“I wish that other women would let other women age gracefully. Women take it as something personal that they are getting older. They think that they failed somehow by not staying 25. This is crazy to me because my belief is that it’s a privilege to get older – not everybody gets to get older’
In the 1967 film, The Graduate, Anne Bancroft played Mrs Robinson, a bored-housewife living in a loveless marriage. When the 21-year-old Ben Braddock played by Dustin Hoffman visits the Robinsons, urged on by his parents (Mr Robinson is a partner in a legal firm with Ben’s father), he is seduced by the much older Mrs Robinson. Ben, however, falls in love with Elaine, the Robinson’s daughter, and in a climactic ending, the young couple run off together.
The Graduate 1967 Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman
At the time, Anne Bancroft was 36-years-old and, in fact, only 6 years older than Dustin Hoffman. So, historically, in Hollywood, you are branded ‘the older woman’ at 36 years of age.
Forty-five plus years on The Graduate highlights a more disturbing issue. In the film, Mrs. Robinson is a ‘formidable’ character. There is a word you do not hear any more. ‘Formidable’ applied to an older woman in a position of authority. The ‘formidable woman’ was matronly and someone to reckon with. She stood for definite principles. She didn’t tolerate fools and often held the position of Hospital Matron, Head Mistress or, even, the family Matriarch. When we were young girls many ‘formidable women’ – Reverend Mother, for starters – had our measure. Where are they today? These days, older women, who exercise authority are described as ‘ball breakers’, ‘old dragons’ or, in the case of the matriarch, ‘a Control Freak’. Is it the ‘management team’ and their spin that has replaced the ‘formidable woman in the workplace? Has the mass movement of women out of the home and into the workplace in the 1970s unthroned the matriarch? Curious, isn’t it?
Anne Bancroft, 70, 2001
At 70 years of age, Anne Bancroft (above) still looked impressive. She won an Oscar in 1962 for her role in The Miracle Worker. She was happily married to her second husband, Mel Brooks, for 45 years. They had one son. Sadly, she died in 2005.
Kerry Cue is a humorist, journalist, mathematician, and author. You can find more of her writing on her blog. Her latest book is a crime novel,Target 91, Penmore Press, Tucson, AZ (2019).
One day I woke up and there was a 70 year old woman in my bed.
Gloria, Steinem, Feminist. (How to Age, Anne Karpt, The School of Life (2014))
Ever had a bad photo? Could be worse.
This one could melt your eyeballs!
Celebrities are pegged in our memories at the age when they were at the peak of their celebrityhood. This is just how the brain works. We remember famous folk when we loved or hated them the most.
As a result we are often shocked when we see how much a celebrity has aged. ‘OMG. They’re ancient.’ In reality, they have aged as much as we have. Take Shirley Temple, for instance. She was always 8 years old. This woman who pretended to be Shirley Temple Black with a diplomatic career was an intruder. Shirley Temple was 8 years old. In fact, she had to have her 8th birthday two years in a row as the studio thought turning 9 was bad for publicity.
So we are often shocked at how quickly celebrities have aged simply because we haven’t noticed them doing it. And we rather enjoy it too. Here is a recent pic of Goldie Hawn (b. 1945). It is an absolute dog of photograph. She doesn’t look nearly as, um, hideous as this, but this happens to be a screen grab used by Huffington Post linking to a video. Yeah! WE all have bad photos. Cue the violins. This is a doozy.