As we enter 2019, many people will be focusing their attention on making and then keeping to a New Year’s resolution — a personal pact intended to improve our lives. While some people will look to health kicks or ways to get fitter, for others it will be an opportunity to change their career after feeling they’ve hit the glass ceiling in their current jobs.
If you’re starting to move into your elder years and feel as though you’ve missed the chance to pursue a new career path though, you couldn’t be more wrong. To prove this point, join award-winning stairlifts provider Acorn Stairlifts as they look at just a few people who became famous later in life…
Samuel L. Jackson
Whether you know him better as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, or Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s little doubting that Samuel L. Jackson is now one of the most recognized names in Hollywood.
However, the Washington D.C-born actor didn’t stroll straight out of acting school and onto the silver screen. In fact, his big break didn’t come until he appeared in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever in 1991 — at the age of 43!
Before then, Jackson had graduated from Morehouse College in 1972 and then performed skits focusing on racial inequality with a theatre company. However, things could have turned out so differently. This is because in 1969 — while in his junior year at Morehouse College — Jackson protested the absence of black people on the board of trustees in a move that saw several board members locked in a building for two days. Jackson was subsequently expelled from the college and went about working as a social worker for two years in Los Angeles. During that time, he got inspired to act, managed to return to Morehouse College to study acting and eventually received his degree.
As mentioned, Jackson received his big break by featuring in Jungle Fever and had managed to appear in over 100 movies by the time he reached 63. In 2011, he also received the accolade of being the highest grossing actor of all time with over $7.2 billion in wealth. An extraordinary feat by any standards, but even more impressive when you think about the age that Jackson started to get recognized on the big screen.
You must have been living under a rock if you haven’t come across at least one Marvel movie over the past decade or so. The huge number of superheroes which have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Iron Man was released in 2008 all came to be thanks to the amazing vision of Stan Lee. However, don’t think that Lee started coming up with ideas for characters with phenomenal powers by doodling in school — he didn’t create his first comic title (The Fantastic Four, for the record) until 1961, when he was 39.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922 but choosing to shorten his name once he became a writer, Lee was hired as an office assistant at Timely Comics in 1939. During the early 1940s, he became one of the company’s interim editors and also served domestically in the Army throughout the Second World War by working as a writer and illustrator.
When the 1960s arrived, Timely Comics was given its new name of Marvel Comics. Its boss sought out Lee and gave him a challenge of creating a series which could hold its own against DC Comics’ popular Justice League of America series. The Fantastic Four would be the result of that challenge, with Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Captain America and so many more joining the cast in the years that followed.
In his later years, a new generation became associated with Stan Lee by waiting for him to make humorous cameo appearances in films tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even after his death in November 2018, fans still can see him on the big screen when he appears in 2019 blockbusters Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
Shifting our focus to the world of fashion now, Vera Wang is today recognized as one of the premier women’s designers across the globe. What you might not know though is that the American fashion designer didn’t enter the fashion industry until she was 40 — she was first a promising figure skater and then a journalist ahead of this career move.
Wang took up figure skating when she was just six years old and competed professionally in the sport during her teenage years, placing fifth in the junior pairs competition of the 1968 and 1969 U.S. National Championships alongside her partner, James Stuart.
Upon graduating from college and also suffering the blow of failing to join the US Olympic team though, Wang brought her skating career to a close in 1971. In the same year, she was invited to start working for Vogue magazine. Within a year and only aged 23, Wang received a promotion to become the publication’s senior fashion editor — a role that saw her become the youngest ever editor of the magazine’s fashion segment.
When 1987 arrived, Wang made another major adjustment to her working life as she left Vogue and became Ralph Lauren’s accessories design director. Within two years, she had successfully created 13 accessories lines at the renowned fashion house.
Her eye for fashion took on new meaning while preparing to marry longtime boyfriend Arthur Becker in 1989, though. Annoyed with the designs available to her on the market, Wang sketched her own design for bridal wear and then commissioned a dressmaker to tailor her own elaborate wedding gown. A year later, Wang received support from both her now husband and her father so that she could open the doors of her own bridal boutique in New York City’s Carlyle Hotel.
Over the next few years, Wang welcomed the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, Ivanka Trump, Kim Kardashian and Kate Hudson as clients, and witnessed her wedding dresses being seen on hit TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sex and the City and Gossip Girl. Wang even designed a hand-beaded ensemble that was worn by figure skater Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Olympic Games.
Formally known as Harland Sanders, you are bound to recognize the face of Colonel Sanders as it is the classic logo of Kentucky Fried Chicken (or KFC as the fast-food chain is often referred to). That’s right, the face in the logo isn’t a mascot but actually a gleeful mugshot of the chain’s original founder. Perhaps surprisingly, Colonel Sanders didn’t franchise the company until he was aged 62 in 1952.
Sanders knew hard work from a very early age, as he became responsible for caring and feeding his younger brother and sister after his father died when he was just six years old. From the age of 10, Sanders held jobs such as being a farmer, a streetcar conductor, a railroad fireman and an insurance salesman.
However, it was his stint running a service station in Kentucky when he was 40 years old that set in motion events that would transform Mr Sanders into Colonel Sanders. Part of his responsibilities was to feed travelers who visited the establishment, with the food proving so popular that Sanders eventually made the call to move his operation to a nearby restaurant. A fried chicken became the key dish here, to the point of popularity that Kentucky’s Governor Ruby Laffoon gave Sanders the title of being a Kentucky colonel in 1935.
In 1952, Sanders decided to close his sole restaurant in favor of franchising his chicken business. He initially toured the US, cooking batches of chicken at restaurants that he visited and then securing deals that saw him being paid a nickel for every chicken that an eatery sold. Kentucky Fried Chicken went public in 1966 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Hopefully, just the four examples above will have convinced you that it’s never too late to change your career and pursue your dream job. All that’s left to say is to wish you all the best with your pursuits!