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Which 4 Oscar-Winning Actors Lived to Be 100? Celebrating Eva Marie Saint

Over the 96 years of Academy Awards history, more than 900 men and women have received acting nominations. On July 4, 2024, the oldest surviving acting winner or nominee celebrated her 100th birthday. Our research shows that Eva Marie Saint joins a very short list of centenarians who received Oscar acting nominations, with four winning the award.

A star of stage, radio, TV, and film, Saint won the Best Supporting Actress award in 1955 for her debut movie performance in “On the Waterfront.” She is also the earliest surviving acting winner and one of the last stars of the Golden Era. Later, she starred alongside Cary Grant in one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most acclaimed films, “North by Northwest” (1959). She further became known to a younger generation as Clark Kent’s adoptive mother in “Superman Returns” (2006). Though she never received another Oscar nomination, she earned five Emmy nominations, winning Best Miniseries Supporting Actress for “People Like Us” in 1990.

The reigning champ of Oscar survivors was the German-born Luise Rainer, who passed away on December 30, 2014, just 13 days shy of her 105th birthday. Besides being the longest-lived Oscar winner, she was also the first to take home back-to-back acting Oscars. Her first Best Actress award came in 1937 for her role as Florenz Ziegfeld’s emotional first wife in “The Great Ziegfeld.” The following year, she won for playing the demure Chinese peasant O-Lan in “The Good Earth.” Rainer was just 28 years old with the second win, and her career spiraled downward afterwards, making only a few more films before largely exiting Hollywood.

Another actress who garnered two wins was Olivia de Havilland, who died on July 26, 2020, less than a month after turning 104. Her first nomination came in 1940 for her most well-known role of Melanie in “Gone with the Wind.” Between 1942 and 1950, she received four Best Actress bids, winning for “To Each His Own” in 1947 and “The Heiress” in 1950. She was the last surviving major star of Classic Hollywood, appearing in 49 feature-length films over a five-decade career that includes numerous classics, including nine with Errol Flynn, most memorably “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938).

The fourth winner barely reached his 100th birthday. George Burns died on March 9, 1996, after turning 100 on January 20. The comedian rose to fame alongside his wife and comic partner Gracie Allen on radio and TV. Having appeared in about 15 films when, at 79, he was offered the role of Al Lewis in “The Sunshine Boys,” his first feature film appearance in 36 years. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar at 80, making him the oldest acting recipient up to that time. He continued working for most of the remaining 20 years of his life, appearing in films like “Oh, God!” (1977) and working in stand-up comedy. His final TV appearance was in 1995, when he received the lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild.

In addition to these four Oscar winners, there have been three acting nominees who lived to be 100:

Kirk Douglas was born in December 1916, like de Havilland, and died in 2020 at 103. He appeared in his first film, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” in 1946, and received his first of three Best Actor nominations for “Champion” in 1950. He followed with nominations for “The Bad and the Beautiful” in 1953 and “Lust for Life,” where he portrayed Vincent van Gogh, in 1957. Though he never won any of these bids, he was given an honorary Oscar in 1996. Surprisingly, he failed to garner a nomination for his most famous role in “Spartacus” (1960), though he insisted on credit for the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, an act instrumental in ending the blacklist in Hollywood.

In 1998, 87-year-old Gloria Stuart became the record holder for the oldest nominee for Best Supporting Actress, earning her nomination as the 101-year-old Rose in “Titanic.” Between 1932 and 1946, she appeared in more than 40 films, including “The Invisible Man” (1933) opposite Claude Rains, and “Poor Little Rich Girl” (1936) and “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (1938) alongside Shirley Temple. However, it was her role in “Titanic” that earned her an Oscar nomination, giving her career a resurgence late in life. Her final film role was in “Land of Plenty” (2004) before she died on September 26, 2010, just over two months after her centennial birthday.

The most recent centenarian to pass away was Glynis Johns, who died on January 4, 2024, three months after turning 100. In 1961, she received her sole Oscar nomination for her role in Best Picture nominee “The Sundowners.” She had an incredible multi-decade career, with her first film appearance at age 14 in “South Riding” in 1938. Her career included TV and stage as well, winning the Tony for Best Musical Actress in 1973 for “A Little Night Music.” However, she is best remembered as the mother of the Banks children in “Mary Poppins” (1964), a role that earned her the title of Disney Legend in 1998.

Several Oscar acting nominees and winners have lived long lives, with quite a few making it into their 90s. And although he was never nominated for an acting Oscar, Bob Hope is an indelible part of Academy history, hosting the ceremonies a record 19 times. Between 1940 and 1965, the Academy honored him with five special awards for his contributions to the film industry, humanitarian work, and services to the Academy. He died on July 27, 2003, two months after his 100th birthday.

Currently, there are about 20 acting winners and nominees who are nonagenarians, including Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, James Earl Jones, Shirley Jones, Shirley MacLaine, Rita Moreno, and Joanne Woodward, who might one day join the 100 club.

Source: Gold Derby