A look back at stars who kicked off their careers with cringe ads

A look back at stars who kicked off their careers with cringe ads

September 21, 2022

Where it all began! As Courteney Cox recreates a tampon commercial she made in the 80s, FEMAIL reveals the other A-listers who began their acting careers with cringe ads… but can YOU guess who they are?

  • Courteney, 58, put a spin on her iconic 1985 Tampax commercial to raise awareness about menopause 
  • The Friends star was famously the first person to say the word ‘period’ on America TV thanks to the advert
  • However, the actress isn’t the only star to feature on a television ad before finding fame
  • FEMAIL puts your celeb knowledge to the test as we show some famous faces who starred in commercials before they were well-known

The likes of Courteney Cox, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are known as major Hollywood stars now but they were all just struggling actors who had to star in cheesy commercials at the start of their careers.

Most celebrities do their best to avoid bringing their early work back into the spotlight, but Friends star Cox recently decided to parody her 1985 Tampax commercial for a good cause.

The 58-year-old famously became the first person to say the word ‘period’ on American TV in her iconic advert. So she decided it was time to use the advert as a way to highlight issues about menopause, rather than menstruation.

Taking to Instagram on Sunday, the Monica Gellar actress shared clips of the ad alongside modern-day footage that saw her recreating the original look in a leotard and leg warmers.

Instead of highlighting the virtues of tampons, Cox spoke miseries of menopause. 

Courteney Cox, 58, put a spin on her iconic 1985 Tampax commercial to help raise awareness about menopause

Instead of highlighting the virtues of tampons, Cox sarcastically shared some of the miseries of menopause in the humorous Instagram clip

A post shared by Courteney Cox (@courteneycoxofficial)

‘Did your life completely change because of menopause?’ Cox asks. ‘Still getting hot flashes?’

‘Let me tell it to ya straight,’ the star continues while recreating the original’s locker room scene.

‘Menopause will change the way you feel about getting older. Menopause will eat you alive. It’s horrible. Nothing else can do that.’

Cox goes on to explain how the menopause brings ‘the added bonus of drier skin, and getting bald patches’ as she continues in an sarcastically upbeat tone: ‘Now that’s something’.

She signs off: ‘Remember – there is nothing good about menopause. It can actually change the way you feel about getting older.’

However, the actress isn’t the only star to feature on a television ad before finding fame.

Here, FEMAIL takes a look back at the commercials some stars might rather forget. Can you guess who these young stars are?


1. Bubble Yum (1988)

This Oscar winner was seen selling bubblegum before viewers saw him boarding a famous ship

This Oscar-winner has been praised for his acting talents ever since he was a young teen, so it’s no surprise he was chosen to advertise this bubblegum brand in 1988.

The star has since played Wall Street legends, iconic Shakespearean characters and featured in record-breaking movies.

2. Maull’s Barbecue Sauce ( 1993)

This singer soon became a household name for her vocals and dance moves, but she never stopped dabbling in acting after helping to sell burger sauce

This Southern pop star has always been a natural in front of the camera as seen in this Maull’s Barbecue Sauce advert.

Though she continued to act from time to time, it’s her vocals and dance moves that made her become a household name. 

3. Pringles (1989)

The actor’s good looks were used to advertise Pringles before he went on to become a Hollywood hunk

This Hollywood heartthrob went on to prove he’s more than just a handsome face after starring in this playful Pringles commercial.

He’s since been seen playing the angel of death, a Greek legend and enjoying surprising train rides.

4. Pepsi (1989)

This actress starred in string of commercials for Pepsi long before moving to America and becoming part of a famous TV family

This comedic actress made a splash with her first TV commercial for Pepsi, which was filmed when she was 17.

She eventually moved to American and became a member of one of the most famous TV families. 

5. Preparation H (1980s)

This actor was selling something far less controversial compared to his famous TV character

This celebrated actor probably wishes the world could forget that he once helped to advertise hemorrhoids cream.

His most famous character went on to sell something even more controversial in his hit TV series. 

6. Burger King (1981)

She went on to star in iconic teen and horror projects but this actress was simply the adorable girl in Burger King’s first TV commercial 

This actress is widely recognized after playing a string of iconic teen characters, however she also starred in Burger King’s first ever televised TV commercial in 1981.

Little did viewers know this adorable tot would go on to star in classic horror movies.

7. Burger King (1989)

This actor first showed off his acting skills in an advert for Burger King

Long before he became known for his love of another fast-food company, this actor/director put his talents to use for a Burger King commercial.

