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Old Hollywood and a Mandarin duck

Hollywood and the entertainment industry has always been obsessed with youth and beauty.  Aging, saggy, seen-it-before is rarely welcomed in television anymore.  It’s a dying breed.  In fact, “aging Hollywood star” is practically a contradiction in terms.  Especially when newer models are always around the corner.

But there are a handful left over in TV-land.  My own mother’s beloved Mark Harmon of NCIS is a well-aged 67.  His New Orleans counterpart, Scott Bakula, is 63.  Ted Danson, whose latest success has come from The Good Place, is a 70-year-old silver fox.  And Criminal Minds’ senior profiler, Joe Montegna, is a vintage 72.

Yes, a few grand dames are still working too.  Candice Bergen returned to Murphy Brown fame at 72.  Christine Baranski makes lawyers sexy at 66 in The Good Fight.  Sela Ward is leading the FBI at an unfathomable 62.  And Betty White had a surprise career resurgence a few years ago at 88.

But the men certainly dominate the limited airtime when you include the likes of Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Kelsey Grammer, Ed O’Neill, Danny DeVito, Beau Bridges and Mandy Patinkin – all of whom continue to have starring roles on hit shows.

However, their appearance in said shows is still often lauded like a second coming that defies all odds.  That’s what makes them marketable.

Which means the aging star isn’t really a dying breed.  It’s more like a Mandarin duck in New York.

The Chinese waterfowl that recently showed up, so far from its natural habitat, has had everyone in a flap.  Tourists and residents alike have been flocking to Central Park toting cameras and hoping to catch a glimpse of this spectacle of nature.

The bird is native to East Asia and thus, considered a rarity in the U.S.  However, according to the experts, these pricy ducks are imported and kept as pets or shown in a zoo.  This one is thought to have escaped or been dumped by an owner who lost interest.  And his mysterious origin story has just added to the lore.

He seems to be having trouble with the language or the local customs because this fowl has run afoul with other birds on multiple occasions.  But the public doesn’t care.

His feathers are a glorious rainbow of colours, the likes of which most have never seen.  That is, unless they’ve been to East Asia or have any familiarity with birds.  Ironically, seasoned bird watchers say he’s nothing special.  He’s just an anomaly for the general public, and a marketable product for New York tourism.

Which makes aging actors the Mandarin Ducks of Hollywood.  Few are welcomed beyond their native home.  When they are, most prefer the males with their colourful plumage, even if they have a slight attitude problem.  However, they’re mostly kept out of sight except for select viewing, and are easily replaced with something shiny and new.

But Hollywood needs more Mandarins, including the less flashy females.  Just imagine how much more colourful our entertainment would be.

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