Challenge jingles were composed by Isao Abe). This is a double subversion though, as while both the game and its soundtrack are memorable, they are usually not associated with Yoko Shimomura.
Roberta Williams is known mostly for directing a bunch of kid-friendly -Quest games. However, she's allegedly said her favourite project to work on was the not-so-kid-friendly Phantasmagoria.
The SMWCentral user Yogui is known in most hacking communities for the Something series, which are known for their gimmicky, yet well made levels. He also created the very Vanilla Super Mario Ocean and participated in a few contests and collab hacks.
Dave Barry is known most for his humorous books and newspaper columns, and Ridley Pearson is known very well for his thriller and suspense novels. You wouldn't expect these two to overlap in any way, right? Well, not only has Ridley Pearson written several children's books by himself (namely The Kingdom Keepers series and Steel Trapp), but he and Barry have actually written books together, including the popular Peter and the Starcatchers series and Science Fair.
Lewis Black, he of the foul-mouthed, politically-bent standup comedy routine, is an accomplished playwright, having written over 40 plays.
Orson Scott Card wrote the famous Insult Fights from the Monkey Island games, as well as the script for The Dig. He also wrote for Marvel Comics. He was also a conservative political columnist before he became well-known for his science fiction novels.
Anton Chekhov was a famous doctor and considered literature something more of a hobby.
G. K. Chesterton, the famous detective story author, wrote books and articles on religion, mysticism...and just about every other literary genre. Including plays and poetry.
Agatha Christie wrote romance novels under the Pen Name Mary Westmacott. She also wrote a handful of supernatural horror stories.
Noam Chomsky, known to the world at large as a superstar of radical leftist politics, made his name and academic reputation as a linguist, a field in which his theories are considered to be among the most influential of the 20th century.
John D. Clark wrote two short science fiction stories in the 1930s, one of which may hold the minor distinction of being the first hard-SF (for Astounding Stories) story to feature Anti Matter, and collaborated with Robert E. Howard to create a world map and timeline for Conan the Barbarian's career to date. He was also on friendly terms with Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard and other members of the Trapdoor Spiders. His day job? A chemist specialising in rocket propellants.
Roald Dahl, today best-known for his children's books, was chosen to write the screenplay to You Only Live Twice on the basis of his skill as a writer of war stories and his friendship with Ian Fleming. Dahl also wrote the screenplay for the film version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and helped devise a therapy regimen for his then-wife Patricia Neal after she was debilitated by a stroke. He also helped to invent the Wade-Dahl-Till valve: a medical device used to treat hydrocephalus ("water in the brain") by draining the excess fluid out of the skull.
Charles Darwin, most famous for the theory of natural selection, also published a book on earthworms. At the time, it sold better than On The Origin of Species.
Richard Dawkins, a British zoologist who is now probably most known for his outspoken atheism and criticism of religion, is also known in the scientific community for his contributions to the gene-centered view of evolution. He also coined the term "meme".
The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a famous Victorian British mathematician and Anglican deacon, author of some prominent works on logic, is also known under his pen name Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland and several other children's books. He also published a notable essay on parliamentary representation, patented several inventions (including an early version of Scrabble), and was a prolific photographer.
Ian Fleming also did a travelogue book, entitled Thrilling Cities. To enhance sales, he put a James Bond short story at the end of it. James Bond's gadget-filled Aston-Martin was the literary cousin of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a children's book also authored by Fleming.
C. S. Forester wrote both the Horatio Hornblower books and The African Queen. He also wrote Payment Deferred, a crime novel that was adapted into a play and movie.
Brain Jacques, best known for authoring the Young Adult Fantasy Series Redwall, wrote a lot of and portraits about his hometown Liverpool and Merseyside and a couple of autobiographical pieces about his life there, in which he worked as a police constable, a lorry driver, a merchant sailor, a bus driver, a longshoreman, a boxer, a postmaster, a milkman, a railway fireman, a stand-up comedian, a folk singer, a radio host and as a writer of humorous short stories.
Thriller novelist Dean Koontz has scripted (but not drawn) In Odd We Trust, a manga-style comic book prequel to his Odd Thomas series.
Mikhail Lermontov, a Russian 19th-century poet, was also a talented landscape painter.
