As a veteran showbiz journalist, Donald Zec has sailed in the Pacific with Humphrey Bogart and taken tea with Marilyn Monroe.
But Mr Zec is also a talented artist, and some of his work is exhibited and auctioned for charity next week.
The 98-year-old, who worked for the Mirror for 40 years, took up painting as a means of coping with his wife’s death in 2006 and is putting his pictures under the hammer to help Age UK.
He said one of the challenges of getting old was learning how to cope with bereavement.
“Losing a beloved partner induces a grief which is hard to bear. And with that grieving comes the loneliness, despair, and very often a sense of what’s left, why should I bother?”
He said he hopes his exhibition, which includes self-portraits and an image of a rabbi and pupil reading religious texts, will answer that question.
“I enjoy bad health and I am on first-name terms with my urologist, cardiologist and opthalmologist, all of whom work hand-in-glove for my survival,” he said.
When it comes to thinking about death, Mr Zec said it was simple: “I don’t give the old rascal a thought.
“I am inspired by the words of the great actor/comedian George Burns who said: ‘You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old’.”
Mr Zec, who was awarded an OBE in 1970 for services to journalism, said he could have surrendered to grief after the death of his wife, but he is “grateful for the life I’d been given”.
He said it was his “wise and attentive son, and an equally affectionate grand-daughter” who provide an antidote to sadness.
Mr Zec won a National Press Award as the descriptive writer of the year in October 1967.
In October 2012, he won the Oldie magazine’s British Artists Award for artists over the age of 60.
A year later, his portrait of his paternal grandfather was presented at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, jointly winning the Hugh Casson Prize for Drawing.
Sue Baker of Age UK said the charity hoped the money raised would provide older and younger generations with a chance to come together through mutually beneficial activities and events.
“We want people from all economic and cultural backgrounds to benefit from contact with each other.”
Mr Zec’s art is to be auctioned at Chelsea Old Town Hall in London on Wednesday October 4.