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Celebrity Encounters

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Before They Were Celebrities They Were Bouncers

Steven "Steve" John Wilkos born March 9, 1964 is an American television personality, a former U.S. Marine and a Lieutenant with the Chicago police department. He currently hosts his own talk show, The Steve Wilkos Show, but is best known as the former director of security on The Jerry Springer Show.

While performing security functions at The Jerry Springer Show, Steve would occasionally step in to interrupt or separate guests that would get involved in physical altercations. During his attempt to separate the fighting party, the crowd would sometimes call out his name, "STEVE! STEVE! STEVE!" in support of his actions. Other times, he would be the subject of flirtatious comments by either the invited guests or the audience, afterwards someone in the crowd would again call his name out. This action replicated itself on his own show, often substituting applause for "STEVE! STEVE! STEVE!" as a sign of approval.

In January 2007, NBC Universal Television officially announced that Wilkos would host a talk show of his own based at NBC Tower in Chicago. The self-titled program premiered on September 10, 2007 to high ratings.


Jesse James the host of TV's Monster Garage without being too obsequivious. Lots of insight into the creative process behind some of the most sought after custom chopper currently on the market. Who would've known that Jesse James, the television personality started his career as a barroom bouncer. Filled with hundreds of candid personal photos and hard to find rare pictures of Jesse's early custom motorcycle creations.  
Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel was born Mark Sinclair Vincent on July 18, 1967 in New York City. He was raised in Greenwich Village by his mother Delora who is a psychologist and stepfather Irving Vincent, a teacher. Vin Diesel's name actually came from a job he had as a bouncer. As he once explained, bouncers usually don't give out their real names and he went by Vin Diesel as a bouncer. That name eventually stuck. He got involved in acting at an early age. At the age of seven he was involved in "Theatre for the New City" in Greenwich Village doing stage work. Diesel is multiethic and is part African-American, Italian and Scottish. Vin has a fraternal twin brother, Paul Vincent who is younger by fourteen minutes. Paul Vincent is also involved in the movie industry and works as a film editor.  

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan at 6'5" and in excess of 300 pounds, cuts an imposing figure and it comes as no surprise that his resume includes stints working in security. But this gentle giant, a jovial man with a warm personality and keen sense of humor proved his mettle as a screen actor with his powerful performance as the death row inmate John Coffey in "The Green Mile" (1999), Frank Darabont's adaptation of the Stephen King novel. The Chicago native was encouraged by his mother to pursue acting, and despite obtaining a college degree in communications, Duncan found himself digging ditches for the local gas company. Moonlighting as a bouncer and guard at various clubs on the city's South Side, he met one of the producers of the touring stage show, "Beauty Shop, Part 2" and was hired as the producer's personal security. Although he often asked for the opportunity to act in the play, the producer would not let him.  

Jean Claude Van Damme

Jean Claude Van Damme's life story has the perfect makings for a mid-afternoon soap opera. Growing up he was by all reports, a very awkward child. He was short, thin, wore glasses and was in the ballet. It's hard to believe that this nerdy little kid would grow into a martial arts super star. He started martial arts at the age of 11, his father introduced him to martial arts when he saw that Van Damme was physically weak. Jean-Claude started with Shotokan Karate. He later studied Kickboxing, Taekwon-Do, and Muay Thai. He took English classes while working as carpet layer, pizza delivery man, limo driver, and thanks to Chuck Norris he got a job as a bouncer at a club. He gave Van Damme a small role in the movie 'Missing in Action', but it wasn't good enough to get anybody's attention. Then in 1984 he got a role as a villain named Ivan in the low-budget movie _No Retreat, No Surrender (1985).  

Danny Aiello

Danny Aiello An Italian-American character actor with a beefy physique, no-nonsense expression, and intimidating presence, Danny Aiello came to acting late in life, having been a bus driver, a transport labor official, a night-club bouncer, and (he claims) an occasional thief. Aiello made his screen debut in Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), and he went on over the next 15 years to play a succession of tough guys, cops, brutes, slobs, and "ordinary guys" in a wide variety of movies, but broke out of that mold when he portrayed Cher's fiancée in Moonstruck (1987). For his portrayal of a pizza parlor owner in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing two years later, Aiello received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. He went on to become one Hollywood's more prolific character actors; between 1989 and 1996, he appeared in 26 feature films.  