The Oscar winner is known as well-known for his love life as he is for his work on screen. 

8. Commercial Federal Bank (1997)

Fans of this actress first heard her singing voice in an advert for Commercial Federal Bank

Before showcasing her vocals for Disney, this actress parodied Grease for this Commercial Federal Bank advert.

Her career has also seen her communicate with Aliens, fall in love with Superheroes and propose to her boyfriend.

9. America’s Diary Farmers (1990)

Before he was on a mission to find some jewelry, this actor was the top pick for America’s Dairy Farmers

This star was on a mission to help convince children that vegetables could be made more enjoyable with the help of some melted cheddar cheese.

While best known for his work on an iconic franchise, he’s also starred in neo-noir thrillers and lent his voice to children’s animation flicks.

10. Burger Boy (1988)

This actress starred her career with an advert for Burger Boy which aired in Mexico

When she was in her 20s, this well-known actress starred in her first TV advert for Burger Boy, a Mexican burger chain.

11. Safeguard (1973)

Not long after starring in a string on adverts for products like Safeguard soap, this actor fast became a Hollywood superstar

This Hollywood legend was happy to show off his famous vocals for this upbeat adverts for Band-Aids and Safeguard soap. 

He went on to win the hearts of fans at a leather jacket wearing high schooler, a disco-dancing teen and even swapped faces with another famous actor.

12. Barbie (1996)


This familiar face landed a string of commercials before playing a famous teen character and launching a successful Hollywood career

This Ukrainian-born actress landed this commercial with Barbie after her very first audition and has gone on to become known as one of the Sexiest Women Alive.

She’s played everything from a ballet dancer to a struggling mother and famously voices a Family Guy character.


1. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio starred in Bubble Yum advert in 1988, which was one of many commercial he appeared in as a young teen – pictured right in 2021

With a career that has seen him become of one of the best actors in the business, some fans would be surprised to learn that Leonardo DiCaprio could only get work on TV commercials for a period of time before finally securing regular TV and film roles.

Leo, now 47, starred in over 20 adverts including this one which saw the high-pitched voice 14-year-old popping gum and rocking out in front of a large hi-fi system.

By 1992, he was working alongside Robert De Niro in the Poison Ivy film series before landing his breakthrough role as the intellectually disabled brother of Johnny Deep’s character in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993).

2. Britney Spears

A young Britney Spears showed off her famous smile in a 1993 advert for Maull’s barbecue sauce – pictured right in 2022

Right after being cast in The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and others, Britney Jean Spears was hired to star in a commercial for barbecue sauce.

She was one of several kids who featured in the ad but Spears’ winning smile was highlighted as she held onto a burger.

While Spears, now 40, went on to become a record-breaking pop star, the singer continued to act in films and TV shows during her career. 

3. Brad Pitt 

Brad Pitt started to make viewers soon from the start of his career thanks to a Pringles advert in 1989 – pictured right in 2022

Before he became a hot commodity in Hollywood, Brad Pitt, now 58, was out patrolling the streets looking for Pringle-popping ladies to impress, or so this commercial shows.

The actor – who would have been about 25 years of age when he filmed this – sports a golden tan and cavorts with his ‘jock’ friends in a yellow convertible which breaks down.

Thankfully, Brad and his fellow shirtless bros find a group of girls who have Pringles. They have a party, their car gets fixed, and they leave, but the girls are suddenly out of Pringles. 

With no dialogue, Brad can only showcase his acting prowess by munching the crisps in a ecstatic manner. 

Luckily for him, the advert did nothing to stop a career which saw him win an Oscar for his role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).

4. Sofia Vergara

Sofia landed her first TV commercial with this Pepsi spot, which aired in her native Colombia in 1989 – pictured right in 2022

Before making audiences laugh in Modern Family, Vergara landed her first TV commercial at the age of 17.

The Pepsi spot aired in her native Colombia but has regained popularity online after the actress, now 50, shared the throwback clip with fans on Instagram.

It was part of a series of adverts that she did with beverage company after being spotted by a photographer on a Colombian beach. 

After a few years of modelling and TV presenting, Vergara went on to make the move to novellas, and eventually moved to the States. 

5. Bryan Cranston 

Bryan Cranston had the starring role in an early 80s advert for hemorrhoids cream, Preparation H – pictured right in 2022

Considering his now-legendary status following a starring role in Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston’s hemorrhoids advert in the 80s is certainly one of the most embarrassing. 

