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A Fashionista Ages Well

(Please note: This was first posted on my new website YourBiography2.com.)

The other day I was leafing through the September issue of Vogue, the one called “Fall Fashion Blockbuster.” And, boy, it was.

Even before it went on sale, the magazine had received plenty of headlines for putting three celebrity models, instead of plain old celebrities, on its cover. The young women apparently did their job pulling in advertisers, as the issue consisted of an abundance of clunky heels, manly flats, pleated skirts, and blousy tops, as well as oversized bags. At least, that was my take.

Photo by: David Shankbone

Photo by: David Shankbone

Then on page 667 of the 856-page tome, there was an excerpt from Diane von Furstenberg’s, The Woman I Wanted to Be, a new memoir that will be released at the end of October. Finally, an article that caught my eye.

It’s not clear how this book differs from Diane: A Signature Life published in 2009, but it’s getting great reviews from other fashionistas who had an advance copy. Anna Wintour sings, “Diane’s book evokes everything she has lived through. It is honest, direct and fascinating — just like the author herself!” Sarah Jessica Parker trills, “What a thrill to be given an opportunity to peek even further into her life.”

Known for introducing the knitted jersey wrap dress in 1974, von Furstenberg has seen a lot and accomplished even more. At 67-years old, she looks fabulous. While I might seem crass for commenting on her appearance, her book excerpt appears in the “Beauty” column, and it contains many of her observations on aging.

Von Furstenberg notes that her thirties were her best years. Her forties were harder, but life got better when she hit fifty. She’s grateful she never thought of herself as beautiful as everyone fades as time goes by.   As far as taking advantage of plastic surgery, she continues, “My face carries all my memories. Why should I erase them?”

Why, indeed? As a personal historian, I believe we should record our past, live the present, and plan for the future. We’re all getting older, and we all have something to say about getting on with it, whether we’re in vogue or not.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Growing Old and Getting On With It

It’s a new year. Let’s try something new.

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Joan and me circa 1974. Still laughing now.

My good friend Joan in Cleveland (via Brooklyn by way of Ithaca and the Twin Cities, with close ties to Chicago and formerly St. Louis, but now Houston) recently sent me an email in which she related a new HBO comedy, very black comedy, Getting On, which takes place in a nursing home.

In an interview on NPR,  “the series creators [Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer who brought us HBO’s Big Love] spoke of the amazing elderly actresses who have roles in the series,” Joan wrote me, “and who still possess beauty and great skills.”  She continued, “This may be something for your blog – strong, gorgeous and talented geriatric actresses.  Just an idea I’d love to read about.”

Oh, okay.  I’ve never honored any blog requests.  Actually, I’ve never had any blog requests, but I thought that this sounded intriguing. Let’s give it a go.

When checking out Getting On, based on a BBC program of the same name, I found out that Laurie Metcalf is one of the stars of the American version of the show.  Laurie Metcalf!  She might be over fifty (she’s fifty-eight, but doesn’t look it) and qualifies for AARP, but I’d hardly call her geriatric. I realize it was decades ago, but I still think of her as Roseanne’s kid sister Jackie.

Metcalf plays Dr. Jenna James. Her character has been described as a frazzled physician more involved with her fetid feces-related research than she is with her befuddled patients. She co-stars with Niecy Nash and Alex Borstein, both playing nurses in the extended care facility and both barely into their forties, and Borstein is only five feet tall.  What am I missing?

Oh, yes, the patients.

I don’t know how old Betty Murphy is, but she played a middle-aged woman on Jag in 1995 and  an elderly woman on Monk in 2002.  She’s getting up there!  She also played the cat lady on Desperate Housewives and appeared on The Practice and The Office.  Here she is Fiona Sullivan.

Gitta Hall plays Ingrid Larsen.  The actress, born in 1933, was Miss Stockholm of 1952, so she’s been around. “LA is great if you’re an orange,” she once proclaimed. I bet she now considers LA great if you’re an aging actress.  Who would have thought it?

Ann Morgan Guilbert, 85 years old, might be the oldest of the bunch, as well as the liveliest.  In an early episode, her character is caught having sex with her boyfriend (Harry Dean Stanton, no spring pea himself) in the reception area.

Some of us know Guilbert as neighbor Millie Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Another generation is familiar with her as Yetta Rosenberg from The Nanny with Fran Drescher.  And yet another generation will forever remember her here as Birdy Lamb.

Can’t wait to view Getting On?  Unfortunately, the six-episode series started at the end of November – last year, and it has completed its run.  Maybe it will be back for a second season.  If not, there’s always YouTube.

