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Dating Up: Celebs Who Used Relationships To Up Their Fame

First Posted: 09/20/11 04:11 PM ET   Updated: 11/20/11 05:12 AM ET

It's no secret that a mattress can be a springboard to fame and fortune in Hollywood. Sleeping with, dating or -- better yet --marrying the right person can move someone from the D-list to the A-list.

Last night we watched George Clooney castaway Elisabetta Canalis strut her stuff on "Dancing With the Stars," which is the official proving ground for upwardly mobile C- and D-listers. Canalis' two years spent lounging around Clooney's Lake Como manse surely landed her that spot among the likes of Kristin Cavallari, David Arquette and Ricki Lake.

Dating Clooney can move a lady from nada to celeb status pretty quickly, but it's unlikely Canalis will ever reach A-list or even B-list status. Just like in the business world, the return on the relationship investment is determined by the capital invested -- the capital in this situation being a function of time and emotional and physical toll. Canalis' two years was just enough to get her a spot on "DWTS."

Here are a few other social strivers who used something other than their wits (but maybe something that rhymes with "wits") to get ahead in LaLa land.

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  • Kris Humphries

    Even the rest of the Kardashian clan is decrying this NBA baller's quickie marriage to their queen bee, Kim, as little more than an opportunity to get more famous. Well, it's working. How many basketball players can the average American woman name who aren't married to a Kardashian? (Hint: not many.)

  • Jessica Biel

    Sometimes it's all about baby steps. Biel's five-year relationship with Justin Timberlake has arguably moved her from C-list status -- where she was was about to wallow in indies films once her "Hot Chick in Buddy Comedy Flicks" cache wore off -- to a solid B-list spot, despite having no major breakout roles.

  • Kat Von D

    By dating fellow social striver Jesse James (who moved a few notches up the fame ladder himself by marrying and cheating on Sandra Bullock) Von D has made herself a household name, and it's not because of her recently-cancelled TLC show, "LA Ink." Now that their engagement is back on -- we think -- they could soon be the Spencer and Heidi of the biker set.

  • Kevin Federline

    K-Fed's investment of marrying Britney Spears and having two kids with her could have paid out more handsomely had he committed himself more fully to fame hunting...and hadn't already spread his portfolio a little thin with his prior kids with Char Jackson. Still, marrying Britney did move Kevin up to D-list fame from Z-list land, and will allow him to continue appearing in a slew of reality programs until the end of time.

  • Anyone Who Slept With Tiger Woods

    Of the 16 mistresses alleged to have been involved in the downfall of professional golfer Tiger Woods in 2010, four have appeared in <em>Vanity Fair</em> magazine, three competed on Howard Stern's radio show for the crown of "Miss Mistress" and a prize of $100,000 and one wrote a tell-all book. Also, one starred in a pornographic movie parodying her time with the golfer and another became a correspondent for the entertainment news show "Extra." Their investment was just their dignity, and the payoff was substantial. The one who invested the most time and energy, Rachel Uchitel (pictured above), has become a stalwart of reality television since the golfer's grand fall.

  • Elisabetta Canalis

    Elisabetta Canalis dated George Clooney for two years -- and all she got was a gig on "Dancing With The Stars."

  • Katie Holmes

    Katie Holmes went from the girl on the "Creek" to an A-List celeb because she not only married Tom Cruise, but she had a baby with him. That's a very serious initial investment of capital that has paid off handsomely for her, as it did for Nicole Kidman before her.