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Gene Hackman landed his breakout role at the age of 37, portraying real life Buck Barrow in “Bonnie and Clyde.” Before then, Hackman worked as a field radio operator in the United States Marine Corps for almost five years, before moving back to New York City. Hackman went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for “Bonnie and Clyde,” which led to other film work, including “The French Connection,” which earned him an Oscar.
Kathryn Joosten spent most of her life working as a psychiatric nurse in Chicago. In 1982, at the age of 42, she began acting in her community theater. Only seventeen years later did she land the role that propelled her to fame: Mrs. Landingham on “The West Wing.” Her performance on the show led to more television roles, including Karen McClucskey on “Desperate Housewives,” which earned Joosten two Emmy Awards. Coincidentally, her death occurred twenty days after the on-screen death of her “Desperate Housewives” character.
Kristin Wiig rose to fame in 2005, after taking on odd jobs here and there to support herself while she struggled to find work as an actor. Surviving a “Saturday Night Live” budget cut, she became a full member of the repertory cast in 2006, creating hysterical characters like the Target Lady, the neurotic Penelope, the TV game show Cheryl Bryant, and famed impersonations of Nancy Pelosi, Suze Orman, Liza Minnelli, and Michele Bachmann. Her work on the live comedy show has earned her Emmy Award nominations. Since then, Wiig has appeared in films such as “Knocked Up” and “Bridesmaid,” earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Wiig most recently took on the iconic role of young Lucille Bluth on the Netflix reboot of “Arrested Development.”
Before he was Jules Winnfield in “Pulp Fiction,” Samuel Jackson was a social worker. After deciding to pursue a career in acting, he took on small roles on films like “Goodfellas,” and “True Romance.” It wasn’t until “Pulp Fiction,” when Jackson was 45, did he become a star. Jackson was critically heralded and received an Academy Award nomination. From then on, he went on to star in “A Time to Kill,” “Jackie Brown”, and most recently, “Django Unchained.” Jackson remains a big name with box office power, and continues to work steadily.
Everybody loves Lucille Ball, but believe it or not, she wasn’t always as wildly successful. In her early years, she worked as a model, performed on Broadway using a stage name, and assumed many small B-movie roles. Only in 1951, at the age of 40, did Lucille Ball make it big, creating the television series “I Love Lucy,” which skyrocketed her to fame, earning Ball four Emmy Awards and thirteen nominations. She continued to work after “I Love Lucy” ended, both on film and on stage.
Have you seen your favorite actor yet? They struggled just like everybody else. Do you have the stamina these actors did to stay focused on your dream?