Dancing Grandmother, 93, Melts Hearts Online With Her Joyful Videos

A positive to come out of the coronavirus pandemic is that people have realized the importance of staying connected. One such way is by utilizing social media, but many still consider this the exclusive preserve of the young.

However, Marie Francis O'Brien, known affectionately as Fran, is living proof that you are never too old to meet new people online. In fact, at 93 years old the Florida-based grandmother has become a viral star on TikTok with more than 120,700 followers.

Her account, Fran_the_hip_gram, has surpassed 3.5 million likes and is crammed full of funny videos, fashion tips and light-hearted dance routines.

"Anything you want to do, do it. You can do it," she explains to Newsweek. "I just tell everyone age is just a number. It's how you feel. What's in your heart; that's what does it."

O'Brien's first video, which has 7.2 million views, was posted on July 26 by her granddaughter Alison Krause.

The pair made the footage, which can be watched here, to cheer up O'Brien's daughter Colleen who was "very ill" from "two stage 4 cancers."

To distract her from the chemotherapy the duo made a funny video of the 93-year-old showing off her bulging wardrobe, before modeling a range of glamorous outfits, including skyscraper heels.

Set to the Britney Spears song "Oops!... I Did It Again," the text overlaying the video reads: "When you live into your 90s and your daughter told you to stop buying more clothes."

They sent the video to Colleen, and O'Brien reveals: "She was laughing and it made us feel good.... The next day Alison said, 'Hey, Gram, I posted it on TikTok. I said I don't know a thing about TikTok, I don't know what you're talking about. And then it went viral."

The nonagenarian has been sharing videos ever since, including a humorous clip about a single man moving into her retirement village and sweet footage of her dancing while being carried by Krause.

Becoming internet famous has also resulted in the grandmother getting recognized in her local town of Naples. She explains: "Even when I went for my booster shot, the PA said 'We've got the TikTok lady.'

"A few stores here, when I've gone in, have said, 'You're the TikTok lady, you're the TikTok lady.' And I'm overwhelmed, I keep thinking we're talking about somebody else."

Krause, who is 33, reveals that her grandmother has "really enjoyed interacting with a lot of her followers and people who are viewing her videos."

"I think that there are a lot of people who have not seen their grandparents because of COVID or who have lost grandparents recently. And they find such comfort in her in just her positivity and her joyfulness."

O'Brien also sometimes goes live on TikTok to talk with fans with the help of her granddaughter. She says: "I love to chat. I speak with people from all over the world.

"My very first chat was from Australia and she was just great. All of them, everywhere, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, everywhere."

As Krause lives in Washington DC, the elderly woman has filmed some videos with the staff at her retirement community, who her granddaughter says "are so proud of her and are just so excited to show all the other co workers" that she is famous.

But perhaps one of O'Brien's most recent videos, which can be watched here, is her most joyous of all.

Posted on September 20, it shows herself and her daughter Colleen dancing along to ABBA's "Dancing Queen," with the caption: "When your daughter beats cancer, you have to dance in matching outfits."

As the two move about in unison, the Swedish singers belt out the lyrics: "Having the time of your life." And we can't help but feel that O'Brien is doing just that.

Marie O'Brien
Marie O'Brien has become TikTok famous at the age of 93, with her popular account, Fran_the_hip_gram. Marie O'Brien