If you need proof that age is just a number, look no further than the celebs listed below. These stars are 20 of the oldest celebrities still living in 2021, and they range from actors to singers to composers to heads of state. Each of these celebrities has made it into their 90s or 100s, and has shared some words of wisdom or inspired through their work along the way. From a legendary singer explaining why life passions are so important to the Queen of England sharing that she doesn't worry about aging, there's something to learn from each of them. Read on to find out more about these famous nonagenarians and centenarians.
Burt Bacharach, 93
Birthday: May 12, 1928
We start our list with Burt Bacharach, who is 93 years old. The composer is known particularly for his work with Dionne Warwick, including the songs "Walk on By" and "I Say a Little Prayer." He also composed "The Look of Love," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," and many more hits. Bacharach continues to work to this day, and talked about his new music in a 2020 interview with The Washington Post.
Estelle Harris, 93
Birthday: Apr. 4, 1928
Estelle Harris is probably best known for playing George's mother, Estelle Costanza, on Seinfeld. Another major role was voicing Mrs. Potato Head in three of the Toy Story movies, including 2019's Toy Story 4, which is her most recent credit. In a 2013 interview with the Associated Press, Harris talked about watching Seinfeld become popular with younger generations. "In the last year or two, all of a sudden these youngsters recognize me as Mrs. Costanza, Estelle Costanza," she said. "So we have a whole new age group, and I'm getting a lot of fan mail from these young people too."
William Daniels, 94
Birthday: Mar. 31, 1927
Your age will determine how you best know William Daniels. The actor played Dustin Hoffman's character's dad in The Graduate in the '60s, starred as John Adams in the musical 1776 in the '70s, was Mark on St. Elsewhere in the 1980s, and played Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World in the '90s—a role he revived for Girl Meets World in the 2010s.
Daniels reflected on 70 years of marriage with his wife, Bonnie Bartlett, in a video for Forbes in 2021. "I think our relationship is based on mutual respect and I think she is smarter than me, better actor than me, and so I just hang on, you know, and try to get along," he said.
Harry Belafonte, 94
Birthday: Mar. 1, 1927
Singer Harry Belafonte is known for bringing Calypso music out of the Caribbean with songs like "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song." He's also an actor and civil rights activist. In 2016, Belafonte shared some of his life wisdom on Today. "I think people who have not experienced a life passion—something that they want to get up everyday and go do—have really missed the fullest value of life," the then-89-year-old singer said.
Sidney Poitier, 94
Birthday: Feb. 20, 1927
Sidney Poitier was the first Black performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actor. After a hugely successful career, he retired from acting and later became an ambassador from the Bahamas to Japan. In a 2000 interview with Oprah Winfrey, when he was 73, Poitier said of what he was looking forward to, "I'd like to write, act, teach, lecture—anything creative. I must also service my curiosity. I want to continue to wonder about things, because there is a young man inside me, and he is energetic and mentally active."
Lisa Lu, 94
Birthday: Jan. 19, 1927
Lisa Lu has had successful acting careers in both Chinese and American films and TV shows. She has appeared in movies including The Last Emperor, The Joy Luck Club, and, most recently, Crazy Rich Asians. She is still acting, with two new films in the works. In a 2019 interview with That Is China, the actor was asked if she worries about aging. "I don't worry about it," she said, "because films require characters of all different ages. Acting isn't just about starring as the main character … If you like acting it doesn't matter as long as you act well in whatever role you have, then that's fine."
Tony Bennett, 95
Birthday: Aug. 3, 1926
Legendary singer Tony Bennett only just retired from stage performances at age 95. He will continue to otherwise make music and has a new album with Lady Gaga coming out in October. Bennett also has Alzheimer's disease. His wife, Susan Benedetto, told AARP the Magazine in 2020, "There's a lot about him that I miss, because he's not the old Tony anymore. But when he sings, he's the old Tony."
Mel Brooks, 95
Birthday: June 28, 1926
Producer and director Mel Brooks is a comedy legend thanks to his films The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. And he's still working. "I knew from a very early age, I knew that comedy was my thing," Brooks told CBS Sunday Morning in 2019. "It was me. Because people would look down at my crib, I was only a few months old, and they would laugh. And I said, 'That's it, that's it. That's what I want!'"
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David Attenborough, 95
Birthday: May 8, 1926
Natural historian and TV host and producer David Attenborough is another member of the 95 club, and he's most famous for the BBC documentary series Life and Planet Earth.
Attenborough has been very reflective about his long life and career, including in his film David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet. Asked about watching footage of his younger self in the doc by The Guardian, Attenborough said, "I thought, in my own mind, I haven't changed. I feel exactly the same."
Queen Elizabeth, 95
Birthday: Apr. 21, 1926
At 95, Queen Elizabeth II is both the oldest British monarch and the longest reigning. She has been queen for 69 years, beginning her reign in 1952.
In a recently resurfaced video of Queen Elizabeth sitting for a portrait for her 80th birthday, she said something about seeing herself age through artwork. When the painter asked if that upset her, she responded with a surprisingly casual "nah", which made the video go viral.
