Celebrating Seniors - Barbara Feldon is 83
Would you believe...that writer and actress Barbara Feldon is now an 83-year-old octogenarian senior citizen?
While pursuing an acting career and living in New York City, she won the grand prize as a contestant on The $64,000 Question in 1957. Right, Barbara Feldon (then Barbara Hall) being asked a question on The $64,000 Question in 1957 by actor/singer/dancer Gene Kelly. (Photo: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Barbara met and fell in love with Belgian photographer Lucien Verdoux-Feldon and they married in 1958. Left, Barbara Feldon and Lucien Verdoux-Feldon in their New York City apartment. (Photo: ilovegetsmart.com)
Barbara Feldon told People Magazine in 1983 that while she and Lucien were working to open an art gallery together, she lost 30 pounds, and began to get work modeling and acting in commercials.
Small acting roles on television led to a guest-starring role for Barbara Feldon opposite George C. Scott in an East Side/West Side episode; this role, combined with her commercial work, brought her to the attention of comedy writers Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. When Mel Brooks and Buck Henry were developing a new television comedy, they thought of Barbara Feldon for the role of a female secret agent.
Barbara Feldon's marriage to Lucien Verdoux-Feldon was breaking up, and she moved out to California alone to star in Get Smart as Secret Agent 99, opposite leading man Don Adams (Secret Agent 86).
The Get Smart series ran from 1965-1970, beginning on NBC and ending on CBS. Barbara Feldon was twice nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1968 and 1969) for her performances on Get Smart.
Right, Don Adams and Barbara Feldon in Get Smart. (Photo: sitcomsonline.com)
During the run of Get Smart, Barbara appeared in the movie Fitzwilly (1967) co-starring Dick Van Dyke.
After her divorce to Lucien Verdoux-Feldon was finalized in 1967, Barbara Feldon lived with Get Smart producer Burt Nodella from 1968-1979. When her romantic relationship with Burt Nodella ended, Feldon moved back to New York City, where she still lives today.
In her autobiographical book of essays, Living Alone and Loving It (2002), Barbara Feldon said that she and Burt Nodella were still good friends. Update: Burt Nodella died February 2016.
In the post-Get Smart years, Barbara Feldon was seen in guest appearances on television during the 1970's, and in the odd movie such as Smile (1975). She appeared in the 1989 made-for-tv movie Get Smart, Again! Her last big-screen movie appearances was as a septuagenarian senior citizen in The Last Request (2006). Feldon has had a successful career with voice-over work in commercials and other projects, poetry readings, and appearances in off-Broadway plays.
Most recently in November 2015, octogenarian senior citizen Feldon told the Sunshine Coast Daily that she'd be traveling from her home in New York City to attend the Supanova in Brisbane, Australia. She also told them she is working on two memoirs - one about her marriage to Lucien Verdoux-Feldon, and another about growing up in Pittsburgh.
Right, Barbara Feldon in 2013 (Photo: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
When interviewer Colin Broderick (The Wallbreakers) asked octogenarian Barbara Feldon in 2013 what her anti-aging secret was, senior citizen Feldon answered:
"The credit goes to a chart I came across about 35 years ago that showed the rate of aging with and without exercise. It was stunning! Instantly, I became an exercise junky, and have made it the top priority of my day for decades. It’s nothing heroic, just the minimum exertion for the maximum result, which seems to be a half hour of aerobics most days and weights a couple of times a week...Being a vegetarian probably helps too. Well, not strictly vegetarian, I eat fish."
Happy 83rd Birthday, Barbara Feldon!