- Dr. Howard Tucker is a 100-year-old doctor who’s worked in the medical field for 75 years.
- His grandson, named Austin, has been making a film about Tucker in collaboration with his friend.
- The filmmaking pair started promoting the film on TikTok, where Tucker has now gone viral.
Dr Howard Tucker holds a Guinness World Record for being the oldest practicing doctor, having begun his career as a neurologist in 1947 and continuing to work on the frontlines for another 75 years, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But more recently, he’s made a big break into viral fame with his new TikTok account.
Tucker’s grandson, named Austin, and his friend Taylor Taglianetti, who have been making a movie about Tucker for the past year, decided to make a TikTok account for the neurologist as a way to promote their project.
“He struggles with technology, so even being able to explain something like TikTok to him was really tough,” Taglianetti told Insider, and said she and Austin have been filming videos of Tucker to post on the platform during their spare time on set for the film.
Ever since the pair posted their first video of Tucker in July, he’s been explosively popular, gaining hundreds of thousands of views on the platform. Tucker said he doesn’t know why his career “deserves all of this attention,” but he’s hoping to inspire his younger viewers to find a job they’ll still love doing when they’re 100.
The duo decided to lean in to TikTok challenges and ‘have fun’ with their content
Austin and Taglianetti, aged 24 and 25, are close friends who met while attending New York University together. They told Insider they decided to work together on a film about Tucker, using Taglienetti’s experience in film studies, as a way to “preserve” his memory and honor his accomplishments.
Neither of them had much experience using TikTok prior to making this account, but they decided to learn so they could use the app to promote their film.
Austin told Insider that they wanted to think of a way to tease the film without giving too much of the plot away, and eventually decided to “have fun with it,” by asking Tucker to take part in trends and challenges that were already popular on the app.
A series of videos where Tucker takes part in a challenge of reacting to music from the 1980s and 1990s to see how many songs he knows has received nearly 3.5 million cumulative views. It delighted commenters, who joked that perhaps Tucker was “too young” to have heard of most of them.
It was Austin who thought of the idea for the series, telling Insider, “When we started posting on TikTok, I became more engaged in the actual platform and scrolling through it, I came across this trend and was like, that would be interesting, to see a 100-year-old man react to 90s music.”
In a written statement, Tucker told Insider that it “boggles” his mind to learn that people are discovering him on social media, adding, “I still have much to learn about TikTok but am in awe that people find what I say fascinating and amazed at the coverage my story has been receiving and the people coming up to me who say they’ve seen me on the internet.”
The 100-year-old doctor hopes he can inspire his younger viewers
On TikTok, videos about elderly users often go viral on the platform, which is popular among Gen Z, and some older creators — known as “granfluencers” — have built up large followings by sharing life advice on the platform.
Tucker appears to have caught the attention of many commenters who say that they are impressed by his long career and are grateful that he is sharing his own experiences with them.
“I can only imagine all the medical advancements he’s lived through and had to learn. amazing!” and “I want to get a job I love this much that I’d be overjoyed to still be doing at 100 years old,” some commenters wrote under one of his videos.
Austin told Insider that the huge amounts of interest they’ve seen from younger users came as a “surprise” to him and Taglianetti because the pair thought that their film would primarily be of interest to older people who “have elderly parents,” and who they thought could relate more directly to the subject matter.
“We didn’t realize that the younger generation would be so interested in hearing about my grandpa, and the stories of his work and career,” he said.
Taglianetti told Insider she thinks Tucker has grabbed the attention of young people on the platform because of how inspiring his dedication to medicine is.
“We have heroes today that are famous for doing nothing, and here’s a man who we are lifting and popularising because he’s done incredible things and keeps doing incredible things,” she said.
Tucker told Insider he hopes that young people watching his videos on TikTok will become inspired to “find a job or work in which you are happy.”
He added, “Find something to do that has meaning and that you look forward to doing every day. So long as it makes you happy, continue to work and keep your brain stimulated. I understand there are many professions where as you get older, you simply cannot do them anymore. Until that point, continue to do what you love and never stop learning.”
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.