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10 People Who Lived To 100

JT . . . Comments

A centenarian is a person who has attained the age of 100 years or more. The term is associated with longevity because average life expectancies across the world are far from 100. In the United States, centenarians traditionally receive a letter from the president upon reaching their 100th birthday, congratulating them for their longevity. In the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms, the Queen sends greetings (formerly as a telegram) on the 100th birthday and on every birthday starting with the 105th. This is a list of ten great people who lived to 100 or more.

10. Charles Lane


Charles Lane was born on January 26th 1905, and began acting professionally in 1929, becoming a founding member of the Screen Actor’s Guild in 1933. When he passed away in 2007, he was the oldest living American actor.

During his career he starred in hundreds of television shows, including Petticoat Junction, I Love Lucy and Little House on the Prairie. He starred in over 250 feature films, including Mr Smith Goes to Washington, It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and most memorably, as the rent collector in It’s a Wonderful Life.

Indefatigable to then end, Lane’s final acting role was in 2006’s The Night Before Christmas aged 101.

People aren’t the only life on this planet. Read The Oldest Living Things in the World at!

9. Jeanne Calment


Jeanne Calment is, according to Guinness World Records, the oldest person to have ever lived for whom there is irrefutable evidence.

Born on February 21st 1875 in Arles, France, Calment’s mother, father and brother lived to 86, 93, and 97 respectively.

As well as living through two world wars, Calment also met Vincent Van Gogh while he was staying in Arles, and attended Victor Hugo’s funeral in 1885. At the age of 114, she appeared in the film Vincent and Me, making her the world’s oldest actress, and in 1996, the nursing home she resided in released a CD of her reminiscing about her life.

Calment lived on her own until she was 101. She took up fencing at age 85, and was still riding a bicycle by the time she reached 100. She survived a hip operation at age 114 to become the oldest verifiable surgery patient, and remained an ardent smoker until she decided to quit at age 117.

She died on August 4th 1997, age 122.

8. George Burns


George Burns was an Academy Award winning comedian and actor. His career spanned vaudeville, film, radio, and television, with and without his equally legendary wife, Gracie Allen. His arched eyebrow and cigar smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three quarters of a century.
Enjoying a remarkable career resurrection that began at age 79, and ended shortly before his death at age 100, George Burns was as well known in the last two decades of his life as at any other time during his career.

The likelihood that Burns would live to see his 100th birthday became a running gag in his stage work, but he indeed intended to live that long, even booking himself to play the London Palladium as a 100th birthday celebration. However, his health seriously declined towards his centenary, and although he eventually reached it, he was too ill to perform any engagements and died just 49 days later.

7. Henri Fabre


Henri Fabre was a French aviation pioneer, and inventor of La Canard, the first sea plane in history.

Henri Fabre was born into a prominent family of shipowners in the city of Marseilles. He was educated in the Jesuit College of Marseilles, where he undertook advanced studies in sciences. He then studied intensively aeroplane and propeller designs. He patented a system of flotation devices, which he used when he succeeded in taking off from the surface of the Etang de Berre on March 28th, 1910. On that day, he completed four consecutive perfect flights, the longest about 600 meters.

During the First World War, he established a company with 200 employees, which was specialized in the manufacture of seaplanes.

He died in 1984, age 102, as one of the last living pioneers of human flight.

6. Strom Thurmond


James Strom Thurmond, born December 5th 1902, was an American politician who served as governor of South Carolina and as a United States Senator. He left office, age 100, as the oldest serving US senator in history.

He ran for President in 1948 as a third party candidate for the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party, garnering 39 electoral votes. He represented South Carolina in the senate from 1954 to 1964 as a Democrat, and then from 1964 to 2003 as a Republican.

He left the Senate in January 2003 and died six months later, age 100.

