Celebrity longevity cannot be taken for granted. Show business is a precarious profession, and success is notoriously elusive. But actors love it. They thrive on the thrill of clinching the perfect part and living a creative lifestyle where they can express themselves and bring joy and emotion to audiences. There’s nothing like it. Of course, if fortune and luck truly befall an actor, the work comes with gratuitous pay. Some actors continue on their whole lives landing one role after another well into their twilight years. You’ll love reading about the wonderful successes of so many Hollywood legends. Take a look at what they’re up to now.
Bob Newhart (born 1929)
Bob Newhart is a Chicago-area actor and stand-up comedian known for his deadpan delivery. He hit the scene with a series of monologues that he recorded with Warner Bros., called ‘The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart’. The record shot to No. 1 on the pop charts. At 91 years old, Newhart is as active as ever. He’s even guest-starred in ‘The Big Bang Theory’!
At 30 years old, Newhart was a miserable accountant, but he found an unlikely break. He and a co-worker began recording absurd telephone conversations. He used the tape to audition as a comedian and ended up hosting ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ on NBC, which won a Primetime Emmy Award and ran for six seasons.
Loni Anderson (born 1945)
Loni Anderson played the hilarious Jennifer Marlow on the sitcom 'WKRP in Cincinnati' from 1978 to 1982. She won three Golden Globes for the role. She was offered the breakout part after the producers saw a poster of her posing in a red swimsuit. She won plenty of beauty contests, but she didn’t start working in showbiz until after college. She was married, divorced, and with a daughter to take care of before she was 21.
Born brunette, Anderson went blonde in 1975, which helped her getting typical bombshell roles in TV shows like 'Three’s Company', 'S.W.A.T.', and 'The Bob Newhart Show'. This led straight into the WKRP role which she’s still promoting today.
Jerry Lee Lewis (born 1935)
Legendary singer-songwriter Jerry Lee Lewis pioneered rock and roll and played a mean piano. With tunes like 'Great Balls of Fire', Lewis became a household name worldwide. His career was burning hot, until his third marriage, to his 13-year-old cousin, doused the flames. The marriage lasted 13 years, with one son who drowned at age three.
In 1968, Lewis made a comeback as a country singer. It didn’t help his alcohol-induced health issues. Now in his 80s, Lewis is still recording. His last album was released in 2014, called 'Rock and Roll Time'. And, in 2010 he released 'Mean Old Man'. Earlier this year he suffered a minor stroke. Unfazed, he’s expected to fully recover.
Beverly Cleary (born 1916)
American author Beverly Cleary created the beloved character, Ramona Quimby. 'Ramona and Beezus' is a film adaptation featuring the character that fills so many of Cleary’s books. The movie adaptation came out in 2010. The author was born in a small Oregon town more than a century ago! As a child, she struggled with reading, but when a librarian directed her toward books she liked, she embarked on a life as a book lover.
Cleary aspired to be, and became, a children’s librarian. She later began to write stories that resonate better with average kids who aren’t perfect and are sometimes mischievous. Her children’s books won many awards, including the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award.
Richard Dean Anderson (born 1950)
In the 1980s MacGyver was the coolest guy on television. A government spy and a genius of all trades, the TV character became a household name. Richard Dean Anderson played the original MacGyver. The TV series of the same name hit the airwaves on ABC in 1985 and ran until 1992.
Anderson began his career on the daytime soap "General Hospital", and starred on the show from 1976 to 1981. In other work, he joined the Stargate franchise and played on three of its films. His charity work has focused on environmental causes like clean water. He’s also been an active supporter of Challengers Boys and Girls Club. He received an award for his help with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Betty White (born 1922)
Betty White has charmed audiences her whole life. Her sweet and innocent demeanor is inevitably sliced by a laser-tongue remark that leaves people in hysterics. With a career spanning over 80 years, White has been recognized by many awards, but she is also part of television history. In the early 1950s, she became one of the first women producers.
The smash-hit "Golden Girls" became the most successful show White has starred in. Known for saying, “Retirement is not in my vocabulary,” she sure lives up to it. In 2010, at 88 years old, she hosted "SNL" and brought in the best ratings of the season as the oldest person ever to host the show.
Sir Sean Connery (born 1930)
Sir Sean Connery had humble beginnings as the son of a cleaned and a lorry driver from Edinburgh, Scotland. At 12 years old, Connery quit school to get a job as a milkman. By age 23, he was set to become a professional footballer or an actor. Obviously, he chose the latter.
