Multitalented comedian and actor George Burns had the gift of making people laugh. Unlike most modern-day comedians, he was one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned vaudeville, radio, film, and television. Burns is often remembered for performing comedy duo routines with his wife, Gracie Allen. He is also known for acting, appearing in movies such as Oh! God!, where he played the role of God in the form of man, and in The Sunshine Boys, a movie about a pair of feuding vaudeville comedians, for which Burns won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Burns continued to work until weeks before his passing in 1996, at an amazing 100 years of age. And he often shared some serious wisdom on aging, including saying, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” He also quipped, “When I was a boy, the Deas Sea was only sick.” It is widely held that his positive attitude, sense of humor, and great purpose in life, significantly contributed to his longevity. Today, we still see many fine examples of people who age with grace and achieve greatness every day, much like George Burns did. Here are three examples:
Maine, USA – Virginia Oliver, born in 1920, holds the title as the oldest licensed lobsterwoman in Maine. The centenarian goes out into the waters off Rockland three days a week with her 78-year-old-son Max. Known as “The Lobster Lady” to many, Oliver performs many important tasks on the boat, such as taking the helm occasionally during periods of good weather and measuring, banding, and placing the lobsters in a hold. The mother and son team plans to keep ongoing as long as possible. Of his mother’s immense energy, Max shares, “She’s going all the time, she never stops.”
Paris, France – 107-year-old French pianist Colette Maze has been playing the piano for 102 years. The accomplished musician lives alone with her cat in a 14th-floor apartment that overlooks the Seine River and provides views of the Eiffel tower. And she just released her sixth album at age 107. She owns two pianos, a Steinway baby grand, and a Pleyel piano gifted to her on her 18th birthday. While she comes from a family of musicians, her grandmother a pianist, and her mother a violinist, she turned to music for affection lacking at home. Maze, who plays using a rare music technique, adores poetic composers, such as Schumann and Debussy. Of age, she shares, “Youth is inside us,” she says, “If you appreciate what’s beautiful around you, you will find a sense of wonder in it.”
Louisiana, USA – In September 2021, 99-year-old Major Addy Melancon was honored for his lifetime of military service. He served six years in the US Army, starting at age 17 in 1940, followed by 18 years in the National Guard. He is the last living member of his outfit, the US Army’s 26th Recon. Melancon used his native Cajun French skills to serve as an interpreter for Army Generals. He also participated in the longest armored drive in the history of warfare in which his outfit traveled 186 miles in a single day, a drive that he often headed. Of his service, Melancon shares, “I’m proud to say that I’ve served that time.” Melancon received multiple recognitions and rewards, among them being named a “living legend” by the Acadian Museum of Erath for his great contributions to freedom.
While longevity is often attributed to genetics, living life with a purpose-driven and joy-filled attitude seems to be common denominators among people who live long, successful lives. Everyone above exemplifies the human ability to thrive despite advanced age, primarily credited to their hard work ethics, talents, positivity, and lifetime contributions. They prove that age, a number, doesn’t define them. Burns got to the point when he said, “Young. Old. Just words.” Just keep living your best life.