3Jimmy Stewart: Master Architect
Jimmy Stewart was such a huge star 50 years ago that even if you've never seen a movie starring him (that is, "never turned on a TV during Christmas"), you still know his face. He starred in cinematic hits of pretty much every major genre except porn, but it turns out that acting wasn't his first career choice: Originally, he wanted to go into the far more exciting world of architecture.
Stewart's dream was to be an architect, and he actually went to Princeton to become one. He wasn't just farting around there, either: His thesis on airport design was so impressive that he was given a full scholarship for graduate school. In 1932, Stewart graduated near the top of his class ... the only problem was that this was in the middle of the Great Depression, and his prospects for finding work in his chosen profession weren't looking so great.
As Stewart himself put it, "Nobody was putting up any buildings at the time. Yet the theater was exploding." And so he went into acting, not because it's what he really wanted to do for the rest of his life, but simply for job security. Stewart had done a little theater at Princeton, but didn't seriously devote himself to it until he realized the whole architecture thing wasn't working out. Soon he moved to New York and appeared in a bunch of plays. His work gained him some screen tests at Hollywood studios, whom he impressed despite having little formal training.
Not sure if he's acting here or flashing gang signs.
Despite apparently not being that much into it, Stewart became a film star (in the meantime taking a long break to kick ass in World War II), becoming famous for his collaborations with directors like Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Mann. In fact, many of his most legendary roles were written specifically for him, and by the time he started doing Westerns with Mann, he had enough control that he was the one who chose the director. This means that if things had gone Stewart's way, there might be a few nice buildings somewhere, but we'd be short several classic movies, and It's a Wonderful Life might have starred, say, John Wayne.
2Justice Clarence Thomas: Priest
Since 1991, Clarence Thomas has been one of the more prominent and most controversial members of the Supreme Court. He's the most consistently conservative member of the court and doesn't shy away from being the only dissenting voice during high-profile cases. He's also famous for being silent during interrogations: He just sits there and stares into your soul.
"Last summer? I know what you did every summer."
However, if not for a stray comment, he would never have ended up on the Supreme Court. Thomas didn't plan on becoming a judge, or even a lawyer, for that matter -- from a young age, he really wanted to become a priest. As a young man, Thomas entered St. John Vianney's Minor Seminary in Savannah, becoming the first black student in the school's history. In fact, he was doing so well, he was sent off to a finishing seminary in Missouri and continued to rise fast.
It was the first step in his goal to never wear pants again.
But then, in 1968, one dickbag changed the entire course of his life. Two dickbags, actually: The one who shot Martin Luther King Jr., and the seminary classmate who reacted to the news by saying he hoped the son of a bitch died (another source gives a slightly more racist and genocidal phrasing). Thomas was already becoming disenchanted with the Catholic church because he believed they weren't doing enough to fight racism and he himself felt discriminated against, but that was the last straw: If that dickbag was supposed to be a man of God, Thomas didn't want to be one, too. And so he became a lawyer instead.
"You know what, just sign me up for anything involving robes."
So instead of preaching love and forgiveness, Thomas became one of the harshest, most uncompromising judges out there today, thanks to one racist loudmouth.