The American Dream is the notion that, with hard work, any individual can emerge from poor circumstances to a life of wealth and security. Despite the economic ups and downs of modern times, the notion of lifting one's self up is still ingrained in our mindset. Some of our most famous celebrities are, in fact, people who came from nothing. Talent, hard work, and good fortune aligned to make these individuals successful business leaders, actors, athletes and more.
Few families in American history have sustained a place for so long in the public eye as the Astors have. For more than 200 years, the Astor name has been synonymous with New York high society. The family's fortune began to grow after John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant, founded the American Fur Company in 1808. Learn more about John Jacob and his descendants, including William Backhouse, William Waldorf, John Jacob IV and John Jacob V, as well as Brooke and Madeleine Force Astor—who scored their own fortunes by marrying into the Astor family—only at Biography.com.