27 Famous People Who've Lived to 100
And meet the woman who lived to 122!
Living to 100 is a cause for celebration. According to the United Nations, in 2012, there were just 316,600 people around the world who were 100 years or older. And fortunately, reaching this milestone birthday is becoming more common than ever: By 2050, the U.N. predicts that number will reach 3.2 million.
But before you start planning your own centennial celebration, take a look back at the famous people who got there first. From Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) to Albert Hofman (the chemist who first synthesized LSD), these folks will inspire you to live your longest and healthiest life.
Kirk Douglas: 102
Born in Amsterdam, New York, on December 9, 1916, actor Kirk Douglas is famous for his roles in films like Lust for Life (1956), The Vikings (1958), and Spartacus (1960).
In 2007, Douglas—father of fellow actor Michael Douglas—told Esquire that aging gracefully was all about the right mindset. “Age is in the mind. I’ve survived a helicopter crash and back surgery. I have a pacemaker. I had a stroke that almost made me commit suicide. But I tell myself, I have to continue growing and functioning. That’s the only antidote for age,” said the actor, who will turn 103 in 2019.
Bob Hope: 100
Although he was well-known for entertaining American troops in USO shows, comedian Bob Hope was actually born in London on May 29, 1903. In 1982, at the age of 78, he opened up about his health habits, revealing that he walked two miles every night, no matter where he was, something that he picked up from his grandfather.
“When he was 96 years old, he walked two miles to the local pub every day to get a drink,” he told the Weekly World News in 1981, according to Men's Health. “He died within a month of his 100th birthday, and he remained mentally sharp till the very end.” The comedian managed to live slightly longer than his grandfather, passing away on July 27, 2003, at the age of 100.
Dolores Hope: 102
Born in 1909 as Dolores L. DeFina, the singer, entertainer, and philanthropist was known as Dolores Hope when she passed away in 2011. She had been married to the aforementioned Bob Hope for 69 years before his passing in 2003. A recipient of multiple industry honors—including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—Hope broke into the industry with Soup for Nuts (1934), when she was known as Dolores Reade.
George Burns: 100
George Burns wasn’t the kind of person to kick back and retire just because he was getting older. The comedian and actor, who was born in 1896 and passed away in 1996, said his career acted as a personal fountain of youth. “It's nice to be here," he said in one standup special at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas shortly before he died, according to The New York Times. "When you're 100 years old, it's nice to be anywhere.”
Queen Elizabeth: 101
Queen Elizabeth II's mother, also named Elizabeth, was 101 years (and 238 days) old when she passed away in 2002. And while Queen I spent her years fulfilling her duties as a royal, she also had a zest for life.
“Wouldn’t it be terrible if you’d spent all your life doing everything you were supposed to do, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t eat things, took lots of exercise, and suddenly, one day, you were run over by a big red bus and, as the wheels were crunching into you, you’d say, ‘Oh my God, I could have got so drunk last night,’” the Queen Mum said, according to one biography. “That’s the way you should live your life, as if tomorrow you’ll be run over by a big red bus.”
Gloria Stuart: 100
In 1998, Gloria Stuart, who was 87 at the time, became the oldest woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, thanks to her appearance as the older Rose in Titanic.
The actress, who passed away in 2010, talked about her Oscar achievement on the night of the big industry event. “When I graduated from Santa Monica High in 1927, I was voted the girl most likely to succeed," she said, according to The Telegraph. "I didn’t realize it would take so long.”
Ellen Albertini Dow: 101
You might not recognize her name, but if you’ve ever watched Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer, then you’ll remember Ellen Albertini Dow as the “rapping grandmother” who takes music lessons from the main character and pays him with handfuls of meatballs.
Before she passed away in 2015 at the age of 101, the actress also had memorable roles in films like Wedding Crashers and 54, as well as on shows like New Girl, Shameless, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, Scrubs, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Golden Girls, The Twilight Zone, and more.
