Happy birthday, Rita Wilson! The actress, producer, writer, singer and Huff/Post50 editor-at-large turns 57 today.
In her own birthday well wishes to us here at Huff/Post50, Rita recalled a toast her dear friend Nora Ephron gave her on her 50th birthday: "I am here to tell you good things can happen after turning 50." Rita is a living embodiment of that statement, showing a joyful love of life as she takes on whatever challenges come up, all the while encouraging other women to do the same.
Whether it's performing on stage or launching Huff/Post50's Featured Fifty Fiction initiative, Rita has taught us that you can live your best life at any age. And that's just one of many things we love about her.
Not only is she an accomplished actress, turning in a memorable performance on "Girls" earlier this year, but she also inspires us as a mother and as part of one of Hollywood's most popular long-running couples. (She married actor Tom Hanks in 1988.)
To celebrate her birthday, Huff/Post50 asked Rita a few questions about life, love and what's left on her bucket list.
1) What do you want people to know about life after 50?
Life after 50 keeps getting better and better. You know who you are. What you have accomplished, whether it's raising a family, or raising a career, maintaining a long marriage or caring for elderly parents, allows you to accept that you are a survivor. You have the confidence to know that you can rise to the challenge and meet it.
You may also start thinking about how you want to spend the rest of your life. There are so many things available to people that cost nothing but allow your life to expand. Communities offer classes in so many areas, ways to give back or get involved in things that matter to you, areas where you can explore what interests you. I have met so many people who have learned new things, which led them to another new thing, which allowed them to grow.
2) How do you keep so fit, active and healthy?
I have run the gamut of what I do for exercise so I have come to the conclusion that you must do something every day. Walk, run, cycle, a sport, whatever it may be. I am not as fit as I would like to be, or as I have been, but I am committed to doing some form of exercise every day. I love sports like skiing, or tennis, but I would say walking quickly is the easiest thing to do. I read somewhere that if you do something every day for 66 days it becomes a lifestyle. So, I am exercising and controlling portions to see where I am in 66 days. For example, I knew I had a busy day today and that I would need to get up early to get my walk in, so I set the alarm for 5 a.m. so I could be ready at 6 a.m. for the Glam Squad.
3) Is there a mantra you live by?
I love the quote Polonius speaks in Hamlet: "To thine own self be true." It is vital to make sure you are listening to yourself and hearing what it is your body is telling you. When you hear what it is saying, do something about it. I have learned to say "no." I am , by nature, a people pleaser, so saying "no" has been a tough lesson for me to learn. Usually, this means I am saying "yes" to something else, something that would be better for my spirit. I still struggle with it but it's getting better. You can't be everywhere at once.
4) How do you feel about your sons becoming adults and heading to college?
We have one son who has just graduated from Northwestern University and another who is applying to college now. I used to hear it all the time from my parents, but it goes so fast! Tom [Hanks] and I have enjoyed the prospect of being empty nesters. But, I love having all the kids around. I would say it is our most favorite way to spend our time.
5) What do you think is the biggest challenge for women over 50?
If I could talk to every woman out there, no matter what you have done, or what you haven't done, I would say the biggest challenge is your own mind. It is so easy to talk yourself out of something you want to try. Feeling that you're too old, or that life has passed you by, is a myth. When I turned 50, Nora Ephron toasted me by saying, "I want you to know, great things happen over 50." Nora didn't direct her first film until she was 50. You may think, "Well, that's Nora Ephron, she could have done anything." She also had fears, yet she did it. These challenges or fears can apply to most anything. I choose to believe that each challenge is an opportunity for growth. Don't let anyone stop you. As Molly Shannon's character says, "I can kick, stretch and kick. I'm 50!"
6) What's on your bucket list? What's one thing you still want to do?
I would love to visit Egypt with my family. Seeing the Nile and the pyramids has always been a dream. I also would love to do a family snorkel in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
Earlier on HuffPost50:
Rita Wilson And Tom Hanks
One of my favorite romantic scenes in a motion picture happened when <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/tom-hanks-9327661">Tom Hanks</a> and his co-star, <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001854/bio">Rita Wilson</a>, slow-danced to "As Time Goes By" in their 1985 movie "Volunteers." Such a swoon moment! I wanted to <em>BE</em> Beth Wexler (Wilson) dancing in the arms of Lawrence Whatley Bourne III (Hanks). Every man alive had to live vicariously through Tom Hanks as he was holding the lovely Rita Wilson in his arms in that film in <em>that</em> moment. They were married on April 30, 1988. Congratulations on 25 years of ecstasy, you dream lovers you!
