People who found success later in life
Have you ever heard the saying “It’s never too late”? It’s often used as an encouragement to persist in whatever goal you’re trying to achieve. But it turns out this proverb is backed by numerous successful people who had success later in life. From iconic inventors like Thomas Edison and Benjamin Franklin to more modern-day superstars like Dwayne Johnson and Vera Wang, there are plenty of inspiring stories about individuals who found success after starting late in their respective fields.
These stories of triumph are a great reminder that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. Whether starting your own business or trying to break into a new industry, there’s no better time to start than today. Read on to learn about some of the most famous people who started late, and let their stories inspire your journey.
The American folk artist didn’t begin painting until she was in her 70s, but she became a renowned painter and received numerous awards for her work.
Grandma Moses was an American folk artist who began her career at the ripe young age of 78. Born Anna Mary Robertson Moses in 1860, she was raised on a farm and taught to paint by her father, a local sign painter. Despite showing promise as an artist, Moses put her artistic talents aside to focus on her marriage and family.
It wasn’t until she was 78 years old that she returned to painting. She had been suffering from arthritis which forced her to retire from domestic work, leaving her with spare time for painting. To pass the time, Moses painted rural scenes of country life, using materials found around the house, such as flour sacks and oil. Not long after, her paintings became popular, and she achieved celebrity status. By her death in 1961, she had created nearly 2000 paintings over 23 years.
Grandma Moses’ story has become an inspiration for those who are looking to start something new later in life. Her example proves that age is just a number, and one can pick up any skill at any time with sufficient dedication and enthusiasm.
Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, didn’t achieve great success until he was in his 60s and started franchising his restaurant.
Harland Sanders is an exemplary figure of success achieved late in life. Born in 1890, the Kentucky native served various manual labor jobs throughout his twenties and thirties before opening his first restaurant in 1930 at 40. The local establishment earned him considerable fame in the community for its delicious fried chicken recipe, and he eventually opened a chain of restaurants under the same name. Despite suffering bankruptcy due to mismanagement, Sanders turned around his business by franchising his recipe to other establishments. As a result, the now-iconic Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was born in 1952 when Sanders was 62.
In the following decades, Sanders built KFC into one of the most recognizable fast-food brands in the world. He became an international celebrity in the process, appearing on television shows and earning the title “Colonel” from the Governor of Kentucky. At age 88, Sanders sold his interest in KFC for millions of dollars, forever cementing his place as one of the most successful entrepreneurs to have started later in life.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
The author of the Little House on the Prairie series didn’t publish her first book until she was 65.
Laura Ingalls Wilder is a prime example of someone who found success later in life. Despite being surrounded by family who encouraged her to pursue an education, Wilder chose instead to marry at age 15 and begin a family of her own. It wasn’t until years later, when she was in her 40s, that she began writing “Little House on the Prairie”, which would become one of the most beloved children’s books in history.
Wilder used her wealth of knowledge and experience of the American pioneer life to crafting stories full of adventure and humor that resonated with generations of readers. By the time Wilder passed away at the age of 90 in 1957, she had become a household name, inspiring people all across the globe to pursue their dreams no matter their age.
Peter Mark Roget
The creator of Roget’s Thesaurus didn’t publish his famous work until he was 73.
Peter Mark Roget knows all too well the power of never giving up on your dreams. Despite starting his career late in life, he went on to become one of the most respected and celebrated figures in not just medicine but also language. Born in 1779 to a Swiss pastor, he moved to England at 21 and completed medical studies at 27 before eventually becoming a professor of Medicine at 36.
But his side hustle made him famous – Roget wrote a thesaurus and published it when he was 73. His work revolutionized the modern English language and is still used by writers and students today. He even gave the world the word “thesaurus,” which has since come to represent all such books written to find related words.
There is much we can learn from Peter Mark Roget’s journey – no matter how old you are, there’s always room to pursue new experiences and challenge yourself. All it takes is passion, drive, and determination.
The author of Angela’s Ashes didn’t publish his first book until he was 66 but went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for his writing.
Frank McCourt is perhaps one of the most famous late bloomers in history. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1930 to Irish immigrants, he struggled with poverty as a child. He worked various jobs, including serving in the Korean War, before eventually settling into teaching in the late 1960s. After thirty years of teaching in New York and California, McCourt finally decided to pursue his lifelong dream of writing at age 66.
