We're all living at the age of innocence

MOST PEOPLE CLEARLY divide history into two periods: Before Me and After Me. To a person born in 1955, World War II was the ancient past, while the Kennedy assassination is a vivid memory. But to someone born just 10 years later, the Dallas shooting is a distant event from another era.

Any music craze, clothing style or social trend from your parents’ youth is hilariously old-fashioned; if it happened in your own youth, it is fun nostalgia; and if it happened since you were 18, you are probably working under the erroneous assumption that it is still in vogue.

Reel Life is here with some startling news: time is passing and you’re all getting older.

Here’s some perspective. When “Star Wars” opened in 1977, the style of that film — and the astonishing business it did — made “big” films from 21 years earlier (e.g., “Around the World in 80 Days”) seem like creaky relics.

Now “Star Wars” is 21 years old. Does it seem quaint, or a classic, or a fairly recent film?

It’s a matter of perception and age. Here are some other showbiz benchmarks to help put your life into perspective.

n In 1981, MTV was launched, marking a quantum leap from pics like “Viva Las Vegas” and “Bikini Beach,” which 17 years earlier had represented Hollywood’s ideal blend of youth and music. MTV is now 17 years old.

n 29 years after “Andy Hardy” movies were popular, 1969’s “The Brady Bunch” debuted and offered America a new set of fantasies about what family life should be. “The Brady Bunch” is now 29 years old.

n “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Lolita,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” opened in 1962 — marking how far films had come in the 35 years since the bow of the first talkie, “The Jazz Singer.” Now those films are 36 years old.

CLEARLY, THE PASSAGE OF TIME is a fact of life. Then why does everyone panic at the thought of getting older, feeling older and (possibly worst of all in Hollywood) actually looking older?

Maybe it’s because not many people in showbiz feel they’re exactly where they should be in their career. It’s no good to compare yourself to other people, but nobody ever said Reel Life was good for you. Below are facts that will allow you to wallow in self-pity or to cheer yourself up.

Facts To Make You Feel Bad About Getting Old

On Sept. 7, 1996, Victoire Thivisol won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival for the French film “Ponette.” She was 4 at the time.

Tatum O’Neal and Anna Paquin were each 11 when they won their Oscars; Patty Duke was 16.

At 17, Stanley Kubrick became a staff photographer at Look magazine.

When Capitol Records released “Meet the Beatles” in the U.S., George was 20, Paul was 21 and John and Ringo were 23. (When John left the Beatles, George was 26, Paul was 27, John was 28 and Ringo was 29.)

John Singleton became the youngest director ever nominated for an Oscar when, at 23, he was up for “Boyz N the Hood.”

Marlon Brando was 23 when “A Streetcar Named Desire” opened on Broadway.

Mary Pickford was 26 when she co-founded United Artists with Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin.

Jean-Luc Godard was 28 when he directed his first film, “Breathless.”

Already a veteran of 50 films, Myrna Loy was 29 when she first played Nora Charles in “The Thin Man.”

Vittorio Storaro became an internationally celebrated cinematographer at age 30 when “Spider’s Stratagem” and “The Conformist” were released.

Things To Make You Feel Better About Getting Old

Groucho Marx made his film debut in “The Cocoanuts” at age 39. Also making their debuts, Harpo and Chico were, respectively, 41 and 43.

Lucille Ball was 40 when “I Love Lucy” debuted.

At age 42, Preston Sturges directed his first film, “The Great McGinty.”

Boris Karloff became a movie star at 44 in the 1931 “Frankenstein.”

“The Learning Tree” was the first film written and directed by 57-year-old Gordon Parks.

After 42 years of steady work on stage and in movies, Angela Lansbury was 58 when “Murder, She Wrote” debuted.

“Psycho” was directed by 61-year-old Alfred Hitchcock.

When he was 71, Robert L. Surtees received his 15th Oscar nomination as cinematographer (1977’s “The Turning Point”).

Jack Palance did one-armed pushups after he won at Oscar at age 72 for “City Slickers” — his second nomination, 38 years after the first one.

At 74, Julius J. Epstein was Oscar-nominated for the screenplay of “Reuben, Reuben.”

Jessica Tandy received her first Oscar nomination, for “Driving Miss Daisy,” at age 80.

And she won.

See, this is Hollywood. We always like to give people a happy ending.

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