For many years. Abe Vigoda was the butt of the joke regarding shock over him still being alive. I even had the Firefox extension years ago that simply displayed his life status. He just looked so old in the Godfather. He is, alas, dead. Who are some people that kind of fill that role now? Who might some of us not realize are still living?
I’ll go first.
Willie Mays is still alive at age 89. And God bless him, a national treasure.
I hadn’t realized, either (and I, too, read a lot of her books when I was a kid), and then, a couple of years ago, I read an article about her which mentioned she was still alive. (And, according to Wikipedia, as of this writing, she still is. )
Until recently I thought Cedric the Entertainer had died. Apparently I had him confused with Bernie Mac, who was also in The Original Kings of Comedy. I saw part of the film not long after it came out, but don’t remember much about it.
I suspect many people are missing part of the point from the OP’s question. The Abe Vigoda meme existed because he was that character actor who looked old decades ago. He played grandfathers back when many of us were still small kids, and here we are adults turning grey ourselves and he’s still there.
So naming a bunch of old people isn’t really the game. Betty White might fit the meme best, she was playing a Golden Girl back in the frigging 80s.
I’m always surprised when I hear mention of Pope Benedict XVI. I always assumed that a pope was the pope until he died, but Benedict resigned in 2013 after holding the position for 8 years. He’s now 93.