We lost far too many great stars in 2016. As we begin 2017, let’s take a look at the celebrities and notables who are going strong in their golden years and beyond — and who inspire for both their longevity and their leading roles.
Kirk Douglas, 100: One of the last living stars of Hollywood’s “Golden Age” of studio-system movies, Douglas turned 100 years old on Dec. 9. Now retired, he has starred in more than 90 movies and is widely credited with breaking the back of Hollywood’s Communist blacklist; Douglas insisted on an onscreen credit for blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for 1960’s epic “Spartacus.”
Don Rickles, 90: One the first insult comics and undeniably still the classiest, Rickles has been a mainstay of talk shows since his “Tonight Show” debut in 1965. Fondly dubbed “the Merchant of Venom” and “Mr. Warmth,” Rickles is often introduced with the Spanish matador song “La Virgen de la Macarena,” indicating he’s about to gore someone — which he somehow manages to do while remaining charming and likable. He is especially popular on roast shows, starting with the Dean Martin celebrity roast series and continuing to this day.
Jerry Lewis, 90: The legendary slapstick comedian has also been the host of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon for 40 years and has served as the National MDA board chairman. Lewis starred in numerous buddy comedies with pal Dean Martin and has been honored with lifetime achievements from the American Comedy Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Venice Film Festival, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — and two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Queen Elizabeth II, 90 years old: The reigning monarch of Great Britain will mark 65 years on the throne in February. She’s already the longest-reigning monarch in British history, the longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state in world history, and the current longest-reigning monarch and head of state in the world.
The Queen missed church services on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day for the first time in decades last month, but Buckingham Palace spokespersons say she is simply resting after a severe cold — which has been going around.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, both 73: As the infamous “Glimmer Twins,” Jagger and Richards have been the heart and soul of The Rolling Stones since the band formed in 1962. Jagger once joked he’d rather be dead than sing, at age 30, their hit song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” But having tacked on another 43 years with the band since then, he and his writing partner are not slowing down. They released their 25th album, “Blue and Lonesome,” in 2016.
Clint Eastwood, 86: Eastwood is the quintessential Hollywood tough guy. He began his career as Rowdy Yates in TV’s “Rawhide” starting in 1958, and since then has played a number of iconic roles: a string of mysterious killers in numerous “spaghetti” Westerns; bare knuckle brawler Philoe Beddo; Marine Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway; and maverick cop Dirty Harry Callahan, who starred in “The Dead Pool” when Ryan Reynolds was only 12 years old.
Eastwood is also a lifelong musician and jazz enthusiast, producing and directing several films about jazz icons. In addition to Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and People’s Choice Awards, Eastwood’s garnered five Academy Awards. He has also directed five other Academy Award-winning performances: Gene Hackman in “Unforgiven,” Tim Robbins and Sean Penn in “Mystic River,” and Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank in “Million Dollar Baby.”
Dick Van Dyke, 91: Van Dyke’s 70-year career has included acting, comedy, singing, dancing, writing, and producing. The titular star of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” earned five Primetime Emmy Awards, a Tony, a Grammy, and the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award; he also holds spots on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Television Hall of Fame, and in the Disney Legends Hall of Fame.
Betty White, 94: Many people remember White from her role as the caustic Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” but her career started with TV appearances as far back as 1939, including radio work throughout the 1940s and numerous film and TV roles starting in the ’50s. White is the Guinness World Records title holder for the “Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female).” With more than 75 years in front of and behind the cameras, White will be 95 on Jan. 17.
Bob Barker, 93: A classic game show personality, Barker turned 93 on Dec. 12. The dedicated animal rights activist hosted “The Price is Right” from 1972 to 2007. Barker also hosted the game show “Truth or Consequences” and has been the longest-serving host of both the Miss USA and the Miss Universe beauty pageants.
Mary Tyler Moore, 80: Moore first gained prominence as Dick Van Dyke’s wife, Laura Petrie, in “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” She later starred in her own hit sitcom, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which spawned numerous spin-offs, and later formed MTM Enterprises, her own production company. Moore’s work earned her a record six Emmy Awards, an Oscar nomination, two Tony Awards, the Screen Actor’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, an American Comedy Award, and placement in the Television Hall of Fame.
Mel Brooks, 90: Brooks is one of only 12 “EGOT” winners in history, joining an exclusive list of entertainers who have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. His comedies “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers” and “Young Frankenstein,” are on the American Film Institute’s list of funniest American films, at numbers 6, 11, and 13, respectively.