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Pat Gallagher

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Why I Need Role Models Who Are Over the Half Century Mark. Here Are Some Names to Watch

Posted: 03/ 6/2012 5:42 pm

"Someone turns 50 years of age every six seconds." ... Jennifer N. Block

When I was a kid, I loved watching really good television shows, and since television was an infant itself back then, almost everything that came on that black & white box was like going to a birthday party every day. I didn't much pay attention to how old the hosts or TV stars were because all adults seemed to be the same age in my little child's mind (except for "Fred Mertz").

I did some research. Dave Garroway was actually 39 when he began his nine-year stint on the Today Show in 1952. Lucille Ball was 40 when I Love Lucy first hit the airwaves in 1951. Desi Arnaz (Ricky Ricardo) was 34, Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz) was 42 and William Frawley (Fred Mertz) was 67. At the time, Lucy, Ricky and Ethel were "adults." Fred was old.

It's 2012 and now 67 seems to be just a hair over middle age. I need some people to wallow around with me as I head toward the white light so I try to find my halfway-to-heaven peers on television.

If you don't have the over-50 list, I'm happy to provide some of the names for you:

Today Show

Matt Lauer (54) - He's the 54-year-old brother I wish I had. Oh, wait, I have a 54-year-old brother. Never mind. I just think he would be lots of fun at holiday family dinners. He always seems to be playing with a full deck of cards, and I love his sense of humor. He'd be great to grow older with because you could laugh your way into senility.

Al Roker (57) -- Is he the best?! I cannot look at that man without wanting to hug him. I wish we could be best friends, but I'm guessing he doesn't need me. Would I sound terribly needy if I said I would love to have him as a dear friend? ... OK, needy it is.

Ann Curry (55) -- Here's a TV host who makes the whole world feel warm and fuzzy. She's the kind of person you could tell all your problems to and she would actually listen and comfort you without being judgmental. Next to Dr. Phil, she's the second person in the world I'd love to sit down with for a nice long dinner chat.

Kathie Lee Gifford (58) -- Great sport. I love her feisty attitude and her ability to think fast under glass. I bet she's a loyal friend and is the kind of person who would have your back at all times. She would be an incredibly fun person to gossip with over a glass of anything. (I don't spread gossip, but I do listen to it.)

The CBS Morning News

Charlie Rose (70) - Charlie is a true southern gentleman who has the "Midas touch" when it comes to interviews. We need that sweet southern voice on live TV. I'm from the south so I cling heavily to those southern drawls. God, if you're listening, we need more southern accents on television!

Gayle King (57) - Gayle is a person who is so secure she truly doesn't mind telling people how old she is. Of course not, she looks 45. Hello! I interviewed Gayle almost exactly a year ago to discuss her OWN talk show. I was a bit nervous before she answered the phone for our conversation because, well, she's a pro. I still feel like I just came off of Ted Mack's Amateur Hour when I interview a professional television interviewer. Mercifully, she put me at ease the minute she said hello.

Good Morning America

George Stephanopoulos (51)
Sam Champion (50)
Robin Roberts (51)

OK, what are the odds these three were born within months of each other and would end up on the same morning television show? George does have the best hair in television, Sam is just dreamy, and Robin has one of the best smiles in television not to mention the best costume jewelry! I interviewed both Sam and Robin (separately) about their love of country music. Both were gracious and generous with their time (no one had a stop watch waiting to pull them from me, and they didn't give me the bums rush). I will always have a special place in my heart for them!

Fox & Friends

Steve Doocy (55) -- Disclaimer: I once shared an office with Steve Doocy back in the '80s when he was a local reporter at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. He made me laugh out loud every day because he and one of our office mates (producer Murray Schweitzer) were always throwing one-liners at each other. Steve gave me a "Doing A Good Job" certificate and signed his name with the title: "Channel 4 News Awards Guy." He is a very pleasant guy under pressure. I fall apart.

The View

Barbara Walters (82) -- Barbara Walters is a hero to everyone. I can't even make a joke about her age. She's ageless. I won't have her sharp mind, but I'm hoping to still be able to roller skate when I'm 82.

