The Rise of The Old’n: Tony Bennet Can Sing & Betty White Is Freakin’ Funny

My 8-year-old son has come up with a new word to describe me and it isn’t Wonderful, Smart, Beautiful, All-Knowing, Regal, Radiant, Tough-As-Nails, or anything else I would actually think I might like to hear him say.

He calls me an Old’n.

I guess he heard some character on a cartoon referring to a young whipper-snapper as a young’n and he extrapolated to come up with a word for me and people of my ilk.

It’s not that I resent it per se, it’s more that I felt instantly he had it all wrong; I’m not OLD. Right?

Well, wrong. I am old. Compared to an 8-year-old, certainly. And I am coming to terms with that as I hover on the verge of turning 50 this year.

Seems like a pretty major milestone. Gotta be the halfway point of my life, at least, I would think. So it does give me pause – gulp – to think about claiming it. Although, of course, it does beat the alternative.

The point is that since I don’t feel old I didn’t want to be labeled as old, with all the implications the word holds for imminent nursing home residency, bed pans and death. And then came Tony Bennett.

I was invited to hear Tony Bennett sing last night as part of the PBS Press Tour of the Television Critics Association (TCA) annual Winter event in Pasadena, and he was on fire.

Tony Bennett singing at PBS Winter Press Tour at TCAThe man is 85 years old – Eighty-Five! And he was phenomenal!

I have not been a life-long fan of his; I never really got into the whole Ocean’s 11/Rat Pack kind of thing until George Clooney remade the movie, and I really had not paid much attention to the man until he did a Duet with Lady Gaga, whom he by the way said was his favorite partner for his new PBS Great Performances series called Tony Bennett: Duets II.

But I have become a newly-minted fan of Tony Bennett, not only because he likes to sing with Lady Gaga, or can belt out a great tune by himself, or works with his son as his manager, but because it turns out he is Really Old and that hasn’t stopped him from being a phenomenal – and working – performer.

Betty White's Off Their Rockers on NBCBetty White, who is now 90 years old, is also still working her tail off in movies and TV, and has become a hipster sensation in spite of any amount of Old’n qualities she possesses. She’s at the NBC TCA Press Tour today, killing the critics with her charm and wit, and that’s no easy feat, given how disgruntled that bunch can be, so my admiration for her has grown again. I will probably skip her new show, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, a “Punk’d for Seniors”, but I wish her the best nonetheless.

I have had a soft spot in my heart for her ever since the Mary Tyler Moore show and since my best friend from College, who grew up in Brentwood, showed me the little local newsletter his Mother had sent him, which sported a photo of their neighbor Betty White proclaiming “It’s Just Lovely in Brentwood.”

That’s LA for you, by the way. If you’re lucky, your neighbor will be a celebrity who thinks your neighborhood is “just lovely”, and then she’ll live to be 90 years old and will still have a job.

Or that will be you. Either way.

And either way, since I’ve just learned how old and still successful Tony Bennett and Betty White are, it means I am in great company when my son calls me an Old’n.

Tony Bennett: Duets II premieres January 27th on PBS. Betty’s White’s Off Their Rockers Special Preview January 16th on NBC.

{Photo credit, Tony Bennett: Rahoul Ghose/PBS. Photo Credit, Betty White: Matthias Clamer/NBC.}

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