Cranston, now 66, walks up to the camera in a retro suit and holds up a tub of Preparation H, raving about ‘hemorrhoidal tissue’ and the cream’s beneficial qualities. 

A real treat for anyone who ever wanted to hear Walter White say things like ‘absorption’ and ‘inflamed hemorrhoid tissue’.

6. Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Burger King’s first televised commercial in 1981 – pictured right in 2022

She may be widely recognized as stake-toting high-kicking Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but 45-year-old Sarah Michelle Gellar started her career as a child actor, and starred in Burger King’s first ever televised advert in 1981.

Pictured in sweet lavender dungarees and ribbon-held bunches, four-year-old Gellar sits on a picnic bench in an idyllic town and weighs up Burger King’s benefits against McDonald’s disadvantages.

However, the advert led to her being named in a lawsuit that McDonald’s filed against Burger King over the content of the commercial. It was also believed that the actress was banned from ever eating at McDonald’s ever again, but that wasn’t exactly the case. 

In 2004, Gellar stated: ‘Banned is a strong word…I wasn’t allowed to eat there. It was tough because, when you’re a little kid, McDonald’s is where all your friends have their birthday parties, so I missed out on a lot of apple pies.’

7. Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck kick-started his acting career by featuring in a Burger King commercial in 1989 – pictured right in 2021

Oscar-winner Ben Affleck was seen as all-American teen who intercepts a call from a girl who wants to know if she’s reached Burger King.

Coincidentally, Affleck, now 50, can be seen driving past a Burger King restaurant as the mystery woman asks if she could have a chef’s salad delivered. So he runs over to Burger King and delivers the salad to her door.

The commercial soon led to Affleck was starring in films like Dazed and Confused, Chasing Amy and Mallrats in the years that followed.

8. Amy Adams

Amy Adams channeled Sandy Olsson in a 1997 advert for Commercial Federal Bank – pictured right in 2022

In 1997, an unknown Amy Adams parodied Grease for this Omaha-filmed spot for Commercial Federal Bank.

She wasn’t the only star to feature in the advert with a young Andrew Rannells (The Prom) channeling Danny Zuko.

Adams, now 48, showcased her vocals later on in the 2007 Disney film, Enchanted, in which she played Princess Giselle.

Elsewhere, she’s been celebrated for a string of critically praised dramatic and comedic roles during her career.

9. Elijah Wood

Elijah Wood was the adorable kid featured in a 1990 America’s Dairy Farmers advert

In 1990, the boy who would become Frodo lent his talents to America’s Dairy Farmers for an advert about melted cheese and vegetables.

The actor, now 41, went on to get his first break in the music video for Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl, directed by David Fincher. Followed by a pivotal role in the made-for-TV film, Child in the Night, and a minor role in Back to the Future Part II.

These days he is best known for his performances in The Lord of the Rings franchise, Sin City and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

10. Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek starred in an 1988 commercial for Burger Boy before landing acting roles – pictured right in 2022

In 1988, a 20-something-year-old Salma Hayek starred in her first TV commercial for Mexican burger chain, Burger Boy.

The actress, now 56, went on to star in successful Mexican telenovelas before making the move to America in 1991.

Determined to pursue a film career in Hollywood, Hayek took worked to improve her English and battled to land role until she was cast opposite Antonio Banderas in 1995 flick, Desperado. 

11. John Travolta

John Travolta starred in adverts for Band-Aids and Safeguard in a 1973 – pictured right in 2022

Years before Grease, John took his shirt off and sang the Band Aid theme song for one commercial.

Another saw him hope into the locker rooms shower to promote Safeguard soap in 1973.

The star soon went on to begin his illustrious career with roles in Saturday Night Fever and Grease. As well as releasing hit singles like 1976 track, Let Her In. 

12. Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis starred in adverts for Barbie and Lisa Frank at the start of her career – pictured right in 2022

Four years before Mila Kunis, now 39, got her big break in sitcom That ’70s Show, she was just another girl who liked to play with dolls – and starred in an advert for Glitter Hair Barbie in 1994.

Shortly after, the then-13 year-old starred in a Lisa Frank commercial which aired on screens in 1993. 

In the years that followed, Mila was crowned FHM’s Sexiest Woman Alive, starred in hit films such as Black Swan and Bad Moms and tied the knot with her former That ’70s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher.

Source: Read Full Article