They Made It to 2019

Happy New Year! Another new year brings another chance to revisit my running list of celebrities who are still alive but whom we might have thought were dead. As I’ve said in years passed, my goal with this commemoration is to enjoy the “I didn’t know s/he was still alive” thought without having to read the obituary of the celebrity in question.

First, we should mark the passing of a few folks who have been spotlighted in years passed. Charlotte Rae died in 2018 at the age of 95. So did Jerry Maren, former member of the “Lollipop Guild” and the last (verified) living “Munchkin” from The Wizard of Oz. He was 98 years old.

Now for the good news. A whole host of stars from the stage and big screen are still with us in 2019. The legendary Carol Channing is 97; Doris Day is 94; and Hal Holbrook is 93. Though he may not be as well-known as that bunch, the iconic (to me) Henry Silva is now 90.

They all seem to be spring chickens compared to Olivia de Havilland and Kirk Douglas, both of whom turned 102 in 2018. One of the leads in Gone With the Wind, de Havilland is the oldest living Oscar winner. Douglas, the star of Spartacus and Paths of Glory the greatest living celebrity of Hollywood’s “Golden Era.”

Two music legends deserve mention. The legendary Little Richard is 86 and Jerry Lee Lewis is 82. Both men are the last of the greats of the founding generation of rock ‘n roll. With the passing of Aretha last year, they may be the most significant living musical artists, too.

Finally, television was the creative home to a slew of nonagenarians. Producer Norman Lear (96) is still doing well. Actors Larry Storch (95) and William Daniels (91) are still alive. Comedic legends Carl Reiner (96), Dick Van Dyke (93), and Mel Brooks (92) continue to thrive. Van Dyke even had a role in the recent Mary Poppins movie. Comedian Bob Newhart is 89 right now, but he’ll turn 90 in September.

And, of course, Betty White is still with us. At 96, White isn’t the oldest on the list, but she might be the most well-known senior citizen of the bunch. She is often an internet meme for her longevity, as well as for her rumored (or feared) passing. She’s also occasionally still seen on TV, lately in simple appearances rather than in acting roles.

Here’s to good health and a happy 2019 for each and every one on this year’s list!

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They Made it to 2018

Happy New Year! The start of 2018 gives me a chance to update my list of celebrities who are still with us but, because of advanced age or the passage of time, are kind of forgotten. As I’ve said in earlier posts, think of this as a chance to experience the “I didn’t know s/he was still alive” feeling before reading their obituaries.

A good number of past spotlighted celebrities are still kicking. Carol Channing (96), Hal Holbrook (92), Henry Silva (89), and the private Doris Day (93) are alive. Olivia de Havilland continues to be the standout celebrity for my list. At 101, the former actress who had a lead role in Gone With the Wind is likely the oldest living Oscar winner. Of course, former “Lollipop Guild” member and oldest living “Munchkin” Jerry Maren (98) is also a noteworthy mention.

The passing of Fats Domino and Chuck Berry in 2017 make legends like Little Richard (85) and Jerry Lee Lewis (82) worth mentioning. Carl Reiner (95) recently made a documentary for HBO called If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast spotlighting nonagenarians like himself. Friends Dick Van Dyke (92), Betty White (95), Mel Brooks (91), and Norman Lear (95) were all among the folks featured.

That’s already a lot of celebrities, but let me draw attention to three you might not know about:

Larry Storch (94)
Comedian and former star of the show “F-Troop” will turn 95 on January 8. He had a full career in television as a frequent guest star in notable shows of the 60s and 70s and as a voice actor in cartoons later on in life.

Charolette Rae (95)
Mrs. Garret is now 95. She announced last year that she has cancer, but she’s made it to 2018 despite the disease. She is most famous for playing one character on two television shows. Edna Garret began as the housekeeper for the Drummond family of “Diff’rent Strokes” and then became the lead adult in the show “Facts of Life,” which ran from 1980-1988.

Kirk Douglas (101)
The star of Spartacus, Paths of Glory, and The Bad and the Beautiful is perhaps the most famous “Gold Era” Hollywood star still with us. He reached the century mark in December 2016 and is now 101. Father to Michael Douglas, the elder Kirk is arguably the most prominent oldest living celebrity.