From Rags To Riches: 25 Behind-The-Scenes Facts You Never Knew About Steve Harvey


From Rags To Riches: 25 Behind-The-Scenes Facts You Never Knew About Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey has been in the media industry for decades.

Over the years, many of us have become familiar with his television shows, stand-up comedy acts, books, and movies.

But when we watch him on TV, listen to his radio show, or read his books, we only get a glimpse of who he really is.

Steve has one of the most inspirational come up stories in Hollywood, and there's a lot about his life and career that even his biggest fans don't know.

Here are 25 behind-the-scenes facts you never knew about Steve Harvey:

1. Living in the streets

Making it in the stand-up comedy world is no easy feat, and Harvey has first-hand experience with what the struggle is like.

In the 1980s, after splitting with his first wife, Marcia, and losing out on a couple of gigs, the funnyman found himself without a place to live.

"One or two gigs fell through, and suddenly I was homeless," he told People magazine. "I had nowhere to go."

A young Steve Harvey

For three years, Harvey lived out of his 1976 Ford Tempo, showered in hotel bathrooms, gas stations or swimming pool showers, and used an Igloo cooler as a makeshift fridge.

"It was so disheartening," Harvey recalls. "A week is really the maximum you can do. This was three years! It was rock bottom. But even in my darkest days I had faith it would turn around."

He finally had his big break when he was given the opportunity to be the MC on Showtime at the Apollo

2. His real name

Steve Harvey
Fox News

He made a name for himself as Steve, but the TV star was actually christened Broderick Stephen Harvey.

His namesake is actor Broderick Crawford, best known for his role in Highway Patrol.

3. Career in the ring

Before turning finding a steady gig as a comedian, Harvey worked a lot of different jobs, including mail carrier, carpet cleaner, insurance salesman, and assembler at a Ford auto plant.

Boxing Ring
Prolast Boxing

However, aside from comedy, the thing he was most serious and passionate about was boxing.

Steve did not get the opportunity to continue showing off his skills in the ring, but that's fine because he wouldn't have become the successful comedian we know him as.

4.  A famous school mate

While attending Kent State University, Steve befriended another student who also had aspirations of becoming a star.

The student was comedian and late-night talk show host Arsenio Hall.

Arsenio Hall
I miss the old school

They eventually parted ways, and six years later, Steve was at work when he saw his old buddy on a show called Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.

Steve revealed on Oprah's LifeClass that he "just started crying" as soon as he saw Arsenio on TV. He decided then and there that he was going to work harder to make his dreams of working in Hollywood come true too.

5. A farmer's grandson

Steve grew up in an extremely hard-working family. His father worked as a coal miner and his grandfather owned a farm.

Farm in west virginia

Growing up, Steve spent his summers on his grandpa's farm in West Virginia, and he credits this experience for helping him build a strong work ethic that made him successful.

6. A speech impediment

As a young boy, Steve had a stutter so severe that he couldn't pronounce certain words.

The kids at school named him Va-Va-Voom after an instance in which he struggled to pronounce the word "volcano."

Steve Harvey year book photo

The counterman at the neighborhood deli helped him overcome the speech impediment by the time he started junior high. He would reward Steve with a treat every time he spoke without tripping.

"He taught me before you say anything, say it to yourself three times. Take your time and speak on the exhale," recalled Harvey in an interview with Parade. "He said, "˜See what happens if you focus?' "

7. One regret

Steve was working towards a degree in advertising at Kent State University, but he dropped out after two years.

"It really threw my life into a downward spiral, and I regret not getting that degree," he admitted to Parade.

Steve Harvey delivers the commencement speech at ASU
Montgomery Advertiser

Instead of continuing his education, the funnyman started working at a factory making minimum wage.

It took 40 years, but Steve was finally awarded a degree from Alabama State University in 2016.

"You epitomize excellence, courage, wisdom, and you are to be commended and emulated. I'm delighted to make you an official member of Hornet Nation," ASU President Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd said before presenting Harvey with an honorary doctorate.

