Friday, October 22, 2010

The 50 Oldest Living Oscar Nominees

Happy birthday to Best Actress winner Joan Fontaine (Suspicion, 1941), also known as the second Mrs. DeWinter. She turns 93 years young today. What on earth was she thinking about when she won the Oscar. This photo to your left fascinates me on account of "who knows?" It seems so much more candid than many Oscar night photos.

I keep the following "still with us!" list, not from any morbid curiousity but from a genuine happiness that some legendary screen stars are still walking the earth even though most of them aren't walking the screens these days. This year has been rough with the losses so maybe I'm going to stop keep this list. My heart was in the right place!  We want the following to know that their past accomplishments are acknowledged by new generations.

The Oldest Living Oscar Nominees
All of them were born before the movies even had sound!
  1. Luise Rainer (2 time Best Actress winner The Good Earth & The Great Ziegfield ... I love her in that one) turns 101 in January. May she live to be as old as she wants to be!
  2. Norman Corwin (nominee for writing Lust for Live) is 100. 
  3. Douglas Slocombe (3 time nominee) cinematographer of Raiders of the Lost Ark among other classics is 97.
  4. Elmo Williams, also 97, won his Oscar for editing High Noon (1952) one of the earliest movies (though not the earliest) to be told in "real time."
  5. Oswald Morris turns 95 in one month's time. He received all of his nominations for Best Cinematography for musicals (The Wiz, Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof) but he also worked frequently with legendary director John Huston. Puppet classic The Dark Crystal (1982) was his last job.
  6. Olivia de Havilland (2 time winner The Heiress & To Each His Own) is 94.
  7. Kirk Douglas (Honorary Oscar and 3 time nominee), Spartacus himself, turns 94 in December.
  8. Ernest Borgnine (winner Marty) turns 94 in January.
  9. Celeste Holm (winner Gentleman's Agreement) is 93.
  10. Joan Fontaine Happy 93rd, Joan! May you have anything you want today, unless it's something that Olivia de Havilland wouldn't be happy about because we love her. Just sayin'.
  11. Tom Daly (5 time nominee) this Canadian producer nominated in short film and documentary categories is 92.
  12. Joyce Redman (2 time nominee Tom Jones) turns 92 in December. [Trivia note: Tom Jones is the only film to have ever won three nominations in Supporting Actress. Pity that Robert Altman's Nashville didn't repeat that trick because it was deserving.]
  13. Dino de Laurentiis (Thalberg winner and a producing winner for La Strada) recently turned 91. Sadly, the movie man has died. RIP.
  14. Michael Anderson (nominee, directed Around the World in 80 Days) is 90.
  15. Ravi Shankar (nominee, the co-composer for Gandhi) is 90.
  16. Ray Harryhausen (Gordon Sawyer Award recipient), the f/x legend, just turned 90.
  17. Mickey Rooney (Honorary Oscar and 4 time nominee) just turned 90.
  18. Carol Channing (nominee Thoroughly Modern Millie) is 89. "Razzzzzbbberrries!"
  19. Ken Adam is 89. He's a two time winner for Art Direction and his nominations stretch across 4 decades of cinema.

  20. Hal David (winner "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) is 89.
  21. Deanna Durbin (Juvenile Award winner) is 88. She was only 18 when she won her Juvenile statue (shared with Mickey Rooney) but she retired from the screen just nine years later.
    much more trivia after the jump including Doris Day, the two oldest Supporting Actors and people who are too young for this list.
  22. Doris Day (nominee Pillow Talk) is 88. There's a few Facebook groups trying to get her an honorary Oscar. Filmmaker Douglas McGrath pushed for it, too. [Trivia note: There is some controversy about Doris Day's exact age. But most sources now claim she was born in 1922 so she would have turned 88 this past April.
  23. Mihalis Kakogiannis (3 time nominee, all nominations from Zorba the Greek) just turned 88.
  24. Eleanor Parker (3 time nominee Caged) just turned 88. She's best remembered today as the (not totally) wicked would be stepmother in The Sound of Music but that doesn't paint the whole picture at all. Isn't it time for renewed interest in her career? Smart cinephiles think so.
  25. Blake Edwards (Honorary Oscar and nominee for Victor/Victoria), aka Mr Julie Andrews, turned 88 this summer. RIP. Thanks for the laughs, Blake.
  26. Norman Lear (television giant who was Oscar nominated for writing Divorce, American Style), one day younger than Blake Edwards, is one day younger than Blake Edwards.
  27. Jackie Cooper (nominee Skippy) is 87. Trivia note: He is the youngest Best Actor nominee of all time, having been up for the prize when he was but 9 years old. He's likely to keep that Oscar record. The closest anyone ever got was Mickey Rooney -- also on this list -- at the age of 19.

