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5 Movie Actors Who Were Late Bloomers

Besedka Johnson proved that it’s never too late to become a movie actor. She began at age 85, and won praise for last year’s Starlet, her first and only film.

Besedka Johnson, Dree Hemingway in "Starlet"

Besedka Johnson, Dree Hemingway in “Starlet”

The Detroit native, who passed away on April 4 at age 87 in Glendale, Calif., moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to pursue a modeling career and then became a successful dressmaker. She took an acting class in her 30s, but never seriously considered striving for a Hollywood career.

She was exercising at a YMCA when she was discovered by independent filmmaker Shih-Ching Tsou, who recognized “star quality” and asked Johnson to audition for Starlet. She portrayed a cranky octogenarian widow who reluctantly becomes friends with an adrift young slacker played by Dree Hemingway.

The late critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, in part because of Johnson’s performance; New York Times reviewer Manohla Dargis praised Johnson’s  “piercing screen debut.” Watch the trailer here.

Johnson was one of numerous cinematic late-bloomers. Here are four others:


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