According to Mel Brooks, his 33-year marriage to Anne Bancroft is wonderful, but her fans are a bit of a handful. “I have to carry a cane and beat off some of the men,” says the 71-year-old director and comedy writer. “They have never grown up. They were teenagers during The Graduate, and they have been in an erotic state ever since.”
The man whom “Mrs. Robinson” seduced knows why. “She would stop you from breathing, because there was something stunning about her,” says Dustin Hoffman. And with her deep-set brown eyes and salt-and-pepper hair, Bancroft, 66, has a mystique that only increases with time. “Her beauty has grown,” says Arthur Penn, who directed her Oscar-winning turn in 1962’s The Miracle Worker.
Yet the actress, whose most recent work includes G.I. Jane and Great Expectations, is nonchalant about her image. “I do not think about being beautiful,” she says. “What I devote most of my time to is being healthy.” Bancroft puts in 40 minutes a day on the treadmill and adheres to the Pritikin diet of fish and steamed or water-sautéed vegetables (organically grown), cheating occasionally on “something like osso buco or a great Chinese meal.” And the medicine cabinet in the Brooks house in Santa Monica is stocked with holistic products. “I have embraced everything,” she says. “Astragalus, CoQ-10, all the vitamins. They really build up my immune system.” For peace of mind she meditates and takes naps to rejuvenate. “To me it is the most exciting, the most rebellious thing, to go to sleep,” she says.
To keep her luster, the 5’6″ Bancroft gets collagen injections (“a great find”) around her mouth about three times a year. Otherwise, she’s a do-it-yourself woman. For her recent appearance at the Oscars, Bancroft took charge of her own hair and makeup. “I’m very old,” she says. “I’ve learned how to do this stuff. I thought I never looked better.” Smiling, she adds, “I am growing up.”
When will she be done? “I think God will tell me.”