Posted on: Sep 29, 2016
One of the biggest films of 1985 was Ron Howard’s Cocoon. You might remember it from the theaters, or one of the million or so times it’s been on cable.
It was fun – aliens, chases, spaceships, and ‘old folks’ finding a Fountain of Youth and most certainly not acting their ages. That was the hook, really, a bunch of seniors in a retirement community suddenly dancing and, well, living – and freaking out their children.
A lot of great, ‘older’, actors were in Cocoon – the husband and wife team of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, Don Ameche (a leading man of the ‘30’s and ‘40’s who enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the ‘80’s), and Jack Gilford.
One of the leads, playing a grumpy ‘old folk’, was the ubiquitous Wilford Brimley. Brimley was actually a pretty hot actor in the mid-Eighties. He was the crotchety evil ‘fixer’ in The Firm, the crotchety but lovable manger in The Natural – he was, in fact well on his way making a solid career of crotchety but (your adjective goes here), wise, codgers.
He was good at it. Really good if you consider this – when he made Cocoon, Wilford Brimley was 50 years old.
That’s right, he was fifty – he was the one member of the cast who didn’t need to act ‘young’, he was the only member of the cast who needed to act ‘old’. Or what the producers thought of how ‘old people’ acted, which, if you stop to think of it for a moment or two, was really pretty joyless.
Most of you will also remember that Wilford, who is very much alive and still working as a voice artist, went on to star in commercial after commercial about the perils of being old. He became, in fact, the poster senior for seemingly every ailment that could possibly afflict anyone over the age of fifty or so.
YouTube is full of videos of Wilford going on and on in the gruff voice that invites trust about various ailments. There’s even a cottage industry in creating mashups and music videos around them.
Which is a good thing, because no one should take Wilford’s almost forty years of ‘old codger’ seriously.
Over the last month we’ve featured a series of articles on our Facebook page: a hundred-year-old man who set 5 world records in the Senior Olympics; a group of over 70 retiree divers who just found the oldest shipwreck in Lake Ontario; the 74-year-old great-grandmother who coached the South African 400m sprinter to the gold in Rio; several others.
These people, and many, many more like them, are more representative of seniors today than Wilford Brimley was when he was fifty. It’s 2016, seniors live longer, do more, act younger without the use of a magic swimming pool.
All that it takes is good planning.