Now, the entertainer is making sure that his children don't commit the same mistakes he did, so he insists that they all get through school successfully.

8. Dollar dollar bills

As one of the most influential figures on television, Steve has amassed a massive net worth.

Steve Harvey gif

Thanks to his successful sitcoms, radio and talk show, production company, bestselling books, live-hosting gigs and game shows like Family Feud, the comedian went from rags to riches.

He is estimated to be worth over $100 million dollars, according to The Richest.

Steve was also part of "The Kings of Comedy" tour, which became the highest-grossing comedy tour ever in the United States. It raked in more than $19 million in profit.

9. Multiple trophies

Steve's contribution to the entertainment industry has not gone unnoticed.

Steve Harvey accepting an Emmy Award

He has five Daytime Emmy Awards, two Marconi Awards, 14 NAACP Awards, one People's Choice Award, and a BET Humanitarian Award.

Steve also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  

10. Successful sitcoms

Decades before Steve hosted any game shows or daytime-talk programs, he starred in a couple of sitcoms.

The Steve Harvey Show

In 1994, he landed a role on the ABC show Me and the Boys, then two years later, he starred on WB's The Steve Harvey Show, which was on air until 2002.

11. Messy divorce

Steve was just 24 when he got married the first time and welcomed his first three children. Sadly, the relationship ended in a divorce.

Marcia Harvey

He said "I do" again in 1996 after he met Mary Shackelford. They had a son together, but their marriage bit the dust and their divorce was finalized in 2005.

"I wasn't ready when I got married the first time," he told Parade. "I had some shortcomings as a man. The second time I got married [in 1996, to Mary], it was just two wrong people. I was wrong a lot of times, and I take the blame for all the decisions I made."

In 2017, Mary sued Steve for $60 million claiming that she has been suicidal since their divorce.

Mary and Steve
the Grio

According to E! News, Mary was suing Harvey for child endangerment, torture, conspiracy against rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, and "soul murder," which the lawsuit defines as "a combination of torture, deprivation, and brainwashing."

Mary later posted a video on YouTube in which she said:

"I want him charged with a constitutional rights violation, falsifying documents, perjury, contempt of court, embezzlement, extortion and collusion. For what he's done to me, I want to see Steve Harvey behind bars."

The lawsuit has since been dismissed, and while Mary is still hung up on the past, Steve has moved on.

Steve and Marjorie

It seems like third time is the charm for the comedian, who has now been married to Marjorie Bridges for nearly 11 years.

"My marriage to Marjorie is the most rewarding thing that ever happened to me," Steve gushed. "She gave me a life and a relationship that I didn't know existed."

12. Friendship with Ellen

Arsenio isn't the only entertainer who has inspired Steve to act on something.

When Steve was offered the opportunity to host and co-produce Little Big Shots, a children's talent show, he turned it down because of his jam-packed schedule.

Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Harvey

When this news reached co-producer Ellen's ears, she gave Steve a call and emphasized just how big the check they'll cut him will be, and this helped change his mind.

13. Self-help expert

While working on his radio show, Steve built up a reputation of being a love guru, and although controversial, it has inspired him to write numerous self-help books.

In 2009, he released Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, it became a New York Times bestseller, but it also received a lot of criticism for including a number of stereotypes about how men behave.

Steve Harvey book
alumni roundup

Still, the book was turned into a romantic comedy film, and it was a box-office hit.

The next year, Steve released a follow-up titled Straight Talk, No Chaser, and once against it made it onto the bestseller list.

He has since published two additional books, and is very likely working on another one as you read this.

14. Steve the matchmaker

After finding success as an expert on love and playing matchmaker on his show, Steve decided to launch a dating website.

Called Delightful, Steve created the platform to help women "become more dateable," whatever that means.

Of course, men are welcome on the website too, but it's designed to make online dating easier for women.

Steve Harvey's dating website

"The one thing I know about women is women don't really want to just date," he told Forbes. "They want to date with the hope that it leads to a relationship."

