Ellen Burstyn is an Academy Award-winning actress who has been in the entertainment business for over sixty years, but she was still stunned recently when she was recognized by a fan while she was walking near her home in Manhattan for one reason: she was wearing a mask!

“He said, ‘I’ve seen The Exorcist over 40 times. Your eyes are very familiar,’” Burstyn told AARP Magazine.

At 88 years of age, Burstyn is still as vital as ever, and she opened up to reveal some of her secrets to staying so youthful.

“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs,” she explained. “I eat healthily and I exercise. I just got a new stationary bike. You have to do the things that will get you there.”

Living in a pandemic has been difficult for Burstyn, as it has been for all of us. She has protected her own health by staying inside at all times, except when she takes her daily hour-long walk in the park.

“I’m coping, but have dips. One day I had a sinking feeling of loneliness and a Frisbee landed near me. I handed it to a little girl who said ‘Thank you,’ and my spirit lifted!” she recalled. “Kindness is really an important element of human interaction, you know?”

Thankfully, Burstyn has some excitement to look forward to, as she is garnering Oscar buzz for her work in Pieces Of A Woman, a movie in which she plays a Holocaust survivor trying to help her daughter through a personal tragedy. If Burstyn is nominated for an Oscar, she’ll be the oldest person to ever be nominated for an Academy Award.

“I really want that,” she confessed. “I think that’s a badge of something. Of longevity, certainly!”

Born in 1932, Burstyn can still remember the way neighborhoods across the United States pulled together during World War II. She’s hoping that the current crisis the world is facing will bring out the good in people, just like that one did.

“Whatever bad thing there is, there’s the other side, too — how people respond and don’t get defeated by it,” she said. “I know we’re going to be OK.”

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