Octogenarians, Nonagenarians and Centenarians… 2016, please leave these guys alone!
2016 has been described by some as another “annus horribilis” with so many celebrity deaths causing an outpouring of grief. After reading an article on MSN, I felt inspired to note and celebrate my personal top 10 Octogenarian, Nonagenarian and Centenarian Hollywood greats that are currently still thriving amongst us all and send a secret request to whatever powers that be, to wrap these people up in cotton wool before 2016 is out!
Olivia De Havilland – 100
Well, what hasn’t already been said about the gorgeous Olivia, best loved for her films with the dashing Errol Flynn and for her some might say, scene stealing turn as the lovely Melanie in “Gone with the Wind”. One of Hollywood’s most well-known productions. I remember watching GWTW with my mother as a child and I asked her firstly, why we were watching a screen which read intermission when we could fast forward as it was a video and secondly, why the lovely Melanie wasn’t the main character as she was so sweet? (The innocence of youth.) A shout out should go to her sister, Joan Fontaine who sadly passed away in 2013 and to this date, the sisters are the only siblings to have each won an Oscar; (come on Baldwins, you need to up your game.) Their rivalry has also been well documented.
Awards**: 2 Oscars, 5 nominations
My favourite film: Gone with the Wind (1939)
Kirk Douglas – 99 (Soon to reach 100 on 9th December, 2016)
“I’m Spartacus!” Two words from the classic film Spartacus that until this day, I still can’t watch without getting a lump in my throat. Kirk is a classically handsome male lead, with his rugged looks and cleft-chin which left hearts swooning over his tough guy with a heart roles. Father to Michael Douglas, another incredible Hollywood actor; Kirk unfortunately suffered a stroke in 1996 which affected his speech but didn’t stop him from making movies including the family affair, “It Runs in the Family,” in 2003 with Michael, Michael’s son and Kirk’s ex-wife Diana Dill. The film was produced by both Kirk’s sons Michael and Joel Douglas.
Awards: 1 Honorary Oscar, 3 nominations
My favourite film: Spartacus (1960)
Doris Day – 92
Ah, the lovely Doris Day. No Sunday or Christmas afternoon would be the same without one of her wholesome, family fun, feel good movies. The original “America’s Sweetheart”, Doris originally wanted to be a dancer until a freak accident where a car she was travelling in was hit by a train, causing a devastating leg injury. Luckily, with the voice of an angel, stardom always beckoned and as well as a distinguished acting career her singing career most notably between 1956 and 1968 launched numerous successful albums. Probably most famous for her films with the heartthrob Rock Hudson during the 50s, Doris stopped acting in the 1970s but is currently a strong animal rights advocate and I would encourage everyone to visit her website dorisday.com
Awards: 1 Honorary Oscar, (which she turned down due to her fear of flying) 1 nomination, 1 Grammy, 1 Golden Globe and special mention to her Presidential Medal of Freedom
Favourite Film: Calamity Jane (1953) I still know all the words
Mel Brooks – 90
Wow, I was shocked when I found out good ol’ Mel was 90 this year! There is so much to say about this highly talented, Actor, Director, Producer, Composer, Songwriter and all round comedic genius that it seems impossible to condense it to one paragraph. Famously married to Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death in 2005, Mel is still active and recently did the voiceover for the character Vlad in “Hotel Transylvania 2”. He is also one of a handful of people who have the coveted ‘EGOT’ collection consisting of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award. With his film “The Producers” being converted into a Musical and successfully running on Broadway for 6 years. As a Star Wars fan, I thought “Spaceballs” was one of the funniest films ever but then I saw “Blazing Saddles”, “Young Frankenstein”, “Silent Movie” etc and I was torn. I wish I had longer to write about Mel but we must move on.
Awards: 1 Oscar, 4 Emmys, 2 Grammys, 3 Tonys
Favourite Film: So close but I have to go with Blazing Saddles (1974)
Angela Lansbury – 90
Yes, I am talking about good old Jessica Fletcher, going around and single handedly solving more murders than the entire Metropolitan Police in TV’s “Murder She Wrote”. Personally, one of my childhood favourites among other classics such as “Bedknobs & Broomsticks” or “Beauty and the Beast.” She also made light work of some of her more ‘serious’ roles such as the calculating politician’s wife in “The Manchurian Candidate” and is one of those people who never seems to age. Legend has it that she initially didn’t want to sing the title song from “Beauty and the Beast” and that it should have gone to one of the younger actors. Well, thankfully she changed her mind and her magnificent dulcets are now synonymous with the Disney Classic.
Awards: Honorary Oscar, 3 nominations, 17 Emmy nominations, 5 Tony awards, 6 Golden Globes and 1 Olivier award
Favourite Film: Mrs ‘Arris Goes to Paris (1992) It’s a TV Movie with Diana Rigg and the lovely Omar Sharif so it isn’t very well known but it’s a must see!