After a handful of minor roles on British TV and film, Connery scored his big break as James Bond. His James Bond movies grossed $2.2 billion and gained him other roles in different blockbusters. In 2000, he was knighted for Services to Film Drama. With a career spanning more than six decades, Connery ultimately retired in 2012 and passed away in 2020 at 90 years old.
Ann-Margret (born 1941)
Ann-Margret was born Ann-Margret Olsson in a small town in Sweden. On the day her family migrated to the U.S. in 1946, her father took her to Radio City Music Hall. This is where she became interested in performance arts. However, it was George Burns who discovered her talent and introduced her to show business.
She became an American sex symbol after her role in "Viva Las Vegas". She also had a two-year-long affair with Elvis Presley. Ann-Margaret was nominated for an Academy Award for the films "Carnal Knowledge" and "Tommy". She continues to work to this day, with features in "Madmen", "The Kominsky Method", and a regular role on "Happy!"
Richard Simmons (born 1948)
Richard Simmons was a huge 1980s celeb born to show business parents in New Orleans, Louisiana. He became a health nut and owner of a fitness club after he managed to go from an obese 268-pound teen to dropping an astounding 123 pounds. By the 1960s, he launched a career as a motivational fitness advisor with his show, "The Richard Simmons Show".
He was one of the pioneers of group exercise on TV, long before yoga was a thing. His approach gradually went out of style until he ultimately went into seclusion from public life. In November 2016, his fitness gym closed. He’s now in his 70s and keeping a low profile.
Mel Brooks (born 1926)
This comedic genius is also an American filmmaker, an actor, a writer, and a composer. He created "Young Frankenstein" in 1974, which may well be the funniest movie ever made. He’s also responsible for hilarious films like "The Producers" (1967), "Blazing Saddles" (1974), and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" (1993). Brooks continues to work into his 90s!
In 2001, he achieved EGOT recognition (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards), becoming part of a very short and exclusive list. Mel Brooks grew up in New York to a Jewish family. He fought in WWII, on which he said, “I’m grateful to the army. Grateful to Hitler too. "The Producers" made me the first Jew in history to make a buck out of Hitler.”
Eva Marie Saint (born 1924)
Born on the fourth of July in Newark, New Jersey, Eva Marie Saint’s career in acting spans over 70 years. She is best known for starring as Edie Doyle in "On the Waterfront". In the 1954 movie, she starred opposite Marlon Brando, becoming one of the most famous female-leads ever.
It was her film debut and she walked away with an Academy Award. She slowed down in recent years but never really quit. She and producer and director Jeffrey Hayden married in 1951 and shared 65 lovely years together until he passed away.
Norman Lloyd (born 1914)
Meet the film industry’s oldest actor. More than a century old, Norman Lloyd has been in show business for more than nine decades! At 100 years old, he was filming the 2015 comedy "Trainwreck". Lloyd’s big break came in 1942 when he played a convincing Nazi spy in Hitchcock’s "Saboteur". Hitchcock would become good friends with Lloyd and help him become more established in the industry.
When things settled down in the 1970s and 1980s, he landed roles in TV shows "Quincy", "Murder, She Wrote" and "Kojak". With 75 years of marriage to Peggy Lloyd, he has one of the longest marriages in Hollywood. They met on stage co-starring in a play.
Sidney Poitier (born 1927)
Sidney Poitier's story starts with great poverty. By age 15, Poitier was homeless in NYC. He had a short Army stint and did some menial jobs living out of a bus stop terminal. Auditioning for a theater created for and by African-American entertainers changed his life. In 1964, he became the first black person to win an Oscar for Best Actor. He won for his role in "Lilies of the Field".
After his Oscar success, he began to work on films that dealt with racial issues like "Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner". Now in his 90s, his massive success is an American Dream. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
Bob Barker (born 1923)
Avid animal rights activist Bob Barker is one of the biggest names in showbusiness. He is best known for hosting "The Price is Right", a role which he did for 35 years and won 19 daytime Emmys for! Barker is the longest-running host of a network show in television history.
Barker retired as one of the nation’s most popular game show hosts ever in 2007, at the age of 83. Every show was closed with these words: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” Barker also hosted the Miss Universe and Miss USA Beauty Pageant but resigned after the pageants refused to remove fur coats as awards. Today he lives at home with his pet bunny.
Carl Reiner (born 1922)
Carl Reiner's phenomenal career spanned seven decades. The comedian, actor, director, screenwriter, and publisher was best known for his favorite project, "The Dick Van Dyke Show".Reiner was great friends with comedian Mel Brooks and the two meet quite often on top of their joint professional projects.
