How Old Is Old?

2/8/1882 - 1/28/1977

You've all seen this man on Television, but who knows his name? 

His name is Burt Mustin.

Burt Mustin is the epitome of the guy whose face everyone knows but whose name is a mystery. In his twenty-seven year career, he never had the lead role. In fact, he was nearly always cast in small supporting parts as "the lovable old guy." but he always managed to stand out.

Though he appeared in more than 80 films with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, it was on television where he truly made his mark. Besides recurrent roles on such wide-ranging fare as Leave It To Beaver and All In The Family, he made more that 350 television guest appearances. He is perhaps most remembered as part of the Jack Webb Troop, that group of actors the actor-director-writer-producer used over and over again on his various series. No one who has ever seen his turn as the elderly cat-burglar on Dragnet is likely to have forgotten it. He stole the episode.

Perhaps what is most remarkable about this gentleman is his spryness and longevity considering that he never had a professional acting job until 1951, at the age of 69. Prior to that he had done some community theater and worked as a radio announcer and car salesman.

Burt retired from show business just about a month short of 95, in 1977. Within a week, he was dead.

Burt's story reminds me of another story about that Italian author, Dante Alighieri who wrote The Divine Comedy. He began writing The Divine Comedy in 1307 and finished it in September of 1321. He died the very next day.

Life is about living and living is about purpose. Dr Bernie Siegel, author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles, likes to describe the two archetypal cancer patients thusly (I shall paraphrase his take from one of his lectures I've attended):

When told they have cancer, one will go home and give all her belongings to charity. The other will go home and start writing a novel. Guess who lives longer.

You are, truly, as young as you feel. Find a purpose, a reason to live, and you will live a long healthy life. 

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It's All in Your Perspective

Leah and Shifrah are old friends. They have both been married to their husbands for a long time; Shifrah is upset because she thinks her husband doesn't find her attractive anymore.

"As I get older he doesn't bother to look at me!" Shifrah cried.

"I'm so sorry for you. As I get older, my husband says I get more beautiful every day." replied Leah.

Shifrah sobbed, "Yes, but your husband's an antique dealer."