The searchable collection of more than 50,000 U.S. school yearbooks on Ancestry.com includes a celebrity gallery, where you can see the likes of Madonna dancing with her high school classmates and Jake Gyllenhaal getting smooched by a couple of seventh-grade fans. It’s fun to see where someone famous went to school, what they looked like as a teenager, and whether they played the oboe or wrestled.
Even better, with more than 7 million images, the Ancestry.com yearbook archive does more than just provide a peek into celebrities’ earlier lives; it contains pictures and information about a lot of your ancestors, as well.
To whet your appetite for your own search, check out how these eight celebrities looked back when they were still “one of us.”
1. David Letterman was 16 in 1965, attended Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, and looked just how you’d expect him to look. During high school, his family lived near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and he worked as a stock boy at the local Atlas Supermarket. One of his classmates was Marilyn Tucker, who later married Dan Quayle. Letterman went on to attend Ball State University and later endowed a scholarship there, especially for what he jokingly called “C students.” The talk show host started working in late-night television in 1982.
2. In 1969, when Oprah Winfrey was a sophomore at Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisconsin, her class got raves for its float in the school’s annual “Tip-Off” weekend. No details on whether Oprah was directly involved (or what they were tipping off). She later attended Nashville East High School, where she was elected school president and met President Nixon as part of her public speaking class. When she was a senior, someone from the local radio station heard her rehearsing with her drama class and offered her a radio news job. Soon after that, she entered a public speaking contest and won. The prize was a scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she majored in speech communications and performing arts.
3. Jerome Seinfeld (you probably know him as Jerry) attended Massapequa High School in New York. A couple of years before this 1972 photo was taken, he volunteered in a kibbutz in Israel. His father, Kalman Seinfeld, was a sign maker of Hungarian Jewish descent and his mother, Betty Hesney, of Syrian Jewish descent; her family lived in Aleppo. After high school, he went to SUNY Oswego and then Queens College, City University of New York, where he appeared in college productions and got a degree in communications and theater. The comedian, actor, and writer is best known for his semi-autobiographical sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989 through 1998.
4. Actor Tom Hanks (here in 1974) went to Skyline High School in Oakland, California, where he acted in a high school production of South Pacific. He told Rolling Stone magazine he was unpopular with both teachers and other students and said, “I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy. At the same time, I was the guy who’d yell out funny captions during filmstrips. But I didn’t get into trouble. I was always a real good kid and pretty responsible.” After high school, he went on to study theater and went to a lot of plays by himself. “I wouldn’t take dates with me,” he said. “I’d just drive to a theater, buy myself a ticket, sit in the seat and read the program, and then get into the play completely.”
5. Actress Demi Moore (Demi Guynes at the time) was a freshman at Redondo Union High School in California in 1977. Then, her family moved to West Hollywood, and she transferred to and then dropped out of Fairfax High School at age 16 to pursue an acting career. She moved to Europe and signed up with the Elite Modeling Agency, then was inspired by her next-door neighbor, the 17-year-old German actress Nastassja Kinski, to take drama classes.
6. Halle Berry (shown here in 1984) attended Bedford High School in Bedford, Ohio. Her parents divorced when she was 4 and after that she was raised by her mother, who was a psychiatric nurse. The actress was originally named Maria Halle Berry, and then her parents legally changed her name to Halle Maria Berry when she was 5. “Halle” came from the local landmark Halle’s Department Store in her hometown of Cleveland. After Bedford High, Halle worked in a department store, went to Cuyahoga Community College, and then started entering — and winning — beauty contests. She went on to a successful modeling and acting career and won an Academy Award in 2002.
7. Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts (shown here at Campbell High School in Smyrna, Georgia, 1985) was born in Smyrna to parents who ran a children’s acting school in Decatur, Georgia. While expecting Julia, they taught the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and in appreciation, Mrs. King paid Mrs. Roberts’ hospital bill when Julia was born. Julia wanted to be a veterinarian as a child and played the clarinet in her school’s band. She’s been named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” 11 times.
8. In 1988, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. was 17 years old and a student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in southern California. He evolved into the rapper, singer-songwriter, and actor Snoop Dogg four years later after being discovered by Dr. Dre; “Snoopy” was his childhood nickname. He first sang at Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church, and he played the piano from the time he was a young child. He started rapping in sixth grade.