WHEN unknown writer Charles Webb sold the rights to The Graduate for £14,000, he thought he was quids in. How wrong can you be?
Since 1967, when his novel was turned into a hit movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, it has made more than £60million.
Meanwhile, 66-year-old Webb and his wife Fred have debts of £30,000 and face eviction from their flat in Hove, East Sussex.
Record Boss Who Turned Down The Beatles
IN 1962, the year before Beatlemania erupted in Britain, the Fab Four travelled from Liverpool to London in a bid to get signed by Decca Records.
At their audition, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and then drummer Pete Best belted out 15 songs but Decca boss Dick Rowe was unimpressed and turned the band down. He complained they sounded too much like The Shadows, adding: "Guitar groups are on the way out."
Instead he signed Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. Oops.
Wannabe Who Quit Spice Girls
But after months of hard graft with nothing to show for it, 25-year-old Michelle quit to be replaced by Emma Bunton.
Two months on, The Spice Girls signed a £2million deal and became one of the biggest bands of the '90s. Michelle sighs: "You can't spend your life regretting things."
Toy Firm Could Have Had The Monopoly
IT'S the biggest-selling board game in the world, but Monopoly's inventor had a hard time trying to get it into shops.
Unemployed salesman Charles Darrow, from Pennsylvania, created the real-estate game in 1933. But when he approached Parker Brothers to see if they'd be interested in marketing his creation, they pointed out 52 errors - including the fact it took too long to play, and turned him down.
He put it on sale himself at $4 a set - and the toy company was forced to buy him out a year later when it became a huge success.
Studio That Lost Star Wars
BACK in 1975, up-andcoming director George Lucas pitched a movie idea to Universal about an epic intergalactic battle between good and evil.
But the film studio wasn't interested, calling the script unfathomable and silly. So Lucas took Star Wars to 20th Century Fox instead.
Since its release in 1977, the hit sci-fi movie and its sequels have made over £1.5billion.
"Silly" money indeed..
Missed Window Of Opportunity
In 1980, computer giant IBM offered him the chance to supply an operating system for their PCs.
When he turned them down, the firm went to Bill Gates' Microsoft which snapped up the offer.
Now Gates is worth £28billion while Kildall died in a 1994 brawl.
No Notes For Music Pioneer
APPLE'S iPod is the world's fastest-selling electrical item, shifting 41 million units in five years.
Just don't mention it to Britain's Kane Kramer, who invented a way of storing music on a digital chip back in 1979. Nine years later, he couldn't afford to renew the patents and the technology became public property.
Kramer, who now runs a Hertfordshire furniture shop, says: "In a way, I'm the world's biggest failure."
Genius's Power Failure
NIKOLA Tesla was the genius behind the neon bulb, neon lights. He also formulated the principles of radio, radar and the microwave oven.
A Slav immigrant to the US, he was hailed as the world's greatest inventor and earned lucrative royalties. Unfortunately he ploughed his money into an ill-fated lab and a wireless transmitter and ran out of money before it could be completed.
He sold the rights to all his inventions to electrical firm Westinghouse for $216,000. While others made millions from his research, Tesla died penniless in 1943.
Star Who Wished He'd Given A Damn
When Cooper learned the studio had found an actor to play Rhett Butler, he commented: "I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling flat on his face, and not Gary Cooper."
Publishers Who Didn't Believe In JK's Magic
IT'S the tale of a teenage wizard which has be en translated into 47 languages and kick-started a literary phenomenon that's sold 130 million books.
But when Scottish author JK Rowling tried to find a publisher for Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone in 1996 she was turned down by nine publishers, including Transworld, HarperCollins and Penguin.
Finally Bloomsbury took it on, and the rest is publishing history.
The 4 year old nods his head in approval. The 6 year old continues, "When we go downstairs for breakfast, I'm gonna say something with 'hell' and you say something with 'ass'."
The 4 year old agrees with enthusiasm.
When their mother walks into the kitchen and asks the 6 year old what he wants for breakfast, he replies, "Aw, hell, Mom, I guess I'll have some Cheerios."
WHACK! He flies out of his chair, tumbles across the kitchen floor, gets up, and runs upstairs crying his eyes out, with his mother in hot pursuit, slapping his rear with every step. His mom locks him in his room and shouts, "You can just stay there until I let you out!"
She then comes back downstairs, looks at the 4 year old and asks with a stern voice, "And what do YOU want for breakfast, young man?"
"I don't know," he blubbers, "but you can bet your fat ass it won't be Cheerios."