Creatives who “made it” when they were older

Most creative experts reach their peak in their 20s. Mathematicians, Musicians, Comedians, Chess Players.

Let’s say you peak at 27. This is actually a bit after the peak when many creatives supposedly die. See the 27 Club (

Adults live to be in their 80s and 90s. Let’s say they retire at 68 though. That gives them 2.5 tries at 27.

If they don’t make anything of themselves or switch careers at 30. They can try again and see where they get at 57.

There’s a myth that kids learn language better than adults. If an adult spent as many as hours as a kid did learning- which is is typically 24/7 from birth to when they speak quite fluently around 5. But honestly if you have heard a 5 year old talk, I wouldn’t be impressed if an adult spoke like that. Probably closer to 13 or so. 13 years of non stop practice.

Typically when adults learn a new language they don’t immerse themselves the same way. They go to class and study and then talk to their friends and family in their original language each day. They just don’t attempt it with the same effort.

I believe the same happens as people get older. Life gets in the way. But still, it doesn’t mean older people don’t reach any level of success with their creativity. While these are typically globally famous people, there is an even larger list with people “making it” in their 90s who are more locally famous.

I’ll keep a running list here:

Mid to Late 30s

Reid Hoffman – Age 35

Founded Linkedin

Harrison Ford – Age 35


James Gandolfini – Age 38

Magician and skeptic

Ken Jeong – Age 38

Doctor turned comedian and actor.

Stan Lee – Age 39

Creator of Marvel.

George Boole – Age 39

George invented Boolean logic, used in Math and Computer Science.


Liam Neeson – Age 40


Donald Fischer – Age 40

Created the GAP clothing store chain.

Vera Wang – Age 40

Fashion Designer.

Melissa McCarthy – Age 41

Comedy actress in Bridesmaids.

Martha Stewart – After Age 41

She had several careers. As a model, a stockbroker, and finally writer, cook, businesswoman. It’s not clear when she “made it” but her first book came out when she was 41 so it was a few years after that.

Danny Trejo – Age 41


Billy Bob Thornton – Age 41


Bob Ross – Age 41

Television personality and painter

John Warnock – Age 42

Adobe and PDFs.

Robin Chase – Age 42

Started Zipcar.

Steve Carrell – Age 42

Starred in The Office.

Ian Fleming – Age 44

Writer of James Bond

Sam Walton – Age 44

Opened the first Walmart.

Alan Rickman – Age 44

Got his role in Die Hard.

Bryan Cranston – Age 44


J. R. R. Tolkien – Age 45

Writer of Lord of the Rings

Henry Ford – Age 45

Came out with the Model T car.

Grace hopper – Age 46

After attempting and failing to join the Navy at 34 for being too old, she managed at the age of 46 to pioneer the first compiler and is one of the “fathers” of computer science.

Rodney Dangerfield  – Age 46

After decades of failing to become a comedian, Rodney finally started getting recognition at 46.

Samuel L. Jackson – Age 46

He starred in Pulp Fiction and went on to be the second highest-grossing actor of all time.

Abraham Lincoln – Age 47

Joined the new Republican party and started gaining prominence that led to his presidency.

Susan Boyle – Age 47


Momofuku Ando – Age 48

Inventor of Instant Ramen.


Charles Darwin – Age 50

Published the Origin of Species.

Jack Cover – Age 50

Formed the TASER company that invented Tasers.

Morgan Freeman – Age 50


Karl Lagerfeld – Age 50

Creative Director of Chanel

Taikichiro Mori – Age 51

Started real estate investing and became a billionaire.

Julia Child – Age 51

Became a Celebrity Chef.

Betty White – Age 51

Famous actress.

Ray Kroc – Age 52

Started franchising Mcdonalds.

Kris Jenner – Age 52

Pitched the Kardashians reality show.

Christoph Waltz – Age 53


Ronald Reagan – Age 53

Became a serious contender for President.

Richard Adams – Age 56

Finally got a publisher to agree to Watership Down.

Miguel de Cervantes – Age 58

Published Don Quixote.

Yitang Zhang – Age 58

Mathematician with a breakthrough paper in the gaps between primes.


Colonel Sanders – Age 65

The KFC Guy.