H.P. Lovecraft wrote a few travelogues, despite usually being considered a recluse who rarely left his home (which isn't true. While he did spend most of his life in Providence and didn't socialise much, he did often travel to meet his friends in other parts of the country). He also wrote the comic short story Sweet Ermengarde, a parody of romantic melodrama, and Waste Paper, a painfully spot-on parody of "The Waste Land." In a vaguely related vein, he responded to a friend's teasing about his teetotaling by writing "Old Bugs", a parodically exaggerated Scare 'Em Straight story about alcohol.
Tim Maki is both a writer of science fiction/fantasy and a professional silversmith.
Vladimir Mayakovskiy, a famous Soviet poet, was also a futuristic artist when he was young.
Friedrich Nietzsche is a very famous writer and philosopher, but fewer people know that he was also a composer (although aspects of music do figure prominently in some of his philosophical texts), mostly writing songs for voice and piano.
Nostradamus, an apothecary by trade, wrote a number of supposed "prophecies" now being used by his followers to (again supposedly) predict future events. He was also an avid maker of jams and jellies. One of his most enduring recipes appears to be the one for cherry jam.
Mystery novelist Anne Perry's real name is Juliet Hulme. That's right, she's the same Juliet Hulme of Parke-Hulme murder case fame, which was the basis of the film Heavenly Creatures. She has also written a religious-themed fantasy novel.
Arthur Ransome wrote the famous British children's adventure series Swallows and Amazons, as well as its Expanded Universe cousins; meanwhile he was a spy and Double Agent, and wrote several instructional manuals of fighting and survival skills.
Dorothy L Sayers, most famous for writing the Lord Peter Wimsey series of detective novels, also oversaw one of the most widely used English translations of Dante's Divine Comedy (in fact, she considered the translation her best work as a writer) and provided the accompanying jingles to John Gilroy's famous "zoo" series of Guinness advertisements.
Shel Silverstein wrote children's poetry and picture books such as The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends. He also wrote novelty songs such as: "The Great Smoke Off", "The Cover of Rolling Stone", "A Boy Named Sue" and its sequel "The Father of a Boy Named Sue". He was also a regular at the Playboy Mansion.
In addition to writing The Jungle, Upton Sinclair also wrote the Children's book The Gnome-Mobile.
J. R. R. Tolkien is most famous for his fantasy novels, but his day job was as a philologist, translator, and university professor; he wrote one of the seminal articles on the subject of the Old English poem Beowulf, translated part of the Jerusalem Bible, did one of the best-known translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and contributed to the Oxford English Dictionary. He also wrote non-Lord of the Rings fantasy stories such as Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham. On the side, he was also an amateur philosopher and Catholic apologist.
Mark Twain was probably diverse enough where nothing would surprise those familiar with him, but those not familiar would probably be surprised to hear about how he wrote travelogues. His first two books were travelogues (The Innocents Abroad, Roughing It) and The Innocents Abroad was his best-selling book while he was alive.
Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, majored in political science and started his career as a political cartoonist.
E.B. White, author of beloved children's books Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web, is also the "White" of "Strunk and White", the handbook more formally known as The Elements of Style.
P. G. Wodehouse is nowadays better known for his light novels than for his work on musical comedies; the song lyrics he wrote for these shows received considerable praise.
Jack Butler, creator of the Evil Overlord List, is primarily known for stories in the Urban Horror genre featuring loads of Gorn, drugs, and blatantly graphic sex, but he's also published six cookbooks and a children's book about a teddy bear protecting its child from the monster under the bed.
George W. Bush was once a part owner of the Texas Rangers, and a pilot in the Air National Guard.
Whittaker Chambers, the ex-Communist-turned-conservative intellectual who was the famed star witness against accused spy Alger Hiss at his 1950 trial, was also responsible for the original English translation of Felix Salten's novel Bambi.
Journalist and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was a voice actor in the BBC Children's Hour radio adaptations of Anthony Buckeridge's Jennings novels in the early 1970s, before his voice broke.note A clip of one of his performances was featured in a 2013 episode of The Unbelievable Truth.
Miley Cyrus' late grandfather, Ron Cyrus, could count as this. United States Senator for 21 years, Little League coach, Armco steel rigger, Kentucky Colonel, executive secretary and treasurer of the Kentucky AFL-CIO, served in the U.S. Air Force in Japan, worked as a regional representative for Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve Board, sang bluegrass with the Crownsmen Quartet, and was a member of the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association.
