Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the most well-preserved celebrity of them all? Naturally, we have a few thoughts on the matter and have taken it upon ourselves to round up 10 entertainers older than 60 who have faced Father Time in a remarkably graceful manner due in part to daily meditation, activism, aerobics, the occasional Botox injection and, in the case of Betty White, a diet of French fries and "Red Vines."
Although some of these celebs have officially retired or have taken extended sabbaticals from showbiz, most are still very active, riding towards the sunset with a positive attitude and that proverbial bottle of fine wine close at hand. Is there an AARP-qualifying celebrity not mentioned here who you think makes the cut? Tell us about them in the comments section.
Yep, golden-voiced calypso god and noted rabble-rouser Harry Belafonte isn’t a “day-o” over the age of 85 (well, technically he turned 85 on March 1, but who's counting?). Although the remarkably well-preserved “We Are the World” organizer has retired from the profession that launched him into the global spotlight in the 1950s, Harlem-born Belafonte is still active on the humanitarian and social justice scene. (Belafonte, a current UNICEF Goodwill ambassador, was a close confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. and was named cultural ambassador to the Peace Corps by John F. Kennedy in 1960.) So what keeps Belafonte going at his age? Well, it appears that Belafonte is a practitioner of early morning meditation sessions — or beauty sleep, depending on whom you believe. During an October 2011 interview with a CBS affiliate in Bakersfield, Calif., in which Belafonte was promoting his new memoir and the acclaimed HBO documentary “Sing Your Song,” the legendary entertainer appeared to doze off on-air. However, Belafonte’s press rep claims that his octogenarian client was not napping on live television: “True to form, there was a technical glitch in the feed to a local station in Bakersfield, Calif. His earpiece wasn’t working, so he decided to take the time to meditate before the rest of his Day-O. Mr. Belafonte is 84 years young, but sharper and more awake than most who have been interviewing him.”
Like Harry Belafonte, it could be surmised that a lifetime of outspoken and oft-controversial political activism has helped Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda preserve her youthful glow. (Over the years, Fonda — who is 74 as of this writing — has championed civil rights and feminist causes and, most famously, rallied against the Vietnam War.) But let us not forget – for anyone possessing a mother or a VCR in the 1980s, it’s hard not to — that 30 years ago, “Hanoi Jane” donned a pair of leg warmers and transitioned into the high queen of at-home aerobics. The ridiculous popularity of Fonda’s 1982 exercise video, “Jane Fonda’s Workout” actually helped make the then-new VCR a fixture in American homes and spawned countless videos, books and audio programs. Basically, the woman put the belted leotard on the map. For much of the 1990s and 2000s, Fonda stopped feeling the burn (at least publicly) and remained relatively quiet on the aerobics — and acting — fronts, but in 2010, she released a new series of “Prime Time” workout DVDs geared towards baby boomers and seniors. And in addition to exercise, Fonda has defied her age by eating healthy (she shares a few nutritious recipes here), tapping into to her spiritual side (Fonda announced her Christianity in 2001 after her 10-year marriage to Ted Turner dissolved) and partaking in the occasional nip and tuck (something she now says she regrets).
Seriously, Jane Fonda, Harry Belafonte, and now, Blythe Danner, are on to something big: Tireless activism as the secret to good-looking longevity. Maybe the selfish, super-vain ladies of “Death Becomes Her” should have taken a cue from this do-gooding trio. But back to Ms. Danner, who is 69. Although best known for her Tony- and Emmy award-winning roles and for being grandma to Apple Blythe Alison Martin, the Philadelphia-born actress has long championed environmental causes. Described by Big Green Boulder as an “old-school eco-pusher,” the EV-driving Danner sits on the boards of Energy Vision, the Environmental Media Association and the Environmental Advocates of New York. Plus, Danner is active with the Oral Cancer Foundation, having founded the Bruce Paltrow Oral Cancer Fund to memorialize her husband who succumbed to the disease in 2002 and to raise awareness in areas of the U.S. “where disparities in healthcare exist.” Of course, good genes and devotion to some truly worthy causes aren’t the only things that keep Danner looking so lovely as she approaches her seventh decade: She’s admitted to undergoing Botox injections (“we all need a little help from our friends!”) and recently made some dietary and exercise adjustments in the light of a osteoporosis diagnosis in 2011. And we’re guessing that Danner keeps up with the healthy (and sometimes extreme) lifestyle advice dispelled by her daughter, Gwyneth.
