It’s great to see so many older stars all over the airwaves.

The audience-pleasing familiar faces in the 50-plus category are on network and cable, doing TV series and movies, showing off their experience and adding star power to their productions.

Among the very “seasoned” performers is Ernest Borgnine, a true Hollywood legend. At 90-years-old, the Oscar-winner stars in A Grandpa for Christmas, a Hallmark Channel holiday movie premiering Nov. 24.

In the Hallmark tradition it is a heartwarming tale about a retired song and dance man (Borgnine) who learns to enjoy life again when he discovers he has a young granddaughter, and must take care of her. Also in the cast are Jamie Farr (of M*A*S*H fame) and Katherine Helmond (Everybody Loves Raymond).

Playing opposite Borgnine is 12-year-old Juliette Goglia (Ugly Betty) who says her co-star is “the oldest man I’ve ever met, but he’s seriously one of the most energetic people I’ve ever met.”

Borgnine says there’s no secret to maintaining the energy and vitality he has, “you just have to think young. Believe me, you can’t start slowing down just because you think you’re getting more aches and pains in the morning. You have to get up out of bed, look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Hey man, I’m living. Let’s go.”

To keep his mind sharp, Borgnine says he plays Jumbles and word puzzles.


Another great example of staying active to stay young is Hector Elizondo, currently playing the patriarch in the CBS drama series Cane, starring Jimmy Smits. Playing his wife is Rita Moreno, who is unique in show business, having won an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy. Hector points out that Rita is older than him.

Other mature stars in TV series include the two-time Oscar-winning Sally Field, who won an Emmy this fall for playing the mom on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. Donald Sutherland stars as the patriarch of the dysfunctional Dirty Sexy Money family. Tom Selleck (of Magnum P.I. fame) is back on television in NBC’s Las Vegas series, replacing another ageless icon James Caan.

William Shatner has aged a bit since playing the intrepid Captain Kirk on the classic Star Trek series. But the maturity helps him carry off his role as a senior partner on Boston Legal. Also with the law firm is Candice Bergen, of Murphy Brown fame, still hot pushing 60.

Dick Van Dyke will be remembered by countless generations for his singing and dancing in the classic Disney film Mary Poppins. And his vintage sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show is ultra popular in reruns on TV Land. More recently movie audiences loved him in Night At the Museum with Ben Stiller. But the 81-year-old entertainer is not resting on his laurels, and Van Dyke is currently doing a series of Murder 101 mystery movies for the Hallmark Channel. He’s thrilled to have his son Barry and grandson Shane working with him, and says, “We’re appealing to all generations.”

Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.