Michael York: 'I have not lost anything. In fact, I think I’ve gained'

In 2022, actor Michael York—oh, you know him from something—and his wife Pat sold their $7M house in Hollywood Hills, and their extensive art collection, and, well, even the plaque Michael received with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Then moved into Charter House to be closer to Mayo Clinic.

Patricia McCallum Photographer taking pictures of her new husband Michael York outside Kensington Register Office
“This is the image of Michael and myself after our wedding ceremony, when one of the photographers gave me his camera and asked me to photograph Michael,” says Pat York.
Contributed / Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Ala/Alamy Stock Photo

Michael York 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 grew up as the second of four children of a musician mother and an ex-Royal Artillery British Army officer/businessman father in Oxfordshire, the southeast county in England that connects the Cotswolds to the Chilterns (rolling hills to more rolling hills). Was schooled at Bromley Grammar School for Boys then Oxford. Joined the National Youth Theatre as a teen.

Landed a role in a BBC-TV movie. Made the jump to the big screen as Tybalt in the 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet. Found fame as Brian Roberts in 1972’s Cabaret and as D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers a year later.

Played John the Baptist in Jesus of Nazareth. The Antichrist in The Omega Code. Logan in Logan’s Run.


Narrated the entire New King James Version for an audio Bible. Voiced Dr. Lionel Budgie on “The Simpsons.” Wrote five well-received books (including The Readiness Is All: My Odyssey of Healing from Mayo Clinic to John of God and Beyond.)

Played Basil Exposition in Austin Powers. Professor Asher Fleming on “Gilmore Girls.” Himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Received the OBE (The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Won two Emmys. Was voted to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

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.”

Michael, age 11.

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.

Steve Lange [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.”

Michael York: Well, I’m flattered. I’m truly flattered.


Steve: You’ve been nominated for two Emmys, won a Satellite Award and two Lifetime Achievement awards. Where does this stack up in those awards?

Michael: Why, this is right at the top.

Steve: You are off to a good start. Was this a typical morning for you, except for me coming here?

Michael: 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.

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“This is the very first photograph of our first meeting in 1967 when I photographed Michael for Glamour magazine,” says Pat York.

Steve: Since you mentioned university, I’m going to give you some names: C.J. Lukey, R.V. Neve, P.S. Fenwick, D.E. Tennant, K.V. Turpee ...

Michael: That’s the ‘61 class from Bromley Grammar School [in London].

Steve: [showing a photo of the class].

Michael: My name was Johnson, then. M.H. Johnson. I think I was school captain. How did you get this? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen this.


Steve: I do my research. Charter House takes you back to those Bromley days, those Oxford days?

Michael: 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.

Steve: I reached out to a few doctor friends of mine about your doctor, Robert Kyle. They described him as “a world-renowned expert in hematology.”

Michael: He is amazing. Pat, explain how Dr. Kyle came into our life.

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Michael as the titular character in 1976’s Logan’s Run.
Contributed / Pat York

Pat York has been called “a major voice in the world of photography.”

She was born Patricia Watson in Jamaica to an English diplomat father and an English mother, attended a French convent school in England and was tutored in Germany, eloped as a teenager (for a short-lived marriage) and gave birth to a son, Rick (a film producer).

The artist-turned-photographer soon became the portraitist for the stars (Andy Warhol, the Kennedys, John Travolta). When she got tired of shooting celebrities, York turned to artistic photography.

Her 2004 book, “Pat York: Covered-Uncovered” starts with her celebrity photos. Part two focuses on ordinary people—including their plumber—who agreed to be photographed in the nude, while working. Part three features Pat’s groundbreaking work photographing human cadavers.


As a couple, Michael and Pat have been described as “a binary star, each in orbit around the other.”

So, as soon as Michael asks Pat about anything during this interview, she jumps in seamlessly.

Pat: I will first tell you how I met Michael. I lived in New York, and I worked for Vogue and Glamour. My magazine editor sent me to photograph Tom Stoppard [a playwright and screenwriter] in London. I was also shooting the new young hot actor called Michael York, who had just come out in two movies. And we were both engaged to someone. I was engaged to S.I. Newhouse [the billionaire magazine publisher], though I had asked him to wait for us to set a marriage date. Well, Michael and I just clicked. We both broke off our engagements. He proposed on Juhu Beach in Mumbai on Valentine’s Day of 1967. We were married in 1968.

Steve: As far as contacting Dr. Kyle, I know that was an important decision, since you are big believers in complementary and alternative medicine.

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Elizabeth Hurley and Michael York in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997).

Pat: So I was very worried that Michael, in L.A., was getting misdiagnosed. But I didn’t know for sure. But I didn’t feel confident. He was being treated for multiple myeloma. Then a really nice doctor in L.A. gave me Dr. Kyle’s number at Mayo, and we became friends on email and phone calls. Dr. Kyle, at one point said to me, “Well, what are his symptoms?” And I told him about everything, including the purpura [a rash of purple spots] around the eyes. And he said, “You know, I don’t think he’s got multiple myeloma. I think he’s got amyloidosis.”

Steve: That was like 10 years ago?

