Updated on 06/13/2014
With the recent back-to-back departures of Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine I've been really bummed about losing great artists from Hollywood's Golden Age. The Golden Age is roughly considered to be from Hollywood's 1930s through the 1950s. I still hadn't recovered from the loss of Eleanor Parker, an underappreciated actress I had honestly planned a retrospective of but never got around to.
One morning in my movie grief I inadvertently killed dozens of people off on twitter by claiming there were only six stars of the Golden Age still living. So consider this list my penance. In the past I've published a semi-annual list of all living Oscar-vets in any capacity. It was never meant to be a morbid countdown list but a way for us to honor people while they're still theoretically conscious of our appreciation for their indelible contributions. So though I normally publish such a list on Ms. Luise Rainer's birthday and it normally includes all crafts, I thought I'd publish an actor specific list that is NOT about Oscar... so send out telepathic waves of appreciation to these talents. Rent one of their movies this month!
100 OLDEST LIVING SCREEN STARS OF NOTE
DISCLAIMER: Not all screen actors who are old enough for this list are represented. We had to stop somewhere lest the list become a full time job.
01 Luise Rainer (1/12/10)
She is 104 going on 105 ♫... that doesn't have a great ring to it but The Sound of Music is such an earworm and Hollywood did like to pretend she was Austrian nicknaming her "The Viennese Teardrop" (she was actually German but that wouldn't do in late 30s Hollywood). Oscar's first back-to-back Acting winner for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937) was recently name-checked not so flatteringly in Hitchcock (2011) but she can handle it. The outspoken actress was very vocal about what she thought of Hollywood, her unsatisfying films, and "The Oscar Curse" which she doesn't believe in. Other key works: Not really. Her acting career was short-lived.
02 Lupita Tovar (7/27/1910)
Appeared in the Spanish Dracula (1931), mother to Oscar nominee Susan Kohner and grandmother to the Weitz brothers who are now directors in Hollywood
03 Mary Carlisle (2/3/1914)
B movie actress of the 1930s in films like Baby Face Morgan
04 Norman Lloyd (11/08/14) Actor and producer.
05 Eli Wallach (12/7/1915)
This beloved character actor and recent Honorary Oscar recipient, played "Mr Freeze" on the Batman TV series. He's most famous for frequent television apperances and for his role as "Tuco" in The Good The Bad and The Ugly (1966). In terms of contemporary film, he popped up in Oscar favorite Mystic River (2003) and his most recent acting gig was in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010). Other Key Works: He was busiest from the late 50s through early 60s stretching from Baby Doll (1956 - Golden Globe Nomination) to The Magnificent Seven (1960) and on throughThe Misfits (1961) and Moon Spinners (1964).
06 Olivia de Havilland (7/1/1916)
The oldest truly enduring movie star on this list had won Best Actress twice by the time she was 33 for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). Olivia's legend was cemented years earlier than either of her Oscar wins, though, with her first nomination as the kind-hearted "Melanie" in the immortal Gone With the Wind (1939). She is the one of the only four remaining living actors with speaking roles from that historic film. The Snake Pit (1948) and Hold Back the Dawn (1941) also won her Oscar attention. Other Key Works: Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), My Cousin Rachel (1952), and Light in the Piazza (1962).
07 Kirk Douglas (12/9/1916)
Spartacus himself and father to two time Oscar winner Michael Douglas. He was nominated for Best Actor three times for Champion, Lust For Life and the Hollywood on Hollywood heavily Oscared The Bad and the Beautiful which he is just incredible in. He finally won an Honorary Oscar and his irascibly energetic public appearances including onstage shenanigans with Melissa Leo (discussed here) even after debilitating strokes have kept his name in lights for younger audiences, too.
08 Zsa Zsa Gabor (2/6/17)
This Hungarian immigrant socialite who married multiple rich husbands and starred in movies and television, would have been even more famous today in the 24/7 media cycle. Zsa Zsa, who co-starred in Moulin Rouge (1952) is best remembered for her extravagant life and 9 husbands -- more than Liz Taylor -- rather than her film roles but she's the only Gabor sister who remains with us.
