Star Search first aired in 1983 and was hosted by Ed McMahon. It was the first nationally televised talent show that proved to be incredibly successful and was soon a stalwart of the 1980s television landscape. The show revolved around Ed introducing acts of all types, from singing to acting to stand-up comedy, and a panel of judges would vote on which act they felt was the best. For many singers, songwriters, and performers, Star Search was their first step on the way to stardom. Let’s take a look at some of the successful celebrities who used Star Search to jumpstart their career in show business.

Britney Spears
Britney Spears is well-known for being one of the most successful female solo artists of her era. Before taking the pop world by storm, however, the pop princess cut her teeth on Star Search at the age of 11. Spears appeared on the show multiple times throughout the 1990s, singing songs such as “Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear” and “We’re All Alone.” Spears’ performances earned her first and second place on Star Search’s Junior Vocalist category.

Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake rose to fame in the late 1990s when he joined the infamous boy band ‘NSYNC. But before that, he was already making a name for himself as a Star Search contestant. At the ripe age of 11, Justin appeared on the show in the Junior Singer category and took home the first place prize. Timberlake’s talent was evident as he performed classic tunes like “Can You Stand The Rain” and “Gone Country.”

Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera is one of the best-selling female singers of all time, with hits like “Genie in a Bottle” and “Come on Over, Baby” dominating the ‘90s and ‘00s. Before she was a household name, Aguilera competed on Star Search in the Junior Singer category. She may not have won the grand prize, but she persevered and went on to star in The Mickey Mouse Club and the rest, as they say, is history.

Kanye West
Kanye West is known as one of the most groundbreaking hip-hop artists in music history. However, before he was one of the most successful rappers ever, West made a name for himself as a musical prodigy on Star Search in the early ‘90s. West went on the show during the closing days of the original series and in all his performances he was accompanied by his mother, who was his biggest supporter throughout his initial foray into music.

Usher’s influence in the R&B and hip-hop realm cannot be overstated. In addition to his successful career as a singer and entrepreneur, Usher was once a contestant on Star Search in the Junior Singer category where he won first place. Usher appeared on the show multiple times and showed off his impressive vocal range as he performed a medley of “Can U Get Wit It” and “My Way.”

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is an international superstar who is often regarded as one of the most popular R&B singers of the modern era. Before she was a global sensation, however, Alicia was a mere 11-year-old girl who was competing on Star Search. Keys appeared in the Junior Vocalist category and sang songs like “People Make The World Go Round” and “Beautiful” to prove her talent.

Star Search opened the door to success for many celebrities. From Britney Spears to Kanye West, these artists have achieved international fame since their appearances on the show. Star Search provided a launchpad for these performers to show off their talents to the world and develop their careers. Although Ed McMahon’s Star Search has long since closed its doors, its legacy still lives on in the present day.