Dick Van Dyke, 95
Birthday: Dec. 13, 1925
Actor Dick Van Dyke of Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Dick Van Dyke Show is 95, too. And he's determined to make it to 100. While appearing on CBS This Morning in June 2021, he showed off his workout regimen, which includes crunches. "I'm 95, and a lot of my friends won't do these," he said. "So all you old guys out there, listen to me, I'm telling you: You can keep going for a long [time]."
Angela Lansbury, 95
Birthday: October 16, 1925
Angela Lansbury has had a lengthy career as an actor, from Oscar-nominated films during the Golden Age of Hollywood, to her starring role on Murder, She Wrote, and beyond. During an interview with Larry King in 2018, Lansbury said, "I think that I'm interested in every part of life. In other words, not just acting. But everything that is given to us as human beings to indulge ourselves in our lives, that's what interests me. My grandchildren, my life, cooking, driving, being independent, I think is very much part of my credo." Asked if she would ever retire, she responded, "No, I don't think so. I'll probably pass away with one hand on my script."
Jimmy Carter, 96
Birthday: Oct. 1, 1924
The 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, is 96 years old, making him both the oldest living president and the longest-living president in history. Carter wrote a book about getting older, The Virtues of Aging, published in 1998 when he was 74. In 2013, he told The Washington Post (via Insider) of his active lifestyle, "I was an avid runner until I was 80 and my knees gave out. I have two new knees, and those have worked well. Now I swim regularly at home and when I travel. I'm active around the house, and with painting and woodworking."
Eva Marie Saint, 97
Birthday: July 4, 1924
Actor Eva Marie Saint is known for roles in beloved films including North by Northwest and On the Waterfront, for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. In 2014, she had a small role in Winter's Tale as a character over 100 years old. "Made me feel young," she joked to Metro US. She continued of the part, "I just prefer to do roles where it's a strong lady and she's not ill and she's not in a wheelchair—and that may happen, and there's nothing wrong with that. But as long as I can portray somebody who still makes a difference in the world, that's what I like to do."
Bob Barker, 97
Birthday: December 12, 1923
Generations of game show fans know Bob Barker as the host of The Price Is Right, wielding the mic from 1972 to 2007. In a 2015 interview with the Associated Press, Barker said, "I'm a complete success in retirement. I think it's because I did it not too soon, not too late, but at just the right time. I've never regretted it." He added with a laugh, "People ask me often what do I miss most about The Price Is Right and I answer honestly: It's the money. That, I miss."
Norman Lear, 99
Birthday: July 27, 1922
TV writer and producer Norman Lear is responsible for many classic TV shows, including All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and One Day at a Time. He still works as producer to this day, most recently on the Netflix reboot of One Day at a Time and the documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. In July, he shared with Entertainment Weekly how he was celebrating his 99th birthday. "I'm on a plane tomorrow morning for our home in Vermont with all my kids and grandkids, which will take place at a farm we've owned for 35 years or so," he said. Asked if he will ever retire, he replied, "I think I will be retired, but I will not retire."
Betty White, 99
Birthday: Jan. 17, 1922
Betty White's career in entertainment began when she was a young girl in the '30s. She is best known for her roles as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and as Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. "Best thing about being in your 90s is you're spoiled rotten," she said on Betty White's Second Annual 90th Birthday Special in 2013 (via People). "Everybody spoils you like mad and they treat you with such respect because you're old. Little do they know, you haven't changed. You haven't changed in [the brain]. You're just 90 every place else."
Nehemiah Persoff, 102
Birthday: Aug. 2, 1919
Character actor Nehemiah Persoff has appeared in many notable films during his lengthy career, including On the Waterfront, Some Like It Hot, Twins, and as the voice of Papa Mousekewitz in the American Tail movies. He is also often remembered for playing Barbra Streisand's character's father in Yentl. When Persoff retired from acting in 1999, he began focusing more on his painting. He explained in a 2014 interview with Senior Voice that he took it up after suffering a transient ischemic attack known as a "mini stroke."
"I would recommend to all seniors that they try painting," he said. "They will be surprised by their ability, and the peace and calm that concentrating on the painting provides."
Caren Marsh-Doll, 102
Birthday: April 6, 1919
Caren Marsh-Doll is an actor who worked in the '30s, '40s, and '50s before retiring and becoming a dance teacher. Along with playing plenty of her own roles, Marsh Doll was Judy Garland's stand-in for The Wizard of Oz and Ziegfeld Girl, and is one of few people who worked on The Wizard of Oz and are still living. Because of this, in recent years, she has attended a few Wizard of Oz festivals. "When you're 19 and working on a film, you don't really think it's something that you'll still be known as a part of when you're 92," she told Syracuse.com of the classic movie in 2011.
Marsha Hunt, 103
Birthday: October 17, 1917
At 103, Marsha Hunt is considered the oldest living actor from Hollywood's Golden Age. She appeared in many films during her career, including Pride and Prejudice, Born to the West, and The Human Comedy. After being named on the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy era, she became a humanitarian focused on world hunger, and later homelessness and the support of same-sex marriage, as reported by Patch. Asked about her long life by the Associated Press in 2020, Hunt said, "I don't think it's long. I hope it will be long. I think I'm just very lucky. I have no enemies that I know of and I have no hatred. I go around loving people and getting along with them."