#2. An Unemployed Nurse Became an Emmy Award Winning Actress at 56
In 1995, Kathryn Joosten moved in with a family member in Los Angeles because she wanted to make it in Hollywood. Like most girls following the same hopeless dream, she had no agent, no contacts and close to nothing on her resume. Seems like a pretty typical story.
The Rock Bottom Moment:
Unlike most girls, however, Joosten was 56. The family member was her son.
"I expect you to do your share of chores and be in bed by 11 ... um, Mom."
In the '60s and '70s, Joosten had a promising career as a nurse in Chicago, but she gave it up after getting married. Her husband was a psychiatrist and did pretty well -- he was also, however, a deadbeat alcoholic. Ten years later, they divorced. Joosten found herself a 40-something single mother with two kids and three jobs, struggling to make ends meet. So, she did the sensible thing and decided to drop everything to become an actress.
Now, here's where our story gets inspirational, right? Hell, no! Joosten started auditioning for parts and ... nothing happened. And then, more nothing. For several years. In the meantime, she supported her family by hanging wallpaper and painting houses, among other gigs. In 1992, she was finally cast by Disney in her first important role: "Streetmosphere" performer in the Orlando theme park.
Where dreams go to be processed and sold for twice the price.
She stayed in that city for three years -- the job lasted for one. By 1995, she had decided to try her luck in L.A., even if it meant moving in with her son.
And then Urkel changed everything. A spot in Family Matters saying two lines with Jaleel White landed Joosten an agent who evidently marketed the shit out of her sassy older woman image. Soon she got herself guest parts in pretty much every sitcom made in the following decade, from Seinfeld to Frasier to Will & Grace to Scrubs. If you watch TV at all, you've probably seen her face at least a couple dozen times. She was the president's secretary in The West Wing:
And the little old lady in Desperate Housewives:
Aka the one we'd be most scared of asking for our ball back.
Kathryn Joosten has won two Emmys for that Desperate Housewives role, and it's all because of her uncanny perseverance. And Urkel.
#1. Colonel Sanders Was 65 When He Launched Kentucky Fried Chicken
Harland Sanders had one of the most ridiculous resumes in human history. It starts with him dropping out of school in the sixth grade, not because he was lazy, but because he had to take care of his younger brothers. Life dealt him a shitty card, and it would just keep piling those up over the next 50 years and a dozen failed careers.
According to his autobiography, Sanders' many jobs included farmhand, army mule-tender and motel operator ... plus other shadier-sounding ones like aspiring lawyer, failed political candidate and, um, "amateur obstetrician."
"And you say this small person is inside of you, yes? Mighty peculiar."
By age 40, Sanders was running a crappy service station and decided to make a little extra cash by serving full meals to busy people -- the place was so small that they had to eat in the same room where he lived.
But eventually, people started coming in purely because of his food, getting to the point where he could no longer cram them inside his bedroom. Eventually Sanders moved to a bigger place across the street. His restaurant was a hit, and everything was perfectly fine from then on!
End of article! Nice work. Fried chicken and chest pains for everyone.
The Rock Bottom Moment:
That is, until a new highway was built, directing all of the traffic miles away from his restaurant. Business dried up, and the now-elderly Harlan Sanders was profoundly screwed.
So, at age 65, the restaurant was bankrupt and things weren't looking so bright for Sanders. Now retired from his jobs, he cashed his first ever Social Security check ...
... and used it to open a franchise. And then another, and then another. Hell, there might one down your street, with Sanders' face plastered all over it.
China knows Colonel Sanders as "Comrade General Demon Hair."
Harland Sanders (named honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1935 solely on account of his fine cooking) was so confident in his ability to fry chicken that he used the last money he had in the world and invested it in his restaurant. Less than 10 years later, Sanders had more than 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises in the U.S. and Canada. In 1964, he sold his interest in the company for $2 million to a group of investors. He was in his mid-70's.
Today, more than 12 million people eat at KFC each day in 109 countries. There are more than 5,200 restaurants in the United States and more than 15,000 locations worldwide. His face continues adorning buckets of chicken, and his ghost continues haunting Japanese baseball teams.
One day he'll return as a mecha and wreak havoc on Tokyo.
For more celebrity gossip, check out 6 Insane True Stories Behind The Stage Names of Celebrities and The 6 Most Misguided Causes Ever Made Famous by Celebrities.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist is doing this as a side-gig while he trains for the opera.
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