5 Brilliant actors over 60 (or 70)

by Madeleine Kolb

 Robert Duvall made his film debut as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird almost 50 years ago. His latest role is that of an eccentric recluse in the play Get Low, sheduled to open on August 13.  After that, well, he’s mulling over several movie scripts. The idea of retirement does not seem to have occurred to Duvall, who will turn 80 in January.

And he’s not the only one. There are many actors who keep going and going, doing brilliant, extraordinary, work in their 60s, 70s, and beyond.  A few examples:

  A March 8, 2010 “New Yorker” article described 80-year-old Clint Eastwood this way:  “Since … [his days as a young  actor], he has done the following: starred in a hit TV show, “Rawhide”; appeared in more than fifty movies and directed thirty-one, often acting, directing, and producing at the same time; … served as the mayor of Carmel; won four Oscars and received many other awards…. Those who were skeptical of Eastwood forty years ago … have long since capitulated, retired, or died. He has outlasted everyone.”


 Al Pacino who turned 70 this year,  is a Method Actor whose breakthrough role was Michael Corelone in The Godfather (1972). Other great roles were The Godfather, Part III, Scent of a Woman, and a number of gangster role. Recently in an HBO movie, he portrayed Dr. Jack Kevorkian, called Dr. Death for carrying out assisted suicide of terminally-ill patients.

  Angela Lansbury’s career spans more than 60 years, first in fims, and later on stage in New York and London. Now 85, she appeared on Broadway in the musical A Little Night Music  which opened in December, 2009. 

 According to “The Washington Post”: “The very best … part is five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury, who as aged, imperious Madame Armfeldt, erstwhile consort to kings and dukes, offers a marvelous, blunt-force comic performance, redolent of professional polish and a keen understanding of how to entertain.”


Morgan Freeman, now 73,  got a late start as an actor in movies like Lean on Me (1989), Glory (also 1989), and Shawshank Redemption (1994). Last year he portrayed Nelson Mandela in the movie Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Nelson Mandela once told Morgan Freeman that if they ever made a movie of his life, he wanted Morgan in the role. Watch this video clip to see what a masterful job Morgan Freeman does.

There are many other wonderful actors, musicians, and others who keep on working and taking on challenges in their 60s, 70s, and beyond, but that’s a subject for another post. Or two.

Do you have any nominations, suggestions, or comments? I’d love to hear them.
photo of Al Pacino by t_p_s/
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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angela Artemis August 10, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Hi Madeleine,
This was a fun post! I love all the actors you wrote about with the exception of Al Pacino, only for his personal behavior. (He lives quite near me as a matter of fact.) He replaced Beverly D’Angelo the mother of his twins with a 30 something!

Can you imagine? Beverly D’Angelo is such an attractive woman too!

How old is Clint Eastwood. He’s the only one who’s age you left out? Just curious.

Thanks so much for this great post!
.-= Angela Artemis´s last blog ..Hey! There’s a Face in That Orb! =-.


2 Madeleine Kolb August 10, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Angela, I just made an edit in the post. He turned 80 a few months ago, and he seems to get better and better. Having work that you love and the opportunity to keep on doing it is one of life’s great blessings.


3 Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point August 14, 2010 at 4:47 am

Oh, yes, you picked some titans in the talent department, Madeleine!

Betty White — I loved her on The Golden Girls! I used to watch that show and I remember an episode where Betty’s character casually says that she and her husband get intimate every night. The other ladies, well, were in disbelief. I was very young so it made an impression.

Clint Eastwood, I find his directing and acting style too subtle. I’m moved more by Al Pacino’s or Robert Duvall’s intensity rather than Clint’s cool, unaffected manner. Although I hear he does a good job in his most recent film.

And Morgan Freeman, well, what can’t that man do?!


4 Madeleine Kolb August 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Hi Belinda, It’s wonderful how many talented people are doing brilliant work into their 70s and 80s. It was so hard to limit myself to 6; I’ve have to do another post about this.

Actually, I’m a real Clint Eastwood fan. Apparently, when he was a young actor he was dismissed as just another pretty face, but he’s proven he’s so much more. In terms of directing, I don’t know if you’ve even seen the movie Mystic River which Clint Eastwood directed. A very dark movie with an amazing cast and really worth seeing.


