Special Report

These 25 Famous Actors All Lived to Be Over 100

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

In 2020, Hollywood mourned the deaths of two icons from its golden era — Dame Olivia de Havilland and Kirk Douglas. Both movie legends were centenarians, with de Havilland passing at age 104 and Douglas at age 103.

The long life of these two screen gems is noteworthy but not rare. There are more than 200 actors who’ve passed the 100-year-old milestone. 24/7 Tempo compiled a list of 26 of the more famous actors who lived to be 100. We created our list by reviewing information from the Internet Movie Database website and sources such as Brittanica.com.

The careers of many of the actors on the list spanned virtually the entire motion picture period. Many began their careers in silent films and successfully transitioned into talking pictures. Other actors extended their acting lifespan to the emerging entertainment medium of television in the 1950s. Norman Lloyd, who would turn 106 in November, has been performing for almost 80 years. Here are the actors with the longest careers.

Many of these actors were performing into their 90s, such as Charles Lane, who made a career out of playing curmudgeons. Doris Eaton Travis, the last surviving Ziegfeld Girl before she died at age 106, attributed her longevity to dancing. Mae Laborde was proof that it is never too late to start a career. She began her acting career in 2002 while in her 90s.

Click here for 25 famous actors who lived to be over 100

Source: Columbia Pictures / Wikimedia Commons

Bruce Bennett
> Lifespan: 1906 – 2007, died at 100
> Known for: Tarzan, Olympic silver medalist in shot put

Bruce Bennett started his acting career under his given name, Herman Brix. After his breakout role of Tarzan in 1935’s “The New Adventures of Tarzan,” Bennett was often typecast. He took a break from acting for a few years and changed his name to Bruce Bennett. After returning to making movies, he starred in the main role of many Warners productions.


Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

George Burns
> Lifespan: 1896 -1996, died at 100
> Known for: The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

George Burns was best known for being a funny, cigar-puffing comedian. He was in show business for more than nine decades, most of which he spent making people laugh alongside his wife, Gracie Allen. Their show aired from 1932 to 1950. He began his solo career performing on TV, in concerts, and at nightclubs after her death in 1964.

Diosa Costello
> Lifespan: 1913 – 2013, died at 100
> Known for: The first Latina featured on Broadway

Diosa Costello was often referred to as the “Latin Bombshell.” She started out as a nightclub entertainer and a performer in theaters in Spanish Harlem, and eventually moved to movies and live shows, which she preferred over movies because she loved a live audience. Costello’s Broadway debut was in “Too Many Girls” in 1939, when she became the first Latina on the Broadway stage.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Bob Hope
> Lifespan: 1903 – 2003, died at 100
> Known for: Comedy, overseas USO tours

Born Leslie Townes Hope, Bob Hope was a legendary comedian. He was famous for his specific style of brash jokes and for touring overseas to entertain American troops during World War II. He often portrayed himself as the unsympathetic character and made fun of himself.


Source: Hulton Archive / Moviepix via Getty Images

Francis Lederer
> Lifespan: 1899 – 2000, died at 100
> Known for: Suave roles

The Czech-born actor had a successful career in Europe in the 1920s before transitioning to the American movie scene. He starred in films from the silent era through the 1950s and later taught acting classes until his death in 2000. One of his most famous films was “Pandora’s Box” with Louise Brooks. He was an anti-war activist, founding the group the World Peace Federation in 1934.

Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

Helen Shaw
> Lifespan: 1897 – 1997, died at 100
> Known for: Appearing on “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Highway to Heaven”

Helen Shaw was most famous for her roles as Mrs. Dempsey in the 1983 film “Twilight Zone: The Movie” and as Steve Martin’s Grandma in the 1989 comedy “Parenthood.” On TV, she was well remembered for her roles as the kindly Elderly Lady on “Diff’rent Strokes” and Ethel on “Highway to Heaven.”


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Gloria Stuart
> Lifespan: 1910 – 2010, died at 100
> Known for: Nominated for an Oscar for her role in “Titanic”

Gloria Stuart had been acting since the 1930s, but it wasn’t until “Titanic” in 1997 that she became world famous. She portrayed Old Rose. The role earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. At age 87, she was the oldest person ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. (A record Christopher Plummer later broke when he was nominated at age 88 for “All the Money in the World” in 2017.)

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Diana Serra Cary
> Lifespan: 1918 – 2020, died at 101
> Known for: Baby Peggy of silent films

Born Peggy-Jean Montgomery, Diana Serra Cary was known as the “Baby Face” of silent movies. By age 5, she had starred in over 150 productions. Later in life, she became a movie historian and an author. By the time of her death in February 2020, she was the last living film star of Hollywood’s silent era.

Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

Marge Champion
> Lifespan: 1919 –
> Known for: Dancer and choreographers in movies and on stage

At 100-years-old, Marge Champion is a living Hollywood legend. Her career in films started at age 14, when Walt Disney Studios hired her as a dance model. She became famous when she teamed up with her then husband Gower Champion and both starred in film musicals produced by MGM. Champion assisted in the creation of Snow White in the 1937 animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”


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Nehemiah Persoff
> Lifespan: 1919 – 
> Known for: Playing villainous, tough guy roles

Born in Jerusalem, Nehemiah Persoff was often cast as a strong man from Eastern Europe, partially because of his ability to speak in different dialects. Some of his most famous roles include Leo in “The Harder They Fall” (1956) with Humphrey Bogart, Gene Conforti in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man” (1956), and gangster Johnny Torrio in “Al Capone” (1959). He made TV appearances during the medium’s golden age, including appearances in “The Twilight Zone” and “Law & Order.”

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Fay McKenzie
> Lifespan: 1918 – 2019, died at 101
> Known for: Starring opposite Gene Autry in the early 1940s in five horse opera features

Technically, Fay McKenzie, who was born in Hollywood, started acting at 10-weeks-old, when she was cradled in Gloria Swanson’s arms in “Station Content” and did not stop until a year before she died when she made an appearance in the comedy “Kill a Better Mousetrap.” She is most famous as the leading lady of Gene Autry’s five Westerns in the early 1940s.


Source: The Bureau of Industrial Service for NBC Television / Wikimedia Commons

Meg Mundy
> Lifespan: 1915 – 2016, died at 101
> Known for: Appeared in soap operas, “Fatal Attraction”

Meg Mundy started her career acting in plays. She won the 1948 Theatre World Award for her performance in “The Respectful Prostitute” after which she moved on to television. She appeared in many TV shows and series, including “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Law & Order,” and “All My Children.” She was nominated for an Emmy for her work in “The Doctors.” Among her most famous movies are “Ordinary People” (1980) and “Fatal Attraction” (1987).

Source: schlesinger_library / Flickr

Etta Moten Barnett
> Lifespan: 1901 – 2004, died at 102
> Known for: Porgy and Bess, first Black performer to sing at the White House

Etta Moten Barnett had a long career in entertainment, but she is most famous for her signature role of Bess in the 1943 revival of “Porgy and Bess.” She was the first African American performer to sing at the White House at the invitation of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt for FDR’s birthday in 1934. One of her most famous films is “Flying Down to Rio,” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Source: NBC Television / Wikimedia Commons

Irwin Corey
> Lifespan: 1914 – 2017, died at 102
> Known for: The World’s Foremost Authority

“Professor” Irwin Corey made people laugh as “The World’s Foremost Authority.” He is well-known for his unscripted, enthusiastic, and improvisational style of comedy. He performed in vaudeville, nightclubs, and on TV talk shows for more than seven decades. Some of his more popular film comedies are “How to Commit Marriage” (1969), “I’m Not Rappaport” (1996), and “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” (2001).


Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

Marsha Hunt
> Lifespan: 1917 – 
> Known for: Dionne in the West End rock musical Hair

Marsha Hunt appeared in 50 movies released by Paramount and MGM in the 1930s and 1940s. In the late 1940s, she shifted to the theater and made her Broadway debut in “Joy to the World” (1948). Hunt was an outspoken proponent of liberal causes. She was the victim of a communist smear and was blacklisted in the 1950s. This hurt her film career. Hunt transitioned to television and appeared on series such as “Laramie” (1959), “Gunsmoke” (1964), and “Police Story” (1974-75).

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Charles Lane
> Lifespan: 1905 – 2007, died at 102
> Known for: Character actor

Charles Lane is one of the most recognizable character actors in movies and television. His characters were known for their perpetually irked demeanor. He specialized in playing characters in despised occupations such as rent collector or IRS agent. Lane’s career began in 1931, and his last role was the TV-movie remake “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” in 1995, when he was 90. Lane was in the Frank Capra films “You Can’t Take It with You” (1938), “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), and “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946). His TV work included sitcoms “Topper” (1953), “Get Smart” (1965), and “Maude” (1972) and dramas “The Twilight Zone” (1959), “Perry Mason” (1957), and “L.A. Law” (1986).


