Post-'Graduate' Hoffman is how old?
Dustin Hoffman, one of my favorite actors and, I might add, interview subjects, turns 80 today.
'Scuse me, Mr. Father Time, but how can that be?
There's no denying it, though. There it is in black-and-white (not to mention blue for linked words): Dustin Lee Hoffman, born in Los Angeles on Aug. 8, 1937.
It seems like only yesterday, or at least not too many yesterdays that Hoffman was sporting that mischievous grin as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate.
There have been so many other memorable Hoffman performances, of course: His Best Actor Academy Award-winning performances in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Rain Man (1988) and leading role Oscar nominations for The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy (1969), Lenny (1974), Tootsie (1982) and Wag the Dog (1997).
I've always enjoyed interviewing Hoffman, a gifted actor whose body always seems to be in some stage of perpetual motion.
To call our professional encounters over the years interviews is not absolutely true in the strictest sense. On several occasions, a simple hello to one of his generation's greatest actors opened up a fascinating, entertaining verbal floodgate that never ran out of steam and ended only when the dictates of time demanded it.
Hoffman isn't the only famous actor in the 80 Club this year. We can also add Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford and rascally Jack Nicholson to the list. And that's just the men. The Women's 80 Club includes Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.
The late George Jones had a terrific country tune titled Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes in 1985. It's a soulful lament that wonders who will rise up to take the place of dear departed country music legends.
I think of that song every time I'm forced to realize that the clock stands still for no one when I hear that many of our legendary movie stars like Dustin Hoffman are reaching milestone birthdays.
Or, for that matter, when I summon up the nerve to look in the mirror and really see myself; or is that my Dad?
It's impossible to pick one favorite Hoffman performance. Until I can pin it down, though, this is about the best placeholder you'll ever expect to see: