Denise Neil

Stars show us aging's nothing to worry over

I'm beginning to think that 60 is the new 30. The evidence is overwhelming, especially in the entertainment world.

Cases in point:

* A week ago at Intrust Bank Arena, I watched an energetic James Taylor, age 63, jump, dance and harmonicate energetically about the stage for two and a half hours, full of charisma and magically free of body fat.

I've been equally impressed over the past year by the rocking performances of upperclassmen Elton John, 64, Billy Joel, 61, and Pat Benatar, 58, all of whom attack the stage like it's still 1981.

* For weeks now, the girls and I have been engaging in water cooler breakdowns of 60-year-old Kirstie Alley's performances on "Dancing With the Stars." Though she's physically slower than her younger competitors (and loses her breath more quickly), she's beautiful and elegant and looks fabulous next to her 31-year-old partner and teacher, Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

* On Monday night, comedienne Lily Tomlin, who's made me laugh since I was in grade school, will bring her comedy act to the Wichita Orpheum. The watercooler crowd and I started talking about Tomlin — snorting over the closet full of characters she's created throughout her career — and were all surprised to learn that she's 71 years old.

These aren't the only celebrities proving that getting older doesn't necessarily translate to growing old. And I'm not just talking about celebrities with age-defying looks such as Demi Moore (48) and Cindy Crawford (45.)

I'm talking about entertainers who continue to remain relevant and beloved and excessively entertaining, even though the zenith of their careers may be a couple of decades behind them.

Lily Tomlin is particularly amazing. Her career launched before I was born, in the late 1960s with "Laugh-In."

Some of my best childhood belly laughs came from her. I loved the Edith Ann character — her giant rocking chair, her rosy cheeks and her brat-tastic talk. And I probably watched "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" a million times in 1981. (That's how often HBO would air it on a given day. I still have garbage disposal fears to this day.)

In the past decade, Tomlin has guest starred on a few television series ("The West Wing" and "Desperate Housewives") and appeared in the 2004 movie "I Heart Huckabees."

And she's still able, at 71, not only to tour but to draw crowds based on some funnies she made in the 1960s and 1970s and her ageless charisma.

So if 60 is the new 30, that means 70 is the new 40, which means that in a couple of years, I'm going to be the equivalent of 10 years old.

Clearly, my best years are on their way.