Living a long life has always been a very popular goal for people. As we age, we hope to do so gracefully, and we want to stick around for as long as we possibly can.
According to the World Health Organization, 72 years of age is the average life expectancy at birth for the global population, as of 2016. However, there are many people who have defeated these odds, living long and healthy lives well beyond their 70s. Some have even aged well beyond 100 years old.
You might be surprised to know that many celebrities from the Golden Age of Hollywood are still alive and well today. Sure, youth is an important factor in Hollywood, but these celebrities have shown that age is only but a number.
Below are eight of the oldest living celebrities, aged 90 years or older, and their keys to living a long and healthy life.
1. Dick Van Dyke
Richard Wayne Van Dyke is an American actor, comedian, singer, and dancer, whose entertainment career has spanned seven decades. He first gained recognition on radio and Broadway, then he became known for his role as Rob Petrie on the CBS television sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961 to 1966.
Age: 93 years
Born: December 13, 1925
Career Highlights: Mary Poppins, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins Returns
Dick’s Secret to a Long Life: “Dance, Sing, Just ‘Keep Moving.’” Dick Van Dyke is a man who is well-known for his upbeat demeanor and youthful energy. He even wrote a book, Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging, which was prompted by his publishers, who noticed his youthful demeanor in comparison to his peers.
In an interview with NPR, Dick mentions a few tips for staying young. He says, “I get up and have a cup of coffee and go to the gym before I talk myself out of it because I will as anybody will.” He is also known to be in love with dancing and singing, regardless of where he is or who he’s with. In an interview with Energy Times, Dick says, “Sing like no one can hear you; dance like no one can see you. I sing and dance every day. I remind people that there are primitive tribes all over the world whose daily life includes singing and dancing.”
2. Betty White
Betty Marion White Ludden is an American actress and comedian, with the longest television career of any female entertainer, spanning 80 years.
Age: 97 years
Born: January 17, 1922
Career Highlights: The Proposal, The Golden Girls, Lake Placid, The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Betty’s Secrets to a Long Life: Positivity. Betty is known to be incredibly upbeat and funny. Her sense of humor and love for fun surely has something to do with her long life and good health. She tributes her long life to positivity, which makes perfect sense.
In an interview with Parade Magazine, she says, “Enjoy life. Accentuate the positive, not the negative. It sounds so trite, but a lot of people will pick out something to complain about, rather than say, ‘Hey, that was great!’ It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look.”
3. Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas is an American actor, filmmaker, author and centenarian. He is one of the last surviving stars of the film industry’s Golden Age. After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters, he had his film debut in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers with Barbara Stanwyck.”
Age: 102 years
Born: December 9, 1916
Career Highlights: Out of the Past, Champion, The Bad and the Beautiful, Spartacus, Seven Days in May
Kirk’s Secret to a Long Life: A Happy Marriage. In the celebrity magazine Closer Weekly, Kirk wrote, “I was lucky enough to find my soulmate 63 years ago, and I believe our wonderful marriage and our nightly ‘golden hour’ chats have helped me survive all things.”
4. Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks is an American filmmaker, actor, comedian, and composer. He is known as a creator of broad film farces and comedic parodies. Brooks began his career as a comic and a writer for the early TV variety show “Your Show of Shows.”
Age: 92 years
Born: June 28, 1926
Career Highlights: Get Smart, 100% Harold And Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, Hotel Transylvania 3, The Producers
Mel’s Secret to a Long Life: Never Retire. In addition to Mel’s lighthearted and fun-loving nature, he attributes his long and healthy living to rewarding work. In an interview with Financial Times, Mel says, “In order to stay alive, work. Keep working no matter what if you can, at something you love to do. Never ever retire. Never sit when you can stand, never stand when you can walk. But don’t leave out the Raisin Bran—that may help.”
5. Cicely Tyson
Cicely L. Tyson is an American actress and former fashion model whose acting career has spanned more than six decades. She is best known for playing strong African-American women on screen and stage.
Age: 94 years
Born: December 19, 1924
Career Highlights: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Roots, How to Get Away with Murder, The Help, The Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Cicely’s Secret to a Long Life: Taking Care of Your Temple (Body). Cicely believes in taking care of your body by eating right and exercising regularly. Former “Trip to Bountiful” co-stars Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood told Queen (on “The Queen Latifah Show“) that Cicely does 60 push-ups every morning. She enjoys a vegetarian diet, which is known for its many health benefits such as weight loss, disease prevention, and improving athletic performance.
6. Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner is an American comedian, actor, director, and writer whose career spans seven decades. During the early years of television comedy from 1950 to 1957, he co-wrote and acted on “Caesar’s Hour” and “Your Show of Shows,” starring Sid Caesar.
Age: 96 years
Born: March 20, 1922
Career Highlights: Ocean’s Eleven, The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
Carl’s Secret to a Long Life: Staying Engaged and Busy in Life. In the 96-year-old’s HBO documentary “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” Carl jokes, “Before having breakfast, I pick up my newspaper, get the obituary section and see if I’m listed. If I’m not, I’ll have my breakfast.”
The real secret to his longevity, however, is his ability to stay engaged and busy in life. He explains, “What keeps me going at 95 is the things in my head that I have to get out of my head. I don’t want them whirling in there, so I write.” Carl has been releasing a book a year since he turned 90. On the topic of staying engaged, he says, “If you have something to do, anything, whatever it is, do it!” Staying mentally and physically engaged has been a key factor in Reiner’s longevity.
7. Bob Barker
Robert William Barker is a retired American television game show host. He is known for hosting CBS’s The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007, making it the longest-running daytime game show in North American television history. He is also known for hosting Truth or Consequences from 1956 to 1974.
Age: 95 years
Born: December 12, 1923
Career Highlights: The Price Is Right, Happy Gilmore, How I Met Your Mother, Something So Right
Bob’s Secret to a Long Life: A Healthy Vegetarian Diet and Staying Active. Bob, former host of “The Price Is Right,” has always been animal rights activist. For 35 years, he has also been a vegetarian. In an interview with the Vegetarian Times, he says, “I worked until I was 83 years old. The Price is Right is a full hour show. It’s all ad-lib, and requires moving all over a huge stage, doing a different show every day. It was a physical workout and very demanding mentally. I was able to do it until I was 83 for two reasons: 1. Being a vegetarian 2. working out regularly.”
8. Doris Day
Doris Day is an American actress, singer, and animal welfare activist. After she began her career as a big band singer in 1939, her popularity increased with her first hit recording “Sentimental Journey.”
Age: 96 years
Born: April 3, 1922
Career Highlights: Love Me or Leave Me, Pillow Talk, The Glass Bottom Boat, Lover Come Back
Doris’ Secret to a Long Life: Positivity and Never Worrying. In an interview with Closer Weekly, she says, “You have to stay positive. Whatever will happen, will happen.” In addition to staying positive, Doris has an undying passion for animal rights. She loves to take walks with her dogs, and finds peace and happiness through helping her four-legged friends have a voice.
Peter Manley contributed to this article