5 Christopher Foster August 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hi Madeleine. So happy to find your blog. What a great idea you have got hold of: the myths around aging are like the fog that used to descend on London and suffocate it many many years ago.
I saw a pic and article of Clint Eastwood not long ago and what you saw shining in his face was happiness. Authentic happiness.
I’m 78. Personally, I think that we have the opportunity as we age to suck much more of the real marrow of life partly becoz we don’t have to be quite so busy and we can use the time to think about what’s really importnat in life — to really get serious about creating meaning in our life.
I noted your stress on exercise. I’ve been going to the gym for 10 years now and it has saved my life. I especially love strength training but walking has been a lifelong love too.
I really do wish you all the very best with your blog and thankyou again for helping a newbie get his signature set up right at the A-list bloggers club…


6 Madeleine Kolb August 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

Christopher, I appreciate your comment very much. My blog really is a labor of love, and
nearly every day I find more evidence of what you and I both know, namely, that aging can be a time of continued learning, perfecting of skills, and contribution. The better we get at what we do, the more pleasure and happiness we find.

Happy to help on the A-List Bloggers’ Club. What a supportive group it is!


7 blackandmoore October 18, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Age is just a number and all of the above folks are proving that. Heard Matt Damon talk about Clint Eastwood and how he just refuses to give in to the aging process. When you keep a good attitude and eat good food you are well on your way.


8 Madeleine Kolb October 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Taking care of your health and keeping a good attitude are essential. And having work that you’re passionate about makes a great difference at any age.


9 Dorothy Sander August 2, 2011 at 11:49 am

Great selection! I’d like to add a few more women! Meryl Streep (61), Judi Dench (76) Susan Sarandon (64), Diane Keaton (64), Helen Mirren (65), Sigourney Weaver (61), Jane Fonda (72), Glen Close (63), Goldie Hawn (65), Sally Field (64), Shirley MacLaine (76), Stockard Channing (66), Tina Turner (71)….I guess I better quit~!


10 Madeleine Kolb August 2, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Hi Dorothy, Thanks so much for the list. Actually, I’ve only just begun with this, and some of the women you suggested are already on my list for future posts. I’ve also written a post with videos about amazing and inspirational gospel singer Mavis Staples, and of course I’ve written about Betty White as well as Angela Lansbury.


11 Anna Cook August 3, 2011 at 3:43 am

Love your blog, so pleased to have found it – I have subscribed with delight and look forward to reading your posts! List is great, + the additions! For me, Helen Mirren and Judi Dench are always top favourites, along with Sean Connery…. For the “younger ” males it just has to be Viggo Mortensen – so talented! Actor, poet, musician, photographer, artist and editor… and a year older than me!!
Anna Cook recently posted..Hello world!My Profile


12 Madeleine Kolb August 3, 2011 at 8:31 am

Anna, I really appreciate your comment. It’s not hard to find examples of people doing wonderfully creative work in their 60s, 70s, and beyond. So many of them are in the arts. Perhaps actors, singers, musicians, and writers come most readily to mind because they’re in the public eye. But there are also doctors, engineers, philanthropists, and others who take on more and more challenging work because of their passion and drive.


13 Linda S Froiland September 26, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Thanks for your blog on aging, I love it. I write about style, fashion, grooming and related other topics for the over 50 market. I love my job as an Image Consultant and Wardrobe stylist, which I have done for over 25 years. I can still create great style only now it’s more refined. I would love for you to follow my blog and post comments as you like, I would also like to share a link to your blog on our Dating over 40 (On Blogger) blog and FB page.
I am also a member of a large social networking group of 3000 individual who are looking for fun, excitement and entertainment here in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. The blog was set up for this group. If you have any comments to make on dating later in life it would be great for you to comment there as well.
I try to be inspiring and helpful in my blogs.
Linda S Froiland


14 Madeleine Kolb September 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Thanks you for the comment, Linda. It was fun to see the same photos of Clint Eastwood and Robert Duvall on your blog as I have here. I’ll drop by again to see what’s happening, and of course I’d love to have you share links on your Dating over 40 and FB page.


15 Arturo July 26, 2013 at 9:57 am

Yes, Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman….the defense speech was one of the most memorable monologues. It was a great study of showmanship in presentation..absolutely brilliant!


16 Madeleine Kolb July 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Arturo, I appreciate your comment. It seems as if it takes decades to master one’s craft at that level. That appears to be the case not only in the arts but, increasingly in the sciences as well. Recently, I read somewhere that the average age of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences is increasing.


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