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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