Actor Jon Voight has had a long and enduring career – even if his relationship off screen with daughter Angelina Jolie has been rocky. Voight blasted onto the national stage decades ago in “Midnight Cowboy” and was front and center and the baddest of bad guys last year in TV’s “24.” His movies and television shows are easy to find and continue to have entertainment value that don’t diminish with time.
At the gym the other day, while on vacation in Indio, CA, Jon Voight was there again. A movie was from years ago was on the TV monitor right in front of my exercycle. I started wondering if Voight could even remember that role. He’s had so many. But whether he could remember it vividly or at all, just watching his work helped me enjoy the time while on the exercise machine. Mission accomplished Jon!
Okay, so what does that have anything to do with me, Andrew, host of medical talk shows? I am not nearly as old as Jon Voight (although we are both from White Plains, NY). I am 59, he’s 71. But over my adult years I, too, have been on camera in many, many programs. Most have faded away. But the almost 2,000 webcasts and videos I have hosted after starting Patient Power in 2005 continue to be accessed day after day by people needing authoritative medical guidance. I was heartened the other day when producer Blake Shewey wrote me with the tally of the number of people who downloaded our Patient Power webcast programs during 2009. The number was 365,000. The thousands of people who downloaded our videos increases that total to probably 375,000. That is a big number when you consider these are real patients facing a serious diagnosis and needing in-depth information to make a decision about treatment and where to get care. Maybe I am their Jon Voight?… although not nearly as handsome.
Truthfully, there are very, very few other sources like Patient Power. I wish there were more since this information is so needed as we all try to “get smart” about our medical care. More than anything, I hope Patient Power can, through our new and enduring programs, make an ongoing, positive difference in health for you and your family. Some people write us and tell us we have saved their life. We are honored. But short of that, if we can help you simply get better care, it’s worth it. And we hope you can remember us in whatever way we touch you.
I vividly remember how Jon Voight touched me. In 1987 wife Esther and I were documentary producers in Los Angeles. We worked out of our small apartment on the Westside. We were working on a documentary on “Sex and People with Disabilities” to discuss what was rarely public: sexual issues for young men and women with spinal cord injuries. The program later won national awards. But while in pre-production we sought the use of a clip from the 1978 movie “Coming Home” where Jon Voight played a spinal cord injured veteran. He won the best actor Academy Award for his performance. It turned out he had final say if the clip could be used.
One morning the phone rang. Esther answered and her jaw dropped. It was Jon Voight. Jon was interested and supportive of our project and was very friendly. But for other reasons he said no. While we were disappointed, the memory remains a good one.
As my vacation gym workout ended and one of Jon’s 20+ year-old movies ended I thanked him in my mind for the entertainment over my lifetime and the call years ago. The power of content that still provides value and of remembered personal kindness.
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