PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 08: John Slattery attends the 'Mad Men' photocall at Hotel Royal Monceau Raffle on February 8, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/WireImage) | Marc Piasecki via Getty Images
Whether you call it silver, salt-and-pepper, or steely, these dozen celebrities absolutely rock their graying 'dos.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Famously relaxed about aging, the 55-year-old actress and Activia spokeswoman has been sporting her natural hair color since 2000. When it turned fully gray in 2004, Hollywood insiders were convinced it would cost her roles. “Now they're all eating crow and saying how right I was to do it,” she told Marie Claire.
Curtis credits her short ‘do with keeping her appearance current: “My stylist … keeps my cut edgy and contemporary—otherwise I can go Bea Arthur very quickly.”
Though he started the show as a dashing brunette, Clooney was clearly graying by the 1999 end of his stint as Dr. Doug Ross on "ER." Rather than dye his iconic Caesar cut, the then-37-year-old rolled with it, using his salt-and-pepper locks to lend gravity to his roles in "Three Kings," "The Perfect Storm," and "Ocean’s Eleven."
Needless to say, his strategy worked. Now 53, Clooney is arguably the biggest star alive, thanks, in part to those glorious grays.
Born a blonde, Dame Helen has gone gray so gradually, it’s difficult to tell when the transition began. She avoids the little-old-lady look with blonde highlights, up-to-the-minute hairstyles, and the occasional wild experiment. In fact, the Oscar winner arrived to the 2013 BAFTA Awards modeling a bright pink bob, inspired—no, really—by watching "America’s Next Top Model."
“I've dyed my hair a million times and it looks terrible, always,” says the 51-year-old Emmy nominee, who plays smart-aleck playboy Roger Sterling on "Mad Men." “It just looks fake. And it doesn't make me look that much younger.”
Slattery’s hair started to change over in his 20s; he was entirely silver by age 30. He claims it comes from his father, who was married at age 23, “and had salt-and-pepper hair at his wedding.”
Fun fact: Slattery’s real-life wife of 16 years, Talia Balsam, was married to George Clooney from 1989 to 1993. (Guess she likes 'em gray.)
As she settles into her 60s, comedian Barr is more comfortable with herself than ever—and that includes her hair color. “I want to look old because I am old,” she says, “and I think it’s damn good to be old, too.”
The comedian stopped dying her ‘do in 2007, letting it turn from honey-brown to its current steel gray. See it—and her—later this month, when she returns to TV as a judge on NBC reality show, "Last Comic Standing."
When Obama was elected President in 2008, his crop was close-cut and jet black. Four years and countless boondoggles later, strands of silver haven’t just crept in—they’ve taken over. And while Congress is responsible for some streaks, wife Michelle insists there's another reason: “People think the gray is from his job. It’s from his children.”
Like Steve Martin and Vanessa Redgrave, country icon Harris is known as much for her trademark white-gray hair as her copious talents. She turned silver in her early ‘20s and stopped dyeing completely during the late 1980s. “If I didn’t think it looked good on me, I would color it,” she says. “Women should do whatever makes them feel good, but I do wish that we would accept our aging selves.”
The man who played Joey Tribbiani—the 1990s most affable lunkhead—has a shocking secret: "I dyed my hair the whole time on 'Friends.'" When the hit show’s spinoff, Joey, ended in 2006, LeBlanc decided to go au naturel. "I just was sick of [dyeing] it," he says.
After a few years playing Dad to his daughter, Marina, LeBlanc debuted his salt-and-pepper coif on Showtime's "Episodes." The new, mature-looking 'do worked for him; the show's a success, and he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 2012.
“My hair was one of those odd, amazing, unbelievable, stop-you-in-your-tracks creations--not unlike a zebra's stripes, an armadillo's ears, or the feet of the electric-blue-footed boobie—that the Universe makes for no reason other than to express its own limitless imagination.”
"The Color Purple" author and 1983 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction has always sported and supported natural hair, writing about it extensively over the years. As a young activist and poet, she wore an afro, replaced eventually by her signature dreadlocks, and more recently, by a easy-to-maintain crop. While silver-gray streaks were apparent in her dreads, the color is much more visible with the shorter cut—a badge of honor for growing old gracefully.
Though it seems like CNN’s silver fox has always had his trademark mane, there’s evidence that he was once, in fact, a brunette. The son of socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, Cooper began graying at age 20, a transition still visible in his earliest onscreen news reports during the early 1990s. And while he was initially reluctant to accept the change, he discovered its benefits. “In the TV news business, gray equals gravitas," he says. "My advice? Give in to gray. Make the most of it while you're still young."
Like Helen Mirren, music legend King is successfully pulling off the evolution from blonde to gray. Unlike Mirren, she’s not doing it through a variety of sleek haircuts. Instead, King is keeping her long, naturally curly style – the same one she’s had for decades.
Until recently, the Tony winner and Oscar nominee has carefully maintained her blonde locks in public. Then, in late 2012, she began appearing on red carpets sporting gorgeously styled, unmistakably silver layers. It hasn’t hurt. The 67-year-old is set to appear in five films in 2014.