Pat: We came here in 2012. Michael had a checkup. They decided it was amyloidosis [a rare disease that occurs when a protein called amyloid builds up in organs]. And it was suggested he have his first stem cell transplant, which was a big success. And our whole life had been nothing but travel. We were in our house maybe two months a year. So we continued that life and we came back here about every five months for a checkup. Then in 2018, he needed a second stem cell transplant. We stayed in a guest apartment here. We decided last year that we should move here definitely.

Steve: Michael, you describe amyloidosis as “the Rodney Dangerfield of diseases.” That’s a great line.


Michael: Yes. At that time, amyloidosis was not fully on the radar. It was there, but it was little appreciated. But since then, it’s become extremely well-known and extremely well-provided for. Now, I see a Dr. [Morrie] Gertz every month or six weeks or so. It’s been a wonderful place.

Steve: What are your hobbies? I know you and Pat played some late-night Scrabble with Jane Fonda ...

Michael: Well, I must say I like watching movies.

Steve: What’s the last movie you watched?’

Michael: Oh, it was wonderful. I’m trying to think of the name of it ... Seabiscuit.

Pat and Michael York at an exhibition of Pat’s photos at the West Hollywood Library in 2018.
Contributed / Pat York.

Steve: That’s a good one. I’m going to give you some of your own movie descriptions. You tell me what movie it is. I will read them like an announcer reading for a trailer.

Micheal: I can’t wait to hear it.

Steve [in announcer voice]: “While escaping war-torn China, a group of Europeans crash in the Himalayas, where they are rescued and taken to the mysterious Valley of the Blue Moon, Shangri-La.”


Michael: Lost Horizon.

Steve. Yes. A Russian immigrant finds himself in bed with the mob after buying a sexual novelties shop.

Michael: I remember. I think they changed titles. Did they end up calling it Merchants of Venus?

Steve: Yes. Last one: Sparks fly—and the heat is literally turned up—when Dr. Kornack goes undercover as a pizza oven salesman and seduces notorious deep-dish lover Dame Pomeroy to solve the mystery of Kornack’s missing Weimaraner.

Michael: I can’t believe this. I know I’ve had some gaps in my memory lately, but I would remember this one.

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Pat and Michael in L.A. in the 1980s.
Contributed / Michael York.

Steve: You’re right. I made that one up. OK. What’s the best restaurant meal in Rochester?

Michael: Well, we like the fish restaurant ... Pescara. Also, Terza and Twigs.

Steve: That’s good, because they’re all advertisers.

Michael: We love trying the local restaurants.

Steve: One of the first movies I saw in the theater was Logan’s Run in 1976. I was seven years old, and it had a real impact. I know you’ve been heralded as a serious Shakespearean actor, but Logan’s Run stuck with me.

Michael: I got the script and turned it down. I didn’t think it was for me. At that time, I was doing a play in L.A. ... The theater company hired a young man to drive me to the theater, and we became friends. I got the script and I didn’t think it was for me. And this kid driving me, he saw the script and said “Do you mind if I read this?” I said, “Oh, of course.” I came back. He was wagging a finger. He said, “You don’t understand what’s going on, but I do. You need to do this movie.” So I did. He did me a real favor. So always listen to your chauffeur.

Steve: I will remember to do that. What’s your favorite photo from your wife’s portfolio?

Michael [pointing to a large framed print above the table]: This one.

Catherine Oxenberg and husband Casper Van Dien posing with Michael York and wife Pat at the ceremony in which Michael York received  the 2198th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. June 28, 2002.           -            YorkM_Pat_VanDien_Oxen
Michael York and wife Pat (front) as Michael receives the 2,198th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles in 2002. Catherine Oxenberg and husband Casper Van Dien stand behind.
Contributed / Tsuni / USA / Alamy

Steve: I was going to guess it was her shot of Jane Fonda in her Barbarella outfit standing over a stove cooking dinner.

Michael: How interesting. That’s not my favorite, but one of the doctors here loved it.

Steve: I was going to guess your favorite was not Plumber, 1997. That’s the photo of your naked plumber working under your sink.

Michael: Oh, no.

Steve: I’m going to just throw out the most name-dropping sentences imaginable. You won a David Hockney painting by outbidding Cary Grant.

Michael: Well, we got the Hockney. And then Cary was forever trying to buy it back. Cary became a good friend. I was resident in Monaco, in Monte Carlo, and knew Grace [Kelly] very well. And she would invite us to lunch. And one time, Cary Grant was also there. He came down the steps into the reception area and fell into Pat’s arms. He said, “There’s no place I’d rather be.”

Steve: Wow. The only comparable story in my life would probably be when I was a celebrity parade judge at the Viola Gopher Count, with Tom Overlie ...

Michael: That sounds lovely.

Steve: Yes. Right. OK. 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?

Michael: 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.

Steve: That is great. You don’t sound like someone with many regrets.

Michael: I don’t believe in them. Regrets don’t do anyone any good.

With that, Michael and Pat show me to the door, offer to walk me out. I know my way, though, and I know they have plenty to do.

Return a call from an art studio hoping to display some of Pat’s paintings. Meet a group for their regular exercise class. Prepare for dinner at the Skyview Dining Room (Charter House’s restaurant).

Plan a daytrip to Lanesboro for Amish Country. Find a good Indian restaurant to celebrate the 55th anniversary on Michael’s wedding proposal. And, tomorrow morning, take that walk down to the Corner Cupboard for coffee with Rochester friends.

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