Source: Lee / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Kirk Douglas
> Lifespan: 1916 – 2020, died at 103
> Known for: One of the most famous American leading men of the mid-20th century

The actor known for his distinctive cleft chin had 94 acting credits over a career that spanned 62 years, starting with the film “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946). The versatile Douglas played virile yet emotionally tortured characters throughout his renowned career that included three Oscar nominations. Douglas died in February at age 103. He was one of the last connections to Hollywood’s golden age.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Barbara Kent
> Lifespan: 1907 – 2011, died at 103
> Known for: One of the last surviving stars from film’s silent era

Canadian-born Barbara Kent was one of the last actors from the silent-movie era when she died in 2011. Kent won the Miss Hollywood Pageant in 1925 and parlayed that into a film career that bridged the silent-movie period and talking films in the 1920s. Kent became a star in 1926 by vying for the affections of John Gilbert with Greta Garbo in the melodrama “Flesh and the Devil.” Her career foundered in the 1930s, and she had retired from film by the early 1940s.


Source: Archive Photos / Moviepix via Getty Images

Patricia Morison
> Lifespan: 1915 – 2018, died at 103
> Known for: Often cast as the femme fatale or villain

Patricia Morison was a gifted singer who appeared in motion pictures and the theater. Morison had an exotic look that got her work at Paramount in the 1930s and 1940s, appearing in Westerns such as “I’m from Missouri” (1939), “Romance of the Rio Grande” (1940) and “The Round Up” (1941). She sang at USO shows during WWII. Cole Porter heard her sing in Hollywood, and Morison landed the role of her career in Porter’s musical theatrical production “Kiss Me, Kate.” Other leading roles in musicals included “The King and I,” “Kismet,” and “The Merry Widow.”

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Olivia de Havilland
> Lifespan: 1916 – 2020, died at 104
> Known for: The grande dame of the Hollywood’s golden age

Dame Olivia de Havilland won two Best Actress Oscars over her long and storied career, one for “To Each His Own” (1946) and the other for “The Heiress” (1949). De Havilland, who passed away in July at age 104, was one of the last links to Hollywood’s golden age. She is best remembered for her role as the kind-hearted Melanie Hamilton in the epic “Gone With the Wind.” De Havilland was no pushover off camera. She took on and defeated the movie industry for the way it contracted actors at the time. A landmark court ruling decided that all performers were to be limited to a seven-year contract, a ruling that became known as the “de Havilland decision.”


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Luise Rainer
> Lifespan: 1910 – 2014, died at 104
> Known for: The first actor to win back-to-back Oscars

German-born Luise Rainer became the first actor to win consecutive Oscars when she won Best Actress statues for roles in “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936) and “The Good Earth” (1937). Rainer, who was Jewish, fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s for Hollywood. She became disillusioned with the U.S. movie industry and stopped making films for over 50 years until she took a role in the motion picture “The Gambler” in 1997.

Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Carla Laemmle
> Lifespan: 1909 – 2014, died at 104
> Known for: 1931 version of “Dracula,” Rupert Julian’s “The Phantom of the Opera”

Carla Laemmle appeared in films from 1925 to 2014, and that 89-year span is one of the longest in movie history. Laemmle is the niece of Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle, who made some of the classic horror films in the 1930s. Laemmle appeared in “Dracula” in 1931 and spoke the first lines in the film. Other notable films in her career included “The Adventures of Frank Merriwell” (1936) and “The Gate Crasher” (1928). She appeared in the movie “A Sad State of Affairs” one year before she died.

Source: Angela Weiss / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Norman Lloyd
> Lifespan: 1914 – 
> Known for: “Dead Poets Society”

Norman Lloyd, who would turn 106 in November, got his first screen acting credit in 1939 for the TV movie “The Streets of New York.” He has been performing for almost 80 years. Lloyd joined the original company of the Orson Welles-John Houseman’s renowned Mercury Theatre. He appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock films “Saboteur” (1942) and “Spellbound” (1945), and his later work included “Dead Poets Society” (1989) and “The Age of Innocence” (1993). On television, he played Dr. Auschlander in the medical drama “St. Elsewhere” (1982).


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Connie Sawyer
> Lifespan: 1912 – 2018, died at 105
> Known for: “The Clown Princess of Comedy”

Known as “The Clown Princess of Comedy,” Connie Sawyer appeared in many television series, including “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Seinfeld,” “That ’70s Show,” and “The Office.” Her film career included movies like “When Harry Met Sally…”, “Dumb and Dumber,” and “Pineapple Express.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Doris Eaton Travis
> Lifespan: 1904 – 2010, died at 106
> Known for: Last surviving Ziegfeld Girl

Doris Eaton Travis was the last surviving Ziegfeld Girl before she passed away in 2010. She was 106-years-old. Travis’ Broadway debut was in the show “Mother Carey’s Chickens” in 1917, and the following year, she became a Ziegfeld Girl, which were showgirls from the Broadway spectacular known as the Ziegfeld Follies, at age 14. Travis said dance was the main factor behind her longevity, and her final stage appearance was one month before her death.

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