Patricia Wright Ellis of Newport Beach will turn 100 years old on Monday.
She’s been an actress and a college professor. She has survived three husbands.
So, what’s her secret to a long life?
“Lots of sex,” she said Friday with a laugh, adding later that she was just kidding.
Ellis, who moved to Corona del Mar in 1962 and has lived in the Bluffs community since 1974, certainly maintains her good sense of humor. She is planning to have small gatherings with both family and friends this weekend to celebrate her birthday.
She grew up in Washington and received her bachelor’s degree from Washington State, moving to Hollywood in the 1940s to start an acting career. She became well-known as Roberta, the female lead in the 1952 Three Stooges movie, “Cuckoo on a Choo Choo.” She also was an announcer with Jack Bailey on the hit daytime series, “Queen for a Day.”
But Ellis said Friday that her time as an actress ultimately was “boring.”
“Nothing to do,” she said. “They put you under contract and you just sit, and sit, and sit. I got tired of that.”
Later in life, she received her master’s degree from UCLA and went on to become a college professor at Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Long Beach.
Newport Beach resident Carol Tomlinson has been a close friend of Ellis’ over the years. Ellis used to swim with Tomlinson’s water aerobics group before Ellis suffered a stroke that has slowed her down in the last couple of years.
“I had a hard time keeping up with her,” said Tomlinson, who is now 76. “She was so on top of everything … To be honest, she’s been my role model for a long time. When I met her, she said she was [online dating on] match.com. At that point, she was probably in her late 80s. She would have guys come over to her house to go out.
“I said, ‘You can’t do that.’ I was worried about her, but I became attached to her.”
Ellis said making it to 100 years old was “amazing,” adding that she didn’t expect to live this long.
She has four step-children now in their 60s and 70s, said her nephew, Russell Wright, who is in town from Michigan for his aunt’s birthday.
“She’s been great,” Wright said. “I kind of take care of her from afar.”
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