Momofuku Ando


My A to Z theme is to search for people who found success later in life.  M is for Momofuku Ando, the man who developed Ramen noodles at the age of 48.   So basically the man who fed me during my college years.

Interesting Facts:

–   His grandparents owned a textile store in Taiwan and at the age of 22 he started his own textile company.

–  After World War II, Ando became a Japanese citizen and founded a small merchandising firm.  He was convicted of tax evasion in 1948 and served two years in jail.  Ando later said he provided scholarships for students.  At the time this act was a form of tax evasion.

Route to success:

–  Post-war Japan suffered from a shortage of food.  The US provided wheat flour to the Japanese but they were more familiar with noodles.  Ando decided to develop the production of noodles by himself.  He believed “Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat.”

–  At the age of 48 in 1958, Ando presented his first package of precooked instant noodles.

–  Ando kept working and produced the Cup Noodle in a waterproof polystyrene container in 1971.

My Take Away:

–  Often times success is found when a need is fulfilled.  People were hungry.  They had wheat flour.  They were used to noodles.  Instant Ramen.  What do I want to do?  What need can I fill?  Will it serve others for the greater good? I think it is important for me to sit and ask these questions as I make my goals in life.  Now, I want some ramen.  Mmmmmm…

Larry David


My A to Z challenge is to explore the lives of people finding success later in their life.  L is for Larry David.

Interesting Facts:

–  David has a bachelor’s degree in History and Business Administration.

–  His daughters were Hannah Montana fans.  David and his daughter appeared on the show as themselves in one episode.  All parents have a job which gives their kids perks.  His kids got on his favorite show.  My mom worked at the post office and I got to stamp Return To Sender on my arm.

Route to Success:

–  Started out as a stand-up comedian then became a writer for Fridays and Saturday Night Live.  His year at SNL was not the best and he only got one sketch on air.

–  In 1988, David and Jerry Seinfeld created a pilot called The Seinfeld Chronicles.   He wrote 62 episodes of Seinfeld.

–  HBO aired a 1-hour special, Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm in 1999.  The following year it became the popular series, Curb Your Enthusiasm.  It is unique in it is improvised from a story outline only several pages long.

My Take Away:

If I got on SNL, I would be so excited and think “Yes! I’ve made it!”  But if my short tenure there was unsuccessful and disappointing, I would be discouraged.  David kept going and his next project became on the of the most successful shows in TV history.  I need his persistence.


Kathryn Joosten


My A to Z blogging theme is studying people who found success later in life.  K is for actress Kathryn Joosten.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 8.24.34 PM Interesting Facts:

–  She was a psychiatric nurse in Chicago and her ex-husband was a psychiatrist.  If that doesn’t give you fodder for acting material, I don’t know what does. After all, acting is about studying what makes your character tick.

–  She was a former smoker.  She battled lung cancer in 2001 and it returned in 2009.  Joosten was named the national spokesperson for the Lung Cancer Profiles campaign on behalf of Pfizer.  The cancer returned again and claimed her life in 2012.

Routes to Success:

–  In 1980, Joosten’s marriage broke up and she desired a change.  She took classes from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and landed bit parts in community productions.

– She moved to Los Angeles in 1995.  Joosten scored small roles on shows like Family Matters, Roseanne and NYPD Blue.

–  Then she landed the role of Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing.  I loved her in this role.  I sobbed like a baby when her on-screen character was killed off.

–  Her next role was Mrs. McCluskey on Desperate Housewives.  She earned the Outstanding Guest Actress Emmy in 2005 and 2008 for the role.

2008 Creative Arts Awards - Press Room

Kathryn Joosten (Frederick M Brown/Getty Images)

My Take Away:

Was she a big movie star?  Was she a household name?  Perhaps not but at age 42 she walked into the historic Steppenwolf Theatre ready to learn!  That takes guts!  I would be happy as a clam if I could have her success.  I’m 42 and I’m a trained actress with a BFA in theatre performance AND I don’t think I would have the guts to walk into Steppenwolf tomorrow.