09 Danielle Darrieux (5/1/17)
This French legend's filmography spans her debut in the 30s (Le Bal) through the 00s with smaller roles like voice work for Persepolis. Her biggest splash in recent times was as the grand-matriarch in François Ozon's musical Sirkian homage 8 Women (2002) but her peak came in the 1950s when she was courted by Hollywood while starring in French classics like The Earrings of Madame de... (1953) and Lady Chatterley's Lover (1955)
10 Marsha Hunt (10/17/17) The Human Comedy, Raw Deal
11 Movita (12/4/17) Exotic beauty from Mutiny on the Bounty. Later married Marlon Brando!
12 Baby Peggy (10/26/18) (Silent) child star of infinite short films
13 Michèle Morgan (2/29/20) another classic French movie star - they're long lasting there and they treat their actresses right with roles for decades and decades
14 Setsuko Hara (6/17/20)
Yasujirô Ozu's muse and one of Japan's most respected actresses. Films include classics like Tokyo Story and Late Spring. She is referred to as "The Eternal Virgin" possibly because she often played devoted daughters and in offscreen life she never married, retiring from acting upon the death of Mr. Ozu.
15 Maureen O'Hara (8/17/20)
We keep asking why everyone's favorite maternal Irish redhead beauty (this side of Greer Garson) doesn't have an Honorary Oscar. The Academy won't listen though we honestly couldn't tell you why but for their histor reluctance to honor women. (The gender gap in Honorary Oscars is insane). You try watching Miracle on 34th Street, Black Swan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Parent Trap and the five films she made for director John Ford back to back and you'll be just as angry that she doesn't have a golden statue.
16 Nanette Fabray (10/27/20) Emmy winner, TV star of Caesar's Hour fame, film musicals, and SAG lifetime achievement recipients
17 Carol Channing (1/31/21)
This Broadway legend was essentially too large for movie screens but she did manage one Oscar nomination for her hilariously out-there work as "Muzzy" in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). You have to see this performance to believe it. My favorite part of the movie is her "Jazz Baby" solo. Another must-see for Carol fans is the documentary Carol Channing: Larger Than Life which I had the pleasure of seeing at the Tribeca Film Festival a couple of years ago with a very frail Carol in attendance. She spoke briefly to the crowd afterwards, telling us stories that she'd just shared in the movie... I considered it a happy Double Feature. Despite the brushes with television and film fame "Razzzzberries!" her claim on history is her Broadway legend, a lifetime of Hello Dolly! on stage and originating the Marilyn Monroe part in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
18 Abe Vigoda (2/24/21) Emmy nominated TV star of Barney Miller fame. Also appeared in the Godfather films
19 Louis Jourdan (6/19/21)
The suave and often villainous (onscreen) Frenchmen is probably best remembered for today's middle aged movie fans from Octopussy (simply because the Bond films, even the bad ones, endure) and Swamp Thing. Other less low rent and more prestigious credits include Letter From an Unknown Woman, The Best of Everything and the Best Picture winning musical Gigi. He retired 20 years ago.
20 Betty White (1/17/22)
Actress. Golden Girl. Ham...
At this point she's practically "People's Choice" for favorite ubiquitous old lady. Overexposed she may be but when she goes that's the last of The Golden Girls which will be hella depressing. That seminal show is not her only classic. She also co-starred in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
21 Carl Reiner (3/20/22)
Actor, writer, producer and comedy legend. Frequently seen on sitcoms and father to director Rob Reiner.
22 Barbara Hale (4/18/22) Airport and numerous Perry Mason movies
23 Christopher Lee (5/27/22)
Some actors have second acts in their career. Some get three. With Christopher Lee I've lost track. Who can count that high! This 91 year-old one time Hammer Horror era Dracula is still a favorite for genre-fans everywhere from his recent roles in Lord of the Rings and Hugo and more...
24 Lizabeth Scott (9/29/22) Noir beauty
25 Valentina Cortese (1/1/23)
This Italian Day for Night (1973) actress holds the extremely rare honor of a supporting acting nomination from a foreign language film. Those are about as infrequent as it gets. Other key films include in an early version of Les Misérables (1948) in which she played both Fantine AND Cosette -- take that Anne Hathaway!, The Glass Mountain (1949), The House on Telegraph Hill (1951), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), and The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
26 Rhonda Fleming (08/10/23) the Technicolor beauty appeared in classics like Hitchcock's Spellbound, The Spiral Staircase and Gunfight at the OK Corral
27 Rose Marie (8/15/23) TV star The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Sister Eileen, The Doris Day Show, and more...