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5. Irving Berlin


Born in Mogilev, Belarus on May 11th 1888, Berlin’s parents immigrated to the US in 1893, where he was forced to work various street jobs after his father’s death in 1896.
Berlin’s first taste of music composition was when the owner of a café where he was working asked him to produce an original song for them, as a rival café had had their own song pubished. Though he was paid just 37 cents for the result, this started Berlin off on a new career where he would become one of the most successful and prolific musicians and lyricists in history, composing over 3,000 songs including God Bless America, White Christmas, Anything You Can Do, and There’s No Business Like Show Business. He also composed 17 film scores, and 21 Broadway scores.

Berlin died of a heart attack in New York in 1989, aged 101.

4. Albert Hofmann


Born in Switzerland on January 11th 1906, Albert Hofmann changed the world irrevocably when, in 1938, he synthesised Lysergic acid diethylamide, which later became known as LSD.

He began experimenting with the drug in 1943, and subsequently wrote about his experiences. He became director of the natural products department at Sandoz and went on studying hallucinogenic substances found in Mexican mushrooms and other plants used by the aboriginal people. This led to the synthesis of psilocybin, the active agent of many “magic mushrooms.”

Hofmann calls LSD “medicine for the soul” and is frustrated by the worldwide prohibition that has pushed it underground. “It was used very successfully for 10 years in psychoanalysis,” he said, adding that the drug was hijacked by the youth movement of the 1960s and then unfairly demonized by the establishment that the movement opposed, though he concedes LSD can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

As of the time of writing, Hofmann is still alive and kicking.

3. Bob Hope


Bob Hope, was an English-born American entertainer who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, on radio and television, in movies, and in performing tours for U.S. Military personnel. He was well known for his good natured humor and the longevity of his career.

Born in London, England on May 29th 1903, Hope and his family immigrated to the US in 1920, when Hope was 20. He began by entering dance and talent competitions, winning prizes for his Charlie Chaplin impersonations. Soon he was landing roles in various film and theatre productions, and numerous broadcasting shows.

As well as commerical work, Hope performed over 60 USO shows, across half a century, entertaining troops during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. A 1997 act of Congress signed by President Clinton named Hope an “Honorary Veteran”. He remarked, “I’ve been given many awards in my lifetime — but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most — is the greatest honour I have ever received.”

Hope died on July 27th 2003, aged 100.

2. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother


Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later Queen Elizabeth, was the Queen Consort of King George VI of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions from 1936 until his death in 1952. After her husband’s death, she was known as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Elizabeth II. Before her husband ascended the throne, from 1923 to 1936 she was known as the Duchess of York. She was the last Queen of Ireland and Empress of India.

Born into a family of Scottish nobility, she came to prominence in 1923 when she married Albert, Duke of York, the second son of George V and Queen Mary. As Duchess of York, she – along with her husband and their two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret – embodied traditional ideas of family and public service. She undertook a variety of public engagements, and became known as the “Smiling Duchess” because of her consistent public expression.

In 1936, her husband unexpectedly became King when her brother-in-law, Edward VIII, abdicated in order to marry his mistress, the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. As Queen Consort, Elizabeth accompanied her husband on diplomatic tours to France and North America in the run-up to World War II. During the war, her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public, and in recognition of her role as a propaganda tool, Adolf Hitler described her as “the most dangerous woman in Europe”. After the war, her husband’s health deteriorated and she was widowed at the age of 51.

With her brother-in-law living abroad and her elder daughter now Queen at the age of 26, when Queen Mary died in 1953 Elizabeth became the senior royal and assumed a position as family matriarch. In her later years, she was a consistently popular member of the Royal Family, when other members were suffering from low levels of public approval.

Only after the illness and death of her own younger daughter, Princess Margaret, did she appear to grow frail. She died six weeks after Margaret, at the age of 101.

1. Leni Riefenstahl


Helene Bertha Amalie Riefenstahl was a German film director, dancer and actress widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmaker.

Born to a working class family in Berlin, on August 22nd 1902, Riefenstahl began her career as a dancer before moving to acting in silent films. In the early 1930s, Riefenstahl gave up acting to pursue her love of film directing and photgraphy. Her first film, Daus Blaue Licht, released in 1932, was critically acclaimed and became hugely popular throughout Germany.

