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A Teen-Age Actress With 3 Mortgages

March 08, 1992|EVELYN De WOLFE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

At 16, Jenny Lewis is a serious real estate investor and the youngest member of United Homeowners Assn.

The veteran actress, who co-stars as Katie Monahan, the love interest in CBS' "Brooklyn Bridge," admitted "it's unusual for kids my age to think about real estate."

"Most of my friends can't believe I actually own the house I live in," she said.

Jenny lives in Sherman Oaks with her mother, Linda, a professional singer, and stepfather Roger Still. She owns a second house two doors away and a townhouse overlooking Weddington Park in North Hollywood.

"What I'd really like to buy is a house on the Westside . . . that's where most of my friends live," said the teen-ager. "The problem is that to afford to buy a house in that area, we'll have to sell some of our present property and this isn't the best time to sell."

Jenny credits her mother for getting her started with real estate investments when she was barely 5 and first getting started in show business. Jenny Lewis Productions was set up early on to administer the young actress' investments, including her properties.

"I've always felt that the only sensible thing to do was to put Jenny's money into real estate. Even when she was little I made her very aware that she was a property owner. And as she grew older she became involved in all the decisions," said Linda Lewis Still.

"Actors as busy as Jenny find themselves in an enormous tax bracket so it's important to invest wisely . . . real estate provides a good tax shelter. Jenny's been very lucky, she's worked steadily for years, but you should prepare for times when you're not in such demand."

A veteran entertainer with more than a decade of experience in film, television and the theater, Jenny has starred in movies and mini-series for NBC, CBS and ABC networks and has worked alongside Carroll O'Connor, Ed Asner, Shelley Long, Patrick Duffy, Jill Clayburgh, Karl Malden and Dabney Coleman, with memorable performances as Lucille Ball's spunky granddaughter in the "Life with Lucy" series and in the upcoming New Line release "Stepkids."

When she's not working, Jenny spends her time composing music, playing the piano and guitar, dancing and bowling. She enjoys sports, collecting sports caps, shopping in thrift stores and participating in projects that further ecological awareness.

Jenny and Linda are both members of United Homeowners Assn. They joined more than a year ago after reading about the goals of UHA in a magazine article, while on a film location at Mammoth.

"It was the kind of guidance we sorely needed," said Linda. "Being a member of UHA has been an excellent learning experience for me. Their newsletter is filled with useful information and it's good to know we have representation in Washington, protecting the interests of homeowners.

"When we bought this house we live in, there were many things I should have known and didn't. Quite frankly, this purchase was a financial disaster. There were so many questions left unanswered about proper insulation and other negatives, which . . . later had to be corrected at a high cost."

Now far better informed about all aspects of homeownership, Linda passes on this bit of advice to first-time home buyers:

"If you're thinking of buying a house, be sure to visit the property you want to buy at different times of day to check for air traffic and other environmental factors. And most important, never sign a purchase agreement until you've had a thorough professional inspection done on the site and the house you're thinking of buying."

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