50 People Over 50 Who Are Shattering Stereotypes About Aging
Meet the 101-year-old who's still leaping from 35,000 feet.
For many people, turning 50 feels like a major milestone, and in many cases, the beginning of a person’s decline, when new opportunities have necessarily closed their doors and all that’s left to look forward to is the slow procession into old age. However, in spite of the numerous people who will insist that your fun is over at 50, there’s ample evidence to the contrary. In fact, according to a 2015 from researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and Stony Brook University, 50 isn’t even middle-aged by today’s standards.
“There is an asinine assumption in today’s society that once you turn 50, it’s ‘all downhill,’ since you’re ‘over the hill.’ This is not true!” says therapist Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, co-founder of the Wright Wellness Center. “Not only is this totally agist, it’s also just plain false! There are so many struggles that happen during our 20s, 30s, and 40s that typically resolve themselves by your 50s! Your kids could be leaving the house, you could be at the peak of your career, and you could be able to travel more and see the world. There is really nothing negative about turning 50—except for the mindset that turning 50 is a negative thing.”
Fortunately, whether you’re just on the cusp of the half-century mark and are dreading seeing the other side of the figurative hill, or are decades past your 50th birthday, there’s still much to look forward to long after your 50th has come and gone. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 50 people over 50 who are shattering stereotypes about aging, from over-80 mountain climbers to your favorite rock stars still on tour. And for more sterling examples about how people get their Benjamin Button on, learn How America’s Fittest CEO Defies Aging.
Sister Madonna Buder, 88
If you think your days of killing it as an athlete are already numbered by the time you hit 30, think again. In fact, 88-year-old Sister Madonna Buder, who’s also referred to as the Iron Nun, has been competing as a triathlete well into her 80s. Buder’s commitment to her fitness regimen of choice is so impressive she’s managed to win a world record for it, earning the distinction of being the oldest woman to complete an Ironman Triathlon at age 82. And for more proof that age is nothing but a number, check out these 50 Amazing Over-40 Bodies.
Bryson William Verdun Hayes, 101
Leaping out of planes may terrify people 75 years younger than him, but it’s just another way to pass the time for 101-year-old Bryson William Verdun Hayes, the world’s oldest skydiver. The D-Day vet leapt out of a plane for a charity tandem jump 38 days after his 101st birthday, doing so to raise money for the Royal British Legion. And when you want to add some excitement to your life, discover the 40 Best Bucket List Experiences for People Over 40.
Kathrine Switzer, 71
Kathrine Switzer has been breaking down barriers for 50-plus years, and at 71, she shows no signs of stopping. Switzer, 71, was not only the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered competitor in 1967—despite protests against her competing—she even completed the New York City marathon 50 years later, at age 71, with a time of 4:48:21.
Baddie Winkle, 90
Instagram star Baddie Winkle is proving once and for all that cool has no age limit. The 90-year-old model has become famous for her creative and colorful outfits, as well as her catch phrase, “Stealing your man since 1928.”
Daphne Selfe, 90
The modeling industry may be notoriously ageist, but that isn’t stopping Daphne Selfe from making her mark on it. At 90, Selfe is, by her own estimation, the world’s oldest professional model, and has modeled for everyone from magazines like Blanc and Bazaar to cosmetics company Eyeko.
Bruce McBarnette, 60
Who says that being over 50 means resigning yourself to a sedentary life? Athlete Bruce McBarnette, 60, winner of 12 world high-jump championships, 33 USA Track and Field Masters National Championships, and two world records for his athletic accomplishments, certainly hasn’t gotten the memo, and continues to compete to this day.
Tao Porchon-Lynch, 100
Even if you’re well over 50—even if you’re over 50 times two—that doesn’t mean you can’t be every bit as active as you were in your younger years. Tao Porchon-Lynch is a practicing yogi at 100 years old, and teaches up to eight yoga classes a week in New York City. She’s also officially the world’s oldest yoga teacher, according to Guinness World Records, having earned the title at age 93. And when you want to make the most of the next half-century, start with these 50 Life Changes to Make After 50.
