He referred her to his agent, who happened to be Zeppo Marx. Despite being the most boring and unpopular of the Marx brothers, Zeppo apparently still had some clout in the industry. Turner had to get permission from her mother before going to talk to him (because once again, she was 16), but when she did, Zeppo signed her to a contract on the spot and immediately got her cast in They Won't Forget, one of the most popular movies of the 1930s.
It'd be like Ferris Bueller getting noticed by a Hollywood executive while doing his parade float fancy dance rendition of "Twist and Shout," getting offered the lead role in Top Gun, and then going on to become the biggest movie star of the next 20 years (so, pretty much the exact opposite of what happened to Matthew Broderick after Ferris Bueller's Day Off ). That's more unrealistic than anything that happens in that movie, and it's the one thing that actually occurred to a person skipping school in real life.
"Grandma Moses" Took Up Painting at 80, Became a Superstar
Anna Mary Robertson Moses was one of the most celebrated and successful members of the modern art movement in the mid-20th century. Throughout the 1950s, exhibitions of her work sold out around the world, and paintings of hers have sold for more than $1 million. The thing is, she didn't even start painting until she was in her 70s, and only then because she couldn't continue with her first choice of artistic expression -- knitting, which is about as far from modern art as you can get.
We saw one modern art installation use knitting needles. We'd rather not elaborate.
Grandma Moses was born in 1860, which you history buffs might recognize as being a year before the start of the Civil goddamned War. She spent most of her life on a farm in northern New York, baking, doing rustic chores, and working on her knitting and embroidery. She was essentially living in a Cracker Barrel fantasy camp.
That is, until she was diagnosed with neuritis, which is a nerve disorder that can cause pain and paralysis in affected areas of the body. In Moses' case, it was in her hands and fingers, which made it impossible for her to even wield her knitting needles, much less stitch full embroideries. At the suggestion of one of her friends, she took up painting, because it was much easier on her afflicted hands. No big deal -- she'd give out her pictures as gifts to her friends, or sell them for a couple of bucks (and we're not being reductive -- she literally sold them for $2 to $3 apiece). And she continued on like that, slinging her future masterpieces around town in relative obscurity, until 1938, when an art collector named Louis J. Caldor got lost on a drive through upstate New York and happened to see her paintings on display in a drugstore window.
"Wow, this place must really dilute their Xanax."
After releasing an explosive cloud of blubbering "eurekas" and "by joves" that nearly sent him careening off into a ditch (probably), Caldor bought every single Grandma Moses painting at the store, then drove to her home to throw even more money at her in a more personal setting. Some of the paintings were displayed in an exhibition in New York City the following year, and Grandma Moses' popularity as a mainstream modern artist took off (please keep in mind she was 80 fucking years old at this time). She managed to stay in the spotlight for 20 more years until her death in 1961 at age 101.
Evan V. Symon is a moderator in the Cracked Workshop. When he isn't trying to figure out if penguins have knees, he can be found on Facebook, and be sure to bookshelf and vote for his new book, The End of the Line.
Related Reading: Think this was impressive? Here's a list of celebrities who got famous without even existing. Some real celebrities have been hiding the BEST parts of themselves, which is why you didn't know Kei$ha is a huge math and history nerd. And did you know Matthew "Ferris Bueller" Broderick once killed two people while driving in the wrong lane? You do now.