Julia Child


My A to Z challenge theme is people who found public success later in life.  J is for Julia Child.

Interesting Facts:

–  During World War II, Child found she couldn’t join the Women’s Army Corps or the Navy’s WAVES because she was too tall.  She signed up for the Office of Strategic Services(OSS).  She started as a typist but quickly was moved up to be the top secret researcher working directly for the head of the OSS.  She received the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service as head of the Registry of the OSS Secretariat.

–  While working for the OSS she spent a year as an assistant to developers of a shark repellent needed to ensure sharks would not explode the ordnances targeting the German U-boats.

–  In France, she joined the women’s club Le Circle des Gourmettes and met the two women she would spend the next 10 years working on the cookbook which  would become her legacy.

julia child2

Route to Success:

–  Child and her two friends were rejected from the first publisher they signed with because the publisher felt the book was too much like an encyclopedia.  In 1961, Alfred A. Knopf published the 726-page cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I: 50th Anniversary.  It was a best-seller.  Child was 49.

–  On February 11th, 1963, The French Chef television show debuted.   It ran for 10 years and won Peabody and Emmy Awards.

–  Child’s last book was her autobiography, My Life in France, published posthumously in 2006 and written with her grand nephew, Ales Prud’homme.

–  Her last meal was Frend onion soup.

“thinking back on it now reminds that the pleasures of the table, and of life, are infinite – toujours bon appetit!”  – Julia Child, My Life In France 


My Take Away:

My opinion on Julia stems from the fact that both of us suffered infertility and the lack of being able to give birth.  This type of pain is devastating and can leave a woman who had hoped and planned for a child feeling lost.  Child found a passion in cooking.  Life is difficult.  Finding your passion is essential to not simply surviving in life but thriving.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder


For my A to Z challenge, I am highlighting people who found success later in life.  I is for Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I received the whole series for my 7th birthday and treasure the set to this day.  My husband and I visited her home in Missouri on a vacation in college.  It is safe to say I love Laura Ingalls Wilder.


Interesting Facts:

–  Her family is descended from the Delano family, as in Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which emigrated on the Mayflower.

–  Wilder lived in Kansas, my home state.  Yea!  Part of my reason for loving the series.

–  She started teaching at 16 but never particularly enjoyed teaching.  She said she felt the responsibility to help her family financially.

–  Wilder was a five time runner-up for the Newbery Medal.  In 1954 they inaugurated a lifetime achievement award for the children’s writers and illustrators named after Wilder and first awarded it to her.  The Laura Ingress Wilder Medal recognizes a living author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made “a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for child.”  It is awarded biennially.


Route to success:

–  Wilder started as a columnist and editor with the Missouri Ruralist in 1911.  Her column was titled “As a Farm Woman Thinks.”  This lead to writing a couple of articles for Country Gentleman magazine.

–  Her daughter, Rose, pushed her mother to write.  Following the stock market crash of 1929, her mother’s death and her sister Mary’s death, Wilder asked Rose’s help in publishing her first book.  It was originally titled When Grandma Was a Little Girl.  In 1932 it was published by Harper & Brothers as Little House in the Big Woods.  She was 62 years old.  They continued to collaborate for the rest of the series.

–  The series steadily increased in sales for the rest of her lifetime.   She died at the age of 90.

My Take Away:

Sometimes we have the will but lack the confidence of know-how.  I love how this was a true collaboration with her daughter.  I can see even at her young age how my daughter is able to convince me to do things I’m not sure I can do.  A Mother-Daughter bond is pretty amazing.  The people we gather around us as we reach for a goal is crucial to our success.

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Henry Ford

HMy a to z challenge theme is You Ain’t Dead Yet!  I’m exploring the lives of people who found success later in life.  H is for Henry Ford.


Henry Ford in 1888 at age 25

Interesting Facts:

–  He did NOT invent the automobile or the assembly line BUT  he did develop and manufacture the first automobile that many middle class Americans could afford.

