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After Work: Is That You, Jack?

…This visual technological advance reveals acting’s subtle nuances, but it also brings faces so up close and personal that we could count nose hairs if we chose..

Dona Gibbs takes a close look at the aging stars as they assemble on Academy Awards night.

For more of Dona’s ever-youthful words please click on After Work in the menu on this page..

Oscar will never show his age.

No, his golden visage will remain wrinkle-free. Never a facelift. Never a needle full of Botox.

There’s not a double chin to be seen on the guy. He’s muscular and buff.

Oscar is ageless.

Then again Oscar is cold metal, a statuette given to Academy Award winners.

The stars to which he’s awarded are flesh and blood even though their publicists might have you believe otherwise.

My Ever-Enthusiastic Husband and I had a little Academy Award party all our own recently. The annual ceremony is another of one of those To-Hell-With-Winter breaks in the U.S. calendar. While it doesn’t rank as a national holiday, it’s a much-anticipated event. The stars paraded their finest on the red carpet. We were comfortable in our usual very American attire, T-shirts and khakis

Then it dawned on me.

The stars were getting older.

That’s what high definition television reveals. Age. Crows-feet. Marionette lines (those deep creases that make mouths look as if they are mechanically hinged and are operated by a someone pulling the strings.) Creepy eyelids. Cord-y necks.

I would have averted my eyes but it was all too, too fascinating.

No wonder, actors don’t give high definition a standing ovation.

This visual technological advance reveals acting’s subtle nuances, but it also brings faces so up close and personal that we could count nose hairs if we chose.

Where are Vaseline coated lenses? The star lighting of yesteryear? Not on television these days.

Not good for glamour.

And not good for self-reflection either.

Day to day, I can deal with getting old. I’ve got to. I see myself every day in the mirror when I brush my hair. I don’t know whether I could deal with shaving if I were a man. It would require too much scrutiny in the harsh realities in the grey light of morning. I know why the bathroom basin and cabinet unit is labeled a vanity. Apt, right?

I can cope with my own age, but it’s hard to come to grips with the aging of the stars.

Peter O’Toole, for example. When I first became aware of his magnetism, his blue eyes flashed beneath a burnoose in Lawrence of Arabia. Wow! Recently, I saw him in a touching movie, “Venus”, playing an aging actor with an obsession for his friend’s troubled grandniece. His face was the Grand Canyon, carved and caved with living.

Seeing him hopeful in an aisle seat on Oscar night, I suddenly felt old.

Then there was another American star Jack Nicholson. Oh, Jack. Where are the days when you played a young hard-drinking, attorney, escaping from small-town dullness with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in” Easy Rider”. Born to be wild, so you say. I wouldn’t have recognized the 70-year-old Jack. I might have guessed Otto Preminger.

The younger guys--the teenage heart throbs of only yesterday—they were there. Years have given them a depth of acting experience and a depth of wrinkles. But, after all Brad Pitt is 43 now.

I remember Tom Hanks in a silly TV sitcom, “Bosom Buddies”. I thought him adorable and eternally young. He’s a mature, well-established actor. He’s not taking any more silly, young dude roles any more. Pity, really.

I started thinking about age, celebrity and my relationship to it a couple of weeks before the Academy Awards’ wallow. I read a piece by Joyce Maynard, an American writer, who described herself as being 58-years-old and having grown children. Joyce Maynard? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I read her piece, “ An Eighteen-Year-old Looks Back on Life.” in New York Times magazine?

Her article caught the eye of J.D. Salinger, a famous reclusive author. Turned out after a many-month-long correspondence, she dropped out of Yale University and moved in with him for ten months. Much later, she wrote a tell-all book, which got her skewered by the literati, but in my mind she remained 18 years old. All big luminous eyes, long hair and artfully tattered jeans.

Her original article that captured my attention and envy was published in 1972. A long time ago -- if you’re going to think in the old movie trick of calendar pages ripping off and flying away.

Jay McInerney, another American novelist, was an enfant terrible. He wrote “Big City, Bright Lights,” which gave us all a scary insight into the druggy subculture of New York City in the ‘80s. Now he’s not an enfant. Or terrible. He’s still writing, but his drug of choice seems to be vintage wine. And he’s married to a publishing heiress.

Time races by. Struts. Or prances with arms flapping. Think Mick Jagger.

Everybody gets older.

Which is why I’ll be watching the vintage movie channel and reading old books until I can get used to the idea.



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