Age no barrier for comeback queens . . . and magical Meryl
Katharine Hepburn knew a thing or two about survival. After all her career was almost dead in the water before she was 30 after a string of flops saw her labelled "box-office poison".
She rallied, of course, and was in her 40s when she made a celebrated series of comedies with her real-life lover Spencer Tracy. As an older actress she chose roles cleverly, and won an Oscar at 61 in The Lion in Winter, and another in her 70s, for On Golden Pond.
A huge star in the 1930s and 1940s, Bette Davis's reputation was badly damaged by a turbulent personal life and a series of very bad film choices.
By the mid-1950s Davis had became a parody of herself, and was reduced to appearing on TV shows. But Bette never knew when she was beat, and was widely praised for her comeback turn in Frank Capra's Pocketful of Miracles. And that was just a warm-up for her unforgettable portrayal of a demented former child actress in Robert Aldrich's 1962 guignol classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.
Arguably the most consistently brilliant Hollywood actress of them all, Meryl Streep has been at the head of her profession for four decades and shows no sign of tiring. She came to prominence in films like The Deer Hunter and Kramer vs Kramer, and in the 1980s became famous for transforming herself for character parts in Silkwood, Out of Africa, Ironweed and Sophie's Choice.
But if anything she's gotten better as she's grown older, and some of her very best work has been done in recent films like Julie & Julia, The Devil Wears Prada, The Iron Lady and Doubt.