This CelebrEighty Column is written by Judy Katz… ‘m not ashamed to tell you that I have been married three times. Everyone’s journey is different, and I give my all each time. In my first marriage, my husband was eight years older, the second was 14 years older, and my last husband was 16 years older. Now I’m 82. I’m good with dialing it back a little for my next and final husband. How about a nine or 10-year difference?
Before you snicker at my possible interest in dating—and perhaps marrying—your father, grandfather, or great-grandfather, hear me out. Movie star Clint Eastwood is 91, and he still looks damn good. Even better, look at William Shatner, also 91. Another stunning fellow, James Earl Jones, is 92. I could list another dozen of these fascinating nonagenarians. Some of these icons are married. Some are divorced (Shatner) or are widowers like James Earl Jones. My one true (secret) love, the incredible Harry Belafonte, is 95, and happily married to his beloved Pamela.
This brings us to a critical juncture: I may be perfectly delighted with a nonagenarian like the icons mentioned— all of whom I’ve met at various times by the way: I met James Earl Jones when he still had his great love, wife CeCe, Shatner when he was with Elizabeth, and Harry while still married to Julie. Now that some of these extraordinary men are or may be “back on the market,” so to speak, there is just one problem. While they have gotten older, guess what: so have I!
Would they be interested in this 82-year-old, granted, with my delightful personality and well-seasoned charms? Look—rich, famous, and very much in demand, men like these know they can attract much younger women—even several decades younger—and good luck. Let’s take these world-renowned examples off the table. Instead, let’s talk about why it might be in everyone’s best interests to refer your family member or older friend to me, be he in his late 70s to late 90s, and why he might thank you for making this connection—-even though he too could conceivably find someone much younger if he cared to.
I was 75 when my rabbi friend introduced me to Jerry, who was then 98. He was tall, handsome, brilliant, and sharp as a tack. As a wealthy tycoon with a jet-set life and homes in three different places, including a villa in the Dominican Republic, a mansion in Mamaroneck, and an aerie on Fifth Avenue, he had his choice of international socialites and other women of many different types and ages. Nonetheless, I won him over, and we had the most incredible four months before he, unfortunately, passed away just seven weeks shy of his 99th birthday.
Thanks to my joyous experience with this incredible man and the wonderful family that came along with him, I recognized that age is a number. When you get into your 80s and 90s, you ideally become adept at living in the present, one day at a time, relishing every shared experience deeply because you know you’re in Act Three.
Encouraged by my beautiful though sadly cut short time with Jerry, I went headlong into online dating and met many “elderly gentlemen” in my age group that way. Please don’t judge me for this next story: I fully understand the ravages of age. I am a realist. I’m not the same Judy of even five years ago, let alone ten, twenty, or more years earlier. But – I am not ashamed of keeping my photos current and real.
One of the men I met was interesting to talk to by phone, so after several conversations, I agreed when he invited me to the Yale Club for lunch. As I entered the building, I saw a tiny man, thin and stooped over, coming towards me, pushing a walker. It was my date. His physical appearance did not match the image I had formed from his various online photos or his deep masculine voice. He explained that his aide would pick him up after lunch and take me home. While that was very kind of him, and he was a sweetheart, his disability was too extreme. As I said, my photos were current—his photos were not. Perhaps, had he been more candid, his dramatically different appearance and infirmities might now have come as such a shock. But they did as he did not accurately portray himself.
After several similar experiences with other “octas” and nonas,” I decided to let the universe take over and find me a match. I don’t need a man, but if there is someone out there for me in my late Act Three, I would want a man who can make me laugh, a cuddler and dog lover who is a good conversationalist and in reasonably good health, as am I. Is that your Poppy? Please send him my way. You’ll be doing us both a favor. In the meantime—maybe I’ll bump into Bill or Earl again. Hey, you never know!
My love to you all. In case you need it, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.