As a kid, I remember seeing the seemingly ancient face of Burt Mustin on TV.
I’m thinking it was an episode of All in the Family when Mustin’s character…an escapee from a seniors home…ended up at the Bunker residence. Archie asked if the 80-ish man still thought about sex and getting, in Bunker’s words, a surprise.
“At my age,” the old boy said, “every time I wake up it’s a surprise.”
In recent weeks we’ve lamented the loss of 67-year-old Glen Frey and 69-year-old David Bowie.
LIFE BEGINS AT 67
Mustin began his acting career at 67.
After decades of working as a civil engineer, car salesman and an agent for the Better Business Bureau, Mustin was discovered by director William Wyler (The Best Years of Our Lives, Mrs. Miniver, Ben Hur), who cast Mustin in the 1951 movie, Detective Story.
JESSE JAMES AND BOBBY BRADY
Mustin appeared in scores of movies and TV shows including The Brady Bunch. In a memorable episode (weren’t they all, especially the one where Marcia takes a football to the nose?) Bobby Brady said his new hero was Jesse James. Mike and Carol Brady were horrified by their son’s devotion to an outlaw who shot people in the back so, through the magic of television, they found a relative of a man who was killed by the infamous gunslinger…played by Burt Mustin, of course.
Bobby’s eyes were opened. Lesson learned.
WOW, HE’S 44 AND STILL PLAYING BALL
When I turned 27, I was on a co-ed slowpitch team made up of folks who were in their late 30s to early 40s. The pitcher was 52.
They referred to me as “just a baby.” I was soooo young.
In the summer of 2014, I was the 52-year-old playing in a Barrie league with men and women who were mostly in their early 30s, though many of our opponents were a decade younger. The team folded the following year and I probably could have hooked up with another team.
But I was 52, turned 53 the following spring.
Then again, fuck it. I may yet make a comeback. After being diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic just over a year ago, I’ve lost 20 pounds so I’m quicker than I was when I retired from ball.
A SECOND ACT
If Burt Mustin can start over at 67, what’s stopping any of us from reinventing ourselves?
I have a feeling there are more than a few surprises left in my career.