Carl Gordon, Late Bloomer

In his late 30s, Carl Gordon found himself twice-divorced, stuck in a dead-end manual labor job with the feeling that his life was going nowhere. By the time he died this week at age 78, he’d appeared in 26 TV shows and movies and a slew of Broadway productions.

Born in Goochland, Virginia in 1932, Carl Gordon moved with his family to New York City when he was a child. Gordon later joined the military and served as an airplane mechanic during the Korean War.

After the war he returned to New York and attended college briefly before dropping out. He would spend the next decade working various dead-end jobs and feeling like time had passed him by.

According to The New York Times, he prayed for guidance. A voice told him to go into acting.

Gordon enrolled in a workshop taught by Gene Frankel. Before he died in 2005, Frankel worked with such luminaries as Morgan Freeman, Frank Langella, Eva Marie Saint, Anne Bancroft, Lee Marvin, and James Earl Jones.

Though he never became a star of their magnitude, Carl Gordon was able to continually land roles. His most well-known came in the sitcom Roc, where he played the title character’s hot-headed father. Gordon also appeared on ER, The Practice, Law & Order and Sesame Street.

Gordon died in Jetersville, Virginia at the age of 78, but his successful acting career just goes to show it's never too late in life to chart a new path.