Frank Lucianna, 95
They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life—and perhaps that’s why attorney Frank Lucianna is still practicing law at age 95. Working in Northern New Jersey, Lucianna has worked as a lawyer for more than 65 years, his eponymous firm, Lucianna & Lucianna, specializing in criminal defense, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and estate planning.
Sylvia Weinstock, 88
It’s never too late to discover your passion—just ask cake designer Sylvia Weinstock. Weinstock, 88, founded her eponymous cake business at age 50, and has expanded her clientele to include some of the world’s biggest celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, in addition to working as a judge on Netflix’s baking show, Nailed It!
Robert Kelman, 88
Robert Kelman, 88, isn’t letting his age slow him down in the slightest. In 2017, at age 88, the avid mountaineer became the oldest climber to summit Devils Tower, a 5,112-foot butte in Wyoming’s Crook County.
Greta Pontarelli, 67
Pole dancing is one of the hardest workouts there is, but that isn’t keeping Greta Pontarelli from mastering it. At age 67, Pontarelli has been pole dancing for over eight years, winning five Pole Sports Masters championships and more than 20 medals in total.
Dr. William Frankland, 106
The medical industry is ever-evolving; as are its practitioners. Case in point: Dr. William Frankland, a British allergist instrumental in making pollen count tracking commonplace throughout Britain, as well as an aide to Nobel Prize winner Alexander Fleming during his discovery of penicillin, is still active in his practice today, at age 106.
Wendy Ida, 65
Wendy Ida proves there’s no age limit on physical fitness. The 65-year-old trainer, who displays her incredible fitness feats on Instagram, is not only incredibly athletic, she’s also a double Guinness World Record holder, for both oldest multi-discipline fitness instructor and as the woman responsible for completing the most burpees in one minute.
Tom Cruise, 56
While the leads in action movies tend to be in their 20s and 30s, that’s not stopping Tom Cruise from punching and kicking his way to being one of the most—if not the most—successful action stars of all time. In fact, at 56, Cruise just earned his most famous franchise’s biggest opening (a more-than $61 million haul) for this summer’s recent, and totally awesome, Mission: Impossible—Fallout.
Carmen Dell’Orefice, 87
Former Vogue cover model Carmen Dell’Orefice is making her mark on the fashion world again in her 80s. After leaving the industry for a number of years, Dell’Orefice, 87, returned with a vengeance in 1978, and has been modeling ever since. In addition to being awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts London at age 80, in recent years, Dell’Orefice has modeled for Rolex, Sephora, Philipp Plein, and has posed on the cover of magazines including Harper’s Bazaar Thailand and Marie Claire Arabia.
Scott Glenn, 77
While acting may largely be considered a business for younger men and women, actor Scott Glenn, 77, apparently hasn’t gotten the message. Glenn, who has been working as an actor for 53 years, most recently landed the role of Alan Pangborn, a lead character and general tough guy in the Stephen King series Castle Rock—a pretty major accomplishment for anyone, especially someone nearing their 80th birthday.
Jeannie Epper, 77
Working as a stunt person may be a dangerous job, but that isn’t keeping Jeannie Epper, 77, from her profession of choice. Epper has been working in the film industry for more than 50 years, performing stunts in over 100 movies—including The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Amazing Spider-Man, and, most recently, Hot Pursuit—since starting her career in 1965 .
Lieutenant Leo Thalassites, 92
The law never sleeps, and its most dedicated servants never quit, either. Lieutenant Leo Thalassites, 92, is just one example of law enforcement officers’ commitment to their job, acting as America’s oldest police officer, having served the Miami-Dade and Hialeah police departments for nearly 60 years.
Jane Seymour, 68
Who says that your sex appeal diminishes as you get older? Clearly, Jane Seymour hasn’t heard the news: in 2017, at age 67, the actress posed for Playboy, admitting she was more confident in her 60s than she’d been decades earlier.