We’re not sure what’s in the water in Tina Turner’s birthplace of Nutbush, Tenn., but if it means aging as gracefully and with as much energy as the remarkably toned “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” then we’d certainly like a big old sip. Known just as well for her knockout figure (specifically those super-famous legs) as she is for her electrifying stage presence and harrowing but fame-making relationship with Ike Turner — her abusive former husband and musical partner — 72-year-old Turner isn’t exactly secretive about how she keeps it up. And, yes, not-so-private dancing plays a huge part of it. “The main reason I've stayed looking good is that I've spent 40 years doing the most intensive stage workouts ever," the fierce and fabulous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee told British tabloid The Mirror in 2009. In addition to strutting and shaking her stuff onstage in sold-out stadiums across the world — she last toured in 2008-2009 as part of the 90-date Tina! 50th Anniversary Tour — Turner, a practicing Buddhist and resident of Switzerland, maintains her age-defying looks with lots of sleep, water and a sensible, low-carb diet. "I don't abuse myself with sweets, sugars, cakes and fat. I eat healthily. The pleasure of life is dinner."
Although it’s been a few years since the 81-year-old Scottish silver fox known as Sir Sean Connery has been heralded as sexy — in 1999, People named 69-year-old actor the “Sexiest Man of the Century” — we still think 007 has managed to maintain a level of handsomeness. Apparently, suave good looks, not just diamonds, are forever. So what’s the secret of 007’s well-preserved longevity? Although that’s confidential information (good genes and plenty of golf?), we’re guessing it has nothing to do with James Bond’s favorite things: gambling, scrambled eggs, martinis, lots and lots of cigarettes and leaping from buildings in exotic locales with an automatic firearm — most famously the Walther PPK — strapped securely into his holster. And this is interesting: According to a 2008 poll conducted by Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, Connery is the top celebrity that women think about while exercising, beating out David Beckham, Gordon Ramsey, Prince William and Simon Cowell.
Although Sir Paul has made it known that he experimented with just about every substance under the sun during his hedonistic heyday (he was actually jailed and then deported from Japan for pot possession in 1980 when on tour with Wings), the 69-year-old baby-faced former Beatle also must have ingested the magic elixir of youth — or made a pact with the devil — somewhere down the line as he seemingly hasn’t aged in decades and possesses more energy and enthusiasm than someone half his age. So what keeps McCartney so youthful well past sixty-four? A longtime practitioner of transcendental meditation and, more recently, “eye yoga,” the legendary musician and animal rights activist is also a staunch vegetarian who even tried to convince his buddy the Dalai Lama to completely give up meat. The steamed vegetable-adoring billionaire told The Guardian in 2010: “I think now he's [the Dalai Lama] vegetarian most of the time. I think he's now being told, the more he meets doctors from the West, that he can get his protein somewhere else. It's a little old-fashioned to think that he can only get it from meat.” Still, McCartney isn’t in totally flawless condition as he underwent coronary angioplasty in 2007 after suffering stress-related chest pains during his rather messy divorce from second wife, Heather Mills.
