What a famous actor can show us about Rochester
In 2022, actor Michael York and wife and Pat traded their $7M L.A. mansion for an apartment at Charter House. And they don't regret it.
Michael York — oh, you know him from something — has been called “the quintessential British actor.” “Dashing, debonair, and intelligent.” “One of the most sought-after movie stars of his time.”
And that’s just in the first paragraph of one magazine article.
He was schooled at Oxford. Joined the National Youth Theatre. Found fame as Brian Roberts in 1972’s "Cabaret" and D’Artagnan in "The Three Musketeers" and Logan in "Logan’s Run."
Played Basil Exposition in "Austin Powers." Professor Asher Fleming on “Gilmore Girls.” Himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Lunched with Princess Grace in Monaco. Outbid — and this is the kind of name-dropping sentence you don’t often get to say — Cary Grant for a David Hockney painting. Called Lawrence Olivier “Larry.”
In 2022, a decade after Michael was diagnosed with amyloidosis [a rare disease that occurs when a protein called amyloid builds up in organs], he and Pat sold their house and their extensive art collection and moved into Charter House to be closer to Mayo Clinic.
Today, Michael York, 80, walks through the lobby of Charter House — the 350-resident downtown retirement community with a focus on “healthy aging” — and wishes “Happy Birthday” to longtime Rochesterite Tom Ostrom, says “Good morning, Theresa” as he picks up a copy of the daily Charter House newsletter, The Chronicle (with inspirational quotes and celeb birthdays), and greets me like we know each other.
We grab coffees in the Corner Cupboard (the Charter House cafe/gift shop, “Hello, Carol!”) and elevator up to his apartment, where wife Patricia — she often goes by Pat — warmly welcomes us into their fourth-floor apartment.
[Showing Michael the January issue of Rochester Magazine]: This is the January issue, which includes The Rochies, some of our best and worst stories of the past year. In the best category was “Michael York moves to Rochester.”
Well, I’m flattered. I’m truly flattered.
You’ve been nominated for two Emmys, won a Satellite Award and two Lifetime Achievement awards. Where does this stack up in those awards?
Why, this is right at the top.
You are off to a good start. Was this a typical morning for you, except for me coming here?
Well, we got coffee downstairs. We can easily have a coffee in the kitchen, but I like to get out and see what’s going on and pick up a copy of The Chronicle, the newsletter that they produce here. It’s a wonderful mixture of the serious and the ridiculous. I love it. I’m totally hooked on it. And then we will often walk around. I think it’s good to interact with people rather than to be solitary. It feels like being back at university here. There’s everything — intellectual, spiritual, and physical.
Charter House takes you back to those Oxford days?
It does. Absolutely. And I love being on this sort of campus because I like to walk to places. It also reminds me of university because there are so many brilliant people together on this one campus.
What’s the best restaurant meal in Rochester?
Well, we like the fish restaurant ... Pescara. Also, Terza and Twigs.
That’s good, because they’re all advertisers.
We love trying the local restaurants.
You sold your $7 million house overlooking the Sunset Strip in Hollywood Hills. You had a French chef you brought in for special meals. All of that. What do you miss most about that life now that you’re in Rochester?
I don’t miss any of it. I have not lost anything. In fact, I think I’ve gained. We get to live in a part of the world we want to get to know. We love exploring the area. We’ve toured an amazing art museum in Winona, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. We’ve been on the Mississippi River with a wonderful, fantastic captain who was like a professor. He told us so much. And then he took us to this place with these wonderful eagles and then they were flying above our heads. It was extraordinary. We even went to Austin for the Spam Museum. I sent postcards to all my contemporaries in the university. I’ve booked a cruise on the Great Lakes leaving from Toronto this June. We have so much to see here.
That is great. You don’t sound like someone with many regrets.
I don’t believe in them. Regrets don’t do anyone any good.
Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.