Century Marks: On All Things 100

I turn 50 this year, my parents are 75 and my last grandparent turned 100, so that may be the secret behind my string of age-related posts. In this one, I focus on the magic of 100 ...

102 is the new 100! (Image via movie still)

It may surprise you to learn that the last living human being known to have been born in the 19th century passed away only last year — Italian Emma Morano lived to be 117 years old, dying on April 15, 2017. That would be comparable to Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, Fred Astaire, Charles Laughton or James Cagney — all born in 1899 — being alive until last year.

Currently, there are no human beings known to be living verified to have been born before 1903. None.

The oldest living person as of this writing — and this title generally changes hands within months — is Japanese citizen Kane Tanaka, who is over 115 years old. Celebrities born the same year as Tanaka include Bob Hope, Lawrence Welk, Claudette Colbert and Curly Howard of The Three Stooges.

The oldest person of all time was  Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who lived to be over 122 years old. American Sarah Knauss was the second-oldest at over 119. No other human beings are known to have lived to be 118 or older.

Luise Rainer then and then (GIF via CBS)

Arguably, the only truly well-known actors who have lived to be 100 years old or older are two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer (104); Hitchcock player and Trainwreck (2015) actor Norman Lloyd (103 and still living); Patricia Morison, the stage’s first Lilli in Kiss Me, Kate (103); Olivia de Havilland (102 and still living); Kirk Douglas (101 and still living); Ellen Albertini Dow, the rapping granny from 1998’s The Wedding Singer (101); Bob Hope (100); Titanic (1996) star Gloria Stuart (100); French icon Danielle Darrieux (100); and George Burns (100). There have been dozens more, but these represent the most famous — and a number of their names would draw blank stares today.

Older than them all were Helli Stehle, a Swiss stage actress who died at 109, making her possibly the longest-lived actor of all time, and Lupita Tovar, star of the Spanish-language Dracula (1931), who lived to be 106.

As crazy as it may seem, considering she died nearly 50 years ago, Judy Garland could feasibly have lived to attend the 2018 premiere of Lady Gaga’s A Star Is Born — she would be 96, the same age as Betty White.

Household names who would be 100 this year had they lived: Rita Hayworth, Pearl Bailey, Nipsey Russell, Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, Robert Preston, Howard Cosell, Art Carney, William Holden and John Forsythe.

Living to be 107, George Abbott is the longest-lived Broadway and film director of all time.

Silenced: Frederica Sagor Maas (Image via Oh No They Didn't)

The longest-lived entertainment figure of any kind of all time was Frederica Sagor Maas, who wrote the screenplay for Greta Garbo’s 1926 silent film Flesh and the Devil. She lived 111 years, dying in 2012. Think about that the next time you consider retiring early.

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