"A man doesn't have any problem at all dating several or a wide variety of people until he finds the right one," but women don't like doing that because "A lot of women have that biological clock that ticks in them."

Subscribers will enjoy videos and articles from Steve to help them "find love and keep it."

So what qualifies Steve as an expert on dating? He told Forbes that his source of wisdom comes from his experiences and failed relationships.

"The majority of mine came from failure, to be honest with you. I've come to learn in my life that failure's a wonderful teacher. I've scooped a lot of the dog poop off the sidewalk so you wouldn't have to step in it."

15. Miss Universe blunder

I don't think anyone could ever forget the time Steve mistakenly announced Miss Colombia as the winner of the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant.

Moments later, he came back on stage to correct the error, revealing that Miss Philippines was the real winner.

As a result, Steve had to deal with some serious backlash. He also became butt of many jokes as well as the subject of some hilarious memes.

He later told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show that calling out the wrong winner "was four minutes of pure hell."

"It was crazy, man, because, look, I'm a smart guy. I can read," he said. "I read the teleprompter, but the guy in my ear said, "˜Read the next name,' and the teleprompter just said, "˜And the new 2015 Miss Universe is,' and the next he said was, "˜Read the next name now, now.' I said, "˜Miss Colombia.' Crowd goes crazy. He goes, "˜Great job, Steve.' I go in the back four minutes later, I hear a lot of words that you can't say on TV. "˜Explicit, explicit, explicit,' and then he said, "˜We said the wrong name.'"

Even after making such a huge error, Steve was invited back to host the 2016 Miss Universe Pageant because like they say "any publicity is good publicity."

The comedian used what he's known best for, his humor, to cash in on the his mistake. He starred in a Super Bowl commercial for T-Mobile where he apologizes for showing last year's numbers instead of the current ones.

"I'm not taking the blame on this one! Not uh Verizon got it wrong! Yes, not me!" he jokingly said in the ad.

16. Vision boards

Those who aren't too familiar with Harvey's more serious side will be surprised to learn that he's a huge proponent of using vision boards to plan and achieve life goals.

A vision or dream board is a collage of photos and affirmations that inspire and motivate you to work towards your goals.

This is something many successful people like Steve, Ellen, Oprah and Jim Carrey have done to actualize their goals.

"My vision board is on my iPhone, iPad & desktop," he once told Oprah. "Your bible says to "˜write the vision down and make it plain.'"

17. Giving back

Steve and his wife Marjorie understand what it's like to struggle, so they've taken on some philanthropic efforts to give back to their community.

Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation event
Black Celebrity Giving

They established the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation to support children without "an active father presence in their lives."

The organization "provides youth outreach services that cultivates the next generation of responsible leaders by providing educational enrichment, mentoring, life transformation skills and global service initiatives."

18. Family man

Through his marriages, Steve became a father to a total of seven children, and they're the most important things in his life.

Steve's twin daughters Brandi and Karli, now 35, are from his marriage to Marcia.

He shares sons Broderick Jr., 27, and Wynton, 20, with Mary Shackelford. He also adopted Marjorie's children Morgan, 31, Jason, 26, and Lori, 21, from her previous marriage.

The Harvey family

After tying the knot with Marjorie, Steve said it was initially a struggle to bring all of his kids together.

"I said, "˜Look, you don't like it? Deal with it. I don't need y'all's permission,' " said Steve.

Marjorie on the other hand decided to take a different approach, and it worked.

"When you're dealing with a blended family, everyone is coming from a place of broken," she said. "We knew this was right. But I just told them, "˜Everyone is included. Everyone has access to their parents. Whatever you didn't have before, don't let that interfere with what you can have now.' "

19. Controversy

In 2017, Steve landed himself in hot water while mocking the titles of self-help books on his talk show.

He showed his audience a book covers with the titles How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men and How to Date a Black Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men.

He then proceeded to make a distasteful comments about women never wanting to go out with Asian men.