Born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants, he grew up watching his favorite comedians in movies, such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and the Marx Brothers. He got his entertainment training in the military while serving WWII by entertaining the troops. In 1943, Reiner married his sweetheart, Estelle Lebost. She was the love of his life until she died in 2008. In June 2020, he passed away as well.
Richard Dreyfuss (born 1947)
Richard Dreyfuss was born in Brooklyn to an attorney father and a peace activist mother. His father moved the family to Europe and then to LA. Dreyfuss found himself in the Hollywood area, attending Beverly Hills High School. He began acting at the Temple in Beverly Hills and soon picked up small acting parts.
Richard Dreyfuss has had an astounding film career. He debuted in "The Graduate," with a tiny role. Then came roles in blockbuster hits like "American Graffiti", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Jaws". Now, in his 70s, he is still working on new projects.
Debbie Harry (born 1945)
Straight out of the New York punk scene, Debbie Harry and all-girl band, the Stilettos, were rocking the stage in a downtown club in 1974 when Chris Stein discovered her. Together they formed Blondie. As lovers, bandmates, and friends, they created a unique musical style. Selling over 40 million albums, tunes like "Atomic", "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me" they topped charts globally.
Harry’s immense popularity ushered in many women in rock music. Blondie split up in 1981, got back together in 1997, and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. They released their eleventh studio album in May of 2017.
Terry Moore (born 1929)
Terry Moore continues to make appearances in film and television. Born Helen Luella Koford, she took her stage name in 1948. In the 1950s she rose to stardom. She was nominated for an Oscar for "Come Back, Little Sheba" starring opposite Burt Lancaster. She's acted in "Mighty Joe Young", "Batman", and most recently, in the film "Saving Flora".
Moore’s celebrity status goes back for many years. She posed for Playboy magazine at 55 years old. She’s also known for her many marriages. The most controversial was her relationship with the venerable (and super-wealthy) Howard Hughes. They married out at sea in 1949, however, Hughes destroyed the ship’s log and the entire record of the matrimony. They officially separated in 1956.
Chuck Yeager (born 1923)
Born in Myra, West Virginia, he was the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. He served the military as a Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force. In WWII, Yeager shot down over a dozen German planes. He was shot down and injured in German-occupied France, but was lucky to be rescued by French resistance forces and then made his way back to his base in England.
In 1983, Sam Shepard played the role of Yeager, bringing to life his outstanding military career. In the opening scene, the fighter pilot breaks the sound barrier, starting "The Right Stuff" off with a bang.
Ali MacGraw (born 1939)
Ali MacGraw rose to stardom in the late sixties, hitting international fame in 1970 when she starred in "Love Story". Her first major award, though, was in 1969, when she won the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer for her role in the film "Goodbye, Columbus".
Born in New York, MacGraw became a fashion model first, posing for Vogue and working as a stylist for the magazine. She also assisted fashion virtuoso and editor-in-chief, Diana Vreeland, at Harper’s Bazaar. MacGraw is also known for being married to pop culture icon Steve McQueen, although they divorced in 1978.
Cloris Leachman (born 1926)
Cloris Leachman was born in Iowa, on April 30, 1926. She grew up in Des Moines and lived there until she attended Illinois State to study drama, and then graduated from Northwestern University. She started her film career soon after, but not before winning Miss America in 1946. She is best known for her hilarious role as Phyllis Lindstrom on "The Mary Tyler Moore" show.
Leachman also appeared in the Mel Brooks film "Young Frankenstein" and continued to work with Brooks for many years. She set a record winning eight primetime Emmy Awards. Today she’s in her 90s. Her last role was performed in the 2020 movie "Jump, Darling".
Dick Van Dyke (born 1925)
With a career that has spanned over 70 years, Dick Van Dyke is still hard at work. One of his most intriguing projects was a rap album for kids he produced with the drummer from Red Hot Chili Peppers! Born in Missouri during the Great Depression, he never knew his family was poor because everyone else was poor too.
He started his showbiz career on radio and Broadway and became a household name after starring in the acclaimed CBS sitcom, "The Dick Van Dyke Show". Apart from "Mary Poppins", Van Dyke has acted in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Bye Bye Birdie", and many others. He's won five Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy, plus the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jackie Mason (born 1931)
Born Yacov Moshe Maza to an Orthodox Jewish family and a long string of rabbis, Mason grew up and became ordained too. But it didn’t last. He left the synagogue to become a comedian because, as he said, “Someone in the family had to make a living.” Mason likes to joke about politics and other controversial topics.
