Friday, 10 July 2009

A role model for Britain's Old Men - Nathan Birnbaum

Nathan Birnbaum died at the age of 100 in 1996

Nathan was an American stage actor who wore a bad toupee and made a living, in the 1980's and 1990's, out of being, and reflecting on being, old. Here are some of the things he is remembered for saying :

At my age flowers scare me.

You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there.

I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life.

I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.

If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.

If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age.

It's good to be here. At 98, it's good to be anywhere.

You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.

First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.

How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.

The author of these quotes was better known as the American comedian, writer and actor, George Burns. He would stand on the stage with the trademark cigar in hand and deliver the wisecracks in a distinctive dead pan style and gravelly voice. If you click on the link below you can hear that voice, either again, or for the first time, depending on who, or how old you are.

George Burns, his song - I wish I was Eighteen Again

It is only now, all these year later, that I begin to appreciate this man of wit, charm and equanimity who said - " Age means nothing. I can't get old ; I'm working. I was old when I was 21 and out of work. As long as you're working you stay young. When I'm in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age."

I remember seeing him on black and white T.V. in the 1950's with his wife Gracie on the 'Burns and Allen Show'. The clip below is from that long past, gentler age.

Clip from a Burns and Allen show.

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