–  His father gave him a pocket watch and when he was 15 he dismantled and reassembled the timepieces of friends and neighbors gaining the reputation of a watch repairman.

–  His father wanted Ford to take over the family farm but Ford despised farm work.  He wrote, “I never had any particular love for the farm – it was the mother on the farm I loved.”  This is where he and I parted because I LOVE the farm.  😉

–  Ford wan and early backer of the Indianapolis 500.

Ford_assembly_line_-_1913Ford assembly line in 1913.

Route to Success:

–  Ford started as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in 1891.  While there he had time for personal experiments on gasoline engines.  He developed a self-propelled vehicle he called the Ford Quadricycle.


–  He developed three companies before forming the Ford Motor Company.  The second company became the Cadillac Automobile Company when he left.

–  The Model T was introduced on October 1, 1908.  It was $825($21,650 today) but the price soon fell every year which was Ford’s vision.


Henry Ford with Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone.

My Take Away:

Ford had tried to have 3 other car companies before he got the company he wanted.  He wanted an affordable car.  One that was reliable.  He wouldn’t compromise his dream.  I can appreciate this mindset.  I have a tendency to bend my wishes for others.

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Grandma Moses


For the A to Z challenge I am studying people who found success later in life.  G is for Grandma Moses.


Anna Mary Robertson in the 1860’s

Interesting Facts:

–  She lived to be 101!!  I’ll take what she is having…errr….had.  Her doctor said the best way to describe her death was “she just wore out.”

–  She took up painting at 76 years young because arthritis had crippled her hands making embroidering too difficult.

–  She was once the guest of President and Mrs. Harry S. Truman at a tea in which the President played the piano for her.


Fireboard decorated by Moses in 1918

Route to Success:

–  When she was 78 in 1938, a New York engineer and art collector, Louis J. Caldor, was driving through Hoosick Falls, NY and saw her paintings in a drug store.  They were priced $3-$5.  He bought them all.  Drove straight to her home in Eagle Bridge and bought ten others.

– The following year, Grandma Moses was represented in an exhibition of “contemporary unknown painters” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

–  In 1940, a one-man show of her paintings was held in New York and more followed abroad.

–  She continued to paint over 1,000 pictures.  25 of them after she passed her 100th birthday.  From $3-$5 to $8,000 -$10,000 a painting is quite the increase.


1969 U.S. postage stamp honoring Grandma Moses

My Take Away:

It is never too late.  Cliche but true.  Seriously!  If a woman can start painting at 76 and within three years be a famous painter, anything is possible.

On a side note, Grandma Moses style of painting reminds me of some of my favorite pieces from my favorite artist, P. Buckley Moss.  I love Moss and I have even made a visit to her main gallery space.  Two of her works adorn my wall.  Art is wonderful!

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Frank McCourt


My A to Z them is You Ain’t Dead Yet and I’m researching people who found success later in life.  My F is for Frank McCourt.

Interesting Facts:

–  McCourt was born in NY but grew up in Ireland.  He stole 55 pounds from his employer to pay for the trip back to the US when he was 19.

–  He was kicked out of school at 13.  He later went into the US Army.  He used his G.I. Bill and talked his way into New York University.  He convinced them he was intelligent and a prolific reader.  He graduated at 27 with a degree in English.

–  Several years before he died McCourt said, “I don’t want a funeral services or memorials.  Let them scatter my ashes over the Shannon and pollute the river.”  This kind of cracked me up.

Road to Sucess:

–  In 1967, McCourt earned a master’s degree from Brooklyn College.  He spent 18 months at Trinity College in Dublin but failed to earn his Ph.D. before returning to New York City.

–  After retiring from teaching, McCourt published his memoir, Angela’a Ashes, in 1996 at the age of 66 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1997.  It became a bestseller and made him a millionaire.

