Living longer today is commonplace. From the 2010 Census, there were 5.5 million people in the United States over the age of 85 with a projected increase to 6.6 million by 2020. Our average lifespan is now 76.2 years for males and 81.1 years for females. This is a cause for celebration as we can do more now for longer than we ever have before. Of course, many of us look forward to a quiet life of retirement of recreation and leisure after we reach 65.
For celebrities, it is another story. Living longer means they can extend their careers for many decades, longer than anyone in the past. We have actors, politicians, royalty(Queen Elizabeth II is in her late 80s) doing more as older adults, not letting age get in the way of their accomplishments or aspirations. John Dingell, from Michigan, is the longest serving United States House of Representative member, first elected in 1958. He is 87 years old. Actor Bob Newhart, 84, has a recurring role on Big Bang Theory and the upcoming TNT Librarian series. Older celebrities are embracing their age, using it to their advantage to keep their active lifestyles going strong. Retirement is the furthest thing from their minds.
With this in mind, we looked over several lists on the web to see which older celebrity is the most popular. Orlando Sentinel, Perez Hilton, Huffington Post and StarPlus.com all have addressed the issue in the recent past. The most surprising aspect of the lists is how many are on it. The Orlando Sentinel lists over a 100 celebrities over 80 years of age, combined with the other lists, there are over 125 celebrities still accomplishing feats despite their advanced age. We take the ones who are listed on at least three of the four and rank the top five. It should come as no surprise that the celebrities are all actors. After all, these are the ones we pay the closest attention to.
5. William Shatner, 83
This Canadian actor, who is famous for his portrayal of Captain Kirk on Star Trek, began his acting career in 1952 after graduating from McGill University. Shatner saw small roles early in his career, taking whatever role came his way including acting stints on The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Shatner has seen a large degree of success since he took on the helm of the Enterprise, especially in his later years when he won two Emmys and a Goldon Globe for his role of Denny Crane in The Practice and Boston Legal. In the last fifteen years, Shatner has been busy being a pitchman for Priceline.com, playing host to shows like Shatner’s Raw Nerve and Weird or What? Shatner has always had a “tongue-in-cheek” attitude about his acting career, exemplified by his 2012 one-man Broadway show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It. Shatner has not limited himself to acting either. He is an accomplished musician, releasing several albums, and has written several books, both fiction and non-fiction. Shatner currently splits his time between Southern California and Kentucky, spending time with his fourth wife, Elizabeth Anderson Martin. Here is some interesting trivia about the man; he has been the understudy of another person on our list, Christopher Plummer.
4. Betty White , 92
Betty White is where everyone wants to be at 92, actively working like she is a young 65. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest television career as a female entertainer. What is most amazing about Betty, however, is that the number of roles she has been given since turning eighty. She is currently staring in the sitcom, Hot in Cleveland on TV Land. She has hosted, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers on NBC and has the credit of being on a Japanese sitcom, loosely translated as “White Octogenarians Be Crazy.” Betty White now has a cult following in the East as well as the USA. White has seen her share of awards, including six Emmys (nominated 20 times!). She is the only person to have won an Emmy in each of the performing comedic categories. At the young age of 88, White became the oldest person ever to co-host an episode of Saturday Night Live. White is the last surviving alumni of the television show Golden Girls, which she is most famous for her role as Rose. She is also known for her recurring appearances on game shows like Password, Match Game and Hollywood Squares. White has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and is a strong animal advocate.
3. Christopher Plummer, 84
Best known as Captain George Johannes von Trapp in the Sound of Music, Christopher Plummer‘s stage, film and television career has spanned seven decades. His critical acclaim for his recent roles notched him two Oscar nominations, The Last Station (2009) and Beginners(2012). He won the best supporting actor role for Beginners at age 82, the oldest person to ever win an Oscar, now famous for saying to the Oscar, “You’re only two years older than me darling, where have you been all of my life?” His other recent work includes voice work in animated movies including Up (Charles Muntz) and 9 (elder leader 1). Plummer has been quoted as saying that his most famous role in Sound of Music was boring and “so awful, and sentimental and gooey.” Plummer has seen some television work as well, playing in the mini-series, The Thorn Birds. Plummer has also been active on the stage and is one of nine people to have won the triple crown of show awards (Emmy, Tony and Oscar). He has two famous siblings, Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore and daughter, Amanda Plummer, who is an accomplished actor in her own right.
2. Clint Eastwood, 83
Clint Eastwood, known for his roles in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns during the 1960s, and the five Dirty Harry films throughout the 1970s and 1980s, lately has been behind the cameras more often than than in front of them. His recent role in 2012 movie, Trouble with the Curve, has been well-received by critics and fans alike. In the last ten years, he has been directing or producing top-notch films including J. Edgar, and Hereafter. Eastwood has been busy outside of the arts as well, gaining international attention for his speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention where he talked to an empty chair. He narrated a Super Bowl halftime commercial for Chrysler, named “Its Halftime in America.” Many claimed it was a bold endorsement of President Obama, but Eastwood discredited this notion, saying it was his attempt at supporting the growth of America. To certain generations, Eastwood will always be known for his roles in Westerns including Rawhide, his first real breakout role. Eastwood has won two Oscars for Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004). To the surprise of many, his most commercially successful movies have been Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel.
1. James Earl Jones, 83
James Earl Jones appeared on more lists than any other celebrity. Jones is most widely known for his voice work, specifically as Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. Although his resume as of late has been as guest appearances on television shows, he is still very popular. He recently plays himself on the popular sitcom, Big Bang Theory. He has been seen on a series of Sprint commercials with Malcolm McDowell, where he recites various mundane social media feeds. Jones has been recognized with several awards in his lifetime including being the only person to win two Emmys in the same year for Gabriel’s Fire and Heat Wave. He has won Tony Awards and been nominated for a Oscar. His deep voice is actively sought after. Interestingly, he had to overcome a early ailment of stuttering before he began to perform.