How Mark Whalberg Went From Boston Street Thug To Hollywood’s Highest Paid Actor

Earlier this week Forbes released their annual list of Hollywood’s 100 highest paid celebrities. The Celebrity 100 features the musicians, athletes, actors and television personalities who have pulled in the highest paychecks over the past year.

Our very own Boston boy, Mark Wahlberg, finished at #20 on the list with an income of $68 million from June 2016 to June 2017, making him the highest paid actor – male or female – in all of Hollywood!

Marky Mark has certainly come a long way from his Funky Bunch days! Let’s take a look back at how this Dorchester troublemaker became one of Hollywood’s most sought after celebrities.

Mark was born on June 5, 1971, the youngest of nine children born to Alma and Donald Wahlberg. He started off on a rough path at the age of 13, getting involved with drugs and running with a bad crowd. By 14 he had dropped out of  Copley Square High School on Newbury Street, and at 16 he did 45 days of a two year sentence at Suffolk County Deer Island House of Corrections for his role in a brutal assault.


A post shared by Marky Mark Fan (@marky_mark_wahlberg_) on

When older brother, Donnie became involved with the local boyband project that became New Kids on the Block, Mark was brought in as an early potential member. The pop life wasn’t for Mark, but his connection to the band helped him find his own niche in the music business. With Donnie’s help,  Marky Mark hooked up with a deejay and backup dancers (dubbed “the Funky Bunch”) and recorded the album, Music for the People in 1991.

Hello there

A post shared by Marky Mark Fan (@marky_mark_wahlberg_) on

The singles “Good Vibrations” and “Wildside”  propelled the album to platinum status, and led to a two-year contract as an underwear model for Calvin Klein. The Funky Bunch’s second album, You Gotta Believe (1992) was a flop, and rumors of Mark’s entourage causing trouble in Hollywood led to the death of his brief music career.

At the age of 22, Mark turned to acting. He appeared in the 1993 television movie, The Substitute, and made his big screen debut in Renaissance Man alongside Danny DeVito in 1994. He had a few more roles in the Basketball Diaries, Fear and Traveller, before landing the part of Dirk Diggler in 1997’s Boogie Nights. The attention-getting film about a well-endowed young man making a name for himself in porn received a lot of buzz.

By the turn of the century, Mark had become a well respected actor in his own right. He starred alongside George Clooney and Diane Lane in the 2000 film, The Perfect Storm about the ill-fated Gloucester swordfishing vessel, Andrea Gail, that was lost at sea in 1991.

By 2006, Mark had scored his first Academy Award nomination for his part in yet another Boston-based film, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. He did not win, but the Oscar nod helped solidify his new persona as a well respected, trustworthy Hollywood player.

Just two years later, his film The Fighter about Lowell-born professional boxer Micky Ward and his older half-brother Dicky Eklund, received an Academy Award nomination for best picture.


A post shared by Marky Mark Fan (@marky_mark_wahlberg_) on

In recent years, Mark has commanded massive paychecks for his roles in Ted, Ted 2 (also set in Boston), Daddy’s Home and the two most recent Transformers movies. He has also branched out into producing on television projects like Entourage, In Treatment and Boardwalk Empire.

And of course, he has made several reality TV appearances on Wahlburgers with his mom and brothers, Donnie and Paul. Mark’s recent deal as an AT&T spokesperson has also added to his massive annual income. He is married to Rhea Durham, and the couple have four children together.

H/T to

Featured Image via Facebook/Mark Wahlberg

Back to blog