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'60s Icon Lee Grant Reveals Her Age After Decades-Long Mystery—See Her Now at 98

The actor and director is famous for Shampoo and Down and Out in America.

In a time when you can google pretty much any celebrity name plus the word "age" and get an answer instantly, it's rare to come across a famous face whose birthday is a mystery. But, for decades, no one knew exactly how old actor and director Lee Grant really was. Recently, the '60s film icon shared her true age—98—and also joked about the news finally coming out.

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Grant is known for her success as both an actor and a filmmaker. She was nominated for her first Academy Award—Best Supporting Actress for Detective Story—in 1952. Soon after, she was blacklisted from Hollywood due to her connection to communists, including her first husband, Arnold Manoff. When Grant was removed from the blacklist in 1964, she started acting again but lied about her age, claiming to be younger. She went on to win an Oscar in 1976 for Best Supporting Actress for Shampoo, and she was also nominated in the category in 1971 for The Landlord and in 1977 for Voyage of the Damned.

In a 2014 interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Grant said that when she won her Oscar, she had a realization about her career. "As I went up, something came over me of knowing that I was going to be too old for the kind of parts that I played, that I'd been running from disclosing my age, and knowing that age would always be against me," she said. "This was it." In 2014, Grant still wasn't sharing her age. When asked, she told CBS's Michelle Miller, "What do you want me to say, Michelle? … No! I can't tell you that."

Lee Grant at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Soon after her Oscar win, Grant began a second career as a director. During an appearance at the New York Film Festival in September 2023, when two of her films were showing, she reflected on her career and her age—her real age. "I was in a movie called Shampoo," she said, as reported by The New Yorker. "And [co-star] Warren Beatty turned to me and said, 'Lee, you're 49.' He was saying, 'So long, baby! This is Hollywood!' And I was really 50."

So, when an opportunity arose for Grant to learn about filmmaking, she jumped at the chance. In 1987, the documentary she directed, Down and Out in America, tied for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Also in September 2023, Grant told Forward that she was actually 97-and-a-half—her birthday is now known to be Oct. 31, 1925. The filmmaker joked in the interview that the reporter wasn't satisfactorily impressed with her age reveal. "Wait a minute, you're supposed to react to that, kid!" she said. "You're supposed to say 'What?! You're kidding!' Do your part. You're supposed to react to that."

Lee Grant at the 2023 New York Film Festival
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for FLC

Grant also recognized her age on social media recently, when she reacted to an IndieWire piece that lists her as the oldest living director in Hollywood. Along with a link to the article, she posted on X (formerly Twitter), "Well look at that."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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