His debut novel, Angela’s Ashes, was an instant success. It earned him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. The book also made him a millionaire, finally reaching financial security in his later years. McCourt went on to write several other books, including ‘Tis and Teacher Man, cementing his place as one of the finest writers of our time. His inspiring story shows that following your dreams and achieving success is never too late.
The marathon runner, known as the “Gladyator,” ran her first marathon at 86 and completed her last marathon at 92.
Gladys Burrill began running marathons in 2008 at the age of 92. As a lifelong athlete, she had stayed active in her later years, but it wasn’t until her 90th birthday that she decided to run long-distance races. In her first marathon, she finished in 9 hours and 53 minutes and became an instant celebrity, receiving attention from the media and other runners alike.
Gladys is a shining example of how achieving your goals is never too late. Her story shows us that age is no obstacle to following your dreams and pushing yourself to new heights.
The first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail solo didn’t start hiking until she was in her 60s.
Grandma Gatewood is an inspiring example of someone who started late in life. Born in 1887, Emma Gatewood was in her mid-sixties when she became the first woman to solo-hike the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. Not only that, but she completed the entire journey in just over five months – something even many younger hikers have been unable to do.
Gatewood’s remarkable achievement was made even more impressive because she hiked with minimal gear, carrying a lightweight pack and wearing simple sneakers. She never let her age or lack of experience stop her from pursuing her dreams and embracing her adventurous spirit. Her story has since served as a source of inspiration for people of all ages, proving that it’s never too late to start anew.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
The sex therapist, known as Dr. Ruth, didn’t start her career until she was in her 50s but became a household name with her radio and TV shows about sex and relationships.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a shining example of someone who achieved success later in life. Born in Germany in 1928, she emigrated to the United States in 1956 and did not begin her career as a sex therapist until she was in her 40s. Even then, it took several years to gain recognition – her radio show only began airing in 1980. Since then, she has become an international icon, hosting countless radio and TV programs, writing books, and giving lectures around the globe.
At 93 years old, Dr. Westheimer shows no signs of slowing down. She advocates for sexual education and health, inspiring others that age should never be a barrier to dreams. She says, “It’s never too late to start a new career if you want to do something different.”
The Japanese real estate tycoon didn’t start his business until he was in his 60s, but he became the richest man in Japan.
Taikichiro Mori is the paragon of a late bloomer. Born in 1911, he was 50 when he began rising to fame and power. He started as a real estate agent but became one of Japan’s most influential business executives and real estate tycoons throughout his career.
Mori began by acquiring small plots of land in Tokyo and selling them off as residential lots. Slowly but surely, he built an empire that made him one of the wealthiest men in Japan. He also became very influential in politics and served in Japan’s House of Representatives for ten years.
Mori eventually had over $15 billion net worth thanks to his ambitions and savvy investments. He achieved this despite starting so late in life, which is an inspiring reminder that chasing our dreams is never too late.
The English artist and writer created her famous “paper mosaics” at the age of 72 and went on to produce nearly 1,000 of them.
Mary Delany (1700-1788) was an Englishwoman with a passion for the arts that developed late in life. After a marriage of convenience when she was forty ended, Delany decided to pursue a creative career. At seventy, Delany began her studies in art and design, entering a then-unusual field for women then.
Delany studied botany, art, painting, and eventually paper mosaics, which gained her recognition as a major figure in 18th-century British mosaic art. Despite her lack of formal training, she became renowned for her intricate designs and use of vibrant colors. Her most famous works are the “Flora Delanica,” a series of more than 900 botanical cut-paper collages now housed in the British Museum.
In addition to her artwork, Delany was a talented diarist who left an extensive record of her life during the Georgian period. She was even friendly with members of the Royal Family, such as Queen Charlotte, and was an advisor on fashion and style. Her accomplishments were also recognized by King George III himself, who granted her an annual pension of £50.
Though she started late, Mary Delany is remembered today as one of the most important female artists of the 18th century. Her works are considered masterful examples of paper-cut art. Her dedication to the craft continues to be an example of what can be accomplished with hard work, determination, and commitment.