Danny Burstein. a Broadway star, has appeared on and even been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Rebecca Luker, also a Broadways star, captivated the audiences with her appearances in “Mary Poppins” and “The Music Man.”
Burstein and Rebecca’s marriage bliss began as a friendship in the mid-’90s while doing the “Time and Again” show together in San Diego. At the time, Burstein was still married to his first wife, and together, they had two children.
Luker, on the other hand, was freshly divorced from her husband, Gregory Jbara. A year and some change after their meeting, Burstein was ending his marriage when the best thing to ever happen to the two of them did.
They were cast for the role of lovers in the “La Jolla Playhouse.” Their devastating divorces gave them a common ground, and they quickly formed a bond. Soon after, they realized they had found their soulmates.
Their first few moments together, however, were anything but perfect. Their first fight was in Luker’s apartment, and she had gotten so angry that she’d thrown a clock at Burstein.
Burstein recalls the incidence, saying that he’d, fortunately, ducked and missed being hit by a whisker. Then Luker had stormed off to the bedroom, Burstein following closely behind, wondering what had made her so upset.
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Luker said it was because she thought they would be breaking up, but Burstein corrected her, saying they weren’t, and it was just an argument. Even though they did argue over the years, they always found a way to resolve their issues, as Burstein recalls:
“And we did argue over the years, but mostly did our best to talk things out. I can honestly say we never went to bed angry at one another. We both made sure.”
Having come from a difficult marriage, Burstein was hard of trusting and did not know how to deal with how easily Luker was accepting of him. He was constantly wowed by her warmth, her kindness, and how pure of heart she was.
MARRIED AT LAST
In 2000, the two exchanged their nuptials at City Hall in New York City, alongside many others looking to get married fast. Burstein’s divorce had lasted three years to be concluded, and he did not want to waste any more time.
Soon after their wedding, they got back to work, putting in many hours, but to Luker, it was a dream come true. She had shows lined up, and the icing on the sugar was being married to the love of her life.
Burstein recalls them always running to be in each other’s company after work, something he says lasted many years. She was also a fantastic stepmom to his children Zach and Alex.
He says she treated his children as her own and loved them unconditionally. And her unending love was reciprocated by the two little boys. They loved her!
Soon, they were spending good times at a little place they’d purchased on Pocono mountains and would make meals for their friends, build bonfires on cold evenings, and swim in the lake on warm summer days. They were truly enjoying life.
Their marriage lasted an incredible two decades, and in this time, the two did not have any kids together, but they had a blast raising Alex and Zach.
[Burstein] was devasted at losing the woman who had made him happy for two decades.
LUKER FALLS ILL
Like any couple, the duo had their share of problems in the relationship, but they always found a way to rise above it. However, in the last five years of her life, Luker started falling sick.
One morning, she was running for the bus when she tripped and fell. A fortnight later, she fell again and sprained her ankle. She saw many health professionals and had spinal stenosis surgery.
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They were hopeful that it would alleviate the problem, but then the entire leg flared up and got so much worse that her health became a constant worry for her and her husband.
She was soon after diagnosed with ALS, followed was a progressive deterioration of her health. Her shoulders, diagram, hips, forearms, and many other body parts began failing, one at a time, until finally, her hands were no longer working.
This, Burstein recalls, was the lowest moment of Luker’s life as she loved cooking and helping around the house. Still, she kept hope alive that she would be treated and get better.
At this point, she was deteriorating so fast that the doctors who had diagnosed her with the “slow-moving ALS” were no longer sure about what was happening, and even then, Luker was still hopeful. She would say:
“I see myself growing old, being an old woman. I just know it.”
Unfortunately, ten months after the diagnosis, Luker breathed her last. But right before she died, she would often wonder and talk about how she thought her final moments would be.
She also rejected the doctor’s offer for a tracheotomy because she did not want to live out her last days attached to a machine. And for this act alone, Burstein says he’d never in his life seen anything so brave.
TRIBUTE TO HIS BELOVED WIFE OF 20 YEARS.
Burstein may have seen the end of his wife’s life coming, but it did not shock him any less when she finally passed on. He was devasted at losing the woman who had made him happy for two decades.
He was, however, adamant that he would always be grateful that he got to spend a life with her, and it was that gratitude that would see him through the pain of losing her.
Others who knew Luker, either personally or had been touched by her works, sent out flowers, beautiful notes, and even the occasional dinner. These gestures held a lot of weight in Burstein’s heart and, up until now, have kept him going.