Kevin Bacon And Kyra Sedgwick
Kyra Sedgwick said it all when she told <em>Good Housekeeping</em> recently (<a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20655134,00.html " target="_hplink">via People</a>) of her husband, <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/kevin-bacon-9542173">Kevin Bacon</a>: "He is so honorable. He is so ethically true. He has high moral standards, and he doesn't lie and he doesn't cheat -- and I find that sexy! ... I don't know how he does it, but he always makes me feel like I'm the most beautiful woman in the room -- the only girl in the room." We have a feeling Kevin thinks his wife is the best thing that's ever happened to him, too. We hope they enjoy their 25th anniversary on September 4!
Diane Sawyer And Mike Nichols
ABC World News anchor <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/diane-sawyer-9472787">Diane Sawyer</a> has kept husband, comedy legend Mike Nichols, informed on international news and in return, her husband obviously knows how to work her funny bone. Nichols <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2013/01/nichols-and-may-reunion-exclusive" target="_hplink">told <em>Vanity Fair</em></a> in a recent interview that he found the love of his life with Diane, his fourth wife. They celebrate 25 years on April 29, and we're sure the next 25 years will just breeze by for these two. May you both laugh your way to that Golden Anniversary!
Michael J. Fox And Tracy Pollan
<a href="http://www.biography.com/people/michael-j-fox-9542279">Michael J. Fox </a>and his future wife, actress <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001630/">Tracy Pollan</a>, first met each other on the set of <em>Family Ties</em>, where she portrayed Ellen Reed. Who will ever forget that romantic dance they shared to the tune of "At This Moment"? Obviously every moment they've shared together for the past 25 years has been precious. The couple, who were married on July 16, 1988, have four children. Now that's some powerful family ties!
Sarah Palin And Todd Palin
These two lovebirds have survived many cold winters way up there in Alaska in addition to the political heat they endured when the first <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/sarah-palin-360398" target="_hplink">female Governor of Alaska </a>decided to take a Big Gulp and run for Vice President of the United States. Politics aside, we do admire them for taking the high road in their family life, raising the bar when it comes to celebrating their precious special-needs son and keeping their family together given the glass house they've lived in for a few years. Happy 25th Anniversary! May you celebrate many more.
Twiggy And Leigh Lawson
British model <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/twiggy-9512626">Twiggy</a>, who made a fashion statement with her short cropped hairstyle, became a household name in the mid '60s when she landed on high-profile magazine covers including <em>Vogue</em> and <em>Newsweek</em>, breaking out as one of the first teenage supermodels. Her first marriage ended with the sudden death of her husband due to a heart attack. She married second husband Leigh Lawson in 1988; the couple will have been happily married for 25 years this year!
Patti LuPone And Matthew Johnson
Tony Award winner, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0526985/bio">Patti LuPone</a>, who played Lady Bird Johnson in the TV movie, <em>LBJ: The Early Years</em>, met cameraman Matthew Johnson on set in 1987. The two were married on December 12, 1988 on the stage of the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. Best wishes go out to the <em>Evita</em> actress and her husband!
Wayne Rogers And Amy Hirsh
<a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0737257/bio">Wayne Rogers</a>, who is best known for playing Trapper John McIntyre on the CBS television series <em>M*A*S*H</em>, was married for 23 years to his first wife. He's on a roll with second wife Amy Hirsh Rogers, married for 25 years and counting. We're more shocked that Rogers turns 80 this year! What? Not possible!
Corbin Bernsen And Amanda Pays
<a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000929/bio">Corbin Bernsen</a> may have played the skillful divorce attorney Arnold Becker on the NBC drama series <em>L.A. Law</em>, but he obviously doesn't need to consult a real divorce expert when it comes to his own marriage. The actor has been happily wed to British actress Amanda Pays since 1988. The delightful couple have four children and <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/talkingyourtech/story/2011-11-21/corbin-bernsen-ebay-twitter/51329032/1" target="_blank">8,000 snow globes</a>. (Would we make that up?)
