Talks & Interviews — January 15, 2014 at 12:34 am

Retirement home: life after the entertainment industry (exclusive)

photo credit: Joanne CoatesAll those who have worked in the entertainment industry, eventually age and retire. Some remain active, doing occasional jobs, but most just enjoy life. There is a portion of those retired industry professionals, who live in specialized nursing care facilities.

Such places are made specifically for those, who have worked in the entertainment industry, both in front and behind the camera.

The Lillian Booth Actors Home of The Actors Fund in Englewood, New Jersey is one such place. The facility is named in honor of philanthropist Lillian Booth, who donated a substantial amount of money to the facility. It provides a comfortable living environment on six acres of property for many retired entertainment professionals.

BZFilm spoke with Jordan Strohl, the administrator of the facility, about the conditions of the place, and how the retired professionals are treated there.

As Strohl told BZFilm, the Lillian Booth Actors Home is the recipient of U.S. News and World Report’s coveted “Best Nursing Homes in America” award, bestowed on the best 2,700 of the 17,000 facilities nationwide.

Strohl said there are 124 retired industry professionals residing in the facility.

“They represent a diverse cross-selection of the entertainment industry – from stagehands to writers to producers and, of course, dancers and actors, too,” he said. “Nearly every entertainment union is represented under one roof in Englewood, New Jersey.”

Strohl said that The Actors Fund aims to create an environment where an artists’ creative momentum can continue throughout their life.

photo credit: Joanne CoatesWhen asked if aside from the in-facility activities, the residents still occasionally get industry jobs, Strohl said that many of them do.

“Many of our residents continue their professional careers. We have residents who perform in cabaret venues in Manhattan, who do jazz gigs in clubs, and who continue their writing, painting, fine art, or other creative ventures from the comfort of their home here,” he explained.

Of course the residents of the facility love to share their stories, and the Lillian Booth Actors Home got that all covered.

“We recently did a series of Q&As with our residents for The Actors Fund’s Marquee newsletter. There are many great stories and anecdotes from some of our residents,” Strohl said.

Among those who are staying in the facility are: pianist and singer Larry Woodard (won BackStage Bistro Award and a MAC Award winner—the cabaret industry’s highest honors), Judith Malina (actress, writer and director), Gene Feist (playwright, theater director), Aideen O’Kelly (Irish stage and television actress), Joseph Jarman (jazz musician), Skipp Lynch (actor – Blue Steel, Glengarry Glen Ross), and others.

Strohl also said that the Lillian Booth Actors Home welcomes everyone who has dedicated a major portion of their careers to performing arts and entertainment, as well as their immediate family members.

It should be noted that the Lillian Booth Actors Home of The Actors Fund is licensed by the Department of Health and qualifies for Medicaid and Medicare.

Individuals who have dedicated a major portion of their professional lives to the entertainment industry are eligible for admission, without regard to their ability to pay.

The Actors Fund provides funds to subsidize the extraordinary care that residents of The Lillian Booth Actors Home of The Actors Fund receive.

Current residents of the facility include fascinating individuals from the world of stage and screen encompassing actors, vaudevillians, Ziegfeld Follies dancers, comedians, band leaders and set designers.

The facility was the subject of the short documentary film Curtain Call (2008), directed by Charles Braverman, and the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).

photo credit: Joanne Coates

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