Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Outstanding Octogenarians and Beyond (or: Remembering the Legendary Among the Living)

The other day I went to a concert by one of the greatest living legends I can think of: Chuck Berry.

OK, so as I wrote about here, it wasn't the most satisfying evening. But it was still a thrill to see a man who basically helped to invent rock 'n' roll. As I said to a friend, it costs $22 to visit the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. To see one of its greatest members live on stage for not much more, even for a subpar, abbreviated show, wasn't hard to justify.

Anyway, as I was looking forward to seeing Chuck Berry, it got me thinking about all the "living legends" that I, and perhaps you, don't think about often enough. Too often, it takes someone posting an RIP notice on Facebook to remind me that a legend who recently passed--such as Blake Edwards, Bob Feller or Jerry Bock--had still been alive until they weren't. And in some cases, such as with jazz great Billy Taylor, I wasn't familiar with someone I should have been until reading their obituary.

So today, I'm going to spend a few moments remembering, researching and citing legendary artists and athletes that are of this writing--unless my information is faulty--still alive. I'm sure I'll omit some folks I shouldn't and I'll be happy to hear about such cases. But as a barometer, I will limit those included here to people who are 80 years old and above (or will turn 80 in 2011) and who I perceive as having been among the best or most famous in their particular field.

The people below are listed in no particular order and for each I will link to Wikipedia so that anyone so inclined can learn more about some of history's greatest figures while they're still with us.


Chuck Berry
Fats Domino
B.B. King
Tony Bennett
Ravi Shankar
Harry Belafonte
Sonny Rollins
Ornette Coleman

Stephen Sondheim
Burt Bacharach
Jerry Herman
John Kander
Charles Strouse
Sheldon Harnick (lyricist)

Actors & Actresses

Kirk Douglas
Ernest Borgnine
Sidney Poitier
Joan Fontaine
Olivia de Havilland 
Lauren Bacall
Mickey Rooney
Clint Eastwood
Robert Duvall (turned 80 today!)
Gene Hackman
Doris Day
Angela Lansbury
Betty White
Andy Griffith
James Earl Jones
Hal Holbrook
Jean Stapleton
Harry Morgan
Cloris Leachman
Eva Marie Saint
Maureen O'Hara
Carol Channing
Elaine Stritch
Theodore Bikel
Jerry Lewis
Christopher Lee
Max von Sydow

Movie Directors, etc.
Franco Zeffirelli
Richard Attenborough
Sidney Lumet
Mel Brooks (and Carl Reiner)
Stanley Donen
Norman Jewison
Norman Lear (TV Producer)

Stan Musial
Yogi Berra
Willie Mays
Ernie Banks
Whitey Ford
Duke Snider
Tommy Lasorda (manager)
Earl Weaver (manager)
Bob Cousy
Gordie Howe
Y.A. Tittle
Frank Gifford
Don Shula (coach)
Joe Paterno (coach)

Edward Albee
Maya Angelou
Ray Bradbury
E.L. Doctorow
Tom Wolfe
Toni Morrison
Harper Lee
P.D. James
Elie Wiesel
Maurice Sendak
Stan Lee

Artists & Architects
Jasper Johns
I.M. Pei
Cesar Pelli
Frank Gehry
Claes Oldenburg

Buzz Aldrin
Neil Armstrong
Jimmy Carter
Noam Chomsky 
John Glenn
Hugh Hefner
Andy Rooney
Mike Wallace
Barbara Walters
Chuck Yeager

Suggested Additions
Eli Wallach (actor)
Vin Scully (baseball announcer)

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