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Late Bloomers

These folks didn't make it big until they were in their later years. Some of them even changed careers late in life.

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    Toni Morrison was about 40 when her first book, The Bluest Eye was published.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Rodney Dangerfield started writing comedy and jokes in his teens but took a job selling aluminum siding to support his family. It wasn't until his 40s that he got back into standup comedy and started reviving his career.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Estelle Getty got her start as a young actress in the "Borscht Belt" Yiddish theatre, but stuck to community theatre for many years to raise a family. She became famous starring on Broadway in her 50s and then in her 60s in The Golden Girls.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Julia Child worked in advertising in her 20s, in the Secret Service during World War II, and met her husband doing service in Ceylon. He introduced her to fine cuisine and when they moved to Paris she studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu. Child was 49 when her first cookbook was published and in her 50s when her TV show began.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Morgan Freeman got a late start in acting, mainly small roles in his 30s. He worked his way up to bigger parts but didn't really break through until his part in "Driving Miss Daisy" at age 52.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Comedian Steve Carrell had some smaller roles in his 30s, but his fame did not really hit until roles he got well into his 40s: Bruce Almighty, The Anchorman, and The Office.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Simon Cowell was just a man behind the scenes to most people until X-Factor and American Idol. He was a successful A&R rep, producer and entrepreneur until his late 40s when he started appearing in front of the cameras.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Sharon Jones was a gospel singer and sang with local funk bands in Augusta, Georgia in her younger days. She got a got a break around age 40 to back up Lee Fields and the Soul Providers. After success with that project, Sharon Jones released her first album with the Dap Kings (formerly the Soul Providers) in 2002, at age 46.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    George Lopez performed stand-up comedy on the circuit and had a few small tv and film roles, but nothing major until he convinced Sandra Bullock to help him open up the market for Latinos on TV. He was 39 when he started begging and in his 40s when production began.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Samuel L. Jackson had a few small roles in his 20s and 30s before making it big as an actor in his 40s, starting in Do the Right Thing, Mo Better Blues, Pulp Fiction, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Die Hard: With a Vengeance.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Willie Nelson had a successful first album around age 30 but failed to impress Nashville with future recordings. It wasn't until he was in his 40s that he really started to find his groove with outlaw country music.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Wilford Brimley worked as a ranch hand, wrangler, blacksmith and Howard Hughes' bodyguard before shoeing horses for TV and films. He got his start playing extras in Westerns in his 30s, and around age 40 had an important role in "The China Syndrome" which helped him get more acting gigs.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Martha Stewart was married with children and working as a stockbroker. She and her husband restored an old farmhouse from 1805 and realized she had a knack for decorating. She started a catering business in her 30s and published her first cookbook, Entertaining at age 41. The rest is history.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Billy Bob Thornton's star started rising during the TV series "Hearts Afire" in his late 30s. He won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay after writing, directing and acting in Sling Blade in his 40s and went on to star in more movies and TV.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Tim and Nina Zagat were corporate lawyers until their early 40s when they started asking friends for opinions about their favorite restaurants in New York. The resulting guide was called Zagat and was published in 1982.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    Grandma Moses was a mother, embroiderer and farmer until she started painting in her 70s. Jer paintings were later reproduced on Christmas cards, tiles, fabrics, and even a postage stamp.
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    Harlan Sanders, aka Colonel Sanders, had many jobs including enlisting in the US Army, steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, railroad fireman, and farmer before he started cooking meals at his service station in Kentucky. Over the years he perfected his chicken recipe and used his savings to buy a motel and restaurant. At age 65, after his store failed, he started franchising his recipes and Kentucky Fried Chicken was born.
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    Danny Aiello's first jobs included bouncer and bus station union rep. He didn't start acting until he was about 40.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images
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    After a tough early life as an orphan and later single mother, actress Liz Smith got her break at age 48 when she played in "Bleak Moments". This role paved the way for her to appear in many tv shows and movies to follow.
    July 17, 2011/© Getty Images