Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper (or Cyndi Lauper, to you and me) was born in Brooklyn, NYC on June 22, 1953. In the 67 years since, she’s achieved more than most of us could dream of, scoring multiple number one albums, Grammy Awards, Emmys, Tonys, inductions to both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and, of course, a huge fortune. Just how huge may take you a little by surprise. According to the latest estimate from Celebrity Net Worth, the singer, songwriter, actress, activist, and all-round Very Important Person is worth a jaw-dropping $50 million. Wondering how she did it? Stay tuned, because you’re about to find out.
Growing up in Queens, New York, Lauper had a less than happy childhood. Tormented at home by an abusive step-father and bullied at school for her choice of hairstyle, the young Lauper had the kind of inauspicious start to life that most of us wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. But she did, at least, have an escape – music. After falling in love with the music of The Beatles and Judy Garland, Lauper began writing and performing her own material at the age of 12, even teaching herself how to play the guitar. By the early 1970s, Lauper’s love for music and performing had grown to the point that she was determined to turn it from an amateur interest into a full-time job. As boomsbeat.com notes, she started out by playing with cover bands, but covering other people’s material failed to scratch her burning desire to perform her own material, and she soon started exploring other possibilities.
The Big Break
In 1978, Lauper teamed up with saxophone player John Turi to form Blue Angel. After receiving several offers, the duo eventually signed to Polydor Records. Their self-titled album followed in 1980. The album was adored by critics but failed to find an audience; disheartened, the band broke up. For the next couple of years, Lauper scraped together rent by waitressing and singing in small clubs. But then she hit it lucky: in 1981, she won a solo contract with Portrait Records. Her first album, She’s So Unusual, was a huge hit, reaching No.4 in the US and achieving similar success worldwide. Thanks to her punkish image, she tapped straight into the zeitgeist, going from virtual unknown to huge star almost overnight. The rest of the 1980s were a whirlwind of Grammy awards, film credits, chart-topping singles, and record-breaking albums. By the time the 1990s rocked around, Lauper was sitting pretty as one of music’s biggest stars.
Awards aren’t necessarily indicative of fame and fortune but when they’re accompanied by mega-selling albums and sell-out tours, they do help paint a pretty picture. Since breaking onto the scene in the 80s, Lauper has become one of the most garlanded ladies in showbiz, with her list of accolades extending to include two Grammys (Best New Artist in 1985 and Best Musical Theater Album in 2014) an Emmy (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 1995), a Tony (Best Original Score in 2013), four Billboard Music Awards (Top Female Artist, Top New Artist, Top Billboard 200 Artist – Female, Top Hot 100 Artist – Female, all 1984), three MTV Video Music Awards (Best Female Video in 1984 and Best Group Video and Viewer’s Choice in 1985), and others too numerous too mention. In total, she’s won 48 awards and 79 nominations – not a bad showing, by anyone’s reckoning.
The Never-Ending Tour
There are hard workers, and then there’s Cyndi Lauper. Perhaps she understands that selling records isn’t where the money’s made these days. Perhaps she likes interacting with her fans. Perhaps she just really enjoys being on the road. Whatever the reason, Lauper has headlined more tours than most of us have had hot dinners… and the results speak for themselves in that whopping net worth. To date, her sell-out tours have included:
- Fun Tour (1983–84)
- True Colors World Tour (1986–87)
- A Night to Remember World Tour (1989)
- Hat Full of Stars Tour (1993–94)
- Twelve Deadly Cyns World Tour (1994–95)
- Sisters of Avalon Tour (1996–97)
- Summer Tour ’99 (1999)
- Shine Tour (2001–03)
- At Last Tour (2003–04)
- The Body Acoustic Tour (2005–06)
- Bring Ya to the Brink Tour (2008)
- Memphis Blues Tour (2010–11)
- Japan Tour (2012)
- She’s So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour (2013-2014)
- Detour Tour (2016)
- Kinky Boots
If there’s one guaranteed way to bring in the millions, it’s to write the music and lyrics to one of the biggest musicals to ever hit Broadway. And with Kinky Boots, that’s exactly what Lauper did. The show premiered on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 4, 2013. An instant hit, it earned Lauper accolades galore, including a Tony for Best Original Score. By the time it ended its six-year run in 2019, it had grossed over $297 million on Broadway. Obviously, not all of its takings went Lauper’s way, but enough of its profits went into her back pocket to ensure she’d never have to worry about her pension again.
Outside of creating some of the most popular and enduring hits of the 20th century (and, lest we forget, one of the most profitable and long-running Broadway shows of the 21st century) Lauper has kept herself busy with a myriad of other projects. Since the early 1990s, she’s worked as an actress-to-hire, appearing in the likes of The Opportunists (2000), Here and There (2009) and Henry & Me (2014). Her Christmas collection, ‘Cyndi Lauper Loves Christmas’, meanwhile, proved a huge hit when it hit the shelves in 2018.
Cyndi Lauper may have had a tough childhood, but she never let it stand in the way of her dreams. Dreaming big, working hard, understanding the value of a good hair dye… all these things have helped Lauper on the way to that $50 million net worth. Having more talent in her little figure than most performers have in their entire bodies hasn’t exactly harmed matters either. As Billboard’s editorial director Jason Lipshutz puts it, “The entire world recognizes the power of Cyndi Lauper’s pop music, and just as crucially, she has used her undeniable talent to soar beyond music, create positive change in modern society and become a true icon”