When I arrived to interview Loretta Swit — she’s in town performing the late Nora Ephron’s play, “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the Asolo — I thought I knew what I was getting: a famous TV icon and a tireless animal-rights advocate. But, after talking to her for five minutes, I threw my notes away. The real story here? She’s a role model for successful aging. She’s figured out how to do it and how to make it work for her.
She’s 75 years old — I looked it up — but there is no hint of the old lady to her. Her body is supple, and she has the prettiest fingernails I’ve ever seen. It’s not that she looks younger than her age or is magnificently well-preserved. She’s just a very cool 75-year-old.
Naturally, I wanted to know how she did it.
Swit was a little surprised at my questions about her regimen, but gamely answered them all. The most important thing: Protect your skin. Swit swears by the Arbonne products, a Swiss line that also has creams for men. She also insists on covering up when in the sun. This means long sleeves and long pants.
“We should learn from the desert people,” Swit says.
Next on the list is exercise. Swit does 45 minutes a day, every day, using weights every other day.
“It’s my own combination of stretches, calisthenics and aerobics,” she says.
Here we’re in sync. I do 30 minutes of swimming in the Gulf, then a brisk walk for 40 minutes. And we both play with our dogs. Swit has a six-pound Yorkie named Charamusca — “Munchkin,” for short — who is also here for the run of the play. (Her two cats didn’t make the trip.)
“No smoking, no drinking,”adds Swit. She saw the disappointed look on my face. “Well, maybe a little drinking. But don’t mix fruit juice and alcohol. And no gin, particularly for women. Leave the gin martinis to James Bond.”
Take supplements, Loretta advises. She uses biotine, the secret to her beautiful nails. I take Melatonin, St. John’s wort and testosterone, the kind you slather on your armpits. No improvement yet, but I keep hoping.
When I asked Loretta her thoughts on retirement, a blank look appeared, as if it were a word with which she was unfamiliar.
“Stay busy at something you love,” she says. “You need purpose in your life. It shows in your face and your walk.”
Her purpose at the moment includes acting (she has a new play, “One November Yankee,” scheduled for October, in Los Angeles) and her work for animals is never-ending. She’s particularly committed to Ayla’s Acres, a no-kill animal shelter in St. Augustine, and the Search Dog Foundation, which recruits rescued dogs and trains them to work with fire departments.
We were still gabbing when they came to tell her it was time to get ready for the play. And that may be the most important secret of all. She has an endless curiosity about people, places, the next project, another animal that needs help. Only after I left did I realize that the subject of “M*A*S*H” never came up.
You still have a chance to see Swit, along with Mary Testa, Donna McKechnie, Rosalyn Coleman and Roni Geva, in “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” It runs through Sunday, July 15. Call the Asolo at 351-8000 for ticket information.
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- Loretta Swit actually learned about the fabulous Arbonne products from here cast mate Roni Geva - her website is www.ronigeva.myarbonne.com ... The first time they met, Loretta asked to see Roni's driver's license because she could not believe that she was older than 19 :-)
- great article on loretta swit
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