TikTok star shares how the ‘80s was a prime time for aging actors

1. Emmy winning actress and comedian Betty Marion White Ludden died Dec. 31 at the age of 99.2. White was regarded as a TV pioneer and had the longest TV career of a female entertainer.3. She appeared on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Golden Girls," among other shows.4. As a kid, White wanted to be a forest ranger, but women were not allowed at the time.5. She worked on so many game shows, she was nicknamed the "First Lady of Game Shows."

One of the greatest times to be older was the 1980s, according to singer and social commentator Dara Starr Tucker.

“There was gray hair everywhere and we didn’t give a care,” Tucker said in a TikTok video about aging-friendly ‘80s media.

Tucker said that while youthfulness was always a mainstay in American culture and film, the decade saw an awakening where more older actors were featured.

The 1984 television series “Murder She Wrote” featured actress Angela Lansbury who was 60 years old at the time. The hit show inspired NBC to produce another show, “The Golden Girls,” which starred four women navigating life as seniors.

Another NBC show, Covington-filmed “In the Heat of the Night,” was a TV adaptation of the 1967 film and 1965 novel. It starred Carroll O’Connor, who was 64 at the show’s launch.

The decade showcased many television shows with stars over 50, and Tucker said most shows featured actors over 40.

The surge in older actors claiming the spotlight didn’t stop at TV, however.

Released in 1985, the sci-fi/fantasy film “Cocoon” had a cast of all senior citizens and received two Academy Awards and a Saturn Award. This allowed the older cast of character actors to gain renewed recognition, Tucker said.

Other hit films starring older adults in the decade included Oscar-winning “Driving Miss Daisy” and “The Naked Gun” series. The latter starred a 62-year-old Leslie Neilsen when the first film was released in 1988.

This kind of representation in the ‘80s also extended to music. Tucker said the Billboard charts were filled with artists over the age of 40, such as Paul McCartney, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers and Tina Turner.

“Of course, the culture was still very much youth-focused, but that wasn’t all we saw. And that representation was important. It serves as a present-day reminder that age is not really a limitation for those of us who grew up seeing older people being positively represented in media,” Tucker said.

Older stars aren’t slowing down today, either.

Lansbury, 96, was recently honored with the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre and appeared in 2018′s “The Grinch” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” When asked if she thinks of retiring, she told “Larry King Now” in 2018, “I don’t think so. I’ll probably pass away with one hand on my script.”

Actor Morgan Freeman was nominated for his first Academy Award at 49 for his role in the movie “Street Smart.” He achieved success in Hollywood at an older age and starred in 2021′s “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.” He has several movies lined up for 2022.

Freeman told Senior Planet his secret to staying young is, “to live in the present. The past is the past, and I keep looking for tomorrow. I haven’t had one of those kinds of lives where you cling to nostalgia. I’m just too curious to die. I want to live forever!”

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