Tag Archives: Love

Filmmaker Sue Marx realizes ‘Young at Heart’ (The Sequel)

Who doesn’t enjoy a good love story?

You may already know part of this one…

Scene 1: 1983

Sue Marx was just out of surgery—but was determined to attend a party that night. Husband Hank thought she needed rest. Sue disagreed. “Schoenith parties were a Who’s Who in Detroit,” she says of legendary party givers, Tom and Diane Schoenith, owners of the Roostertail nightclub. At the party, a guest noticed blood on Sue’s white blouse. She introduced Sue to Dr. Yvan Silva, a fellow guest.

“Follow me,” Dr. Silva said. He led Sue and Hank to Receiving, the nearby trauma hospital where he was on staff.

India-born Silva had studied medicine in Bombay before moving to the U.S. for residencies. He was also the head of Wayne State University’s Surgical Residency program and later co-chair of surgery at Harper Hospital in the Detroit Medical Center, a position he’d held for years. At Receiving, Dr. Silva cleaned, numbed and restitched Sue’s wound.

“I’m going back to the party,” he said. “You go home.”

Dr. Silva refused payment. To thank him, the Marxes invited him to dinner. A divorced dad, he spotted the pool in back. Could he bring his daughters swimming? He did so a few times that summer. That was the last the Marxes saw of him for several years.

Scene 2: LATE 1970s

Sue’s mother had died. Father Louis Gothelf, 84, was bereft. He painted and fished, but nothing consoled him. Sue heard some local artists were taking a painting trip to England. She convinced her father to go. Sue says, “A fairytale began.”

On the plane, Lou sat next to artist Reva Shwayder, 83, a widow of several years. “They hit it off big time and talked and ate their way across the Atlantic.”

The tired group of artists arrived at their hotel on the ocean in Brighton Beach. Reva’s room was tiny with no tub. Lou’s was nicer. Reva moved in. By the time they got home, they were in love.

Scene 3: MID 1980s

An award-winning documentary film maker, Sue thought her father’s story would make a great film and “put a positive spin on aging.” She and co-producer, Pam Conn, raised the money and proceeded. Calling their film Young at Heart, Sue got George Burns to give her free music rights to his version of the song. The film “was the ultimate love story between two entertaining octogenarians. It brought hope to all who thought love only happens to the young.”

Two film festivals later, the film was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary Short. Reva and Lou attended the Oscars along with Sue and Hank.

They didn’t just attend. They won an Oscar!

“Oh, what a night!” Sue says as she recalls walking on stage with Pam to receive their statuette that night.


Sue continued with her career. She and Hank enjoyed a happy marriage and raised three daughters. In recent years, Hank suffered heart disease and died.

Meanwhile, Dr. SIlva continued with his medical career. Known as “the singing surgeon,” he had a voice like Tony Bennett’s and also sang at local nightclubs. He remarried. His second wife was stricken with cancer and died.

Scene 5: 009

Yvan was singing at an event at the Townsend Hotel. Sue attended. Several days later, he called. They went out for dinner. “And that was it!” Sue says. “A new love story began.” Marx and Silva (several years younger) became a couple. Their daughters and grandchildren were delighted. All of their kids lived out of town. Sue’s friends became Yvan’s friends. And he became their medical consultant.

A new version of “Young at Heart” is playing out. When people ask Sue if she plans to make a sequel, she answers with an emphatic: “No. It’s the same story with a new cast. American born Sue; India born Yvan. Different and in love. What more is there to say?”

Just that they’re living happily ever after.

What brought this story to mind was my friend Bill Haney’s new book,  What They Were Thinking. In his latest memoir, Haney writes about Sue and other influential Michiganders he has known. His 16 subjects also include Dutch Leonard, Ernie Harwell, Jack Kevorkian, JP McCarthy and Denise Ilitch.

Bill opens the book with a quote of his own: There is more than one way to live a life, but the best way is with gusto.

Thanks for the insight, Bill.  And the memories.

(Whether you’re young at heart or body, please share your Godsign stories with me.)

In Second Marriage, Love Blossoms Again


Anne nursed husband Bob through five tough years with cancer.  Before he died, he said, “You will meet someone with even more in common.  My best legacy will be for you to enjoy a happy second marriage.”

Fourteen months after Bob died, his prophecy had not come true.  Then, at a neighborhood holiday party in Santa Barbara, CA, Anne ran into a local builder.  He was renovating the elegant nearby San Ysidro Ranch and offered her a free night in the hotel. She decided to spend Christmas Eve there.

A week later at a different party, Anne spotted Michael across the room.  A casual acquaintance and local philanthropist, Michael was several years older.  Still Anne says, “I felt an invisible hand on my shoulder pushing me toward him.”  This old-fashioned, 60-something widow found herself asking Michael what he was doing Christmas Eve.  “Not much,” he said.  She invited him to dinner.

She reported the invitation to me, her big sister.  I shrieked, “You invited him to a hotel? What will he think?”

“I don’t know how I had the nerve to ask Mike out, especially to a hotel,” Anne says.  “I had never done anything like that before.  I think I was propelled by Bobby.”

Michael arrived at Anne’s cottage bearing a bottle of champagne and a large bouquet of roses.  They dined and talked in front of a glowing fire and danced to the one CD in the cottage.   At 11pm, Michael “gave me a lovely kiss and was out the door, the perfect gentleman.”

The next morning, Anne gathered up the roses.  In the firelight, they had looked pink.  In daylight, she realized they were apricot.  Apricot was the color of the roses she carried in her wedding to Bob over 32 years ago.  Bob had continued to present them every year for their anniversary.  Just before he died, he’d paid the florist in advance to deliver apricot roses to Anne once a month for the next year.  As if the flowers weren’t enough of a Godsign, Anne realized something else.  The CD to which she’d danced with Michael was by Tony Bennett—Anne and Bob’s favorite singer.

Later that morning, Anne returned home.  Michael had dropped off a bag of seedless tangerines.  The note read, “These are from my tree.  They are sweet but not as sweet as you.”  Seedless tangerines were Bob’s favorite fruit.  And the bag Michael put them in was a Hallmark-type bag with a photo of Venice, Italy.  Venice was Bob’s favorite city and the last big trip Anne and Bob took together.

Putting her apricot roses into a vase, Anne walked upstairs and placed her hand on an antique silver box holding some of Bob’s ashes. She asked: Is this the man you want for me?  She says she felt “a warm current run up and down my spine.”

Anne and Mike have been married for seven years.  Friends often call their marriage a match made in heaven. 

Anne says, “I couldn’t agree more.”