He went on to star again on
Broadway and to earn an Emmy nomination for his work on Bewitched.
But control of his back pain became a constant and losing battle,
despite all the attentions of doctors and physiotherapists. One day,
emotionally and physically run down and fighting off pneumonia, York
had a seizure on the Bewitched set, was rushed to the
hospital and disappeared from the public eye.
Off the show, York said, he was able to take
pain medications that he had shunned so he could remain alert while
filming. When the pain was finally under control, he had to fight
addiction to those drugs.
Then he had to come to grips with what he had
lost, and what he had gained.
“There’s a sense of failure,” York acknowledged
quietly. But he also learned anew how rich he was in his wife and five
children. And he came to an understanding of himself that had eluded
him in his hectic career.
“Of course it was a depressing time. Certainly,
it was. But isn’t life? And isn’t it marvelous?”
During his years out of the limelight, York
recovered his health and wrote screenplays. In 1980 he signed a
contract to develop television and feature film projects. That came to
naught, but soon after, he, family members and friends collaborated on
Not Long Productions, which produced whimsical short subjects for HBO.
The Yorks, who once owned a home in the
Hollywood Hills, live in a small apartment in Covina next to an
apartment building they once owned. But they won’t let pathos claim a
toehold on their lives. When York’s wife, Joey, apologized for the age
and state of their sofa, York became impatient. “What the hell,
darling,” he chided. “This is us.”
The two first met when she was 12, he 15. They
will celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary in November. “Life
without each other is one of non-existence,” Joey said fervently. York
turned to her. “Just remember, when I die I’m not going anywhere,” he
said tenderly. “Where would I go?”