Your Life Portfolio—and Ours

Picture via Getty Images.


One of our frustrations on the business side of The Dispatch is we don’t have as good a picture of our readership as we would like. (We’re endeavoring to remedy that, so if you get a reader survey from us, please fill it out!) Still, I’m sure that a sizable portion of our readers are around my age or older. So, I’m going to start by depressing a good number of you before I get into something much more serious. Feel free to skip the beginning if you want, because this is going long.

A friend—okay, John Podhoretz—sent me this Instagram post that depressed the hell out of me, titled “TV Stars Who Seemed Old But Are Close to Our Age.” Hoping it wasn’t true, I went down a rabbit hole trying to prove it was wrong—and failed—and kept digging deeper. To wit:

  • Redd Foxx, the cantankerous old man from Sanford & Son, was 49 years old when the sitcom premiered.
  • Conrad Bain, the avuncular dad on Diff’rent Strokes, was 51.
  • His grandmotherly housekeeper, Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Ray), was 52
  • Sorrell Booke, aka Boss Hogg, was 49.
  • Carroll O’Connor was 47 when he debuted as Archie Bunker. Archie’s wife, Edith, was played by a 48-year-old Jean Stapleton.
  • Jim Backus was 51 when he started playing Thurston Howell III.
  • Marlon Brando was 47 when he acted in The Godfather.
  • Alan Hale, the world-traveled skipper of the S.S. Minnow, was 43.

And my perennial favorite example of professionally old actors, Max von Sydow, was a spry 44 years of age when he played the wizened priest in The Exorcist

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