By Greg Hernandez
Mark Simon was one of the first tenants to move into the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing and when the 73 year old rang his own doorbell for the first time, he cracked at the remembrance of a popular Broadway musical he’d seen: “This sounds like The Book of Mormon!”
The semi-retired actor simply could not contain his excitement upon entering his one-bedroom place on the fifth floor.
“In the words of Ethel Merman, ‘Today, this is the only place in the world to be!’” Simon said before dramatically breaking into a Merman song from the musical Happy Hunting: “Gee but it’s good to be here! Frankly I feel right at home!”
He looked out the window and pointed out the iconic Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where the first Oscars were held.
“I’m certainly familiar with the view,” he said. “I also see the church where Bing Crosby married his first wife, Dixie.”
Simon, a native of New York City, had lived in a two-bedroom apartment that he really loved in Los Feliz for 23 years. When the building was sold six years ago, he moved into a friend’s guest house.
“I had a nifty little place but the owners decided to move. Suddenly, I had a deadline to get out,” he shared. “I wanted a place that was mine where I had some rights as the tenant. When you’re in a guest house there’s no rights.”
Simon, who appeared in several plays for famed director Joseph Papp, still works as an actor playing the role of a patient for medical students and doctors learning how to interview patients for various universities and medical schools.
He was a buyer for A Different Light Bookstore in West Hollywood for six years followed by a 14-year stint as buyer for Samuel French Film and Theatre Bookshop on Sunset Boulevard. He is happy to be living amongst so many fellow LGBT people at this time in his life.
“I’ve been out since about 1976,” he said. “I always say I’m a professional gay. I worked at A Different Light! Most of my friends are gay or lesbian.”
Located at 1127 North Las Palmas Avenue, the senior housing complex is the final cornerstone completing the Center’s revolutionary Anita May Rosenstein Campus. The nearly 33,000-square-foot building has 98 units; a community room with a communal kitchen and dining facilities; and a fitness center. Residents have direct access to the Center’s Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Senior Center.
To learn more about the Center’s Senior Services, including upcoming activities and workshops, visit lalgbtcenter.org/seniors.