Ozzie Osbourne

Ozzie OsbourneBorn in 1948 in Aston, Birmingham as John Michael Osbourne, the fourth of six children.  The Osbourne family lived in poverty and a crowded house. Ozzy was beaten regularly by his father, mainly for behavior such as trying to kill his siblings.  Constant fighting and arguing between Ozzy’s parents about their financial situation finally prompted him to try and do something about it.  At the age of fifteen, Ozzy took his first job as a plumber’s assistant. Ozzy also tried some jobs in crime; this later landed him in Birmingham’s Winson Green prison for a short time for burglary.  Once he was released, he never wanted to go back, so he decided to try and make a career in music.  Ozzy joined and left many bands which never went anywhere before forming Rare Breed which became Earth which became Black Sabbath, named after a Boris Karloff movie.  After a successful solo career he only became really famous when he let a documentary crew film his dysfunctional family and he became an MTV superstar.

Rashid Abdul Dostum

Rashid Abdul DostumGeneral Dostum is the whisky-drinking former plumber who rose through the ranks of the Afghan puppet army that the Soviet Union ran in Afghanistan in the 1980s.  He was eventually appointed head of Khad, the hated Communist secret police agency, where he had ample opportunity to indulge his penchant for ruthlessness and savagery.  Dostum is a nickname which means "everyone’s friend", and since the collapse of the Communist regime he has shown himself to be an expert player in the byzantine world of Afghan politics, changing sides three times.  Whether it be the Uzbeks, the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance, the Americans or the International League of Plumbers, Dostum always wants to be on the winning side.  Dostum is said to have grown hugely wealthy from his various side-switches. He certainly fared better than those who crossed him as his death squads acquired a reputation for ruthless brutality.  He is earmarked by many as a future leader of Afghanistan.

Lon Chaney Jr.

Lon Chaney Jr.The son of actors Lon Chaney and Cleva Creighton, the man destined to star in classic horror movies was born Creighton Tull Chaney.  Old man Chaney raised his son in an atmosphere of Spartan strictness and absolutely forbade young Creighton to enter show business, wanting his son to prepare for a more "practical" profession.  This may have deprived the movies of the world’s greatest Wolfman but it gave Chreighton the chance to join the world’s greatest profession.  He trained to be plumber.  It was only after Chaney Sr. died in 1930 that Creighton entered movies with an RKO contract, but nothing much happened until Creighton was (by his own recollection) "starved" into changing his name to Lon Chaney Jnr.  The roles quickly followed including Man Made Monster, the Wolf Man, The Ghost of Frankenstein, the Son of Dracula and The Mummy.  These horror films apart, his greatest roles were in High Noon, Of Mice and Men and Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Lon Chaney Snr. was known as The Man with a Thousand Faces but his son achieved greater fame.  Lon Jnr. always put his success down to the time he spent as a plumber.

Mack Sennett

Mack Sennett and Mr Funny While not the first producer of Hollywood comedies, Canadian-born Mack Sennett was one of the best organized and most successful and the man who made them into real box office.  He was known throughout Hollywood as the King of Comedy.  His lesser-known, but nonetheless apposite, soubriquet was the King of Plumbers.  Growing up in Canada, Sennett had dreams of becoming an opera singer, but economic considerations forced him into such blue collar jobs as iron worker, boilermaker and assistant plumber when his Irish immigrant family moved to the US.  He wandered into the Biograph Company in 1908 where  DW Griffith hired him as an actor and part-time director. Soon he was directing all of Griffith’s comedies and then set up his own Keystone Studios where he hired one Charlie Chaplin.  Sennett lost a fortune in the stock market crash of 1929 but still enjoyed a long retirement.  He always had the plumbing to fall back on.  He died in California in 1960.

Michael Flatley

Michael FlatleyThe Lord of the Dance was born in Chicago, the son of a plumber, and he followed his old man into the business.   He went from Roto-Rooter to multi-millionaire in just seven years, simply by flinging his freaky little feet at five thousand miles an hour.  Michael, whose parents emigrated from Ireland a decade earlier, began dance lessons at the age of four, taught by his grandmother.  He went on to become the first American to win the World Irish Dance Championships.  He tried to start a dance studio after graduating from high school, but the opportunities for a working wage through traditional Irish dancing were not exactly bountiful.  Flatley made his living with a variety of manual labour jobs, ultimately starting his own business, Dynasty Plumbing.  "I’m no stranger to hard work," he said.  "I think any man who works for a living should be proud."  Well said Michael.  Flatley was 36 before he left the problems of intractable garbage disposal to become the star of Riverdance, taking traditional Irish steps across the world.  One year later he went in the huff over the choreography and was fired so he set up his own version, Lord of the Dance.  It was a bit similar to Riverdance but he got more money out of it.  Much more.

Tom Finney

Tom FinneyKnown as the Preston Plumber, this 76-times capped winger is still considered one of the greatest British players of all time.  He became an apprentice plumber at 14, a trade he continued all his working life, even at the height of his international fame.  Yet during the 40s and 50s he was never paid any more than any other player, getting just the £20 a week maximum wage.  These days, of course, he could earn a fortune – simply by working as a plumber.  In 1952 Italian side Palermo offered him a £10,000 signing on fee, £130 a month wages, bonuses of up to £100 a game, a Mediterranean villa, a luxury car and free travel to and from Italy for his family.  They also offered Preston £30,000 by way of a transfer fee.  This was 1952 and such sums of money were unimaginable.  Finney turned it down.  Even then being a plumber was lucrative work.  “Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age. . . even if he had been wearing an overcoat.” – Bill Shankly.