Steve Harvey
CBS News 8

"You like Asian men? I don't even like Chinese food. It don't stay with you no time ... I don't eat what I can't pronounce," Steve joked.

While some saw it as edgy humor, many were offended.

"He speaks openly about issues facing the black community, he is a man of God, and he has a huge platform to speak from," said author Eddie Huang. "Unfortunately, he's also the type of guy who orders Krug champagne for himself and Cook's for every one else. For his own personal profit, he's willing to perpetuate the emasculation of Asian men regardless of how hypocritical it is."

Steve later tweeted a personal apology saying that "the humor was not meant with any malice or disrespect whatsoever."

20. Religious beliefs

Those who pay close attention to Steve's speeches can attest to the fact that he is a devout christian.

Harvey has repeatedly credited God for his success.

"God has given me a life far beyond anything I ever dreamed about," he said during his stand-up show in Las Vegas. "God is, man, God is something else man."

Steve Harvey

However, he has stirred up a lot of controversy when he spoke ill of atheists during a couple of TV appearances.

You are sitting up there talking to a dude and he tells you he's an atheist, you need to pack it up and go home," he said on the Tyra Banks Show. "You talking to a person who don't believe in God... what's his moral barometer? Where's it at? It's nowhere."

When asked to expand on his comments during an interview with The View's Joy Behar, he called atheists "idiots" and added that he walks away whenever someone tells him that they're atheist.

Well, that's a little too extreme, isn't it Steve?

21. Never say never

Steve has a lot of jobs on his resume, including game show host, but that's one he least expected to be on it.

The comedian explained in an interview that when he was first approached to host a game show, he did not want to take on the role.

Steve Harvey on Family Feud
Deseret News

"I never in my life saw myself as a game show host," he said.

However, once the producers gave him the green light to inject his personality and sense of humor into the show, he jumped on board.

Nowadays, he hosts Family Feud as well as Celebrity Family Feud, and he previously guest hosted a few episodes of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

22. Helping others

Steve had to go through hell and back before he could get his first big break. Now that he's found success, he is paying it forward.

After "Unbreak My Heart" singer Toni Braxton's sister, Tamar Braxton, was fired from her daytime talk show, The Real, Steve stepped up in a big way.

Tamar Braxton
Tamar BraxtonEntertainment Tonight

He gave Tamar her own talk show under his production company. Tamar, who also starred on the reality show Braxton Family Values, announced the exciting news on The Steve Harvey Morning Show.

23. Egg-ucation

In addition to dishing out advice about love and finance, Steve also wants Americans to know where their eggs come from.

Steve Harvey on an egg carton
Fox Business

He partnered up with a company called TEN Ag Tech and put his face on egg cartons that contain codes to help customers track where the eggs were sourced from.

"It's going to help connect the consumer," Harvey told FOXBusiness, "the everyday working person, to the farmer that feeds them. It's to accommodate the public outcry for freshness of their food. People want to know where their food is coming from."

24. Grandpa Steve

He may not look like it, but Steve is now a grandfather of four, and there's another one on the way.

"So we got two boys, two girls. A tie-breaker is coming," he recently told Ellen.

Steve Harvey's family

In 2016, his daughter Karli surprised him backstage with a grandson he never met.

"It was emotional! He's 8 weeks his name is Benjamin!" Steve wrote on Instagram.

25. Steve Harvey Way

In 2015, just in time for his 58th birthday, Steve received one of the biggest honors from his native Cleveland.

To honor the host, the city renamed E. 112th St. "Steve Harvey Way."

Steve Harvey Way in Cleveland
Cleveland Scene

"Steve Harvey spent his childhood days on East 112th Street in Cleveland and graduated from Glenville High School in 1974," read a statement on the city's Facebook page.

Steve's talk show team and the Mayor surprised him with a re-dedication ceremony, and it was broadcast for all to see.

They also declared January 17 "Steve Harvey Day" in Cleveland.

Did you discover something new about Steve Harvey today? Let us know!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.