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50 Over 50

The 'Influentials' Who Make Our Days a Little Brighter

These 50-plus stars keep us smiling

James Patterson, 65

NOVELIST

Since retiring from the ad game in 1996, Patterson has written 93 novels, many featuring his most popular character, forensic psychologist Alex Cross. He claims to be the author of one in every 17 hardcover novels sold in the U.S. We believe it.

Jay L. Clendenin/Contour/Getty Images

George Takei, 75

ACTOR

Oh, myyyyyyy! The guy we knew as Star Trek's Mr. Sulu has reclaimed fame with his pithy Twitter patter (“Pot legalized in two states, and the maker of Twinkies shutters its doors? Now that's IRONY”). You should beam him up sometime.

David Livingston/Getty Images

Diane von Furstenberg, 65

DESIGNER

She gave up her official title of “princess” in 1972 — then launched a new fashion empire with her revolutionary wrap dress. In 2012 von Furstenberg launched her first children’s collection, luring a new generation into DVF duds.

Don Arnold/WireImage/Getty Image

Ellen DeGeneres, 54

TV HOST, The Ellen DeGeneres Show

The reigning queen of daytime television uses her bully pulpit to discourage bullying. And for bullying’s victims, who sometimes find it too hard to go on, she says, “Things will get easier. People’s minds will change. And you should be alive to see it.”

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen, 63

ROCK STAR

With apologies to the late James Brown, Asbury Park's favorite son is the hardest-working man in show biz, thrilling arena audiences with shows that run three hours and more. With an appeal that cuts across all demographics, Bruce is still the Boss. 

Gilbert Carrasquillo/WireImage/Getty Images

Mark Burnett, 52

TV PRODUCER

In 2000, he helped adapt a Swedish TV series for U.S. audiences. Survivor was born, and television has never been the same. Every reality show — from Big Brother to Burnett’s own Celebrity Apprentice — traces its DNA to Survivor.    

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Contour/Getty Images

Roger Goodell, 53

NFL COMMISSIONER

If football is our nation’s drug, he’s the dealer. Since taing charge in '06, Goodell has championed the even-Steven talent dispersal policies that have resulted in a league where, on any given Sunday, anybody can be a winner.

Tom Dahlin/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Don Francisco, 71

TV HOST, Sábado Gigante

Even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish, you’ve likely stumbled upon Univision’s flagship variety show and its charismatic Chilean host. For 50 years he's been Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and Bob Barker rolled into one.  

Charley Gallay/WireImage/Getty Images

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