By Chuck Arnold
Updated February 16, 1998 12:00 PM
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THIS IS SIXTY?!

Is it just us, or is 60 not what it used to be? Exhibit A: Oscar-winning actress turned fitness guru Jane Fonda, who hit the big six-oh a few weeks ago. Contrast and compare with the old Andy Griffith Show’s Aunt Bee (played by the late Frances Bavier from age 55 to 63) or The Beverly Hillbillies’ Granny (the late Irene Noblette Ryan, from age 58 to 67). Something else to think about: Anne Bancroft, when she played the “older woman,” Mrs. Robinson, in 1967’s The Graduate, was 36. What, if anything, is going on here? “Today when somebody hits 65, which people think of as being old, you typically hear, ‘But you don’t look old!’ ” says Gene Cohen, director of George Washington University’s Center for Aging, Health and Humanities. “Whereas a generation ago, they would more likely look the age that people expected.” And, er, how much of a role might plastic surgery have to play in that? “People are more comfortable having it today,” says Cohen, “but they’re also more comfortable not having it. So it is good both ways. There’s more of a sense of robust health and power.”

MONICA VS. MONOLOGUE

For The Tonight Show’s Jay Leno, President Clinton’s alleged affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky is a laughing matter. “If this was really bad, if people were dying, you couldn’t tell a joke about it,” says Leno, 47, of his rationale. “But this is not cancer—this is human frailty, and everybody suffers from that. Most people don’t know anything about Bosnia, but everybody knows somebody who cheats.” One White House target, however, remains out-of-bounds. “Where I draw the line is Chelsea,” Leno says. “If someone is an elected official, they’re fair game. But you don’t have to drag their family into it. You know, politics is like the Mafia—just keep away from the wives and the kids.”

SAY AMEN, SOMEBODY

Serving as executive producer, director, screenwriter and star of his new drama The Apostle, Academy Award winner Robert Duvall says he made a believer out of himself. “I didn’t want to do it, I had to,” says Duvall, 67, who has won raves for his performance as a Pentecostal preacher. “My CPA said, ‘Oh, I think you have enough money. You can do it.’ So essentially my CPA green-lit the movie.” But was his accountant gambling with his money? “No, no, he’s really cautious. He said we can do this movie, so I thought, ‘Well, maybe we can,’ ” says Duvall, who wrote the script some 12 years ago. “It was always now or never. Then it really became now or never—I’m getting older.”

BLONDE AMBITION

Playing an auburn-haired lawyer in the new John Grisham crime thriller The Gingerbread Man gave Daryl Hannah a chance to prove, beyond a shade of a doubt, that this blonde isn’t dumb. “Normally I don’t get cast in roles of professional women,” says Hannah, 37. “I always get cast as a love interest because I have blonde hair. But [director] Robert Altman was nice enough to see beyond the superficial. It was really fun to prove that it’s not pigment that makes someone a believable lawyer or doctor.”