Weathered. Haggard. Crypt Keeper-esque. We beg to differ. Sure, lauded actor/director Clint Eastwood may appear on the grizzled side (hasn’t he always?) but for a man of 81, Dirty Harry is pretty damned sprightly, not to mention productive. And let’s not forget that Eastwood won his first Academy Award at the age of 62 for “Unforgiven” and since then has gone on to direct and/or star in a handful of critically acclaimed films such as “The Changeling,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Letters From Iwo Jima,” “Mystic River” and “Gran Torino.” Screenwriter William Goldman remarks on Eastwood’s remarkable longevity in an interview with The Guardian in 2010: “Directors lose it around age 60,” he says. “They're either too rich or they can't get work anymore. And it's physically debilitating work. That's why ‘Gran Torino’ amazes me. Clint Eastwood is nearly 80, and he can still make a movie like that. He is having the most amazing career.” As a legendary ladies’ man who has fathered seven children by five different women, Eastwood has always been on the decidedly virile side. A life-long non-smoker (despite the sandpaper-y growl) and daily practitioner of transcendental meditation, Eastwood is renowned for being an obsessive health and fitness nut. And no, despite what you may have heard, Mr. Macho is not a vegan.
No list of good-looking, clock-defying celebrities of a certain age is complete without fearless — and frequently topless — 66-year-old British thesp, Helen Mirren. Born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov to a Russian father and an English mother in 1945, the great Dame revealed to The Daily Mail in 2010 that stripper shoes and sucking it in are among her beauty secrets: “Holding your tummy in is another trick for making you look and feel good. I don’t know why, but I do, by nature, hold my tummy in.” She adds: “Four-inch platforms give you great height and make your legs look unbelievably long. I used only to be able to get them in stripper shops, but now you can buy them everywhere — although, unfortunately, that means everyone else has discovered the trick too.” Other than that, Mirren’s secrets to staying sexy-past-60 aren’t particularly mind-blowing: plenty of sleep, a sensible diet, vitamins and hitting the gym on occasion: “I do it, but honestly, it's not particularly a beauty thing, it's just that as one gets older, one has to keep up one's energy levels, and if you want to do that, you can't stop exercising. But you know, we can't actually stay young, and it's ridiculous to pretend we can.” And on the topic of pretending to stay young, Mirren has reportedly never subjected herself to the surgeon’s knife, although she does sympathize with celebrities who opt for a bit of tasteful nip and tuckery. She revealed in 2010: “You go, 'I don't want to look at that face anymore,' and I understand that, absolutely. I think people should be allowed to do whatever they want to make themselves feel happy.”
What can we say about this nonagenarian funny lady and animal lover that hasn’t been said before? At 90, she looks fantastic (sure, she had a bit of “work” done, back during her pre-“Golden Girls” years) and keeps the zingers coming at a rapid, Don Rickles-esque pace. Crediting positive thinking, social activity and good health to her longevity, White told ABC News in 2010 that, “I am interested in a lot of things — not just show business and my passion for animals. I try to keep current in what's going on in the world. I do mental exercises. I don't have any trouble memorizing lines because of the crossword puzzles I do every day to keep my mind a little limber. I don't sit and vegetate.” And then there’s this surprising tidbit revealed by White’s “Hot in Cleveland” co-star Jane Leeves: “She eats crap. She eats Red Vines, hot dogs, French fries and Diet Coke. If that's key, maybe she's preserved because of all the preservatives.” And Betty’s exercise regime? Try “a two-story house and a bad memory.”
Laugh if you will but this is no joke. In all honesty, we do think that 90-year-old actor Abe Vigoda (who is very much alive and starring in Snickers commercials with Betty White, thank you very much) has aged remarkably well. That said, New York-born Vigoda, with his hunched posture, sunken eyes, gravelly voice and penchant for taking on the roles of cantankerous old men (his turn as hemorrhoid-suffering Detective Fish on “Barney Miller” really sealed the deal), has always seemed really old (People magazine even erroneously referred to him as being dead in a 1982 article) and by our estimates, he’s hovered around 75 years old for the last two decades. So here’s to you, Abe … we’re not sure how you do it — a fish-heavy diet, supplements, the Ernest Borgnine method? — but we do like your style.