PROVING THAT AGE NEED NOT BE A BARRIER TO A SUCCESSFUL LIFE
March 9, 2007
Life began at 50 for these golden girls. Today’s fifty-somethings are adventurous, young at heart and deal let age hold them back.
From the First American woman to walk in space, to the actress who values her political voice more than her Hollywood roles, these women believe the best is yet to come. Here, five of the women from anew book. 50 Over 50, share their thoughts on their unusual lives aid why they’re getting better with age.
GEORGIA DURANTE – Mafia member’s ex-wife, getaway driver and Hollywood stuntwoman. I grew up in Rochester, New York. I was a really adventurous kid and started drag racing and modelling at 16. At 17 I was violently raped by my brother-in-law. I was a virgin. That totally wiped out any self-esteem I did have and I fell into a hole of blackness that took years to get out of.
Rochester was a big Mafia town in the Sixties and Seventies so growing up in that environment seemed quite normal. I became the key driver for all of their unlawful endeavours. It was in a mob nightclub I met Joe. He was good looking, charming and full of confidence.
We got married but the Joe I fell in love with disappeared soon after.
Once, when I tried to leave him, he said: “I’m going to do something to you I’m going to do time for.” He was going to kill me, no doubt.
I escaped to LA. Word got out about my driving skills and I ended up turning down more work than I could take on.
I don’t look anywhere near as good as I used to, but that’s ok. It’s who I am inside I like. I never liked myself before, but today I do. That’s all that matters.
DR KATHRYN SULLIVAN – First American woman to walk in space.
Lifting off in a space shuttle is like being embedded in an earthquake about four or five on the Richter scale, but that’s only really in the first two and a half minutes.
It’s a mixture of uncertainty, risk, anticipation and anxiety – you’re riding bombs for a living and you have to keep that in your mind.
The earth is a mesmerising sight from up there. It’s like a gigantic beach going past.
On one level I feel normal and totally composed. But the most different perspective when you see the earth is when you see whole continents and oceans, this great overview of all the different systems and atmospheres enacting together.
When I was about to turn 50 I thought that I had lots of friends, good health, great adventures, cool toys, neat travels and a supportive family.
So I decided that I couldn’t possibly fit all this into one party and decided that my celebration was going to start the day after my 49th birthday and go all the way through to my 50th.
EVE BRANSON – Adventurer and Richard’s mum
I’m dyslexic and the one thing I always wished for was to be more intelligent.
When I was young, I wanted to travel so I lied about being able to speak several languages and got a job as an air steward.
The only problem was the planes had a real habit of crashing, so it was a bit dicey.
Aside from that, it was very exciting.
It would take weeks to get to America, for example, because we would go via so many other wonderful places.
As a child, Richard was very much like me, a bit of an adventurer and always up to something. One day on the way back home from Devon, to where we were living in Surrey, he was very fidgety in the back.
So I said: “Why don’t you see if you can get the rest of the way home across country?”
Of course, he jumped at the chance, he was only five at the time.
A few hours later, and we were quite worried.
That is, until a local farmer called us and said, “I have a little boy with white blond hair here, is he anything to do with you?”
My next big adventure is to go up in Richard’s first civilian space flight.
As the mothership of the family I could hardly turn down the chance to go into space.
SUSAN SARANDON-Actress, campaigner and representative for UNICEF
Coming of age in Washington DC in the 60s and 70s was fabulous because so much was going on. If you had any mind at all you were in the middle of demonstrations. The issues were much clearer than they are now -the war, women’s rights, civil liberty issues.
Everyone was frightened to speak out in the lead up to the second Gulf war, they made it so unpatriotic. I do feel like I’m suffering from outrage fatigue and I’m tired of being screamed at by strangers so I’m on a break from the really heated strident issues. I’ve never felt I was at the mercy of being a celebrity or made those complaints people make about lack of privacy, I’ve used all of that to try and shine a light on problems the voiceless have.
As you get older you can be less afraid, because somehow you know you’ll get through it.
My mantra is to keep moving forward, keep questioning, keep trying to be present and awake, and to enjoy as much as you can during that process.
LYNDA LA PLANTE – Author and screenwriter
I REALLY enjoyed school, despite the fact they thought I was simple due to my dyslexia.
But I loved literature and, to be honest, I had more trouble with numbers than words.
When writing Widows, I had a brilliant advisor who, when I said I wanted to meet a murderer, took me to a pub in the East End of London. He introduced me to this man whom, after killing his victims, fed their bodies to pigs.
The turning point was Prime Suspect. She was based on a real police officer, Jackie Malton.
When Helen Mirren started playing the role, I used to have to tell her, “Hold back, don’t smile-you’re the boss and they hate you.”
The success of Prime Suspect was totally amazing and life-changing. My boyfriend used to say: “I can’t believe all those ideas come out of your head.”
There’s such an obsession with age in this country but it’s about what’s inside.
I don’t think as I’ve got older my outlook has changed and I don’t feel any different.
“Although, I did adopt a son when I was in my mid 50s, so that changed a lot of things.”