28 Richard Attenborough (9/29/23)
He's actually "Lord Attenborough" now. I always think of him as a director (Oscar winner for Gandhi but he just wrecked A Chorus Line in movie form) but in truth he acted very frequently, and here's a neat trivia note: he won back to back Golden Globes for Supporting Actor for The Sand Pebbles and Doctor Dolittle and Oscar snubbed him both times without a nomination. How rare is that! Today's audiences know him best as the short-sighted impresario behind Jurassic Park (1993)
29 Glynis Johns (10/5/23)
Every time I think of this 90 year old delight I start singing "♫ Well done, Sister Sufragrette ♪" but she actually wasn't Oscar nominated for her distracted politically-minded mother in Mary Poppins. Her only nomination came for a a terrific turn as the lusty bar owner "Mrs Firth" in The Sundowners (1960). Sister Sufragette is but a ripple in her blissful pond of movie roles. Two early roles as mermaids in Miranda (1948) and Mad About Men (1954) and her swashbuckling love interest in The Court Jester (1956) have devoted followings, too. Awesome performances for modern audiences include The Ref (1994) - so memorable as the irritable stingy matriach - and While You Were Sleeping (1995) though she is now, sadly, retired. Little discussed factoid: Stephen Sondheim wrote "Send in the Clowns" specifically for her voice during the development of the stage musical A Little Night Music. It went on to become his biggest hit.
30 Donald Sinden (10/9/23)
Largely a TV and stage actor he appeared in studio films like Mogambo in the 1950s
31 Coleen Gray (10/23/22)
Red River, The Killing and more
32 Machiko Kyô (3/25/24)
Star of the all time classic Rashomon (1950) and other Japanese films
33 Doris Day (4/3/24)
The movie musical / romantic comedy legend received only one Best Actress nomination (for Pillow Talk, 1959) and hasn't worked in forever but her fans are still among the most dedicated of any stars. Everyone grouses that she doesn't have an Honorary Oscar and many argue that it's only because she's totally withdrawn herself from Hollywood and probably wouldn't show to receive it. Have you heard her recent NPR interview? Other Key Works: Calamity Jane, The Pajama Game, The Man Who Knew Too Much, That Touch of Mink and many other hits.
34 Theodore Bikel (5/2/24) Supporting Actor of many classics including My Fair Lady and The African Queen
35 Priscilla Pointer (5/18/24) Mother of Amy Irving, frequent TV actress and also appeared in films like Carrie, Nickelodeon and Blue Velvet
36 Eva Marie Saint (7/4/24), who is 89, won Best Supporting Actress for On the Waterfront (1954). That glove scene surely cinched it. Her last film role was as Superman's mom in Superman Returns (2006) before Diane Lane had a crack at it but she's back in front of cameras now for A Winter's Tale with an all star cast. Other Key Works: Exodus and Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. There are quite a few Hitchcock heroines on this list. He may have tormented his leading ladies but they survive.
37 Lauren Bacall (9/16/24) this 1940s screen siren, paired with Humphrey Bogart onscreen and off, recently received an honorary Oscar (we curse AMPAS producers for removing these from the broadcast!) and was nominated for her whole career under the guise of The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996). Now 89 this tough actress is still working. Her best contemporary roles were both in icy fantastic Nicole Kidman pictures (Dogville and Birth). Other Key Works: Key Largo, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Murder on the Orient Express and How to Marry a Millionaire (recently discussed).
38 Joan Leslie (1/26/25) Sergeant York, Yankee Doodle Dandy
39 Dorothy Malone (1/30/25) Mambo-Loving Supporting Actress Winner
40 Elaine Stritch (2/2/25) "Stritcheyyyyyyy!" Broadway Legend, Lady Who Lunched, 30 Rock Mama
41 Hal Holbrook (2/17/25) Oldest man to ever receive an acting nominaton for his tremendously moving brief role in Into the Wild (2007)
42 George Kennedy (2/18/25) Best Supporting Actor 1967
44 June Lockhart (6/25/25) Lost in Space matriarch. I always thought she had the best stage name ever but it's her real name. How about that?