Riefenstahl became a supporter of Hitler shortly after he came to power, and wrote of his mesmerising abilities as a public speaker. Hitler, himself, was a fan of Riefenstahl’s work and asked her to direct a film about the Nazi Party’s 1933 Nuremberg rally, titled Victory of Faith.

Impressed by her work, Hitler asked her to direct another film about their 1934 Nuremberg rally, called Triumph of the Will. The film used pioneering camera and cinematography techniques to create a rousing and uplifting portrait of the Nazi party. Today the film is regarded as one of the greatest documentaries and propaganda pieces ever made, despite its distasteful subject matter.

In 1936, she was hired by Hitler to film the Berlin Olympic Games. The result, Olympia, is considered one of the greatest sport documentaries ever made, praised for its aesthetic beauty and pioneering use of the tracking shot, and various revolutionary editing techniques.

During the war, she remained in and around Germany, shooting as film production of Tiefland, based on Hitler’s favourite opera of the same name by Eugene d’Albert. However she fell ill, and the film wasn’t completed until 1954.

Despite being detained after the war, Riefenstahl denied any involvement with Nazi war crimes, nor any knowledge of them. After the war, she was unable to secure funding for her films due to her nefarious associations, and was often met with protests wherever she went. Nevertheless, Riefenstahl regained some respect as a photographer in Africa during the 70s, and as an underwater photographer. Her final film, Underwater Impressions, was a film presenting an idealised view of the life in the oceans. It was her first film since Tiefland.

Though she has always been accused of helping further Nazi propaganda, Riefenstahl is admired as one the greatest directors of all time, and along with Soviet film-maker Sergei Eisenstein, one of the pioneers of modern propaganda films.

Leni Riefenstahl died on September 8th 2003, aged 101.

Sources: Wikipedia

Contributor: JT

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  • Cyn

    Albert Hofmann is still w/ us, eh? cool.
    great list!

  • Cyn: he is – I wonder if he uses his own invention :)

  • Cyn

    could be the key to his longevity. and bear in mind human history…the shamans and ‘witch doctors’, tribal elders…a lot of whom partook of whatever naturally occurring mind altering substances..i.e. peyote. those people are usually ‘pictured’ as the eldest of the tribe or community. there might be some science behind keeping the brain ‘entertained’ and ‘challenged’ chemically and a longer life span. hhhmmm?

  • Cyn: hmmm… maybe you are right :)

  • 122?! Holy crap!! The modern world never fails to amaze me. By the time I get old (hopefully…) maybe people will be living to 150!

    • Mik

      Calment would have lived longer if she never smoked

  • Kelsi: The bit I like best is that she quit smoking at 117 – maybe if she hadn’t quite she would have lived till 150!

  • Cyn

    oooh…another list idea, one i’d tried but got lost in the details. on this drug theme…top 10 medical marijuana myths.

  • Cyn: That is not a bad idea – though you could probably even do a top 10 drug myths – there are so many out there!

  • Cyn

    definitely. unfortunately ..least in this country..recreational drug use of any kind is a ‘highly’ politicized issue. *grins* was thinking medical marijuana more from a humanitarian perspective. that being in conflict w/ antiquated ideas of drug abuse still held by those in power. i do come at this from a bias..i support legalization of all so called ‘street drugs’…for a variety of reasons. just that the issue of medical marijuana is such a ‘no-brainer’ for me..especially in regards terminal patients.
    and this anti-drug bias we have here is preventing research and possible treatments for all kinds of disease…including ‘anti-aging’. since some folks consider aging a ‘disease process’. i know, kinda odd take on what we usually consider a natural process but still a fascinating perspective. maybe as we ‘age’ and more people go beyond a 100 yrs old, we’ll mature enough as a species to take another look at things..including drugs of all kinds and how we can use them to not only aid us but even accelerate our own evolution. (yeah…i read way too much SciFi as a kid…lol)

  • Cyn: I agree with you – I think legalization would probably do more good than harm. And there is nothing wrong with a lot of sci-fi as a kid! It didn’t hurt me! While we are on this topic though, I wonder what Noah had up his sleeve – he was 950 when he died.

