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Aging Hollywood Stars: Is 50 the new 30?

Written by Jennifer Strailey and Paul Wolf

Hollywood is helping debunk myths about aging and inspiring people to re-think what it means to be 40...50...60...and even 80!  Check out these celebrity A-Listers who are defying age and labels fearlessly.

What do Teri Hatcher, Heather Locklear, and Johhny Depp have in common? They're over 40 and each has been honored as one the world's 50 most beautiful people in People magazine.

Middle age spread, midlife crisis and male pattern baldness: not long ago these fateful words defined what was sure to be a sensible-shoe-wearing life after 40.

Not anymore. Not with people like George Clooney, Antonio Banderas and Felicity Huffman turning back time, redefining American beauty and getting a groove on.

Not content to fade into a sexless, slow lane existence, a generation is redefining what it means to be over 40, or even 50. We've snubbed society's expectation that we become blander, safer versions of our younger selves. We've refused to accept that age is an obstacle to anything we want to do. We're dating, remarrying, starting new careers, starting over, and determined to look good doing it.

This is no small thing, especially for women. As Goldie Hawn has said, "There are only three ages for women in Hollywood: babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy." This is still true, but the babes like Rene Russo, Susan Sarandon and Hawn are getting older.

They will never be senior citizens. But if anyone will make those years pulse with sensuality and style, it'll be Madonna. The only label she's ever embraced is Maverick, and that's just because she had to call her record company something. Her confidence, resiliency and in-your-face sexuality inspires bold self-expression at any age.

At 53, Madonna is sexier than ever because she knows what men like Sean Connery and Jack Nicholson, have always known: attitude is the best anti-aging potion there is.

So, leave the beautiful to People, because we don't care how Jessica Alba manages that youthful glow. We're captivated by celebrities over 40, who defy aging and labels and inspire us to live large in our 40s and 50s, wrinkles and saggy bits be damned.

Here we celebrate our favorite people past 40 who are as fabulous as they are fearless.

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Kevin Spacey

With heart-stopping subtlety, raw emotion and the certainty of James Bond, Kevin Spacey, 52,George Clooney and other actors and aging has redefined middle-aged masculinity. His acting is full frontal. Whether he's playing the Sensitive Man in Pay it Forward or the really Bad Dude in Superman Returns, there's no part Spacey doesn't unzip for his audience.

Madonna
Since 1982, she's reigned as pop queen, actress, dancer, exhibitionist and media manipulator extraordinaire. And just when you think she's emptied her Dolce & Gabbana bag of tricks, she does something really shocking like turn out a series of top-selling children's book and embracing Kabbalah.

At 53, Madonna remains so fiercely hip that millions still aspire to her style. You can bet the Material Girl turned wonder woman will have moved on to something else before the wannabes can find a parking spot at the mall.

Cher

From Sonny Bono's sidekick to variety show has-been, to singing sensation to Bagel Boy Toy, to celebrated actress to infomercial hell and back again-Cher is the mother of reinvention. For some 40 years in the public eye, she's faced her critics head-on, then turned around and shaken her half-naked, tattooed booty at the lot of them. At 65, Cher's still crazy, sexy, cool.

Sophia Loren
Her sex appeal is so palpable, in a turtleneck and pants she looks like she's wearing nothing but the curve of her hips, luscious lips and cocoa butter skin. This is as true today of the 77-year-old legend as it was some five decades ago when the Italian beauty steamed up the silver screen.

How does she do it? The woman, who has said that sex appeal is 50 percent what you've got and 50 percent what people think you've got, admits to having found what Ponce de Leon was after. "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love," says Loren on Sophialoren.com. "When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age."

Hillary Clinton

Mother.  Wife.  First Lady. Senator. Secretary of State.  You can already hear whispers about 2016. With Hillary, nothing surprises. Admired and despised, called victim and manipulator, ideological one moment, pragmatic the next, Hillary has been a Rorcshach test for America.

Even Hillary-haters are wowed by her strength. She's redefined what it means to be a First Lady, a wife and mother, and given hope to late bloomers everywhere. The frumpy brunette turned herself into a radiant blonde and seized New York with her brains, not her connection to Bill. At 64, Hillary Clinton is getting another chance at being Hillary Rodham.

Oprah
You know you're an institution when your last name just takes up space. And what does it say about you when the pundits turn you into a verb? "The Oprah-ization of our society has changed the way we ... "  As sensitive as she is shrewd, Oprah is the most powerful architect of our confessional culture. At 57, she sits atop an empire, which includes her TV network, her production company and her magazine.

She's done it all with every pound of her body and every aspect of her personal life under constant scrutiny. Maybe that's what's kept this gazillionaire so real, or maybe it's something else. Either way she is America's woman next door.

Hugh Hefner It's impossible not to admire the man who's built an empire based on the male fascination with naked women, made millions lounging in his pajamas, and pulls it off without looking like a sleaze.

By today's standards Playboy is relatively tame, so it's easy to forget that Hefner was one of the most controversial leaders of the sexual revolution. He's brought legitimacy to the lifestyle summed up in his magazine's name, and given the common man the courage to feel a player in a sophisticated world. Turning 85 this year, this business-savvy swinger still gets the babes and makes it all look easy.

George Clooney
Who could have guessed in the 80s that a young George Clooney on the popular TV show Facts of LIfe would sky rocket to A-list.  With more than his fair share of failed TV pilots and flops, George is the ultimate example of "good things come to those who wait".

Today, George Clooney is our ultimate movie star:  sexy, debonair, intelligent.  Winning an Oscar in 2005 for his role in Syriana, the 50-year old mega star is not resting on his laurels.

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