Gene Hackman – 86
Arguably the best Lex Luthor in any of the famous Superman films, Gene could do it all….. he could be the hero, the villain, the tough guy, the smart guy, the caring guy and has since hung up his acting books to write detective novels. So many great roles to choose from but Gene is probably most famous for the “French Connection” series, “Superman,” “The Poseidon Adventure”, “Unforgiven”, other Westerns such as “Wyatt Earp” and “The Quick and The Dead.” He could also do Comedy, such as “Get Shorty”, “The Birdcage” and the brilliant “The Royal Tenenbaums.” Gene really is such a great actor and in my opinion, doesn’t always get the credit I feel he deserves.
Awards: 2 Oscars, 5 Oscar nominations, 2 BAFTAs, 4 Golden Globes
Favorite Film: No Way Out (1987)
Sean Connery – 86
From the “Greatest Criminal Mastermind of our time,” to probably the best James Bond ever! Sir. Connery was voted the “Sexiest Man Alive” in a People’s poll in 1989 and is still arguably highly attractive at the grand old age of 86. Although he found fame with Bond, Connery was reluctant to commit to a film series and felt that he would forever be typecast as the secret agent. In part, he will always be remembered as being the first and the best Bond however; he did go on to star in several other roles. Incredibly handsome and a ‘tough guy’, Connery starred in action films such as “The Hunt for the Red October”, “The Rock”, “Highlander” and allegedly turned down a part in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy after not understanding the script. Not known for his ability for accents, a Scottish Russian in “THFRO”, a Scottish Richard the Lionheart in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and a Scottish Irish/American Cop in “The Untouchables”; Connery is also probably best loved for his turn as Indiana Jones’ dad in “The Last Crusade”.
Awards: 1 Oscar, 2 BAFTAs, 3 Golden Globes
Favourite Film: The Untouchables (1987)
James Earl Jones – 85
Two words… Darth Vader! To me that says it all and you will probably already guess my favourite film already but the great James Earl Jones is probably most famous for his grandiose booming voice in the Star Wars films and of course, Mufasa in “The Lion King”. After Sidney Poitier, he is only the 2nd African American Actor to be nominated for Best Actor. He is also, one of the handful to be awarded the elite EGOT after his Honorary Oscar award. A true legend for millions of nerds and Disney fanatics alike.
Career: 1953- present
Awards: 1 Honorary Oscar, 1 nomination, 3 Emmys, 2 Tonys, 1 Grammy
Favourite Film: Has to be Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Michael Caine – 83
Luckily for us, Sir. Michael Caine is still going strong and has just appeared in this year’s film, “Now You See Me 2”. Such a varied actor, he has done Action, Comedy, Drama and always brings his own distinctive ‘Cockney’ version to everything that he touches. Not many actors can claim such longevity especially in Action roles but he was just as believable and loveable as the former Veteran OAP kicking ass on a council estate in “Harry Brown” as he was in “The Italian Job.” A true great that is one of only two actors, to be nominated in every decade from 1960 to 2000s. His two most famous friendships are former Bonds, Sean Connery and Roger Moore.
Career: 1954- Present
Awards: 2 Oscars, 4 nominations, 1 BAFTA, 1 Golden Globe
Favourite Film: Educating Rita (1983)
Maggie Smith – 81
Dame Maggie Smith, no list would be complete without her. From her razor sharp wit in TVs “Downtown Abbey” to the no nonsense Professor McGonagall in the “Harry Potter” series. Maggie is probably one of the UK’s best loved actresses with a large catalogue of great films such as “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”, “Gosford Park,” “The California Suite” (Alongside Sir. Michael above,) “Othello”, “A Room with a View”, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (where she plays a nasty racist old crone but somehow was still lovable,) and last year’s hit; “The Lady in the Van.” Unbelievably talented and if there was such a thing as a National Treasure, I reckon Maggie would be up there. I would also like to make a personal plea for her to star in one of the next Star Wars films to satisfy my inner nerd! Mother to the actor Toby Stephens, the acting bug is strong in this family.. (see what I did there!) And we didn’t have time to mention her film stealing role as Reverend Mother in “Sister Act”.
Awards: 2 Oscars 4 nominations, 3 Emmys 5 nominations, 1 Tony 2 nominations
Favourite Film: California Suite (1978)
There are so many more that my list could have been endless but special mentions to:
Julie Andrews- 80
Judi Dench- 81
Robert Redford – 80
Shirley MacLaine- 82
Kim Novak – 83
Debbie Reynolds – 84
Rita Moreno – 84
William Shatner – 85
Robert Duvall – 85
Clint Eastwood – 86
Joanne Woodward – 86
Christopher Plummer – 86
Max von Sydow – 87
Sidney Poitier – 89
Dick Van Dyke – 90
Betty White – 94
Career* – career dates are all subject to correction
Awards** – not a definitive list