Charles G. Dawes would fit under this trope if it weren't for the fact that, as Calvin Coolidge's Vice President, no one knows who he is anyway. But he wrote a tune he called 'Melody in A Major,' which later was given lyrics by Carl Sigman and became a No. 1 hit for Tommy Edwards in 1958. Yes, a No. 1 hit song was basically co-written by a US Vice President.
Noted film critic Roger Ebert co-wrote the screenplay for notorious shlock-fest Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Even more jarringly, among his bibliography of film guides, criticism and collections of reviews is a cookbook for electric rice-cookers.
Louis Farrakhan: leader of the Nation of Islam religious group, political activist...former calypso singer?. In fact, Louis Wolcott (as he was known in his calypso days) was the first American to record "Zombie Jamboree" (aka "Jumbie Jamboree").
Shigesato Itoi, the man responsible for the MOTHER/EarthBound series, is ridiculously versatile and has dabbled in pretty much everything in the past thirty years, MOTHER being just another dabbling. He's also known for his fishing games, doing guest-judging on Iron Chef, and for voicing the father on My Neighbor Totoro. His actual profession is writing essays and copywriting, in his signature writing style and idiosyncrasies. In Japan, that's what you think when you hear the name Shigesato Itoi, but in America, (if at all), it's EarthBound. MOTHER was just Itoi experimenting into a new medium after being inspired by playing Dragon Quest, and its sales in Japan are largely based on the fact that he made it, and it and its sequels' slogans were also a factor, of course. The TV commercial even specifically says that it was by him, invoking In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It without actually using it. Its sequels' sales were also boosted by the fact that they were sequels to the games before them.
Tom Kneitel was a well-known figure among radio hobbyists, mostly for being the editor of the magazines S9 (about CB radio) and Popular Communications (mainly about shortwave radio). But he and his wife were also extremely influential figures in the establishment of Wicca in America. Since he used a "craft name" (Phoenix) for his Wiccan activities, hardly anyone in either camp was aware of his prominence elsewhere.
Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, is not only a respected long-serving (now retiring) United States Senator and, before that, president of the retail chain Kohl’s, he is also the owner of an NBA Basketball team: the Milwaukee Bucks.
James Lipton of Inside the Actor's Studio wrote the opening theme for Thundercats.
Pioneering goresploitation film director Herschell Gordon Lewis leads a double-life as an advertising copywriter and has written dozens of books about direct-market advertising (don't youdarecall it "junk mail" in his presence).
Former United States Senate Majority Leader and current special envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, a Maine Democrat. Between holding those jobs, he became the Chairman of Walt Disney, Chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast Northern Ireland, lead the Baseball steroid investigation, was president of the international law firm DLA Piper, helped negotiate peace in Ireland, and was a board member of several companies including the Boston Red Sox, and held several diplomatic posts.
Audie Murphy is probably best known as a highly decorated WWII veteran who earned most of his medals by doing Crazy Awesome things in combat. But he also cowrote (with the help of an uncredited journalist friend) a best-selling war memoir, To Hell And Back, which he parlayed into an acting career that spanned 44 movies in 20 years, mostly lead roles in b-westerns. During the Korean War, he served stateside as a training instructor in the Texas National Guard. He also became a breeder of racing Quarter Horses, and contributed significantly to the development of the breed. He also occasionally rode as a jockey and won two novelty races. He sought catharsis for his war experiences by writing poetry, and from there he branched out into writing lyrics for Country Music songs. In addition, he occasionally worked as an undercover agent for the police, investigating drug dealers and possibly the mafia. And this was a guy who didn't live to see retirement age!
Isaac Newton is famous as the discoverer of gravity, the laws of motion, and calculus, but throughout his life he mostly practiced alchemy. He was also the Master of the Royal Mint, and successfully prosecuted counterfeiters.
Alfred Nobel (yes, that Nobel) invented dynamite and owned huge weapons factories. He created the Nobel prizes after a scathing obituary was written about him being a "merchant of death" (after a mix-up where his brother died and that paper thought it was Alfred). He willed the bulk of his estate to awarding the prizes so he wouldn't be remembered that way.
