ALICE DALE is living proof you can keep the creative juices flowing well into “retirement”.
At the age of 92 the former actress has just released her third novel Double Diagnosis, a psychological thriller touching on depression, amnesia, the argument for and against abortion, and whether it’s all connected to two murders.
Dale enjoyed a long and successful career on TV and in the theatre – she played Nan in the ABC TV series Lockie Leonard, was in the film Thunderstruck, appeared in My Fair Lady at His Majesty’s, and performed at The Old Time Music Hall and the Playhouse Theatre.
But Perth locals probably know her best for her regular stint at The Civic Theatre, where she wrote and performed in umpteen comedy sketches, creating hilarious characters like ‘Elderly Maggie’ and sending up famous films including The King and I.
She co-founded the Civic with the much-loved late Scottish performer Max Kay, her comedic partner in crime.
If that wasn’t enough she also taught drama and English to aspiring actors in Perth, and worked at Santa Maria Girls’ School, teaching Shakespeare.
After such a busy and fruitful career, you could forgive Dale for taking it easy in “retirement”, but at the age of 90 she decided to have a go at writing a novel.
The words started to pour out with Ae Fond Kiss and His Final Performance hitting the book shelves over the next two years.
Both novels drew on her early life growing up in Glasgow, Scotland.
Dale is actually the sister of famous Scottish comedian Stanley Baxter, but she didn’t want to cash in on the name and changed her surname. She moved to Perth in 1974.
So what’s the secret to keeping young in spirit and retaining your mojo as your get older?
Well thankfully there’s not a glib answer from Dale like ‘Drink a sherry every night’.
Dale has had it tough – she’s overcome breast cancer, two knee replacements, a shoulder replacement and just recently had a pacemaker fitted.
She reckons a good GP and regular check-ups are the way forward.
“If you don’t like what or how your GP is with you…get a better one that listens to you and works for you and with you,” Dale says.
“I’ve been lucky with mine. I just wish you got frequent flyer points for doctors visits and blood tests…I’d have been around the world twice in business class!”.
Keeping the mind and body active is important too: Dale attends philosophy classes at her local learning centre and does chair yoga.
She also likes to travel and takes advantage of the support services offered by airlines for elderly flyers.
Her brother Stanley is 96, so the living- long gene must run in the family.
Dale’s latest book Double Diagnosis his its roots in Perth – it was first written by Dale as a stage play and performed at the Effie Crump Theatre (now the Oasis Comedy Club at the Brisbane Hotel).
To find out more about Alice Dale’s inspiring life and her books go to alicedale.com.au