  28. Juanita Moore (nominee Imitation of Life *see it* It's a beauty) is 87.
  29. Valentina Cortese (nominee Day for Night) is 87. She holds the extremely rare honor of a supporting acting nomination from a foreign language film. Those are so very infrequent.
  30. Franco Zeffirelli (2 time nominee, director of Romeo and Juliet), another Italian (!), is 87.
  31. Charles Durning (2 time nominee, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) is 87.
  32. Richard Attenborough (2 time winner, director of Gandhi) is 87.
  33. Cliff Robertson (winner Charly) is 87.
  34. Glynis Johns (nominee The Sundowners) turned 87 a couple weeks ago.
    We're glad she got that one last burst of mid 90s comedy gold in While You Were Sleeping and especially The Ref. Well done, Sister Suffragrette ♪ ! Unfortunately, she's been little seen since.
  35. Arthur Hiller (Hersholt Huminatarian winner, nominee for Love Story) turns 87 next month.
  36. Ron Moody (nominee Oliver!) is 86. For a recent article on this underappreciated sixties musical, click here.
  37. Stanley Donen (Honorary Oscar) is 86. He's one of the best musicals director of all time, most famous for that thrilling barn sequence in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and the entirety of Singin' in the Rain.
  38. Theodore Bikel (The Defiant Ones) is 86.
  39. Sidney Lumet (Honorary Oscar, plus 5 time nominee) is 86. His classics include 12 Angry Men, Network, The Verdict and Dog Day Afternoon and he's also the man behind the extremely undervalued Running on Empty (1988). The best part is that he's still active. 
  40. Eva Marie Saint (winner On the Waterfront) turned 86 this past summer.
  41. Martha Hyer (nominee Some Came Running) is 86.
  42. Lauren Bacall is 86. Like the recently departed Gloria Stuart (Titanic) she lost the Oscar in a year when the Academy wasn't feeling sentimental (it happens). But they just gave her an honorary.
  43. Ruby Dee (American Gangster) turns 86 any day now! Happy birthday-in-advance Ruby. Maybe Denzel Washington can give her spankings to return her Oscar nominated slapdown.
  44. Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) can she still do a mean mambo at 85?
  45. Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild) is 85.
  46. George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke) is 85.
    Bonus Trivia!
    Funnily enough the oldest living Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor (that'd be Kennedy now) is just one day younger than the oldest Supporting Actor Nominee ever (living or otherwise) which would be Hal Holbrook who was nearly 83 when he was nominated for Into the Wild.
  47. Colette Marchand (Moulin Rouge) is 85.
  48. Cara Williams (The Defiant Ones) is 85.
  49. D.A. Pennebaker (The War Room) is a documentarian. He's 85.
  50. Angela Lansbury turned 85 a week ago (we already celebrated) and she's still a big name to multiple generations. Most people know her as a TV and stage star these days but she had quite an ascendance on the big screen. How many people have won two Oscar nominations within their first three movies? Not too damn many, that's how many.
Too young: Julie Harris (The Member of the Wedding) this one time Oscar nominee is the Katharine Hepburn of the Tony Awards --10 nominations and 5 wins (the record!) -- she's about to turn 85; Haskell Wexler is 84. The great cinematographer has two Oscars (Bound for Glory and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf ); Andrzej Wajda the Polish auteur won an Honorary in 2000 is 84. Classics include Danton, Ashes and Diamonds and Man of Iron. His recent effort Katyn (2007) became his fourth Best Foreign Film nominee; Roger Corman, just won an honorary Oscar for "rich engendering of films and filmmakers" and that could not be more true. So many people got their starts with him. And like many celebrities (and me!) he's from Detroit originally; Cloris Leachman won Best Supporting Actress for The Last Picture Show (1971) is 84 and currently stars on sitcom Raising Hope. She's just a Tony Award away from the Triple Crown but  hasn't been on Broadway since the 1950s so ... she'll have to settle for the Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA that she's already accumulated; Mel Brooks turned 84 this summer. He won his Oscar for the original The Producers before it became the smash musical but my favorite is Young Frankenstein with an affectionate nod to Silent Movie; Norman Jewison (director/producer) is 84; Classics include Fiddler on the Roof, In the Heat of the Night and Moonstruck; Producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr (Master and Commander); documentarian Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) is almost 84.

If there's a mistake somewhere (possible) I assume you'll correct me. But be gentle.

Not Nominated: Actors and actors I had to pass up for this list (zero nominations or honorary statues but of course this isn't anything like a complete list) include French actress Danielle Darrieux (93),  Louis Jourdan (91), Jane Russell (89), Maureen O'Hara (90), Esther Williams (89), two-time Hitchcock beauty Farley Granger (85), Irene Papas (84) and Harry Dean Stanton (84) ... but the one who we hope still makes Oscar's history books is Christopher Lee, since he's been working so consistently on the big screen in his 80s. Next up for Lee is Martin Scorsese's The Invention of Hugo Cabret. And it's worth noting that Portugal's ancient Manoel de Oliveira, who is still making movies at 102, is older than anyone on this list and still working!

Stage and Small Screen Luminaries that are still with us (NOT A COMPLETE LIST) include "Alice" herself Ann B Davis (84), The Facts of Life's Charlotte Rae (84), The Bionic Woman's Richard Anderson (84), Andy Griffith just A Face in the Crowd is 84, , Elaine Stritch (85), Gilligan's Island Professor Russell Johnson (85), Lost in Space's June Lockhart (85), Jean Stapleton from All in the Family (87), Fyvush Finkel (88), the ubiquitous Betty White (88), Zsa Zsa Gabor (93) and Harry Morgan from M*A*S*H (95).

This list was culled from information on Dead or Alive, reader input and my own research.

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