  • Cyn

    oooh, don’t go biblical on me, i’m an so that 950 ‘jazz’ is just a part of the myth. and that is fodder for whole ‘nutter
    btw..all that SciFi probably contributed to my becoming an atheist too. LOL…i’ll stop now.

  • Hannah

    Wow! Can you imagine sitting down with the lady who lived to be 122 and hearing her stories? First hand accounts of amazing history!

  • Diogenes

    self satisfaction within one’s own youth- compared to vanity withstaining past the prime .– that we think we know or know that life goes on past the plausible end…a rather romantic extension of the given odds which are against the flesh.. I think thats all that is= with our lot= that to live such extending longevities.

  • ben

    Just another cool thing my book of facts and fallacies has…the oldest living man ever. it says “Shigechiyo izumi started drinking alcohol at 70. At 90 he decided not to remarry. At 116 he gave up smoking. He died on february 21, 1986 at the age of 120 years 237 days.” apparently his age can be authenticated by the first ever Japanese census from 1871, when he was 6. It says he contributed his age to daily consumption of one glass of schochu (japanese white rum), excercise, and a diet low in facts and high it vegetables. Just thought that would be a cool addition here.

  • ben: Great addition – thanks :)

    Hannah: I would love that too – at least there is a recording of her retelling her life story that you can buy.

    Diogenes, and Cyn: meh! Cynics! :)

  • 2overpar

    oldest person in the world as of Oct. 6, 2007 is Edna Parker of Indiana – born on april 20, 1893. fred hale, who died on nov. 19, 2004 (just 12 days short of his 114th birthday, lived alone until he was 103 and had a driver’s license until he was 108!

  • flaminio

    For Bob Hope, you write Born in London, England on May 29th 1903, Hope and his family immigrated to the US in 1920, when Hope was 20.

    Wouldn’t he have been 17?

    Great site, btw.

  • chershey

    Hey, you guys forgot my great great aunt, Emma Fruth! – scroll about halfway down.

  • you forgot the great philosopher HANS GEORG GADAMER, a famous german writher ERNST JUNGER, a famous adventure ALEXANDRA NEEL, a politic GEORGE KEENAN, ROSE KENNEDY ..JFK’s mother, the producer ADOLPH ZUCKOR, GRANDMA MOSES, famous usa painter or ESTELLE WINWOOD, famous actress.

    You must see

    Your site are fabulous, congratulations.

    My best regards from spain.

  • deep


  • ChuChu353

    My great-aunt Bessie Jones Gleisner will be 101 years old in February 2008 and is (probably) the US oldest living WWII veteran.

  • ChuChu353: that is great! Congratulations to her. Was she a war nurse?

  • dlcs2785

    Brook astor ??? she was cool

  • sargelegg

    Abbie hoffman is no longer with us

  • Polly Odyssey

    There is a phrase for people who were born in the 19th century and are still alive. I can’t remember the phrase,though.

  • jocsboss

    Really, really old.

  • Amanda

    HAHAHA!!! Oh… that was really funny. Can’t stop laughing.

  • Braden

    I was just wondering how you chose the order in which to put these people? (Personally, I would have put George Burns higher on the list)

  • astraya

    My grandmother died at the age of 104. If my niece (born 1998) or nephew (born 1999) live as long as she did, they will see the 2100s.
    (My grandmother’s great-grandfather, who moved to Australia in 1855, lived to 101, and two other descendants also hit the big 1-0-0.)

  • Kirk Maillet

    Leni Riefenstahl as all who span 100 yrs must B envied cause as the doctors who study long life say ” No wimps make it past 80″

    PRAISE 2 this list
    fr: kirk AT lumalDOTcom

  • Drogo

    Leni Riefenstahl said in an interview that she was lucky she didn’t get killed by Hitler. She had to work with Hitler in the days before anyone knew of the impending holocaust. Hitler made sexual advances toward her. She knew he didn’t like jewish people so to turn him off she casually mentioned that her necklace came from her beloved jewish grandfather. She didn’t know that the little lie could have caused her to get sent to a gas chamber. Hitler had a look of horror on his face and stopped making the sexual advances.