Paul Reiser And Paula Ravets
<a href="http://www.biography.com/people/paul-reiser-9542589">Paul Reiser</a> delivered one of the funniest ad libs of all time on a sitcom (<em>Mad About You</em>). Walking into his living room, his dog was on the couch licking his private parts, Reiser looked over at him and said, "If I could do that, I wouldn't need a wife." Ta-dum! In his personal life, the actor's wife has been doing something right. He and Paula Ravets celebrate 25 years of marital bliss this year.
Kathy Ireland And Dr. Greg Olsen
Supermodel <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/kathy-ireland-20978315" target="_hplink">Kathy Ireland</a>, who <a href="http://archives.midweek.com/content/story/midweek_coverstory/Kathy_Ireland_Toys_For_Tots/" target="_hplink"><em>Forbes</em> magazine "nicknamed 'Supermogul' for her tremendous success as a designer and entrepreneur,"</a> has been married half of her life. At 50, she has logged 25 years of marriage to husband Dr. Greg Olsen, an ER surgeon and commercial fisherman. The couple have three children. Socks off to this beautiful couple. (Inside joke.)
Wayne Gretzky And Janet Jones
Former professional hockey player <a href=" http://www.gretzky.com/hockey/bio.php">Wayne Gretzky</a>, who played for 20 seasons in the NHL (National Hockey League), "proposed to actress Janet Jones in January 1988, and they were married on July 17, 1988 in a lavish ceremony the Canadian press dubbed 'The Royal Wedding.' Broadcast live throughout Canada from Edmonton's St. Joseph's Basilica, members of the Fire Department acted as guards at the church steps. The event reportedly cost Gretzky over one million dollars."
Anson Williams And Jackie Gerken
Ah, Potsie, we couldn't be more thrilled that you and your lovely wife have been creating your own <em>Happy Days</em> for the past 25 years. <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0930041/bio">Williams</a> "<a href="http://www.sitcomsonline.com/where.html" target="_hplink">lives in Malibu, CA with his wife Jackie Gerken</a> (a television producer and a former vice president of production for Dino De Laurentiis) and his daughter Hannah Lily who was born in 1989. Trivia: He is divorced from first wife Lorrie Mahaffey, who played his girlfriend Jennifer on <em>Happy Days</em>.
Christine Ebersole And Bill Moloney
Two-time Tony award winning Broadway actress and former <em>SNL</em> alum, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002056/bio">Christine Ebersole</a>, has been married twice. After her five-year union with actor Peter Bergman went south (1976 - 1981), she regrouped and married Bill Moloney in 1988. Ebersole, who describes her family as the <a href="http://www.trentonian.com/article/20130302/NEWS01/130309924/actress-christine-ebersole-146-s-balancing-act-subject-of-rider-address" target="_hplink">"new normal</a>," adopted three children with her husband: "Mae-Mae is from China, Aron is Chinese and Filipino and Elijah is African-American," told the Trentonian newspaper.
Treat Williams And Pam Van Sant
<a href="http://www.maryellenmark.com/text/magazines/us%20weekly_new/925B-000-007.html" target="_hplink">Actor Treat Williams met Pam Van Sant while she was waitressing in a New York restaurant.</a> We don't know what he ordered, but the food must have been really good. Twenty-five years and two children later, we're guessing they take turns in the kitchen now. Congrats to these two who are living the good life and most likely keep their fast food to a minimum.
Genie Francis And Jonathan Frakes
We doubt that 30 million people watched <em>General Hospital</em>'s <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0290163/bio">Genie Francis</a> marry her real-life husband, actor/director Jonathan Frankes on May 28, 1988. Anthony Geary and Genie Francis -- aka Luke and Laura -- pulled in huge numbers when they wed on the popular soap opera, <a href="http://generalhospital.about.com/od/generalhospitaloverview/u/GeneralHospitalHistory.htm">which is celebrating 50 years on the air this year</a>. Congratulations to the Emmy winner and her husband for making their own fairytale come true.
Art Garfunkel And Kathryn Cermak
There may have been a "bridge over troubled water" in singer <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0307316/">Art Garfunkel</a>'s first marriage (he claimed his first marriage was turbulent and ended bitterly), but he hit pay dirt with second wife Kim Cermak. Garfunkel met former model Kathryn "Kim" Cermak while filming the 1986 film <em>Good to Go</em>. They married on September 18, 1988 and have two children. Here's to <em>you</em>, Mrs. Garfunkel!