Janet Rescigno loves films. She picks the movies for the Senior Activity Center and shows them two Wednesdays a month as part of Cinema 114.
I had the opportunity to speak with Janet at her home last week about this avocation. When she let me in, “Dial M for Murder” was playing on the Turner Classic Movie Channel. Janet quickly turned it off and said, “I know the words to this one by heart.”
She told me that she has been interested in films since she was a kid in Queens. “I was a child actor in movies in the 1930s,” she said, adding that she made “Little Rascals”-type films in the Bronx, Brooklyn and New Jersey. “The filming was a side business of a guy in the neighborhood who owned a shoe store. Then World War II broke out and he could not get film.”
After that, she was able to get into radio, and, as she put it, “I yelled into a mike until I was 14.
“My father was in the coal business in Queens and throughout my teens I helped with the shoveling and the delivery while I still made time for my acting,” she said. She was in a number of plays with Chuck McCann including “Twelfth Night” and “The Man Who Came to Dinner.”
Janet enrolled in pre-med at Queens College but had to leave to take care of the business when her father had a heart attack.
Eighteen years later, she returned, earning her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Stony Brook and her master’s in psychotherapy from C.W. Post.
She worked as a therapist and her late husband, Bob, was an engineer for the New York City Board of Education. They raised three children in Dix Hills.
They retired to the Island about 20 years ago and became active in the community here. Bob was a Korean War veteran and got involved with the American Legion.
He also ran the senior bowling program. “Bob was a film buff and we loved the movies of the 30s and 40s,” Janet noted. “When we came home from the movies, we’d act them out for my mother who stayed at home.”
When asked what she looks for when choosing a movie, she said she tries to pick ones that have won awards. “I also try to find key words that give the essence of the film.”
She hopes to continue to be involved in senior citizen affairs but has stopped for a period of time after Bob’s death a few months ago.
“I also hope we can find someone with his skills to run senior bowling.”