In the early 1920’s, over 1,500 bright children entered the study. They were about ten years old. Some stayed healthy and lived long. Others faltered and did not recover.
Some became well-known and were publicly identified. Here are some of the well-known participants who appear as examples in the new book, The Longevity Project.
Shelley Smith Mydans—A True Adventurer! Shelley Smith Mydans seems to have done it all. She cultivated a successful marriage, raised children, and was an outstanding reporter. She worked for Life Magazine as a researcher and reporter, going to Europe in 1939, then to China, and finally landing in the Western Pacific. Captured in Manila during WWII, she spent two years in a POW camp where one of her tasks was to pick weevils out of the cereal. Also a novelist and a radio commentator, Mydans led a life full of exploits and accomplishments. But she stayed healthy and lived long. How can such a hectic and adventurous schedule lead to long life?
Edward Dmytryk—Lots of Stress and Long Life! The son of an immigrant family, Edward set out on his own while still a teenager, working his way up from messenger boy at Paramount Pictures to become a highly successful director. Although jailed for “contempt of Congress,” and blacklisted for a time by Hollywood, Mr. Dmytryk thrived and survived, living to age 90. How could this be?
Douglas McGlashan Kelley—A Puzzling Death! Douglas Kelly grew up in California, later becoming a doctor and a professor at UC Berkeley. In the 1940's he worked for the U.S. Army Medical Corps, studying and evaluating some of the highest-ranking Nazis in preparation for their war-crimes trials in Nuremberg. Kelley was empathic, funny, and respected; his work was compelling and important. That is what makes the story of his shocking early demise so fascinating and tragic. What can we learn from Kelley’s life and death?
Jess Oppenheimer—He Didn’t Just “Love Lucy”! He loved life and he loved his work. Born in 1913, Oppenheimer started writing comedy for radio, and then moved to writing and producing television shows including I Love Lucy and Get Smart. His comedic style was in great demand. What does science say about cheerfulness, humor, and health? It’s not what you think.
Norris Bradbury—Taking on the Challenge of the A-Bomb! Decades after entering the study as a child, Norris Bradbury became an atomic physicist, playing a key role on the Manhattan Project. He followed J. Robert Oppenheimer as director of Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was tremendously successful in this highly stressful job. Successful and long-lived, Bradbury went from strength to strength. Why do the successful tend to live longer, despite the stress?
Ancel Keys—Not Your Average Runner! Mr. Keys had a lot to say about diet, and he probably influenced what you eat. He believed that physical activity was very important for good health, but he wasn’t an advocate for extreme diets or bodybuilding, and he didn’t recommend marathon-running. So how did he live to be 100?