  • Drogo

    P.S. She also said that Hitler had horrible B O.

  • Eww! The idea of Hitler having sex with someone grosses me out a bit. I know he was a man, albeit not a very nice one (in hindsight, I guess he may have seemed alright prior to the events of WWII), but still… eww!

  • Albert Hofmann died on April 29, 2008 at his home in Switzerland.

  • suzie

    Blows my essay on cigarrettes shortning you r life. She gave them up at age 117??
    What could that be? Just a good immune system to tobacco

  • Paro

    There’s this bloke called Buster, recently turned 100 and he works as a van cleaner still, refuses to retire. He ran a marathon this year and performed in the novelty single “My Generation” with The Zimmers.


  • BeatleMorgan

    I think it would be crazy to say you’ve seen about 100 years of things. simple amazing.

  • nic

    could anyone tell me about there lives in world war 2

    • Tamaresque

      People who lived through it could. Visit a retirement village and ask to speak to someone who was born in the 1930s or earlier.

  • nic

    hi are you peps from world war 2 if u r i would like to ask some questions about the blitz in london i am 14 i am doind this for my history homework thanks

  • nic

    funky man

  • someone somewhere

    I feel like pointing out that Japan has more than 36000 people over 100 and expect more than a million people in Japan to be over 100 by the year 2050 (simple google search can find numerous sources backing up this statement).

  • Srmsm

    My Great grandmother lived up to 124 years old

  • totalstranger

    @Srmsm (42): that would have made her the worlds oldest living person EVER. do you have any proof? when was she born/died?

  • helen

    I got a purse and hat from a yard sale. Inside the pocket of the purse there was a paper in it that said it belonged to Mae Smith who lived to be 104 years old of Murfreesborro TN. I cant find any information on her. Do you have any sugestions how to get more information about her. And do you think the two may be worth money. They are so pretty. A rare. The name brand they have on the inside is Capadors..

  • Will Trame

    This was a pretty informative list. Notable omissions include Rose Kennedy who died at 104, artist Grandma Moses, who passed at 101, and musician Eubie Blake, who died in 1983 five days after his 100th birthday. I believe the next individual heading for the century mark is Art Linkletter whom I think reaches that milestone in 2012.

  • Molly

    no one's going to point out the typo?! "Bob Hope-Born in London, England on May 29th 1903, Hope and his family immigrated to the US in 1920, when Hope was 20." not possible? the math doesn't work…maybe if it was 1923.

  • becd85

    Great to see Charles Lane on the list, the ultimate character actor! He was also one of the last remaining survivors of the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake. He was totally snubbed by the academy the year of his death in the recent deaths montage which is sad because the stars would be nothing without great supporting actors!

    Also when watching old tv shows like bewitched, Rhoda, I Love Lucy etc. it's fun to see how many times he shows up and always as different characters!

  • jayjay

    me great great great grandma is 110 yrs old she’s still alive but I liked the list :)

  • Plod

    Imagine talking 2 someone 122 years old “i r emember in 1876 i had just woke up when i saw this weird thing called a Car i think it was outside ” HaHa

  • Ray

    How are you going to summerise the life of Bob Hope and not mention he was part of a comedy team with Bing Crosby in those wonderful Road pictures.

  • Tamaresque

    Don’t forget Dame Elisabeth Murdoch (Rupert’s mum) who just turned 103 and is still going strong. Wiki her.

  • Hal Roach / Movie Director, Age 100 ; Senor Wences from the Ed Sullivan Show / Age 103

  • Tia Williams

    I knew of five: Hope,Burns,Quesen Elizabeth,Jeannette Calment, and Berlin. I just learn about Jeannette this month. I can’t imagine being 122; 100 is weird enough. There is no one that age. If you date someone 80, you are actually robbing the cradle. I bet Thurmond’s wife hoped that he would check out soon; she and he were 22 and 66 when they married in ’68.

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