Mason is also an actor and appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and in "The Jerk" with Steve Martin. His own production, a one-man show called "The World According to Me", was an enormous hit and won several awards.
Loretta Lynn (born 1932)
Born and raised in Kentucky, this American country music phenomenon has a career spanning 60 years. With chart-toppers like "You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" and "Coal Miner’s Daughter", Loretta Lynn is a prolific musician. She released 60 albums, selling 45 million worldwide. The Country Music Hall of Famer is so revered and well-loved, her song, "You’re Looking at Country," was covered by Metallica in 2019.
At age 15, Loretta Lynn married her husband and, soon after, had her first child. When her husband gave her a guitar for Christmas, she took to it immediately and began to write and perform songs. Just seven years later, she got signed and released her first album, "Honky Tonk Girl".
Ed Asner (born 1929)
Hollywood legend, Ed Asner won more Emmys than any other male actor, and was nominated a total of 20 times! He was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1981 to 1985. His 60-year-long career is best known for his award-winning role in "Lou Grant" -- an hour-long comedy-drama that started a spin-off TV show from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".
Asner has been very active politically, which was controversial at times. He publicly opposed U.S. involvement in Central America during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The actor has four children, and regarding them, he’s known to have said, “Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.”
Katharine Ross (born 1940)
Katharine Ross was born and raised in California. Her interest in film and acting started in college. As a beauty, roles quickly came her way. Her film debut was a role in the Civil War-era film, "Shenandoah". She hit it big with a starring role in "Games" and then with "The Graduate". Her fame ignited like wildfire and she befitted the ideal of beauty for the groovy Hippie generation.
Even though she's been divorced four times, she shares one of Hollywood’s most wonderful love stories with her current husband, Sam Elliott. After being in a couple of films together, they got married in 1984. The two have been married for more than 30 years and have a daughter together.
Vera Lynn (born 1917)
Vera Lynn performed for the first time at the age of seven, starting a career that spanned over eight decades. During WWII she toured Egypt, India, and Burma to entertain the troops, and became incredibly popular as a singer, songwriter, and actress.
In 2009, when she was 92, she released a compilation album that soared to No. 1 in the charts, beating out Bob Dylan as the oldest artist to have a No. 1 album in the U.K.! Her latest album, another compilation entitled 'Vera Lynn 100', was released in commemoration of her 100th birthday, in 2017. She passed away in June 2020 at the age of 103.
Paul Michael Glaser (born 1943)
Paul Michael Glaser was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Glaser is an actor, director, writer, and, most recently, an artist. Most people know him for his role as Starsky on the enormously popular 1970s TV series, "Starsky and Hutch". For his film debut, he played Perchik in "Fiddler on the Roof" (1971). He graduated from Tulane majoring in theatre and English and went on to earn his master’s degree in acting and directing at Boston.
In 1980, he married his wife Elizabeth. Sadly, she contracted HIV from a blood transfusion, which ultimately ended her life a few years later. Elizabeth died shortly after co-founding the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Glasner directed a public service spot for AIDS awareness in 1989.
Claudia Cardinale (born 1938)
Claudia Cardinale starred in European, Italian and American films. Recognized as a model with her dark eyes and sensual beauty, she appeared in some of the most acclaimed films in the 1960s and 1970s, like "Rocco and His Brothers" and "The Leopard". It all happened after she was crowned “Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia” in 1957. This led to film contracts almost overnight as the prize included a trip to Italy’s Venice Film Festival, where she met film producer Franco Cristaldi.
In the U.S., she played opposite David Niven in "The Pink Panther" and starred in several American-themed films before heading back to Italy. Today, she’s a Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO, a women’s rights advocate, and she still acts.
Tippi Hedren (born 1930)
Tippi Hedren was discovered by Alfred Hitchcock, who chose her for a lead role in "The Birds". Astonishingly, it was Tippi’s first acting job. She won a Golden Globe and became a Hollywood star under Hitchcock’s influence. He was inspired by her, but also a demanding boss, borderline abusive. She went on to appear in over eighty films!
Born Nathalie Kay Hedren, she grew up in Minnesota. Her father, who ran the general store in the town, nicknamed her “Tippi.” While she was in high school, her parents relocated the family to California. She was married to actor Peter Griffith for seven years, with whom she had the famous Melanie Griffith.
Honor Blackman (born 1925)
This British-born actress started out on the stage in London’s West End in the early 1940s. Later, in 1961, she took a role as Cathy Gale on the popular show "The Avengers". Her impressive presence landed her a role opposite Sean Connery. As the memorable Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger", she pioneered female spy roles. She famously practiced judo to prepare her for such roles and became so skilled she performed some of her own stunts.
