Arthur "Double A" Albert, a.k.a. "The Godfather of Raquetball" (center)
At the age of 78 years young, I was picked from 9,000 audition tapes to be one of 10 castmates on the Ashton Kutcher-produced reality show Forever Young. The show threw 5 “seniors” over 70 into a house with five “juniors” under 30 and filmed what happened next.
The result provoked both uproarious laughter and heartfelt tears from TV audiences across the country. And it also revealed the secret to youth — no matter your age. Read on to discover six important "Forever Young" lessons and how you can apply them in your own life.
How did I even hear about Forever Young? Because in my 70s, I pursued my passion for acting in a more meaningful way. I took professional voiceover lessons, picked up modeling and acting gigs, and appeared as an extra on the Late Show with David Letterman 12 times. I even got picked to play a crazed granddad in a skit on Saturday Night Live!
When I heard about Forever Young, I went for it. My audition tape was me dancing to the music of Earth, Wind and Fire. When we filmed the show, my “senior” castmates showed a similar, “try anything” spirit, which included everything from online dating to chest waxing.
My father David—we called him King David—instilled in me the importance of honesty and character from a very young age. Growing up in the Bronx in the Great Depression, we didn’t have much. But I learned from “King David” the importance of putting your head on the pillow at night with a clear conscience and an untroubled mind.
On Forever Young, we saw the way bottled-up secrets can create tremendous stress and anxiety. It happened when “junior” Angelina tearfully confessed to us that she's gay, but had never had the courage to come out to her mom. I told her then: “the truth will set you free.” And that’s exactly how things turned out.
Most of my life I’ve worked in the textiles industry. But the value of honest work for honest pay was something I first learned selling hot dogs in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium in the 1940s. Those were the days when Joe DiMaggio was playing. It wasn’t easy for me to move up from selling programs to peanuts to hot dogs and beer. I had to fight for every opportunity and prove my sales skill at every turn.
For one of the challenges on Forever Young, I was put onto a team that had to compete selling hot dogs from a food truck against a team selling tacos. We threw ourselves into the challenge and, working together, we pulled off the win!
As the saying goes, no one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I spent more time at the office.” While working hard and achieving success is definitely important, I’ve always believed in that Nat King Cole song "Nature Boy":
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn,
Is to love and be loved in return.”
As you get older, you will never have the opportunity to turn back the clock. So hug your family members today. Tell the people you love that you love them. Spend time with your old friends. And be ready to make new ones along the way. Whatever your age now, be sure to create precious moments in time that will become memories you will treasure for the rest of your life.
As viewers of Forever Young discovered, a huge part of my story is that I’ve been playing racquetball for 50 years. I’m known as the “Godfather” of the sport. And at 80, I’m still teaching youngsters how to play the game in New York City.
But it might not have turned out this way. In the "Mad Men" era, I was a two-pack-a-day smoker. That’s how things were back then. But I got a wake up call at age 35: I was diagnosed with glaucoma. I put down the cigarettes and picked up my racket. Through surgeries and ongoing treatment, I’ve retained most of my sight to this day. But without early diagnosis and real lifestyle changes I truly believe I would have been six feet under long ago.
Sometimes on Forever Young it was hard to tell who were the seniors and who were the juniors. Whether attempting to learn new technologies or the latest moves on the nightclub dance-floor, we all approached the experience with a positive attitude and a sense of fun. The show has been such a blessing to me. It was an incredible experience. And the enthusiastic response from viewers—especially those who’ve written to me on Twitter and Facebook—have made it even more gratifying.
I hope we succeeded in showing America that, whatever you look like on the outside, if you keep the happy child inside you, you will be Forever Young.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.