03/01/1982 at 01:00 AM EST
In 1963, when 10-year-old Sindee Richards landed the role of Penny Davis, a physician's daughter, on the NBC soap The Doctors, she was advancing a step in her career, but not just in the obvious one of acting. Today, at 28, she is Dr. Sindee Rubin, a staff member at Glenbrook Hospital and an internist for PruCare, a health maintenance organization serving 30,000 members in suburban Chicago.
In hindsight, the Brooklyn-born Dr. Rubin (her father is in interior design and her mother is a theatrical agent) realizes that as a child actress "everything I did had some sort of medical tie." Sindee (whose stage name was Richards) played Broadway in Garson Kanin's A Gift of Time, in which Henry Fonda was cast as a terminally ill cancer patient who gains a temporary reprieve from death. A two-year stint on The Doctors followed, and during its run she filmed The Fool Killer (right), a 1965 film in which Tony Perkins played an amnesiac. In 1966 she appeared on the small-theater circuit in The Impossible Years with Milton Berle portraying a psychiatrist. Her 106 TV credits include Route 66 and From These Roots and commercials for Good & Plenty candy, Gold Medal Flour and Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks.
After completing her freshman year at Northwestern, Sindee decided to switch from acting to medicine. ("I used to entertain a lot in hospitals, and I wanted to help medically.") Her acting bankroll put her through Northwestern and Cornell Medical School, and she is currently an instructor of internal medicine at the Northwestern med school.
Dr. Rubin, who is single, eventually would like to combine medicine and show business by becoming an adviser for shows like Quincy. But she has no plans to leave the health maintenance system, which is a prepaid medical service. "It is," she insists, "the wave of the future."