Chair dancing, poetry readings and musical performances are some of the activities that residents of Life Care Center of Port Townsend, Washington, can join in on a weekly basis, and retired theater and film actress Rebecca Young is having fun tapping into her inner Ginger Rogers.
Born in Fort Worth in 1929, Rebecca always seemed to have a sparkle in her eye since childhood when attending a myriad of live theater performances with her family. She was captured by the lavish costumes and exquisite sets and paid close attention to the acting talents that surrounded her.
After graduating from high school, Rebecca enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in acting. There she met her future husband, Joseph, a history major who fell in love with acting and Rebecca at the same time. Joe later became a stage director and playwright. Rebecca blossomed at UT, where she appeared in numerous stage productions.
“I was fascinated by the performing arts all of my life,” said Rebecca. “I think my interest in acting and performing came from my grandmother, who taught me piano and loved plays, particularly Shakespeare.”
After attending UT, Rebecca and her husband – both in their early 20s – moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where Joe eventually graduated from Yale University with a master’s degree in playwriting, while Rebecca appeared in several productions at the Yale Repertory Theatre.
After their time at Yale, Rebecca, Joe and their growing family of three boys lived in many places, including Emporia, Kansas; Palo Alto, California; Wurzburg, West Germany; Panama City, Panama; White Plains, New York; and, perhaps fittingly, Youngstown, Ohio.
“I appeared in various stage productions at the Youngstown Playhouse, and my husband was often the director of the play,” Rebecca said. “One of my favorite roles was Miss Adelaide in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ as we toured military bases in West Germany in the late 1950s and early 1960s. That was a wonderful time in my life.”
In addition to her stage roles, Rebecca also appeared in a few industrial films and TV shows. As time passed, Rebecca divorced and moved to the Seattle area, where she took an interest in learning Mandarin Chinese.
“In my late 50s, I moved to Taiwan to improve my Chinese and teach English for two years,” Rebecca said.
After returning to the States, Rebecca lived in the Seattle area before eventually retiring to the Olympic Peninsula.
“If I were to give advice to young people who study drama or older people making a career change, it would be simple: Work hard at perfecting what you love, and don’t give up on your dream. I feel that I followed my dreams, and I would do it all over again.”
You can find Rebecca at Life Care Center of Port Townsend, enjoying lively conversations with her fellow residents during mealtime and participating in poetry readings, chair dancing and art classes. Rebecca certainly charms the residents and staff with her smile, which can light up any room she enters – the same way it lit up the stages she performed on.