Pablo Picasso was most famous for his cubist work, but he was also a major player amongst futurists, expressionists, surrealists, neoclassicists, artists of New Objectivity, dadaists and Art Brut. Many people don't realize that most members of these movements hated all the other movements, so Picasso's involvement with them all (and the fact that he was idolized by them all) is astounding. He was also a successful impressionist, and one of the earliest known comic artists.
Albert Schweitzer is remembered by most people as a physician and humanitarian, but he was also a musician (organist), musicologist (who wrote studies of the works of J.S. Bach), theologian, Lutheran minister, and philosopher.
Albert Speer, the architect responsible of the Nazi monumental architecture, was also the creator of the Volkswagen (ironically known as a hippie-culture icon).
Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous child care specialist also won an Olympic gold medal in rowing back in 1924. Furthermore, he was a prominent member of the movement opposing the Vietnam War.
Henry Agard Wallace was FDR's Agriculture Secretary, Vice President and Commerce Secretary, in that order. While he is remembered more for his political work, he was among the first to breed hybrid corn (and other things from strawberries to chickens), and wrote a number of works on agriculture. In addition, he edited both The New Republic (after he left government) and Wallaces' Farmer (before he went into government).
Chaim Weizmann was a Zionist leader and the first President of Israel. He was also a notable chemist, "who developed the ABE-process which produces acetone through bacterial fermentation" (Wikipedia).
Original host Chuck Woolery, who quit in 1981, later went on to host of such popular shows as Love Connection, Scrabble, and Lingo. He was originally one-half of the psychedelic rock duo The Avant-Garde, and a solo country music artist while he hosted Wheel. Woolery has also hosted several infomercials, and a conservative video series on YouTube.
Current host Pat Sajak (1981-present) he has written essays and blog entries for several conservative publications, and owns two AM radio stations in Maryland.
Also from Wheel, co-host Vanna White (1982-present) has written several books on crocheting and sells her own line of yarn when she's not lighting up letters.
History has seen a lot of Warrior Poets, along with Warrior Philosophers, and Warrior Artists. Socrates fought against the invading Persians, Xenophon was a Greek mercenary, Thucydides experienced first-handedly the Peloponnesian Wars, Horace fought in the Roman Civil Wars, a sharp decrease can be seen during the Dark Ages (where the ruling caste were often barbarian invaders) and the Middle Ages (where the feudal lords were sometimes literate and sometimes not and usually had enough on their plates politically to keep them busy). Things go booming during the last years of the High Middle Ages, where knights were supposed to be poets as well, while still being actually efficient and ruthless iron-clad warriors. The heyday of the Warrior Poet, some examples includes Chrétien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Mallory, and very notably Dante Alighieri, who incidentally had to exiled from Florence and became a rogue knight who fought for many different lords, Leonardo da Vinci was contracted as a military engineer in Venice, Miguel De Cervantes was a young officer and war hero at Lepanto, and so it goes.
Adolf Hitler, known as a dictator responsible for the deaths of millions, started as an artist. Some of his paintings are actually pretty good.
As you might have gathered from reading this list, this is true of many politicians, who transitioned into that occupation after gaining some degree of recognition elsewhere. Examples include military service, acting, business, and of course, many many lawyers.
And in the course of politics, some politicians have a surprising history of policies they supported in the past. Often ripe fodder for discussion during election campaigns.
Many companies started in one business but shifted into new markets with the changing times.
After the aviation industry bubble popped after World War Inote no war meant many government contracts being cancelled and thousands of military aircraft and parts being dumped onto the surplus market, meaning many airplane builders going out of business, Boeing started selling wood furniture. After a similar (but less drastic) market downturn after the Vietnam War, they went into business selling mass transit systems to cities. And of course, they also used to be in the airline business before it became illegal for aircraft manufacturers to operate airlines in the US.note The airline in question was split off and continues to exist today as United Airlines.
Abercrombie & Fitch is a well-known purveyor of casual clothing for hip young folks. Until the 1980s, A&F was a sporting goods store, and to this day you can still find Abercrombie and Fitch hunting rifles and shotguns on the used market and in collections.
In Jon Sable, Freelance mercenary Jon Sable is also writes children's books. Of course, he goes to great length to keep that a secret since who would hire a mercenary that writes children's books. He also was an Olympic Athlete.
Zal of Quantum Gravity primarily does Mode X (think rock/alternative) stuff, but when he was starting out, he did a lot of different stuff. Naming it all is a task better put to a page detailing music genres.