My Take Away:

Write what you know.  Simple.  Even if it takes a long time for you to get it out of your head and on to the paper.  It is never to late to share your gifts.  Retired and not sure what to do?  Go for your dream.  As an Irish Catholic, I couldn’t wait to read Angela’s Ashes.  I found it to be a great memoir.

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Clint Eastwood

EMy A to Z theme is You Ain’t Dead Yet.  I’m studying people who succeeded later in life.  My E is for Clint Eastwood.  I didn’t pick him for him starting acting in his mid-20’s but for his struggle to find a place for himself as a director at 41.


Interesting Facts:

–  Eastwood heard lots of no, you aren’t talented enough, etc. in his career but he kept going and eventually his flaws became his trademarks.

–  Eastwood was offered the role of James Bond following Sean Connery’s reign but he declined because he believed the character should be played by an English actor.  Smart man.

–  While in most his movies he is smoking, Eastwood is not a smoker.  He practices healthy eating and daily transcendental meditation.

– I’m a western fan.  I was raised on them by a John Wayne loving mom.  My favorite with Eastwood are Two Mules for Sister Sara and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

– In 2014, he saved a choking man’s life at a cocktail reception.

– Eastwood is a pianist and composer.  He composed the film scores  of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Grace is Gone, Changeling, Hereafter and more!  I did not know any of this.


Route to Success:

– Began as a contract player for Universal but was dropped after a year and a half.  While walking down the hall at CBS talking with a friend, a man came out looked him over and soon he was cast as Rowdy in Rawhide for a run of 7 years.

–  During a Rawhide hiatus, Eastwood went to Italy to do a western for little money.  It was his start in the spaghetti western genre.  I’ve seen A Fistful of Dollars and it is odd like I find most Italian movies.  Not horrible but doesn’t leave you with a happy, life is awesome feeling.

–  His film directing debut was Play Misty for Me in 1971 at the age of 41.  He finished shooting 4 days ahead of schedule and $50,000 under budget.  This would continue to be a part of his directing style.  He likes to shoot scenes once and keep down costs.

–  He is one of the few actors who has gone on to have a long and commercially viable directing career.  With 2 Oscar wins and 5 Oscar nominations for directing under his belt, I don’t see him riding off silently into the sunset any time soon.


Director Eastwood with actor William Holden on set of Breezy(1973).

 Take Away:

Phyllis Diller said in an interview something to the effect “Don’t listen to advice. Most of it will be negative and if they knew how to do it, they would be doing it.” This came to mind as I read about several of the obstacles Eastwood faced.  He stayed true to himself and succeeded.  Listen to your gut and not others.

Phyllis Diller


For my A to Z challenge I am focusing on people who found success later in life.  My D is comedienne Phyllis Diller.

Interesting Facts:

–  Phyllis Diller studied piano for many years.  She only decided against a career in music because she felt she couldn’t achieve the same level of skill as her teachers and mentors.  For a span of 10 years (1971-1981), Diller appeared as Dame Illya Dillya, a piano soloist, with over 100 symphony orchestras across the country.

–  I’ve seen multiple clips of Diller claiming a book called The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol as the reason for her success.  She said she read it and reread it for 2 years marking the book and studying it.

–  She did a 3-month run on Broadway in Hello, Dolly in 1969.

Route to Success:

–  Diller started her career on the radio in 1952.  Soon she began filming a TV show.  After doing radio, TV, and stand-up gigs for several years, Diller began working with Bob Hope in several movies.  She went on a USO troupe tour with Hope to Vietnam in 196.

–  Her career is full up films, TV appearances, voice over work, stand-up, authoring several books, etc.  She was simply a funny woman who worked hard.

My Take Away:

During one of her interviews, Diller claimed constant self-improvement as the reason for her success.  She worked at herself every single day!  Looks like I have a ton of work to do.

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* There is an affiliate link so I could share exactly where you could find the book Diller recommended.  I was simply make it easier for the reader but if you click and buy I will receive a kick back of about a penny. Obviously I am doing this for the money.