Ron Chilton is 80-years-old and has a lot to show for it. In addition to a film and television career â€“Â he most recently appeared on an episode of ABCâ€™s â€œNashvilleâ€ â€“Â he is also a tremendous athlete, having won 500 medals in 18 years of being a senior athlete. He is a competitor in the Kentucky Senior Games, specializing in the long, high and triple jump. We caught up with him to learn a little bit more about this astounding manâ€™s glorious career.
Your nickname around town is â€œRadio Ron.â€ Where does that come from?
Well, I spent four decades in radio, starting in 1960. Everything from a rock â€˜nâ€™ roll DJ on WAKY to a talk show host in Lexington and finally station manager of the first University of Louisville station, WUOL classical music.
Along with being on the radio youâ€™re also an actor. When did you get your start in theatre?
Well, actually I was in all the plays in college at the University of Kentucky, my undergraduate school. I spent all my summers in the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, Ky. as an apprentice and also as an actor. And when â€œRaintree Countyâ€ came along I got in that. Boy, I was bitten by the bug, Iâ€™m telling you. I had so much fun â€“ itâ€™s still a magical summer that I recall so vividly. It starred Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. I was Montgomery Cliftâ€™s stand-in. I got to stand nose to nose and toes to toes with the most beautiful creature in all the universe: Elizabeth Taylor.
Letâ€™s talk about the senior games. When did you first start participating?
I think it was 1997 because in â€™95, I started investigating, going online and finding out what was available, and I saw where they had local and regional and even national games. So, I started participating in some local or regional games in Elizabethtown and bombed out in glorious ways â€“ I didnâ€™t move very well at all. But I started investigating what it would take, started running and lifting weights, going to the gym, finding out about diet, so I really buckled down and started leading a totally different lifestyle.
What about the National Senior Games? Do you ever participate?
Every two years, they have the national games. Theyâ€™re held in different cities, San Francisco, Miami, Dallas and so on. I donâ€™t do anything like this. Youâ€™re talking about some tremendous athletes. I was in San Francisco six years ago, and there was a guy there in tennis. I thought, â€œHe looks like he might have a little age on him.â€ I went up and introduced myself and asked, â€œHow old are you,â€ and he said, â€œI was 102 my last birthday.â€ And this guy is still playing tennis.
What would you tell someone your age who has never done anything like this but is interested?
Iâ€™d say go for it! Get off the couch and dive right in. See what you can do. I recall when I started investigating the senior games and the possibilities, I thought, â€œWhat am I going to do during my retirement years? Stamp collecting or catching butterflies?â€ No! I wanted to be active. I wanted to do something with vitality and vigor. Iâ€™ve always had a zest for life, so I rather adopted the philosophy of the Dylan Thomas poem: I will not â€œgo gentle into that good night.â€ By golly I choose to, â€œRage, rage against the dying of the light.â€ VT