Still Kickin’

And now for a little something from my weird side…

Those of you who know me via this blog know that I have a little fascination with celebrity deaths.  As a kid, celebrity deaths were among my most favorite kind of news story.  I love obituaries for the famous.  I even think about the public recognition of their death before the celebrity has actually died.

Yesterday’s passing of Phyllis Diller, at age 95, is the fruition of one of those exercises.  Truth be told, with the exception of George Burns, I’ve probably thought about the impending death of Phyllis Diller more than any other celebrity.  Ever.

Most of this comes from an immense amount of respect.  I love stand-up comedy like I love soul music, with a passion that respects the artistry of the greats as well as the history of the institution.  Phyllis Diller was the queen of that castle, in my book.  A trailblazer if there ever was one, she not only stood as a woman in a man’s industry but also an artist who perfected a style that is imitated even today.

A lot of my death fascination with her also came from her age.  Not just her real age, but her “character” age as well.  Like Burns, Diller had built a career off of references to her age.  As a character on stage, in film, or on Johnny’s couch, she was “old” for my entire conscious life.

Anyway, her passing today got me thinking: what celebrities might people be most surprised to learn are still living? (I know it doesn’t seem like a logical leap, but trust me, it was in my mind.)

So, here’s my list of the top 10 celebrities that are still alive.  It isn’t a list of “oldest celebrities,” which would require research (and debate: what counts for celebrity?).  It isn’t a list of those likely to die (that would be macabre).  It’s just a list of folks who I know are still alive and who I think others might think are already dead.

  1. Sid Ceaser (89 years old)
  2. Zsa Zsa Gabor (95 years old)
  3. James Garner (84 years old)
  4. Mickey Rooney (91 years old)
  5. Jonathan Winters (86 years old)
  6. Esther Williams (91 years old)
  7. Robert Guillaume (84 years old)
  8. Doc Severinsen (84 years old)
  9. Olivia de Havilland (96 years old)
  10. Wilford Brimley (only 77 years old!)
Honorable mentions should go to Eli Wallach (96) and George Gaynes (95).
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