Success After 40: 15 Famous People Who Made It Later – Part 1

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A lot of people give up on their dreams because they think they are too old. But how old do you have to be to know for sure that the success has passed you by? Well, judging from the stories of so many successful people, if you’re are in your 20’s, there’s a good chance success is still coming to you. Yet it doesn’t always feel like that, especially when it looks like everyone has flourishing careers by the time they turn 25.

We here gathered a list of extremely successful and famous people to prove that sometimes it takes a little longer to get at the top of your game. Scroll below to read their stories!

#1. Stan Lee, 39

The iconic comic book writer Stan Lee joined the industry when he was only 17 years old. Back then he began working as an assistant in the comic book department for the company called Timely Publications. However, even after he was promoted from filling inkwells and erasing pencil marks to running the department it took him some time to become a success. Stan Lee published his first comic book hit only in 1961 when he was almost 39 years old.

#2. Alan Rickman, 42

Actor Alan Rickman who is best known for his role in Harry Potter started his career in a completely different field. Before his acting days, he pursued a career in graphic design. Rickman even opened a graphic design studio called ‘Graphiti’. At the age of 26, Rickman decided to become an actor and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His talents were recognized only after starring in “Die Hard’ in 1988 when he was 42 years old. His fame skyrocketed when he portrayed Severus Snape in the first movie of the Harry Potter Series in 2001 when he was 55

#3. Bob Ross, 41

Bob Ross spent 20 years in the US Air Force, upon retiring he taught himself to paint and became everyone’s favorite painting teacher at the age of 41

#4. Morgan Freeman, 50

One of Hollywood’s most respected stars, Morgan Freeman loved acting since he was a child, however upon graduating high school he chose to join Air Force to become a fighter pilot. The actor eventually left Air Force to establish himself as an actor, but it took him a while to do so. He was 50 years old when he landed his first big break in a movie Street Smart.

#5. Samuel L. Jackson, 46

Today 70-year-old Samuel L. Jackson is known as one of the highest-grossing actors of all time who starred in more than 100 movies. Samuel took interest in drama back in his early 20’s however he only became world famous when he was 46, for his outstanding role in film Pulp Fiction.

#6. Steve Carell, 43

Before his big break, Steve Carell didn’t get any major roles, but his career took a huge turn when he received a role in series The Office when he was 43 years old.

#7. Christoph Waltz, 53

Christoph Waltz and Austrian-German actor received his first big break which led him to international fame at the age of 53, after starring in Inglorious Bastards.

#8. Harrison Ford, 35

At the beginning of his carrier, Harrison Ford was not happy about the roles he kept receiving, so he decided to become a self-taught carpenter to support his family. However one of his roles eventually helped him land a role in a Star Wars film. The film was a major success and it kickstarted Ford’s career at the age of 35.

#9. Liam Neeson, 40

When Liam Neeson was fresh out of university he had a variety of casual jobs, such as forklift operator and a truck driver. After getting his first acting role at the age of 25, Neeson had to wait until he was 40 years old to receive his first big break in the movie Schindler’s List.

#10. J.K. Rowling, 32

Before J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, the best-selling book series in history, she has struggled with depression, poverty, tried to recover after a bad divorce and was looking for a way to provide for her child. During this tough time, Rowling began writing Harry Potter. The first book of the series was published in 1997 when she was 32 and kickstarted her astonishing career as a writer.

#11. Colonel Sanders, 62

Colonel Sanders, the man behind one of the worlds most famous fried chicken chain, KFC, had a hard time holding down a job. As a result, he had many different jobs. At some point he was a fireman, stem engine stoker, insurance salesman, he even practiced law and was fired quite a few times. However, the man found his place and his purpose when he began selling fried chicken in his roadside restaurant in the 1930s. Sanders perfected his secret fried chicken recipe and in 1952 the first KFC franchise was opened when Sanders was 62 years old.

#12. Susan Boyle, 47

For a long time, the singer Susan Boyle received no recognition for her talent. However, things completely changed in 2009 when she appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and become an instant success. She was 47 years old.

#13. Bryan Cranston, 44

After years of single-appearance television roles, Bryan Cranston received his first major breakthrough by landing a role in the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle when he was 44 years old. Eight years later he gained international fame for his role in Breaking Bad.

#14. Viola Davis, 43

Viola Davis developed a love for acting back in high school and appeared in numerous films before getting her first big break in 2008 when she received the role in Doubt at the age of 43. Despite only having one scene in the film, her performance was so impressive that it gained Davis her first Oscar nomination paved her way to success.

#15. Ken Jeong, 38

Ken Jeong started his career as a physician, however, when he was 38 he landed a role in Knocked Up which kickstarted his acting career. Jeong made a decision to quit medicine and become a full-time actor soon after.

As we look at actors, businessmen, and other geniuses who found success at a young age, we sometimes cannot help but wonder what we have been doing with our life. But not everyone hits their peak in their 20s to 30s. Here is the list of 15 additional famous people who achieved success after the age of 40, and what they did to get where they became.

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