You’d think that after four years of college, four years of medical school and however long it took to get through residency and internship plus any specialty training, most doctors would think they were “fulfilled.” But that’s not true. In addition to being avid golfers – just try getting an appointment when your dermatologist has a great tee time – quite a few have nonmedical accomplishments that are impressive. Medical students and even a few practicing physicians can be found in Olympic sports from swimming, running and gymnastics all the way to the professional ranks of the NFL, the NBA and MLB. It just seems that sports and doctoring go hand-in-hand.
My own personal go-to doc also had a side hustle. When he wasn’t bandaging boo-boos or setting broken bones, he was an … actor. That’s right. I trusted a thespian with my medical care. Of course, back then, the old corpus wasn’t quite as worn out and in need of specialized, dedicated care.
But back to Milt, the doctor who was also an actor. At 6-foot-4 with a gangly body and a face like a hound dog, Milt would strike no fear in the hearts of the George Clooneys of the world. He never starred in any movies you’d remember or trod the boards in Shakespearean theater. Probably his most memorable role was in a TV cop show. He played the sergeant “downstairs” who only rarely got to drop in where the detectives did their detecting.
His greatest success came from a raft of commercials. With his height, he stood out from the other actors when he made his advertising sales pitch. Yet with his kind eyes and gentle demeanor, he was nonthreatening. In sum, he was an “everyman” who could deliver a pitch for anything from bathroom tissue to brake repair and be believable. Of course, he yearned for more.
One fine day, I decided it was about time to deal with some sort of growth on my upper back. It felt like a hard cyst, and I certainly couldn’t reach it to remove it. As a longtime colleague, Milt was happy to squeeze me into his not-all-that-crowded schedule.
I took off my shirt and lay down on the examination table. Milt agreed that I did, indeed, have a hard cyst which he would be pleased to remove. After numbing the area with a few shots, we chatted for a bit before he started to cut.
In forthright Hollywood fashion, my first question was “So, what are you working on, Milt?” He replied, “I’ve got something next week. Nothing special, except Spielberg’s attached.” That got my attention, so I asked, “So what’s the plot.”
“Dunno,” Milt responded laconically. “I just read over my own sides.” Milt paused for a moment before adding, “I think it’s some sort of sci-fi about a kid from outer space.”
And that, my friends, is how I learned – before he did – that my personal doctor, Milt, would crown his career by playing a very visible role in a blockbuster at the box office and now a film classic simply titled, “E.T.”
By Dr. Duke