Don’t believe that old cliché about middle-aged dogs and new tricks. Lots of wildly successful people found big success in careers they began after their fiftieth birthdays. Here are just a few examples.
1. COLONEL SANDERS
2. LAURA INGALLS WILDER
Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series may be some of the world’s most beloved children’s books, but she was no spring chicken when she sat down to write them. Wilder didn’t publish her first novel until she was 65 years old, and she still managed to crank out 12 books in her series, although some were published posthumously.
3 & 4. TIM AND NINA ZAGAT
5. TAKICHIRO MORI
You don’t have to start early to become the richest man in the world. Mori was an economics professor until he left academia at age 55 to become a real estate investor in 1959. Mori had recently inherited a couple of buildings from his father, and he jumped headfirst into Tokyo’s real estate scene. Mori started his second career by investing in the Minato ward where he spent his childhood, and within a matter of years he was presiding over Japan’s real estate boom.
When Mori died in 1993, he was Forbes‘ two-time reigning world’s richest man with a net worth of around $13 billion. He was something of a Japanese precursor to Warren Buffett, though. Mori never seemed totally comfortable with the fame and fortune his second career won him. He dressed traditionally, abstained from alcohol, and lived a fairly modest life.
6. GRANDMA MOSES
7. A. C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
The founder of the Hare Krishna movement was 69 years old before he started the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. In his native India, Prabhupada had been a chemist and a Sanskrit scholar in Calcutta, but in 1965 he came to New York City with just fifty bucks, a pair of cymbals, and a desire to spread the teachings of Lord Krishna.
Prabhupada got off to a modest start by sitting on a sidewalk in the East Village and chanting, but by the time of his death in 1977 his legions of followers were rumored to be thousands strong.
8. EDMOND HOYLE
9. RAY KROC
“I guess to be an entrepreneur you have to have a large ego, enormous pride and an ability to inspire others to follow your lead.”
10. RONALD REAGAN
Sure, Reagan had been a famous actor, but he wasn’t elected to his first public office until he was 55 years old. In 1966 Reagan won California’s gubernatorial race by over a million votes. Prior to his election, Reagan had done some politicking as the president of the Screen Actors Guild and as spokesman for General Electric, but nothing on his resume made him look like a sure-fire two-term president. (And after a tennis tournament benefit for the Nancy Reagan Drug Abuse Fund in 1988, the Gipper got to meet a young Johnny Depp.