This blogger’s desk is now open.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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You Know You’re Getting Old When…

 

… you remember Bob Hope, George Burns, and Jack Benny.

 

“You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.” — Bob Hope (1903-2003)

Bob Hope, 1940, in a trailer for The Ghost Breakers. Hope began his career on the radio and in the movies in 1934. He started his regular TV specials in 1954 and hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times from 1941 to 1978.

Bob Hope, 1940, in a trailer for The Ghost Breakers. Hope began his career on the radio and in the movies in 1934. He started his regular TV specials in 1954 and hosted the Academy Awards fourteen times from 1941 to 1978.

Hope continued doing USO tours into the 1980s and appeared on television into the 1990s.  When asked on his deathbed where he wanted to be buried, Hope, always with the one -liners, replied, "Surprise me."

Hope continued doing USO tours into the 1980s and appeared on television into the 1990s. When asked on his deathbed where he wanted to be buried, Hope, always with the one -liners, replied, “Surprise me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there.” — George Burns (1896-1996)

George Burns, in the 1980s. Gracie died in 1964 at the age of 69, but Burns, like Hope, lived to be one hundred years old. He was interred with his wife, the crypt's marker reading "Gracie Allen & George Burns --Together Again."

George Burns, in the 1980s. Gracie died in 1964 at the age of 69, but Burns, like Hope, lived to be one hundred years old. He was interred with his wife, the crypt’s marker reading “Gracie Allen & George Burns –Together Again”.

George Burns and Gracie Allen, 1955. They were vaudeville partners before they married in 1926 , and they got their start in the movies in the early thirties. Their television show aired in the fifties.

George Burns and Gracie Allen, 1955. They were vaudeville partners before they married in 1926 , and they got their start in the movies in the early thirties. Their television show aired in the fifties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” — Jack Benny (1894-1974)

Benny returned to films with a cameo in 1963 in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.  In 1974, he was roasted on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. His roasting of Lucille Ball several months later was his last public performance.

Benny returned to films with a cameo in 1963 in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In 1974 he was roasted on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. His roasting of Lucille Ball several months later was his last public performance.

Benny, 1933. Benny was already the host of NBC's weekly radio program The Jack Benny Show.  In character, he would claim to be 39 years old, as he is here, regardless of his actual age.

Benny, 1933. Benny was already the host of NBC’s weekly radio program The Jack Benny Show. In character, he would claim to be 39 years old, as he is here, regardless of his actual age.

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Get old, you can’t even cuss someone and have it bother ’em. Everything you do is either worthless or sadly amusing.

– Bruce Campbell as Elvis in Bubba Ho-Tep, 2002

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The Girl with the Pet Dragon

Photo by: Oolong

Betty White doesn’t really have a pet dragon, but I bet she would if she could.  She adores animals –fast or slow, tame or wild, or on the land or in the water. She considered Koko the gorilla her friend, and she fell in love with a great white whale named Beethoven.  She has a collection of stuffed animals, too.

Betty’s love affair with all creatures big and small are just some of the many anecdotes she recounts in her book, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t), published in 2011.  She was eighty-nine years old when she wrote her latest memoir long hand and starring in the hit television comedy Hot in Cleveland.  It’s a wonder she found the time – or the energy.

There are no surprises here, but some great stories.

Okay, I was surprised to learn that Ms. White joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show as the Happy Homemaker, Sue Ann Niven, in its fourth season, and at most she appeared in less than half of the twenty-two episodes produced each year.  I distinctly remember her entering the newsroom to look for Lou or rub Murray’s bald spot at least once every program.

With Betty playing against type, her husband Allen Ludden was frequently asked, “How close to Sue Ann is Betty?”  To which he replied, “They’re really the same character – except Betty can’t cook.”

I wasn’t surprised that Ludden was the love of her life, and she believes that he is always with her.

Betty admits she occasionally meets someone she might like to know better, but she has always preferred men who are older than she is.  At her age, they’re very hard to come by.

As far as getting older, Ms. White points out that it helps to be in sound health and have a good sense of humor, while best friends are a joy all life through.  They gathered around on her televised 90th birthday party to wish her well.

During the special, some very good-looking young men swept her off her feet in a song and dance number.  Although no cougar, she is young-at-heart and handled the situation with the spirit of a twenty-something.

She has no comment on getting a tattoo.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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I look forward to being older, when what you look like becomes less and less an issue and what you are is the point.

— Susan Sarandon