Betsey Johnson, 76
Fashion has no age limit: just ask designer Betsey Johnson. In addition to continuing to put out designs from her eponymous fashion line, Johnson competed on Dancing With the Stars in 2014, and still does a cartwheel or split on stage when she ends her fashion shows.
Jeff Goldblum, 65
Jeff Goldblum seems to only get better with age. The 65-year-old actor is not only a father to two sons under four, his career is hotter than ever, with recent roles in Thor: Ragnarok (plus a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Isle of Dogs, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And for more must-see stars, check out these 37 Movies Every Man Over 40 Should Be Able to Quote.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85
The notorious RBG isn’t letting her age slow her down one bit. The Associate Supreme Court Justice—one of four women to ever serve on the Supreme Court—has denied rumors that she’s planning to step down soon, admitting that she plans to remain in her current role as long as she’s fit to serve.
Jacinto Bonilla, 79
While a grueling CrossFit workout can leave a 20-something aching for days, those aches and pains don’t seem to faze Jacinto Bonilla. At 79, the grandfather of 12 is a CrossFit champion, and the oldest participant in the CrossFit Games to date.
Alla Ilyinichna Levushkina, 90
Alla Ilyinichna Levushkina isn’t letting celebrating her 90th birthday get in between her and her vocation. At age 90, the Russian doctor is the world’s oldest practicing surgeon and still operates four days a week in her native country.
Liam Neeson, 66
Tom Cruise helming action movies at 56 is impressive, but Liam Neeson has him beat. At 66, the Irish actor is still selling out movie theaters with roles in the Taken franchise, The Commuter, and the upcoming MIB.
Pat Gallant-Charette, 67
Swimming the English Channel is no easy feat, but that didn’t dissuade Pat Gallant-Charette for giving it the old college try. And, in 2017, at age 66, she became the oldest woman to make it across.
Minoru Saitō, 84
While sailing around the world may seem like an arduous endeavor to some, it’s just another exciting challenge for Minoru Saitō, 84. On September 17, 2011, at age 77, the Japanese national made his eighth trip around the globe, making him the oldest person to do so.
Maye Musk, 70
In an industry of teenagers and 20-somethings, Maye Musk, 70, certainly stands out. However, it’s not just her age that makes her unique; the highly sought-after model is more than just an industry novelty: she’s also one of the new faces of CoverGirl cosmetics.
Stellan Skarsgård, 67
While Stellan Skarsgård hit it big in the United States with Good Will Hunting in 1997, his career has gotten even hotter after his 60th birthday. The Swedish star has managed to land roles in some of the biggest stateside blockbusters of the last two decades, including major parts in The Avengers and Thor franchises.
Tamae Watanabe, 79
Scaling Mount Everest may seem like a virtually-impossible feat even to the fittest and youngest athletes out there, but that didn’t keep Tamae Watanabe from doing it—at age 73, no less. “I’m like a goat,” Watanabe told CNN of her 2012 trek. “Someone like me enjoys being in high places.”
John Fraser Hart, 94
Geographer John Fraser Hart loves his chosen profession so much that he wasn’t eager to give it up—even after he’d turned 90. In fact, the University of Minnesota professor was so adamant about continuing to practice in his field that he didn’t teach his last class until the age of 91.
Mary Barra, 56
While the automotive industry has long been dominated by male CEOs, Mary Barra shook things up when she was appointed CEO of General Motors in 2014. At 52, the longtime GM employee made history as the first female CEO of a worldwide automotive brand.
Peter Weber, Jr., 98
Flying the friendly skies isn’t just for rookies. In fact, at 98, Californian Peter Weber, Jr., is still getting into the cockpit on a regular basis, and has earned himself the distinction of being the world’s oldest pilot.
Eileen Kramer, 103
The love for her art form has kept Eileen Kramer on her feet—literally—for over a century. At age 104, Australian dancer Kramer is still performing and choreographing, creating the celebrated performance piece A Buddha’s Wife in 2017.
