I don’t know about you, but if I make it to 90 years old, I hope I will still be able to remember my name. Meanwhile, it’s amazing to think that at an age when most people are six feet under ground, there are notables out there who have the mental and physical wherewithal to still be practicing their craft, whether they’re on the silver screen, making music, or otherwise remaining in the public sphere. Here’s a look at 9 legends who aren’t letting their advanced age slow them down.
1. Betty White
When Betty White starred in the 1980s hit sitcom Golden Girls, it was reasonable to assume she had reached the golden years of her life. After all, at that point, she had been a television star for 50 years. But here we are, more than 3 decades later, and at the age of 97, she’s as active as ever, currently hosting Betty White’s Smartest Animals in America and voicing the character of Bitey White in Toy Story 4, which came out in 2019. Here’s to hoping she is able to entertain us for another 100 years.
2. Tony Bennett
The hippest 93-year-old in the world, Tony Bennett has been performing for nearly 75 years and just in the 2010s alone, he’s released 4 albums, including 2018’s Tony Bennett Celebrates 90, for which he took home his 20th Grammy. He went through some tough times in the 60s and 70s, but made a comeback in the 1980s and attracted a huge following by the 20-something crowd in mid-90s, even performing on MTV’s Unplugged. He’s got a whole bunch of concerts lined up all across America in 2020.
3. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip
The Queen of England holds the distinction of being the longest-reigning British Monarch in history (at more than 67 years at the time of this writing) and its oldest (93). Her own mother – beloved by her British subjects because of her insistence on staying in London even as it was being bombed by the Nazis – lived to be 102, so it wouldn’t be a shock if she’s still Queen a decade from now. Not to be outdone, her consort, Prince Phillip is 98 years old, making him the oldest-ever male member of the British Monarchy.
4. Angela Lansbury
You might remember Lansbury from the TV series Murder, She Wrote in which she played an amateur detective/old lady who lived in a small coastal community in Maine that had an inexplicably high murder rate. Fast forward 30 years and the old lady is still around, and now super old. The 94-year-old remains active in theater and on TV. Remarkably, although she has been nominated for 17 Primetime Emmy Awards, she has never actually won. She does own a Golden Globe if that makes you feel better.
5. Dick Van Dyke
This 93-year old legend of the silver screen, TV and stage is still going strong, releasing duet sing during Christmas 2017 and making a cameo in 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns as Bert Dawes, repraising the character he had portrayed in the original Mary Poppins more than 50 years earlier. At the age of 86, he married Arlene Silver, a make-up artist 46 years his junior because when you’re Dick Van Dyke, you can do whatever you damn well, please.
6. Olivia de Havilland
Her name probably doesn’t ring a bell unless you’re really old yourself, but you’re definitely familiar with her acting if you’ve seen the 1939 classic Gone With the Wind. At 103 years old, she’s the last living movie star from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Born in July 1916, she entered this world 15 months before the Soviet Union came into existence! While she retired from the entertainment industry in 1988, she remains mentally sharp and in remarkably good shape for her age, able to walk on her own and not needing to wear glasses. In 2016, she even won the Lionel d’Or Oldie of the Year Award, which cannot possibly be a real thing, and yet I’m being dead serious this time.
7. James Lipton
Upon discovering that the former host of Inside the Actor’s Studio is 93, most people react with, “No freakin’ way!” Seriously, the guy hasn’t aged in 20 years, making putting him in good company along with the likes of Kermit the Frog and Paul Rudd. If the fact that he was putting in 16 hours a day on the job as dean of the Actor’s Studio as well as the writer, executive producer and host of the program doesn’t impress you, perchance you should be aware that back in the 1950s he spent some time working as a pimp in Paris because, duh, why wouldn’t he? So next time you’re thinking to yourself, “Pimpin’ ain’t easy,” just know that Lipton would most certainly sympathize.
8. Sidney Poitier
The first black actor to win an Oscar – and at 93, the oldest winner currently alive – Sidney Poitier is a really big deal. In fact, he has the distinction of having been knighted by the Queen (the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a British subject) and was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian award. Remember that next time you look over at your dinky little league baseball/softball participation trophy.
9. Beverly Cleary
Grandparents all over America have found memories of reading Beverly Cleary books when they were in 2nd grade. That should tell you something right there. Even I can’t deny that her books were among the first full children’s novels that I had ever read. At 103 years old, Cleary is still plugging along. She even gave a lengthy interview on her 100th birthday, reflecting on her life and how things have changed since her childhood. For one thing, wooly mammoths no longer walk this Earth.