Thursday, May 22, 2014

Working Actors, 90 plus

Christopher Lee
b. 1922 d. 2015 at 93
Photo by avda-foto.
In Sunset Boulevard (1950), Hollywood newcomer Joe Gillis contends with Norma Desmond, a fading Hollywood star.

The film makes it clear that she is well past her prime. The plot centers on her delusions of returning to her former glory.

Just recently, I found out that at 52 [in 2014], I am older than the character Norma Desmond! And older than Gloria Swanson who was the same age as the character at the time of filming.

"Norma, you're a woman of 50, now grow up. There's nothing tragic about being 50, not unless you try to be 25."

Hollywood today concurs with Joe's quote above in earnest. Many actors 50 plus are working in television, theater and film. Maybe the world is less ageist? Maybe the Baby Boomers are pushing the definition of "old" up by several decades thanks to their large numbers and their longevity.

For whatever the reason, the number of working actors 50 plus today is far too big for me to document here. Consequently, I want to celebrate just those working actors in their 90s

Betty White. Born 17 January 1922. See her IMDB page for her most recent work.

[First version of this post, published May 22, 2014 
The following actors have since passed away.]

William Schallert.  Born 6 July 1922.[Died May 8, 2016.] IMDB page.

Abe Vigoda. Born 24 February 1921. [Died January 26, 2016.] See his IMDB page for his most recent work.

Christopher Lee.   Born 27 May 1922.   IMDB page. [Died Sunday, June 7, 2015.]

Lee had an amazing 93 years of life. He acted in over 200 films-nine of them released after he turned 90.  He played villains and bad guys with great frequency, but his roles were actually fairly broad. In the mid 20th century he portrayed Dracula in several films. In the 21st Century, he played key villain roles in Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings

Ellen Albertini Dow. Born 16 November 1913.  IMDB page [Died May 4, 2015 at 101.]

Her last film East of Acadia was released in October of 2013 when she was 98.  She's probably most remembered for her role as Rosie in the Wedding Singer (1998), but she's appeared in over 40 films and television shows since then.

Carla Laemmle. Born 20 October 1909. [Died June 12, 2014 at 104].  IMDB page.

Laemmle was working at 104 years old with two films (The Extra; Mansion of Blood).  Here is an article that highlights the fact that she is one of the last silent screen stars still working into a decade into the 21st Century.  At 14, she had a small role as the prima ballerina in Phantom of the Opera (1925).

Do you want to know more about mature actors?

Of interest is this list on The Film Experience that includes names of 100 plus living actors not working as well as actors in their 80s, some still working, some retired from acting. This page also includes foreign actors. The blog owner of The Film Experience regularly updated this page until December of 2013.

I am only included actors who have worked in the last couple of years. For other blogs' lists that includes living actors in their 90s--some retired, some working, see this page and this page.

Hooray for these nonagenarians and our one centenarian still starring on the silver screen!


Centenarians on the Rise in the US
Silver Tsunami on the Silver Screen
Films about Aging A-L


  1. I love movies, especially classics, and also classic TV - so I really enjoyed this. Thank you for writing it. I am going to share it with my parents, age 86 and 83.

    1. I'm glad that it interested you. I was going to write a post about mature actors starting with Judi Dench and list who her age and older were still making movies. But it was a loooong list, so I focused just on those 90 and older. Enjoy.

  2. What an inspiring list that reminds us we are relevant for a long time to come. I love Betty White and Abe Vigoda, two very funny and talented actors.

    1. I changed careers in midlife in part to emphasize the relevance of people in their second half. I love seeing what people older than I (by decades!) are doing. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I think Grace and Frankie shows us that older actors can still get really great and contemporary roles.

  4. All of these actors (and so many more) are always such a breath of fresh air, when I see working. One of the best generations of actors!

  5. Such a great list and each of them so inspiring. I love that we are seeing more and more 50+ women getting meaningful roles in movies and on TV.

  6. Betty White is the prime example of aging with her faculties in tact. Humor is one of the most complicated brain processes and she still delivers!

  7. I'm delighted to see all these older folks still going strong. And it seems that lately there are far more interesting parts for those over 70. It's inspiring to see them continue doing what they love and not letting age slow them down much.

    RIP Christopher Lee. :-(

  8. It's so empowering to see all the great actors who continue to entertain us well into their old age. As the baby boomers get older, I think there will be even more of them - hopefully with lots of good roles to play.

  9. It's so interesting to see the lives of the great actors. I love Betty White and she is going so strong now--in fact, she's considered a hot property.