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin  

Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker  Oscar-winning actor FOREST WHITAKER was stabbed while working as a doorman at a nightclub - but lived to tell the tale. The Last King of Scotland star is used to violence on the movie set - acting in films such as Blown Away and The Shield - but wasn't so happy when he sustained a multitude of injuries in real-life. He says, "In real life - from when I used to do a bit of bouncing - I have been stabbed a few times. "It was a guy who was a little... I don't really want to talk about it. He was just pissed (annoyed) at something going on and I was trying to control him, so ultimately he pulled a knife on me. I've got stabs and bites from people. I haven't been shot though!"  

Mr. T

Mr.T actor, performer. Born Laurence Tero Tureaud on May 21, 1952, in Chicago, Illinois, as the youngest boy in a family of 12 children. His father was a minister who left the family when Tureaud was only five years old, leaving his mother to raise him and his siblings.

A constant daydreamer, Tureaud's head-in-the-clouds attitude earned him average grades. Instead, he excelled at athletics and became a football star and three-time wrestling champion in high school. Upon graduation, Tureaud won a scholarship to play football for the Prairie View A&M University Panthers in Prairie View, Texas. In 1971, he decided to attend Prairie View and pursue a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He was expelled after only one year.

Deciding school was not for him, Tureaud became a military policeman in the U.S. Army. After his short stint in the military, Tureaud decided to try out for the Green Bay Packers, a professional football team in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A debilitating knee injury kept him from making the team.

In the mid 70s, Tureaud returned to Chicago and found a job as a doorman. His days as a military policeman helped him gain a reputation as one of Chicago's toughest, and most infamous, bouncers. Always the consummate showman, Tureaud adopted a Mohawk hairstyle inspired by a National Geographic photo of an African Mandikan warrior. He started sporting piles of gold jewelry, which he claimed to have taken from misbehaving customers. He also adopted the name Mr. T, claiming the new moniker would force customers to show him respect.

Mr. T's position as a bouncer for one of Chicago's hottest nightclubs frequently put him in contact with celebrities. His outrageous reputation and his famous connections earned Mr. T the new job of celebrity bodyguard. Charging more than $3,000 a night, Mr. T began protecting stars such as Steve McQueen, Diana Ross, and Muhammad Ali. The job lasted nearly ten years, until a chance meeting with actor Sylvester Stallone in 1980 changed everything.

After spotting Mr. T on a televised bouncer competition, Stallone decided to cast the bodyguard in his film, Rocky III (1982). Mr. T played Clubber Lang, a boxer pitted against the film's main character, Rocky Balboa. It was during the filming of this movie that Mr. T coined the catch phrase "I pity the fool!" The film became a blockbuster hit, grossing over $125 million at the box office. Audiences loved Mr. T's over-the-top character, and his performance made him an overnight sensation.


Al Capone

Al Capone is one of the most recognized names in American history. Alphonse was born to Neapolitan immigrants Gabriel and Teresa. His surname, originally Caponi, had been Americanized to "Capone". The Capone family included James, Ralph, Salvatore (Frank), Alphonse, John, Albert, Matthew, Rose and Mafalda. Capone was proud to be an American "I'm no Italian. I was born in Brooklyn", he often said. At fourteen he quit school after striking a teacher. Capone and Lucky Luciano joined a gang known as the Five Pointers, on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Capone worked for Frank Yale, president of the Unione Siciliane, as a bouncer and bartender. One night he made a remark about the sister of Frank Galluciano, and Galluciano slashed Capone's face with a pocket knife, leaving three large scars on the left side of his face. For much of his criminal career, newspapers would call Capone by the hated name "Scarface". Incredibly, Capone choose to forgive Galluciano and, years later, hired him as a bodyguard.  





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