Beverly Cleary: 103
One of the most successful American authors ever and the winner of multiple literary awards, Beverly Cleary, celebrated her 100th birthday in 2016 and is still with us in 2019 at the age of 103. Famous for her fictional characters including Ramona and Beezus Quimby, Cleary has sold almost 100 million copies of her books worldwide since she began publishing in 1950.
Grandma Moses: 101
Renowned folk artist Grandma Moses didn't start painting until she was 78 years old. Born in 1860, she claimed that when it comes to a long life, “the important thing is keeping busy,” according to Men's Health.
However, it seems she had a particular definition of the word "busy." At the age of 100, she admitted, “I have a lot of boyfriends. That's the way to stay young.”
Connie Sawyer: 105
Before she passed away on January 21, 2018, Connie Sawyer enjoyed a long and successful career in the entertainment industry. The actress appeared in a long list of popular series, including The Jackie Gleason Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Starsky and Hutch, Hawaii Five-O, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, That '70s Show, How I Met Your Mother, and The Office. She also appeared in films like When Harry Met Sally… (1989), Dumb and Dumber (1994), and Pineapple Express (2008).
Irving Berlin: 101
One of the most prolific songwriters ever to work in the entertainment industry, Irving Berlin composed 17 film scores, 21 Broadway scores, and wrote more than 3,000 songs, including highly recognizable classics such as “Puttin' on the Ritz,” “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better),” “White Christmas,” and (fittingly) “There's No Business Like Show Business.”
Born in Tyumen, Russia, on May 11, 1888, Berlin was 101 years old when he passed away on September 22, 1989, after suffering a heart attack.
Olivia De Havilland: 102
Olivia Havilland has appeared in 49 films over the course of her career, but she's best known for her work in Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), as well as for her role as Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939).
Among other top industry honors, the 102-year-old actor, who's still living, earned multiple Golden Globe Awards and two Best Actress Oscars, one in 1946 for To Each His Own and the second in 1949 for The Heiress. She was also given the American National Medal of the Arts. the French Légion d’honneur, and was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
David Rockefeller: 101
A member of the famous Rockefeller family, David Rockefeller was 101 years old when he passed away on March 20, 2017. The youngest child of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and the grandson of John D. Rockefeller and Laura Spelman Rockefeller, he took on the role of the family patriarch in 2004, following the passing of James S. Rockefeller, who was 102 at the time of his death.
Norman Lloyd: 104
Actor Norman Lloyd started working in the entertainment industry back in the '20s. Over the course of his career, Lloyd worked in everything from theater and radio to film and television. You may have seen him on screen as Mr. Nolan in Dead Poets Society (1989) or as Mr. Letterblair in The Age of Innocence (1993). He also played Dr. Daniel Auschlander on St. Elsewhere and made appearances on shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Currently 104 years old, Lloyd’s last credited job was in 2015’s Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader; he completed that project when he was 99. In 2016, when Baby Boomster asked the actor about living so long (while he ate fried chicken and drank sangria), he joked that he’s “just lucky!”
Diana Serra Cary: 100
Born on October 29, 1918, Peggy-Jean Montgomery was a child star known as “Baby Peggy” who appeared in more than 150 short films between 1921 and 1923. Today, she is the last living silent film star. As an adult, she switched her creative pursuits to writing and went by the name Diana Serra Cary.
Bruce Bennett: 100
Olympic silver medal-winning athlete Bruce Bennett was born on May 19, 1906, as Harold Herman Brix. He changed his name when he embarked on his acting career in Hollywood. In the mid-'30s, Bennett nabbed a starring role in The New Adventures of Tarzan. He appeared in plenty of other films throughout the '40s and '50s, starring with some of the era’s top actors and actresses, including Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Joan Crawford.
Marsha Hunt: 101
Despite being blacklisted in Hollywood during an anticommunist sweep that saw many in the entertainment industry accused and ostracized in the '50s, Marsha Hunt had a successful career appearing in films like Born to the West (1937), Raw Deal (1948), The Happy Time (1952), and Johnny Got His Gun (1971). Hunt will turn 102 in October 2019.