Jeff Bezos, 54
Though the world’s billionaire’s club seems to be getting younger by the minute, Jeff Bezos is proof positive there’s plenty of hope—and cash—available to the over-50 set. In fact, at age 54, the Amazon founder officially became the world’s wealthiest person, with an estimated net worth of $112 billion.
Jane Fonda, 80
While she’s left her leotards behind, actress-cum-fitness-influencer Jane Fonda is still making waves at 80. In fact, for the past three years, the 80-year-old actress has served as one of the leads on Netflix’s Emmy-nominated series, Grace and Frankie.
Vito Perillo, 94
They say politics is a young person’s game—unless you’re Vito Perillo, that is. At 93, World War II vet Perillo was elected mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, calling himself “profoundly grateful” for the opportunity.
Ernestine Shepherd, 82
At 82, Ernestine Shepherd is fitter than many people 60 years her junior. While no longer competing in her sport of choice, she’s still an active bodybuilder and has even earned the title of “world’s oldest female bodybuilder” for her efforts.
J.K. Simmons, 63
While J.K. Simmons was already a household name, thanks to stints on Law and Order and Oz and supporting roles in seemingly every film through the aughts, it wasn’t until he turned 59 that he earned his due as an actor. It was then that he received his first Oscar, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Whiplash in 2014.
Debbie Harry, 73
Though many people look forward to being retired by their 70s, Blondie’s Debby Harry isn’t among them. In fact, the 73-year-old rocker is still touring with her band, with new dates lined up through 2019.
Hershel McGriff, 90
The need for speed doesn’t die down just because you’re over 50. Just ask Hershel McGriff: at 90, he’s NASCAR’s oldest racing contestant, having previously earned the distinction of being the oldest driver to win a NASCAR feature race at the age of 61.
Angela Lansbury, 92
At 92, actress Angela Lansbury is still finding work in the entertainment industry. In 2017, Lansbury signed on for a role in Mary Poppins Returns, due for release in late 2018.
Morgan Freeman, 81
Morgan Freeman isn’t letting being an octogenarian get between him and his career of choice. In fact, not only is Freeman still acting, he’s got four movies under his belt after his 80th birthday: 2017’s Going in Style and Just Getting Started, 2018’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, and Angel Has Fallen, to be released in 2019.
Stevie Nicks, 70
Stevie Nicks may be 70, but she’s still got the energy she has when performing more than 40 years ago. In fact, Nicks will soon be heading out on the road once again with Fleetwood Mac, as the band prepares for a 50-city tour, kicking off in 2019.
Christopher Plummer, 88
Being lauded for your on-screen skills has no age limit, as Christopher Plummer knows all too well. In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners at age 82, Plummer was nominated again for the same award five years later for All the Money in the World, making him both the oldest Oscar winner and nominee.
Susan Sarandon, 71
While Susan Sarandon has always seemed ageless, it’s her age that’s winning her major campaigns these days. In addition to modeling for Marc Jacobs in 2016, she was named the face of L’Oreal Paris’s Age Perfect line at age 70.
Bruce Springsteen, 68
At 68, Bruce Springsteen is still The Boss. In fact, throughout 2018, Springsteen managed to repeatedly sell out performances of Springsteen on Broadway, his residency at Manhattan’s Walter Kerr Theater.
Diana Nyad, 69
Journalist and swimmer Diana Nyad isn’t about to let age slow her down. In 2013, at the age of 64, Nyad became the first person to swim from Havana to Key West—a distance of 110 miles—without the use of a shark cage.
Samuel L. Jackson, 69
While Samuel L. Jackson’s career has been hot for decades, the 69-year-old star’s work life only seems to be getting more impressive in his 60s. In 2018 and 2019 alone, Jackson will star in five action movies: Avengers: Infinity War, Glass, Captain Marvel, Shaft, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Christie Brinkley, 64
Christie Brinkley’s modeling career is every bit as hot in her 60s as it was when she was a 20-something. In fact, 38 years after she first graced the magazine’s cover, Brinkley once again posed for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, this time at age 62.
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