These nonagenarians are more than survivors — they’re thrivers. Not only have they made it to their tenth decade (and in some cases even hit the big 1-0-0), they aren’t sitting around a nursing home playing checkers. They are active and engaged with the world, working, dancing, and living independently.
Betty White has been in show business for decades, but since she hit 85 her career has taken off in extraordinary ways. The author of eight books, she has no intention of slowing down. “I’m a workaholic,” she told the New York Times in 2011, “and I’ve long since given up trying to get over that.” She only needs about four hours of sleep. “I don’t eat a proper diet,” White told Harper’s Bazaar. She often skips breakfast. “Lunch is usually a hot dog and French fries, or something equally devilish. Red Whips are my curse,” she says of the licorice candy. The Golden Girls star usually drinks a vodka rocks (with “lots and lots of lemon”) before dinner. If she’s out with friends she might have one more drink, but two is her limit. Read: 7 Things Your Vodka Is Made From.
One of the biggest stars in Hollywood history, Day had her first movie role at 24 and went on to star in almost 40 films before retiring from show business to focus on rescuing animals. She stays fit by walking her many dogs near her Carmel, California, home and celebrated her 92nd birthday last year with her favorite vegetarian Chinese meal and birthday cake. “I’ve been blessed with good health,” the actress and singer told Closer. “It’s important to stay active. I like to walk with my doggies.” Day is often included on lists of famous celebrity vegetarians. Here are 15 Vegetarian Cookout Recipes That Will Make You Forget About Burgers and Dogs.
According to the Christian evangelist’s website, his favorite food is McDonald’s hamburgers. One year he was filming a Christmas special at Kathie Lee Gifford’s home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and the TV host told the minister that he could have anything he wanted to eat. He chose McDonald’s burgers, a lifelong favorite, according to BillyGraham.org. Gifford had a platter of them brought in especially for his visit. Find out What’s on McDonald’s Secret Menu.
The legendary star — who just filmed a cameo in the Mary Poppins sequel starring Emily Blunt, and who married a woman less than half his age (40-year-old make-up artist Arlene Silver) when he was 86 — says his favorite food is fried chicken but that he starts every day by eating blueberries. “They're such good antioxidants,” he told the Daily Mail. He drank and smoked in his younger years but has given up both and now does a lot of yoga and hits the gym every day. “People are scared to death of age. Don’t fear it, meet it head on,” the actor says in the Carl Reiner HBO documentary. He does have one indulgence: He eats a whole pint of ice cream every night before bed.
The New York model and fashionista didn’t become a household name until she was in her 80s. Now she graces magazine covers and runways and is a fixture on the Manhattan fashion scene. “I like to eat well, I don’t like rich food, and I don’t eat junk food,” she told Into The Gloss. “Sometimes they say I don’t eat enough, but it’s better to eat less than more. I think more people get sick from over-eating all the wrong things.” As she’s gotten older she gave up drinking anything but wine, which she has with dinner. Read 10 Reasons Wine is Good for You.
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The actor and director has written five books since he turned 90, is active on social media, and has even rapped with Queen Latifah. According to his former secretary Sybil Adaman Sage, the Emmy winner loves pastrami sandwiches, and whenever he’s back in New York City, he heads to Zabar’s. “He grabbed a ticket from the machine and was eyeing the smoked fish the way I’d seen other Hollywood men lust after starlets,” Sage wrote in The Forward, noting that her boss bought enough nova salmon on one occasion “to host a bris.” (Not a pastrami fan? Here are 20 Life-Changing Sandwiches You’ve Never Heard Of.)
The Gone With The Wind star lives in France and plans to live to at least 110, she told Vanity Fair. She attributes her vitality and long life to “the three *L’*s—love, laughter, and light” and to lessons she learned as a Camp Fire Girl. She also loves to drink Champagne, and keeps her mind sharp by doing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily.
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The nation’s 41st president, who famously went skydiving (for the eighth time) on his 90th birthday and who only recently has begun to suffer health problems, is probably best-known in food circles for something he disliked: broccoli. (While campaigning for office he famously vowed never to eat it again once he was elected, and as president he banned the cruciferous vegetable from Air Force One.) The Massachusetts-born longtime Texan was a huge fan of pork rinds, which he ate with Tabasco sauce, when he was younger. While in the White House he loved to eat nachos, hamburgers, ribs, and ice cream. “Junk food is his lifestyle,” a former aide, Pete Teeley, told the New York Times in 1990.
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The 1960s TV star (she appeared in Lassie and Lost in Space) credits her health and stamina to good genes. "I've been working out twice a week for years and years and years," she told the Los Angeles Daily News in 2008. “I've always been athletic, and I don't eat any kind of mystery food — just a nice, plain nourishing diet — and I've never smoked. I think that makes a difference.” Read 10 healthy eating habits to pick up now.
The former Price Is Right host, who worked on the show until he was 83, became a vegetarian almost 40 years ago because his wife was a vegetarian and she would cook great meals. “Gradually I became a vegetarian too. I owe it to her, and I thank her for it, because I think it has really improved my life. I am a staunch believer in it,” he told the Vegetarian Times in 2012. “I think it is the healthiest way to live. I immediately began having more energy and feeling better.”
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The Oscar and Emmy winner, currently starring in American Gods on Starz, was dubbed Hollywood’s Most Underestimated Partygoer by Vanity Fair — but became a vegetarian nearly six decades ago. “I was 32, and doing a cleanse,” the actress, who has also appeared on Dancing With The Stars, told The Hollywood Reporter at a June 2017 PETA event in LA where she was honored with a lifetime achievement award. “This thought came in my head, out of nowhere: ‘I guess I won’t be eating meat anymore.’ And I never have again — never.”
The “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” singer, who has sold more than 50 million records worldwide and has also found success as a visual artist (he still paints every day), grew up in Queens on his Calabrian mother’s lasagna, he said in a 1995 recipe book. He attributes his vitality to “eating well, staying healthy, and drinking good water.” The singer eats at Manhattan’s Don Giovanni Ristorante about once a month, where he orders a “design your pizza” and sometimes has a glass of wine, according to Travel Browsing.
Read more: Raw Eggs, Bacon, Wine: Weird Diet Secrets of the World's Oldest People.