Louise Currie: 100
Before Brie Larson played one of the most powerful superheroes on screen, Louise Currie starred as Captain Marvel in 1941’s Adventures of Captain Marvel. Currie appeared in almost 40 films during her career, including a role opposite industry icon Bela Lugosi in Voodoo Man (1944) before she retired in 1956. Currie passed away on September 8, 2013, at the age of 100.
George Abbott: 107
Actor, playwright, producer, director, and screenwriter George Abbott, born June 25, 1887, earned multiple Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in his long lifetime. His career ended in 1995, when he passed away on January 31 at the age of 107.
Luise Rainer: 104
Luise Rainer was the first person to win back-to-back Academy Awards, thanks to her roles in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937). Before she passed away in 2014 at the age of 104, she told The Telegraph, “When you lose your curiosity, you’re dead… There is so much in the world that one should know, or it would be marvelous to know. And I know nothing. Nothing!’’ She then sighed before adding, “My God, one’s life-span is so very short.”
Mary Carlisle: 104
Although she was discovered when she was just 14, Mary Carlisle spent two more years finishing school before embarking on an acting career that lasted more than a decade. During that time, she appeared in more than 60 movies, including College Humor (1933), Double or Nothing (1937), and Doctor Rhythm (1938) alongside Bing Crosby. She retired after starring in 1943’s Dead Men Walk, and died 75 years later at 104 years old.
Irwin Corey: 102
“Professor” Irwin Corey was a comedian, actor, and activist who remained active both professionally and politically well into his golden years. Performing as “The World's Foremost Authority,” Corey was described by theatre critic Kenneth Tynan as “a cultural clown, a parody of literacy, a travesty of all that our civilization holds dear, and one of the funniest grotesques in America. He is Chaplin’s tramp with a college education.” On February 6, 2017, Corey passed away in Manhattan at the age of 102.
Albert Hofmann: 102
Albert Hofman, the chemist who was the first to synthesize and ingest LSD, was born in 1906 lived until 2008. According to Men's Health, Hofmann didn’t think that the psychedelic drug had anything to do with his longevity and instead thought it was because he ate two eggs every morning. “In an egg, there is everything a being needs to develop—vitamins, minerals, and hormones,” he explained.
Herb Jeffries: 100
Herb Jeffries was a singer who performed both jazz and pop music, but later became an actor who produced and starred in Westerns. Jeffries appeared on shows such as I Dream of Jeannie and Hawaii Five-0, before passing away in 2014 when he was 100 years old.
Claire Du Brey: 100
Claire Du Brey, whose name sometimes appeared as Claire Du Bray or as Claire Dubrey, was another hardworking actress from Hollywood’s early years who appeared in more than 200 films between 1916 and 1959. Born on August 31, 1892, she lived to be 100 years old and died in Los Angeles on August 1, 1993, just a month before her 101st birthday.
Will Barnet: 101
An artist who tackled various mediums such as paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints, Will Barnet was also an influential teacher who was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in 2011. The next year, on November 13, 2012, Barnet passed away when he was 101 years old.
Jeanne Calment: 122
Although she wasn’t famous during her lifetime, Jeanne Calment earned fame when she passed away on August 4, 1997, at the age of 122 years and 164 days. According to Guinness World Records, this was the “greatest fully authenticated age to which any human has ever lived.” There was even speculation that Calment had died in 1934 when she was 59 years old and that her adult daughter has assumed her identity in order to avoid paying inheritance taxes.
However, according to The Verge, “Though there continues to be back-and-forth, experts say that, most likely, Jeanne Calment is who she said she was: a woman from the southern French town of Arles who met van Gogh, rode a bike until she was 100, and smoked two cigarettes a day until a few years before she died at 122.” And for the celeb-backed hacks for enjoying the half-century mark, check out the 25 Amazing Celebrity Tips About Turning 50.
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