45 Cara Williams (6/29/25) Defiant One, and Best Supporting Actress nominee
46 Gloria DeHaven (7/23/25) a working actor of stage, tv, and film for nearly 70 years
47 Honor Blackman (8/22/25) "Pussy Galore"
Dickie Moore (09/12/25) Child Star
50 Kaye Ballard (11/20/25) Funny lady
51 Michel Piccoli (11/27/25) Abundant French classics: La Belle Noiseuse, Belle de Jour, Contempt, etcetera
52 Dina Merrill (12/9/25) Operation Petticoat, BUtterfield 8
53 Dick Van Dyke (12/13/25) "it's a jolly holiday with you Bert!" ♫
54 Peggy Cummins (12/18/25) Gun Crazy'
55 Jerry Lewis (3/16/26) Nutty Professor, King of Comedy, March of Dimer
56 Jane Withers (4/12/26) former child star. Also appeared in Giant
57 Charlotte Rae (4/22/26) "Mrs. Garrett"!!!
58 Cloris Leachman (4/30/26) Workhorse from The Last Picture Show through Raising Hope
59 Don Rickles (5/8/26) Comic actor, Emmy winner, voice of "Mr Potatohead" in the Toy Story films
60 Mel Brooks (6/28/26) Writer/Director/Actor/Comedy Icon
61 Harry Dean Stanton (7/15/26) Oddity
62 Frank Finlay (8/6/26) Best Supporting Actor Nominee, 1965
63 Irene Papas (9/3/26) Greek actress from Oscar nominated classics like Zorba the Greek and Z. Also: The Guns of Navarone
64 Julie Adams (10/17/26) Creature from the Black Lagoon and a ton more credits
65 Barbara Rush (1/4/27) Peyton Place, It Came From Outer Space
66 Sidney Poitier (2/20/27) Icon, Topic of conversation in The Butler, Perpetually Chased By Denzel Washington
67 Emmanuelle Riva (2/24/27) Victim of Jennifer Lawrence Larceny
68 Harry Belafonte (3/1/27) Singer/Actor, Beauty, Civil Rights Activist
69 Pat Carroll (5/5/27) "Ursula"!!!
70 Jerry Stiller (6/8/27) Comic Actor, "Frank Costanza", Father of Ben
71 Gina Lollobrigida (7/4/27) Italian sex symbol
72 Rosemary Harris (9/19/27) Actress, Aunt May, Passed her fine acting talent genes down to daughter Jennifer Ehle.
73 Roger Moore (10/14/27) Bond. James Bond. The Other One.
74 Lee Grant (10/31/27) Supporting Actress Winner,Shampoo
75 Estelle Parsons (11/20/27) Loud Occasionally Sensational Actress, Oscar Winner
76 Jeanne Moreau (1/23/28), French Powerhouse, Subject of both Jules et Jim's Affections
77 Stuart Whitman (2/1/28) Best Actor Nominee The Mark (1961)
78 Paul Dooley (2/22/28) instantly familiar character actor
79 James Garner (4/7/28) Actor. Maverick. Rockford. Best Actor Nominee Murphy's Romance
80 Hardy Krüger (4/12/28) Highly Regarded German Star. Once refused a Golden Globe nomination!
81 Alice Drummond (5/21/28) Instantly Familiar Character Actress
82 Martin Landau (6/20/28) Oscar Winner of Much Awesomeness. Plus Space 1999 if that's too prestigey for you.
83 Katharine Helmond (7/5/28) Sturdy Sitcom Superstar, Stretched by Brazil
84 Nancy Olson (7/14/28) Supporting Actress Nominee, Sunset Blvd
85 Orson Bean (7/22/28) you may remember him with the speech impediment on the 7½ floor?
86 Ann Blyth (8/16/28) Slapped by Joan Crawford (not that that's a rare distinction). Supporting Actress Nominee
87 Marian Seldes (8/23/28) Superb on Stage
88 Adam West (9/19/28) Batman Pre-Bale. Pre-Everyone.
89 Ann Morgan Guilbert (10/16/28) Please Give
90 Marion Ross (10/25/28) Versatile tv/film star. Best known for Happy Days
91 Terry Moore (1/7/29) Storied Starlet, Best Supporting Actress Nominee for Come Back Little Sheba
92 James Hong (2/22/29) Character Actor (Blade Runner,RIPD, and more)
93 Jane Powell (4/1/29) One Bride of Seven, also had Royal Wedding
94 Max Von Sydow (4/10/29) Bergman Muse. Acting God
95 Don Murray (7/31/29) of Bus Stop fame, he was Oscar and BAFTA nominated for it
96 Vera Miles (8/23/29) > Jessica Biel who played her in Hitchcock
97 Bob Newhart (9/5/29) Famous Comic
98 Anne Meara (9/20/29) one of the teachers from Fame(1980)!
99 Fernanda Montenegro (10/16/29) Brazilian Goddess
100 Joan Plowright (10/28/29) British Dame / Actress
AND A FEW MORE BECAUSE I COULDN'T STOP
101 June Squibb (11/6/29) Oscar nominee for Nebraska the third oldest nominee ever in that category
102 Ed Asner (11/15/29) Emmy & Globe Magnet
103 Christopher Plummer (12/13/29) Best Supporting Actor winner for Beginners. (The Oldest Oscar Winner for Acting EVER) Also: Capt. Von Trapp.
