That's an amazing run. A controversial guy (now that I read his obituary), but surely one who has experienced the evolution of all the nuts and bolts of the entertainment industry over the years.
Yes. I think he had almost disappeared from the screen in the 1960s and 1970s and the fact that he returned from the 1980s seems pretty much related to the sensation that his age was. Heesters was never a "high arts" guy and in his final 10-15 years he certainly got TV appearances primarily for his age rather than for skills.
Concerning his controversial biography, I think his native Netherlands pretty much stopped regarding him as a Dutchman decades ago. So when he eventually got one final public appearance on stage in his Dutch home town three years ago, most viewers probably already regarded him as a foreign performer.