Her career ran for over sixty years, in which she starred in close to 90 movies and TV shows. She’s the same age as the Queen of England, but she sure doesn’t show it!
Kim Novak (born 1933)
Born Marilyn Pauline Novak on February 13, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois, Kim Novak modeled teen fashions in high school and loved art. During a break from university, Kim and some friends took a trip to Los Angeles, which is when she was then spotted by an agent and started her Hollywood career.
She signed a contract that very week. Scripting her career as a sex symbol, she was told to lose weight and change her name (so she wouldn’t be confused with another Marilyn Monroe). She made her film debut in "Pushover", a detective drama. Subsequently, film roles began lining up, the most famous being her role in Hitchcock's "Vertigo". She retired from acting in 1991.
Barbara Eden (born 1931)
Barbara Eden got to play one of television’s greatest roles. She played the genie, in "I Dream of Jeannie". The show ran for five years, from 1965 to 1970. As Jeannie, Eden captivated hearts and minds with her adorable performance as a beautiful genie who was convinced, mysteriously, that Major Nelson (Larry Hagman) was her master. She also played Jeannie’s evil sister who lusted after the Major.
The show was so well-loved, it gained a cult following, and is still a popular classic until this day. Eden is pleased to continue to work. When she was 87 years old, she said she never wants to stop working. “I love to work. If I don’t work, then I get lazy.”
Olivia de Havilland (born 1916)
Until July 2020, Olivia de Havilland was one of the last surviving movie stars of Hollywood’s golden age. She memorably starred in "Gone With the Wind" (1939) as Melanie Hamilton. She was born in Japan to British parents and grew up in California. She met her French husband Pierre Galante, a journal editor, in 1955.
The actress acted in "A Midsummer’s Night Dream" in college and impressed Austrian director Max Reinhardt, who cast her for his stage version. Next came the Warner Bros. film version and a seven-year contract. By the time she retired in 1988, Olivia had a 53-year-long career. She has won two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes before passing away at 104 years old.
Henry Kissinger (born 1923)
Henry Kissinger fled Nazi persecution when he was 15 years old, moving to London and then arriving in New York. He became an American scholar and national security expert. He served as Secretary of State for President Nixon from 1973 to 1977. In the United States, he was very controversial as a pro-war advocate during the anti-Vietnam War hippie days.
Him getting the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Vietnam War was incredibly controversial. Two members of the Nobel Committee even resigned in protest. Kissinger even attempted to return the award. He eventually became political allies with fellow Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, praising her work.
Sally Field (born 1946)
Sally Field splashed into her acting career, starring in the television series 'Gidget'. She then went on to do another TV series, "The Flying Nun", where she cemented her new-found fame. She continued to have a stellar career that included winning two Oscars for Best Actress, a SAG Award, and two Golden Globes. She also starred in blockbusters like "Ms. Doubtfire" and "Forrest Gump".
Sally Field, now in her 70s, was born in Pasadena, California to an actress mother and an Army officer and salesman father. Her mom divorced and remarried when she was four. Unfortunately, the new stepfather was abusive. She opened up about the extremely sensitive topic in her new memoir, 'In Pieces', released in 2018.
Leonard Whiting (born 1950)
English actor Leonard Whiting was first recognized for his voice when he sang at a wedding reception at age 12. That same year he played the Artful Dodger in "Olive Twist" for 18 months. Years later, director Franco Zeffirelli spotted the 17-year-old auditioning for "Romeo and Juliet" and cast him as young Romeo. Whiting played Romeo in that 1968 film version of the play and won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.
He kept acting but couldn't recreate the success. As he put it, “I was thrust for a long moment into international stardom. When that happens, people want to see you in that same persona again and again”.
Marla Gibbs (born 1931)
Marla Gibbs is best known for her role in "The Jeffersons" playing George Jefferson’s snarky maid Florence. For this role, she received five Emmy nominations. Gibbs is also a singer, writer, and television producer. Breaking into her acting career late in life, she was 44 when she joined "The Jeffersons", but held onto her day job at United Airlines until the show became an absolute hit.
Her role landed Gibbs her own sitcom titled "227", in her own apartment. The show ran from 1985 to 1990. Gibbs has won seven NAACP Image Awards. Way past her 80th birthday, she’s still going strong. Gibbs also owned a jazz club in South Central L.A. called Maria’s Memory Lane Jazz and Supper Club.