104 Rod Taylor (1/11/30) Best remembered for The Birdsand leading The Time Machine. Also the voice of "Pongo" in101 Dalmatians!
105 Frances Sternhagen (1/13/30), stage/film/tv
106 Tippi Hedren (1/19/30), feathered Hitchcock heroine & Mother O' Melanie. Which is scarier?
107 Gene Hackman (1/30/30) Actor. Can't anyone talk him out of retirement?
108 Robert Wagner (2/10/30), Mr Natalie Wood of Hart to Hart fame.
109 Marni Nixon (2/22/30) the voice of the 1960s musical
110 Joanne Woodward (2/27/30) Awesome Actress. Widow of Paul Newman. Best Actress Winner.
111 Mary Costa (4/5/30) the singing voice of Sleeping Beauty among other accomplishments
112 Jean Rochefort (4/29/30) French star
113 Clint Eastwood (5/31/30) Indefatigable Icon
114 Gena Rowlands (6/19/30) Actressexual™ Fixation, A Woman Exerting Much Influence
115 Gordon Pinsent (7/12/30) actor, recently seen in Away From Her
116 Polly Bergen (7/14/30) actress
117 Sally Ann Howes (7/20/30) "Truly Scrumptious" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
118 Sean Connery (8/25/30) The Original Bond, Also Indiana Jones Papa, Robin Hood, Untouchable.
119 Philip Bosco (9/26/30) TV star, Character Actor
120 Lois Smith (11/3/30) Character Actress, Sookie's "Gran"
121 Jean-Louis Trintignant (12/11/30) Amour star
122 Chus Lampreave (12/11/30) Awesome Almodóvarian
123 Armin Muehller-Stahl (12/17/30) Charactor Actor,Shine Supporting Actor nominee
124 Donald Moffat (12/26/30) Character Actor
125 Robert Duvall (1/5/31) Acting God
126 James Earl Jones (1/17/31) The Voice of... Dar-- well, everything really. Who has ever monetized their non-singing voice this well? No one.
127 Dean Jones (1/25/31) Frequent Disney Star
128 Rip Torn (2/6/31) Storied Actor. Widower of Geraldine Page
129 Mamie Van Doren (2/6/31) Sex Symbol
130 Claire Bloom (2/15/31) Character Actress
131 Dominic Chianese (2/24/31) TV regular, Emmy nominee
132 William Shatner (3/22/31) Kirk
133 Leonard Nimoy (3/26/31) Spock
TOO CONFUSING -CONFLICTING REPORTS
Ellen Dow the rapping granny (from Wedding Singer) born in either 1913 or 1918
Doris Roberts the sitcom star was born in either 1925 or 1930.
Cicely Tyson the Oscar nominee was believed to have been born in 1933 but recent sources say 1924
Too young for the list (a sample set)
John Gavin (4/8/31) Psycho Hunk, Robert Morse (5/18/31) How to Succeed in Business... and on Mad Men, Barbara Barrie (5/23/31) , Michael Lonsdale (5/24/31) Character Actor... still working!, Carrol Baker (5/28/31) Baby Doll, Olympia Dukakis (6/20/31) "Clairee", Moonstruck Diva, Leslie Caron (7/1/31) "Gigi" herself, Tab Hunter (7/11/31) Heartthrob, Jerry Van Dyke (7/27/31) Sitcom star , Mitzi Gaynor (9/4/31) Musical Star, Della Reese (9/6/31) Touched By Angels, Philip Baker Hall (9/10/31) P.T. Anderson Favorite, Sir Ian Holm (9/12/31), Silvia Pinal (09/12/31) Mexican Legend, Barbara Bain (9/13/31) Space 1999, Anita Ekberg (9/29/31), Angie Dickinson (9/30/31) Monica Vitti (11/3/31) Italian Sex Symbol L'Aventurra, Policewoman, Tough Broad , Rita Moreno (12/11/31), Dabney Coleman (1/3/32), Piper Laurie (1/22/32), Debbie Reynolds (04/01/32), Omar Shariff (4/10/32), Joel Grey (4/11/32), Sylvia Miles (9/9/32) Robert Vaughn (11/22/32), Diane Ladd (11/29/32), Ellen Burstyn (12/7/32), Nichelle Nichols (12/28/32) Lt. Uhura herself
Younger than you think Sophia Loren was born in 1934 but the list above only goes to 1932