It’s never really too late to be successful in Hollywood.

While a majority of celebrities made it at an early age, there are countless others who didn’t make it until after 50.

Here’s a list of some of the late bloomers who didn’t become household names until 50, including an actress who got well known at 60.

Christoph Waltz

Waltz begins the “movie stars who made it after 50” list.

Christoph Waltz began his acting career at the age of 23 but didn’t gain fame until 53. That year he became widely recognized around the world!

The role that provided him with his fame was Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. 

This well-known performance won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and he went on to star in movies like The Green Hornet, The three musketeers, Django and Spectre.

christoph waltz
Christoph Waltz

Morgan Freeman

The man with a Godly voice.

Morgan Freeman’s first two major projects were the soap opera Another World and the PBS The Electric Company. And to think that he was only in his 30s by the time he got those roles.

Nevertheless, Freeman was known in the 1987 movie Street Smart, also known as his breakthrough role. That movie was released when he was 50 years old! And, it also landed him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Two years later, he starred in Driving Miss Daisy, which brought him even closer to fame.

morgan freeman
Morgan Freeman

Betty White

She had one of the longest careers of any currently living actors, starting from the 1940s into the 2010s!

The earliest role that the majority will remember was The Mary Tyler Moore Show, that was released back in 1973. To keep in mind, Betty was 51 years old back then.

She already had shortlived The Betty White Show by then, but the role of Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show brought her another level of fame.

A couple of years later, she ended up on the series she is still very famous for The Golden Girls. When she began the show she was 63!

Betty White
Betty White

Judi Dench

Judy was a beloved stage actress for a couple of years before she branched movies and television. After she did, one of the most well-known roles was on the show – A Fine Romance.




Dench is one of the icons of the movie stars who made it after 50 list.

But until 1995 when Dench landed on an entirely new level of fame, she had to play M in GoldenEye.

When that movie came out, she was 61!

She reprised the role in the subsequent James Bond movies:

  1. Tomorrow Never Dies
  2. The World Is Not Enough
  3. Die Another Day
  4. Casino Royale
  5. Skyfall
Judi Dench
Judi Dench

Margo Martindale

Margo was for a couple of years one of the most amazing and consistent actresses, but very easy to overlook character actors.

She had amazing supporting roles on the shows like Law&Order, and in movies like The Hours and Million Dollar Baby.

Nevertheless, Martindale had an uptick in fame, largely due to her role in Justified. By the time the show was filming, she was 60!

This performance would give her the chance to win her very first acting award.

Margo had ever since gone on to receive acclaim for her amazing performance in The Americans.

Margo Martindale
Margo Martindale

Regis Philbin

Regis started off his career as a page for The Tonight Show, going on to serve as an announcer. He was well-known already for this part.

Regis is well known for being a movie stars who made it after 50.

He worked on television for almost 3 years before finally gaining worldwide fame for Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.

Philbin began hosting the show back in 1988, and he was 57!

He would also go on to host a very well-known show in 1999 – Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. 

Regis Philbin
Regis Philbin

Kathryn Joosten

Kathryn didn’t begin acting at all until she was 48!




For almost 12 years after, she appeared on shows like

  • Family Matters
  • ER
  • Roseanne
  • Seinfeld

But unfortunately for her, she never lasted for more than an episode.

That all changed back in 1999 when she landed the role of Mrs.Landingham on tThe West Wing. And at that time she was 60!

This brought her a significantly higher level of fame and opened the doorway to a couple of more important roles, like Desperate Housewives.

The latter series also won her two awards.

Kathryn Joosten
Kathryn Joosten

John Mahoney

After spending a lot of years on stage, Mahoney began his amazing career in movies in 1982. By that time he was 42.

Mahoney is a great addition to the movie stars who made it after 50 list.

His break role was a Martin Crane, Frasier’s father, on the NBC sitcom Fraiser. 

By that time Mahoney was 53 years old!

He went on to appear on a lot of shows like

  • 3rd Rock From the Sun
  • ER
  • The American President
  • Antz
John Mahoney
John Mahoney

Joy Behar

Behar started her career as a receptionist in Good Morning America, and she also performed for years as a stand-up comedian. She struggled to gain recognition at that time.

She also has some mall movie roles and also hosted a radio show.

It wasn’t up until 1997 when she rose up to gain fame as the original co-host at The View. 

By that time she was 55!



Behar still remains on the show to this day.

Joy Behar
Joy Behar

Ann Dowd

Kind of like Martindale, she spent a lot of years as a very good, but not well-known character actress.

It was after 50 that she started to become famous.

The start of her career arguably began in 2012 with Compliance, that was released when she was 56!

Then, starting in 2014, she received amazingly critical praise for her portrayal of Patti Levin in The Leftovers.

Currently, Ann stars as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale, which most critics consider to be some of the best work of her career

Ann Dowd
Ann Dowd

Jane Lynch

You might’ve seen Jane during the 200s in movies like The 40-year-old virgin and The Aviator. Or perhaps on the lesser-known comedy Party Down.

But the role that “gave her wings” on the fame was Sue Sylvester on the series of Glee. 

By the time she played that role, she was 50!

Jane Lynch
Jane Lynch

Emmanuelle Riva

To this day, Riva is the oldest person to ever be nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Wards.

Riva spends years acting in France, but it took until 2012 for her to become worldwide known.

The performance that gave her fame was in Amour, the Michael Haneke movie that was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars — and took home the award for Best Foreign Language Movie.

Riva was also nominated in the Best Actress category, even though she did not win, the nomination brought her to the highest point of her career at 85!

Emmanuelle Riva
Emmanuelle Riva

Julia Child

Julia’s first cookbook was not published until 1961, by which point she was 49!

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until a few years later when Julia became a star, as she started hosting the cooking show called The French Chef way back in 1963.

By that time she was 51!



The show was aired for 10 years, and she went on to be a star on other shows like

  • The “Julia Child & Company”
  • The “Julia Child & More Company”
  • "<yoastmark
  • If you feel like another actor/actress should be here, let us know by contacting us.
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