Dr. Ruth remembers an incident with a young gay boy.

The doorbell of the apartment in a modest brick building in a quiet residential neighborhood in Washington Heights rings like Big Ben announcing the queen.

"Come in, come in," says the chirpy, accented voice of Ruth Westheimer, known more popularly as Dr. Ruth, the sex counselor, author, TV and radio star and cultural icon.

"How do you like my British chimes?" she says as she welcomes her guests into her living room. "Can I get you something to drink? Coca-cola? Seltzer? Water? Here, have a 'Sex for Dummies' key chain. Have two. Have another. My publisher gave me hundreds. It's in its third edition, 27 languages!"

The doctor is in. The doctor is on.

Dressed is a teal blouse that compliments her red hair, the 4-foot-7 Westheimer flits about like a hummingbird. Within a few minutes she delivers beverages, points out family pictures and mementos, arranges that evening's transportation to midtown and tickets for the Hartford run, all the while slipping in plugs for her many and far-flung projects.

"I'll tell you something new — because journalists always need something new to write about," she says finally settling down, temporarily, at the dining room table. "I just got a Fulbright at the age of almost 85, not for whole year, but for a weekend seminar in Jamaica — and not Jamaica, Queens either. Jamaica, the island."

Duly noted — but we are here to talk about "Becoming Dr. Ruth," formerly called "Dr Ruth: All The Way," the one-person play about her life by Mark St. Germain that was a hit last summer at its premiere at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, Mass. A revised version, again starring Debra Jo Rupp (TV's "That '70s Show") and directed by Julianne Boyd begins previews Friday, May 31, at Hartford's TheatreWorks. The show opens June 7 and continues through July 7.

"The new version is superb," she says. "They took the intermission out."

In the play, Rupp plays Westheimer at a crossroads in her life: her third husband has just died and she is packing to leave her beloved apartment where she raised her family and created a career. She talks to the audience much as if she would talk to anyone within earshot, with humor, speed and endless details about her eventful life.

Looking Back

Westheimer, who turns 85 on June 4, was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1928, the daughter of a privileged Orthodox Jewish family. After her father was taken away by the Nazis a week after Kristallnacht, her mother and grandmother sent her for safekeeping in Switzerland. She never saw her family again.

At 17, after years of miserable treatment in what became an orphanage for refugee Jewish girls, she emigrated with some of her friends to Palestine, where she became a Zionist and joined the Haganah, the Jewish underground movement fighting for the creation of a Jewish homeland.. She became a scout and sniper and was wounded.

"I can put five bullets in a red circle,' she says. "I can throw hand grenades. But I've never killed anybody."

In 1950, she married an Israeli and the couple to moved to Paris where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne and her husband studied medicine.

In 1956, and divorced, she emigrated to the U.S with her Parisian boyfriend who later became her husband. She studied at the New School for Social Research. In 1959, she graduated with a master's degree in sociology and went to work as a research assistant at Columbia University.

In 1961, divorced again, she met and married Manfred Westheimer. In the late 1960s, Westheimer took a job at Planned Parenthood in Harlem. She simultaneously worked toward her doctorate degree in family and sex counseling through Columbia University evening classes, and in the early '70s, became an associate professor of sex counseling at Lehman College in the Bronx.

A lecture to broadcasters about the need for sex-education programming, led to her getting a weekly 15-minute late-night radio show, "Sexually Speaking" on WYNY-FM in the '80s. The show was a hit and it was soon expanded to one hour with audience call-ins. The idea of getting sex advice from a tiny, bubbly but emphatic Jewish lady in her 50s proved irresistible, and she quickly became a cultural fixture in publishing, television and films.

Life On Stage

"Becoming Dr. Ruth" began several years ago after Westheimer saw playwright St. Germain's "Freud's Last Session" in New York and she went backstage to meet the actors. "I loved the show and I loved the set. I told them I sat on Freud's couch, which no one else was permitted to do, in Vienna."

"Martin [Rayner, who played Freud] asked if he could come to my office and I thought, 'Ooohh, Freud has a problem? So he comes by and he didn't have a problem — and if he did I wouldn't tell you — and he tells me the playwright, who wasn't there when I saw the show, would like to do a play about me."