The great ALBERT EINSTEIN was once quoted saying that if he could do it all over again, he would become a plumber.

Plumbing has always been a very respectable profession. It has evolved as an extremely skilled trade requiring proper training and licensing. The services offered by the community of plumbers are absolutely indispensable. A considerable portion of America’s population is engaged in this industry. To our surprise, this occupation has even attracted several people who are hailed as celebrities today. Many famous personalities that we look up to, had blue collar day jobs like plumbing before they made it big and became who they are today.

Famous Plumbers

Celebrities who were once plumbers:

There have been several celebrities who were once plumbers. In the following section, let us look into some notable personalities who began their career in the plumbing profession:

Sir Michael Caine – He has acted in hundreds of motion pictures including Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy and been an Oscar nominee for every year since the 1960s. But before turning towards the big screen, Caine worked as a plumber’s assistant. He was looking for plumbing apprenticeships before his film took off and made him one of the most celebrated actors of all time.

Sir Michael Caine

Bob Hoskins – the late actor worked in many manual labor jobs like that in the plumbing industry before his acting career began. He worked as an assistant plumber. Later on, Hoskins went on to a play a plumber named Mario in the movie – Super Mario Bros.

Bob Hoskins

John L. Sullivan – often referred to as America’s first sports celebrity, Sullivan in his youth worked as an assistant plumber to fulfil some of his dreams and passions. His career as an apprentice plumber ended and he eventually went on to become a boxing champion.

John Sullivan

Michael Flatley – the star and creator of “Lord of the Dance”, Flatley is an international dance star who owns his own plumbing outfit – Dynasty Plumbing.

Michael Flatley

Ozzy Osbourne – Before delivering super hit music and becoming a rock star, Black Sabbath lead man Osbourne had dropped out of school at the age of 15 to be a plumber’s assistant. He worked as a trainee plumber for about three years while practising music on the side.

Ozzy Osbourne

Conor McGregor – he is an Irish professional mixed martial artist and a boxer. But before he entered this world, he had taken up plumbing as a trade to make a living and is known to have worked for even 12 hours a day.

Conor McGregor

Joe Cocker – his rendition of a Beatles’ song brought him into the limelight. But long before Cocker became a famous singer and musician, he worked as an apprentice plumber and gasfitter in England.

Joe Cocker

John Gotti – he was a big name in the American underworld. It has been known that Gotti often resorted to his plumbing business and kept it at the forefront when he wanted to put his illegal activities out of sight.

John Gotti

Famous plumbers in the reel world:

Not just in the real world, plumbers have been celebrated in the fictional world as well. Plumbing and silver screens do in fact go a long way back. Plumbing is as indispensable and inescapable in reel as it is in real. the following section highlights some of the most famous plumber-characters that we have seen in movies and television series:

The Mario Brothers – in this 1993 movie titled “Super Mario Bros”, the brothers Mario and Luigi portray two plumbers who are out on a mission to rescue a princess from an evil dictator. They are represented as the world’s last hope for survival and well we could not disagree!

Super Mario Brothers

Mike Delfino – James Denton plays a friendly neighbourhood plumber in the famous series Desperate Housewives. He is known for his qualities as a hardworking and earnest plumber.

James Denton

Max the plumber – in this 1979 thriller titled “The Plumber”, the story revolves a very mysterious and psychotic man who works as a plumber and terrorises a grad student. This movie was released in the USA in 1979.

Max the Plumber
  • Elmer Tuttle – the protagonist is a plumber who is hired to perform some residential plumbing work only for him to fall in love with his employer. This 1932 film named “The Passionate Plumber” is a wacky comedy.
  • The Plumber – in the 1955 movie titled, “The Seven Year Itch” Victor Moore portrays a plumber who shares screen space with the leading lady (Marilyn Monroe) and plays a crucial role.
  • Curly, Moe and Larry – one of the earliest short films, A Plumbing We Will Go was released in 1940.  The trio create a ruckus and end up destroying the plumbing system of a mansion, much to the comic suffering of the residents.
  • Lee Chandler – the movie Manchester By the Sea released in 2016. It is the most recent and correct portrayal of the world of plumbing. The protagonist plays a handyman working in Massachusetts. He responds to several clients facing issues like leakages with toilets and boilers. Lee handles the problems accurately and with precision and even says that these jobs are best left to professional plumbers. The makers of this film even coordinated with a local plumbing company to ensure that the film got everything right.
Lee Chandler - Manchester By The Sea
  • Popeye – there was an episode in the famous series Popeye the sailor titled “Plumbers Pipe Dreams”. The protagonist Popeye tries to fix a leaky faucet but this ultimately culminates in a disastrous flooding of the entire city.
  • Several Indian films have also had characters who have played the role of plumbers. The one-liners delivered by these characters have often been impactful in terms of the storyline.

Father of Plumbing:

Hebert Hoover was a prominent engineer who was appointed as the Secretary of Commerce in 1921. Hoover brought in a new vision. He believed that proper planning could change the course of the nation. He emphasised on the need for indoor plumbing and electricity in every household. Hoover was a technocrat who loved innovation and wanted to improve the standard of living by implementing better engineering concepts. Therefore, before Hoover became the nation’s 31st President, he was one of the fathers of modern plumbing codes for the circuit of plumbers along with Dr. Roy B. Hunter who was the head of the plumbing division for two decades from the 1920s through the 1940s. After thorough and extensive research, Hunter addressed a few basic principles that were essential in order to have safe plumbing systems. The first plumbing code was therefore developed in 1928 and it was nicknamed – “the Hoover Code” as a tribute to the man who realised the need for developing such a code and to. Hunter’ research also had an unparalleled contribution towards developing a nationwide plumbing code. Their work is still cited in US plumbing codes used today. Current codes continue to be based on this work.

Herbert Hoover

The man who invented the first toilet as early as 1596 was John Harrington. However, the field of plumbing must not be discussed without mentioning another name, that of Thomas Crapper.  It was during World War I that the American soldiers stationed in England came across a different type of toilets. It is Crapper who can be credited for designing a modern and very successful range of flush toilets. He developed the ballcock which is an enhanced mechanism for filling up the toilet tanks and continues to be used in toilets even today. This was a nascent concept for those American soldiers and they brought these flush toilets home after they returned from the war.

Plumbers are indeed the true gatekeepers of our society and their absence would have made our lives extremely difficult. The history of plumbing has therefore been populated by great personalities. Over the years, several prime-time television dramas and movies have also featured the professionals who offer their plumbing skills to the world, thus ensuring that plumbers no longer inhabit the background of the society.

Plumber cartoon

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