What Is John Waters’ Net Worth?
John Waters is a $50 million net worth American filmmaker, writer, producer, actor, and artist. Waters is likely best known for writing, directing, and producing “Hairspray,” a 1988 film that was later transformed into an award-winning Broadway musical. John, also known as “The Pope of Trash,” has written and directed a number of short films and feature films, including “Hag in a Black Leather Jacket” (1964), “Pink Flamingos” (1972), “Cry-Baby” (1990), “Serial Mom” (1994), “Pecker” (1998), and “Cecil B. Demented” (2000), and he has also served as a producer, editor, and cinematographer on
Waters has over 40 acting credits, including “Sweet and Lowdown” (1999), “Seed of Chucky” (2004), “Jackass Number Two” (2006), and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” (2015), as well as hosting Court TV’s “‘Til Death Do Us Part” from 2006 to 2007 and Here TV’s “John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You” in 2006. Waters narrated “Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea” (2006), “The Junior Defenders” (2007), “In the Land of Merry Misfits” (2007), and “Of Dolls and Murder” (2011), as well as “The Simpsons” (1997), “Fish Hooks” (2012), “Mickey Mouse” (2013; 2018), and “Mr. Pickles” (2014). “Shock Value” (1981), “Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters” (1986), “Art: A Sex Book” (2003), “Role Models” (2010), “Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America” (2014), “Make Trouble” (2017), and “Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder” (2017) are among his other works (2019). The French government made John an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2018.
John Samuel Waters Jr. was born on April 22, 1946, in Baltimore, Maryland. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family with his mother Patricia Ann, father John (a fire-fighting equipment maker), and siblings Steve, Kathy, and Trish. At the age of seven, John grew fascinated in puppets after viewing the 1953 film “Lili,” and he started creating violent puppet performances for children’s birthday parties. Waters went to the Calvert School, Towson Jr. High, Calvert Hall College High School, and Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, where he met his inspiration, Glenn Milstead (as Divine), while growing up in the Baltimore neighborhood of Lutherville. After graduating from high school, John enrolled in New York University, but was expelled in 1966 after being spotted smoking marijuana on campus; he then returned to Baltimore.
“Hag in a Black Leather Jacket,” Waters’ debut short film, was released in 1964. He wrote, directed, produced, edited, and was a cinematographer on the picture, and he repeated the positions in his other short films, “Roman Candles” (1966), “Eat Your Makeup” (1968), and “The Diane Linkletter Story” (1970), as well as four of his feature films. “Mondo Trasho,” John’s debut feature picture, was released in 1969, and he followed it up with “Multiple Maniacs” in 1970. The first picture in his “Trash Trilogy,” “Pink Flamingos,” was released in 1972, and he completed the trilogy with 1974’s “Female Trouble” and 1977’s “Desperate Living.” Waters delegated cinematography for the first time with 1981’s “Polyester,” appointing film student David Insley as the principal camera operator. John released the comedy “Hairspray” in 1988, which was transformed into a 2002 Broadway musical that won eight Tony Awards. Waters was a co-producer and consultant on the film version of the musical, which was released in 2007. He also appears in both films, as Dr. Fredrickson in the first and as a Flasher in the second. “Cry-Baby,” John’s follow-up to “Hairspray,” became a Broadway musical in 1990 and was nominated for four Tony Awards in 2008.
Getty Images/Sean Gallup
Waters directed “Serial Mom” in 1994, starring Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake, and Matthew Lillard, and made an uncredited appearance as Ted Bundy. John again appeared as Pervert on Phone in his following film, 1998’s “Pecker.” Melanie Griffith appeared in the 2000 dark comedy “Cecil B. Demented” as an actress who is abducted and forced to star in an underground film by terrorist filmmakers. Waters wrote, directed, and starred in the film as a reporter. As of this writing, John’s most recent film is “A Dirty Shame,” which was released in 2004 and starring Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair, and Chris Isaak. In an interview with in 2013, “Waters was asked why he hasn’t created another picture since “A Dirty Shame,” and he said, “It didn’t earn any money.” They want you to produce independent films for half a million dollars, when a picture for me would cost approximately $5 million. It’s an excellent moment to be a first-time filmmaker, but I’m not one of them.” Though he hasn’t made a film since 2004, John has stayed busy on television, guest-starring on “My Name Is Earl” (2007), “Feud: Bette and Joan” (2017), “The Blacklist” (2018), and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2020–2021), as well as serving as a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (2015) and acting as an associate producer on NBC’s “Hairspray Live (2016). He also makes photo-based artwork, and the Baltimore Museum of Art presented the exhibition “John Waters: Indecent Exposure” from October 2018 to January 2019.
John is out homosexual and a strong advocate for gay pride and LGBTQ rights. Waters claimed in 2018 that he is in a relationship and chooses to keep it secret because “you don’t have a personal life if you don’t keep certain things private.” In 2009, John fought for the release of Leslie Van Houten, a former member of the Manson Family; he also wrote about her in his book “Role Models.” In 2016, Waters was awarded an honorary degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Since the 1990s, John has been an artist and art collector, and he has a personal library of over 8,000 volumes.
Nominations and Awards
Waters has received two Grammy nominations for Best Spoken Word Album, one for “Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America” in 2015 and one for “Mr. Know-It-All” in 2020. At the 1997 Chicago Underground Film Festival, he got the Jack Smith Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1998, he was nominated for Best Feature for “Pecker” at the Gijón International Film Festival. In 1989, John was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Director and Best Screenplay for “Hairspray,” and the film won him a Grand Jury Prize nomination in the Dramatic category at the 1988 Sundance Film Festival. At the 2004 GLAAD Media Awards, he received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, the Timeless Award from GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (2017), and the Copper Wing Tribute Award at the 2003 Phoenix Film Festival. Waters earned the Filmmaker on the Edge Award at the 1999 Provincetown International Film Festival, and he will be honored with the Online Film Critics Society Awards in 2020. John was awarded the Pardo d’onore Manor Award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2019 and the Honorary Golden Alexander at the Thessaloniki Film Festival in 2019.
Property for sale
Waters has residences in San Francisco and New York, as well as a big country estate outside of Baltimore and a vacation home in Provincetown, Massachusetts.