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It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's his 94-year-old grandma

Nov. 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM ET

Sacha Goldberger /
She's no ordinary grandmother! Frederika Goldberger lets out her inner superhero.

Meet Mamika. She may not be faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive, but this grandma is definitely a superhero. Frederika Goldberger, a sprightly 94-year-old French woman, may look like a little old lady, but just wait until you meet her alter ego, a super senior citizen who goes by the moniker Mamika.

When Frederika retired in her early 80s, retirement left her bored and a bit unhappy. As Fast Company reported, her doting grandson, Sacha Goldberger, began photographing her to help cheer her up and keep her active. After a couple of years, Mamika the superhero was born.

Sacha Goldberger /

“I always loved comics and I wanted to show what could happen to the superheroes when they are old,” Sacha Goldberger told TODAY.com. “Superman and Wonder Woman, they’re all young. I wondered what they would be like when they got older.”

Besides, Goldberger’s grandmother really is a hero — a very human hero. Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Frederika was a baroness, born into a wealthy Jewish family. When World War II erupted, she was forced into hiding. She and her husband risked their lives to help hide others as well. By the end of the war, she had saved 10 people from the Nazis. After the war, she left Hungary and emigrated to France where she raised her family.

These days, she's modeling and working with her grandson on the Mamika projects. She regularly contributes ideas for the photo shoots and enjoys interacting with all of the stylists and assistants who are on scene.

Sacha Goldberger /

“The pictures gave her something to do again and helped give her more self-confidence again,” Goldberger said. “It’s a love story. Before I made the pictures, I wanted everyone to know her — she’s incredible."

His first book with her, “Mamika: My Mighty Little Grandmother,” was published in April. The pair has held an exhibition at the Gallery Sakura in France and are expecting further exhibitions in Vienna and possibly even England and the United States. They’ve also started working on a Mamika movie together and have even published a second book, “Mamika & Co.,” which was released in France in early November. There isn’t a set release date in the U.S. for the new book yet.

Frederika, whose nickname, Mamika, means “my little grandma” in Hungarian, clearly no longer has to worry about being bored and lonely.

“Before, I’d see pictures of older people and they always looked sad," Goldberger said from Neulily, just outside of Paris. "I wanted to show that you can be old and still have a sense of humor and be fun.” 

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area writer who hopes to one day have a grandchild even half as fun and devoted as Mamika’s.

Image: Edith McAllister in swimming pool
A geriatric specialist is using photography to challenge stereotypes and show people thriving as they journey into old age.

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