Photo: Carl Reiner, actor, 92, at his home in Beverly Hills
The portraits here are of men and women in their 80s and 90s, rich in the rewards of substantial and celebrated careers… Why do they persist, the old masters? …The short answer: “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” ~ Dr. Samuel Johnson
Edward O. Wilson, naturalist and author, 85
NYT: You are the world’s foremost expert on ants, and now you’re asking about the meaning of human existence and the future of humanity. Has growing older pushed you to these bigger questions?
EW: I couldn’t have asked these questions before. I was too engaged in the hands-on research, especially in the field.
NYT: So how has age contributed to your more recent books?
I think age contributed a great deal to [his] recent trilogy of books. First because I feel I have enough experience to join those who are addressing big questions. Second …I was astonished at how little this was being done. I’ve come to appreciate that we’re wrecking the planet… The public response …[has] been unacceptably weak.
Ginette Bedard, long-distance runner, 81, Howard Beach, Queens.
Bedard will run in her 12th consecutive New York City Marathon this year.
NYT: You ran your first marathon at age 69. How did you do?
GB: I came in second in my age group, I think 65 to 69, and the next year I came in first. And I think I was 72 when I beat the world record for my age group, 3:46 or :45.
Carl Reiner, actor, 92, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Reiner published his second memoir, ‘‘I Just Remembered,’’ this year.
NYT: Has the process of writing for you changed?
CR: It has not changed. I still only write from the gut, I can only write about what I know. The only thing I research is if I’m writing about someone I don’t know. Thank God for Google. Otherwise I go by the seat of my pants
Roy Haynes, jazz drummer and bandleader, 89, Long Island. Haynes’s latest album was ‘‘Roy-Alty,’’ released in 2011.
NYT: You travel a lot, and it sounds as if you have no intention of slowing down.
RH: I’ve been traveling since 1945. …drumming’s just a continuous way of life. And it’s still going on. I’ve been doing this longer than I’ve been doing anything else.
NYT: What keeps you going?
RH: You get to be this age, you think you know a little more about life. With my traveling around, it’s quite exciting, and I’m sure it keeps me young. A lot of the people I play with are much younger than me. Young enough to be my children or my grandchildren. People say I look young. The average person if they asked how old I was wouldn’t expect me to be the age I am.
NYT: But how do you maintain your stamina?
RH: I don’t know. If I knew, I’d just write a book on that and forget playing drums. I’d become richer.
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