Joy Behar (60-something) -- I love her because she hates to tell her age. So do I, so don't be Googling me because they have my age wrong! Very wrong. I have a fake birth certificate to prove it.

Whoppi Goldberg (56) - I identify with her fear of flying. My fantasy is that she and I could do an Oprah/Gayle road trip one day across the United States from east to west coast in a Hyundai. I've been married for 35 years and need a cross-country break. She likes to make people laugh. I like to laugh. Perfect.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Ellen DeGeneres (54) -- Ellen is the funniest 54-year-old female comedienne alive! I love her!!! As a freelance celebrity journalist, I tried to get an interview with her many times but her "people" would have none of it. I bet she would have talked to me if she had just known I had been holding my breath every time I called her offices. Blue is not my best color. Ellen, Jack Nicholson talked to me. He did call security, but so what?

The Talk

Sharon Osbourne (59) -- She's spunky ... also a devoted mother. I interviewed her briefly at an after-party a few years ago following the White House Correspondents' Dinner. She told me how much she loves her children. I asked her how she liked her sudden fame and she admitted she loved it but wished it had happened to her before she turned 50. She's a hugger. I loved her!

Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil McGraw (61) & Robin (60) - The comedian Garry Shandling use to begin his stand-up comedy routine by saying: "I've got a lot of problems, so let's get started." Garry had an audience to hear him out. I want Dr. Phil. He is the one person I would love to sit down to dinner with for a nice long chat -- along with his beautiful wife Robin. I had the pleasure of interviewing Robin a couple of years ago after reading her book Inside My Heart. I sobbed all the way through chapter seven. It's worth the journey to go inside Robin's heart. A great read!

The Tonight Show

Jay Leno (61) - I've been watching Jay Leno forever and he has always made me laugh out loud. I tried for years to interview him, and last year when I was doing a story called: "Not All Hollywood Marriages Go Bad: Success Stories in the Land of Splitsville." I was thrilled that he "talked." I wanted some comments from him on the secret to staying married for 31 years. He was very sentimental about his wife, and shared these words of wisdom: "If you're fighting while you're dating, it doesn't get better. You will not get cuter or handsomer as you get older. So, if it's not working right now, it's not going to work later." Exactly.

Late Show with David Letterman

David Letterman (64) - I actually interviewed Dave many, many years ago for a story I was doing on his director at the time, Hal Gurnee (for Us Weekly). I was totally shocked that Dave even agreed to talk to me, but he did it because he had such high regard for Hal, who was as much of a sidekick to Dave as he was a director. The man is priceless -- one of my Top 10 favorite comedians of all time.

Paul Shaffer (62) -- If you look up the word "cool" in the dictionary, you'll see Paul Shaffer's picture. I interviewed Paul six years ago. He was what we use to call -- way back in the day -- a cool cat. Not every celebrity is an easy interview, but he was not only easy, he seemed excited to be talking to me (the little no-name print journalist). That's as good as it gets.

The Celebrity Apprentice

Donald Trump (65) -- I like him THIS much! I actually worked for him (indirectly) in 1989/90 when I worked part time for the Trump Shuttle. I volunteered to be the editor of the Washington, D.C. shuttle newsletter - The Trumpeteer - and got to go to his grand opening of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City (where the buffet table had shrimp the size of baseballs). I buy my clothes at Dress Barn and eat Uncle Ben's Rice so that was a kick for me. He's a human magnet ... people love to talk to him. I hope he lives to be 102, and I want to help him blow out his birthday candles.

Dancing With the Stars (I'm obsessed with this show.)

Tom Bergeron (56 ... almost 57) I would love to slow dance with this man. So cute. Tom is way ahead of me when it comes to thinking fast on his feet. He's one of the all-time great ad-libbers. He's always coming up with funny, off-the-cuff remarks on DWTS depending on how feisty judges Len Goodman, 67, and Bruno Tonoili, 56, get. Tom is a role model to every person who turns 56 or 57 this year.

There are more (Diane Sawyer (66), Brian Williams (52), Scott Pelley (54) Randy Jackson (55), Steven Tyler (63), Simon Cowell (52) ... but I'm way over my allotted word count. As Dave Garroway used to say: "Peace." Old hippies still say that.