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Hooray for Hollywood's Nonagenarians
91-year-old Ernest Borgnine has written a memoir, Ernie, and not only does he have real stuff to talk about -- like winning an Oscar, working with Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, etc. -- he's been downright sassy on his book tour (if you haven't seen the YouTube clip, it's after the jump). He told the LA Times that older actors should still be in pictures.
I don't know how Karl Malden is right now, but I bet you money he could put out a heck of a good picture. He's 95 or something like that. Everything is youth oriented and shoot'em-up and more sex. This is what sells today. I say: These older people know what it's all about. They know things. It's all ingested within them.
Borgnine isn't the only actor in his nineties who's getting around Hollywood these days. Zsa Zsa Gabor planned to attend a screening of her camp classic The Queen of Outer Space at Cinefamily earlier this month (she had to cancel at the last minute). Talk about sassy -- at 72, Zsa Zsa slapped the glasses off a policeman at a traffic stop and got arrested for her trouble. In Februrary, she turned 91 -- that's the age she admits to, anyway. Who knows how old she really is.
Taking a cue from Mr. Borgnine, we've come up with a list of 90-somethings who oughta be in pictures.
First: Kirk Douglas. The man who played -- and produced -- Spartacus is still with us, people. SPARTACUS. He's 91. He was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar three times and robbed, robbed by only ever getting one for lifetime achievement -- 12 years ago.
Many more nonagenarians after the jump. (Nonagenarian = in your 90s. We had to look it up).
Van Johnson, one of MGM's stable of stars in the 1940s and 50s (The Caine Mutiny, Brigadoon) turns 92 tomorrow.
Edward Burnham, who was in To Sir With Love and played Professor Kettlewell in the original "Dr. Who," is 91.
Ruth Duccini -- aka Ruth L. Robinson -- was one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. She's 90.
Marjorie Lord, who is best known for playing Danny Kaye's wife in the TV series "Make Room for Daddy," started out as a dancer and once did a Sherlock Holmes film with Basil Rathbone. She's 90. She's also Anne Archer's mother.
Forrest Ackerman, who is best known for his collection of science fiction memorabilia, has also done acting cameos in recent years. He's 91.
Robert Brubaker, who flew in WWII and the Korean War, was a regular on "Gunsmoke." He's 91.
Barbara Billingsley, best known as uber-mom June Cleaver of "Leave it to Beaver," is 92.
Don Keefer is 92; he appeared frequently on the original "Twilight Zone" and in Disney TV productions in the 1960s; he was in the notable 1968 "Star Trek" episode "Assignment: Earth."
Ruth Ford, a former fashion model who was in Play It As It Lays, is 93.
Pamela Blake, aka Adele Pearce, who starred in low-budget films in the 1940s -- The Ghost of Zorro, Sky Liner, The Hat Box Mystery -- is 90.
92-year-old House Peters Jr. was last seen on TV in the 1960s as the sheriff on "Lassie."
So what if she lives in France -- bring 92-year-old Olivia de Havilland back to Hollywood for another movie as good as Gone With the Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex....
Perhaps we should get producer Sherwood Schwartz ("Gilligan's Island," "The Brady Bunch") in on the action. He's 91. If 93-year-old Jack Rollins isn't too busy co-producing another Woody Allen film, maybe he could lend a hand; since he penned the song "Frosty the Snow Man," he could even do music.
Or give the project some gravitas with help from 92-year-old producer David Brown (Chocolat, The Verdict), an appearance by Kennedy advisor and talking head Robert MacNamara (92) or an introduction by newsman Walter Cronkite, who's 91, or NPR's Daniel Shorr, who turns 92 next week.
And while he's only acted in one film (Malcom X) and will probably never get an Oscar -- he's already earned another award, the Nobel Prize -- why not put Nelson Mandela in a film? He may be the only 90-year-old who survived 27 years in a prison cell from South Africa.
Oh, and Ernie? Karl Malden is 96.
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