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TOUGH MONEY: Entertainment | EXAMPLES FROM LIFE

A New Start

Earl Schuman, 81, Los Angeles

March 24, 1997

I was 79 and retired in the fall of 1994, and the last thing on my mind was getting in front of a camera. Then Beulah, my wife, said she wanted to take a class entitled "Start a New Career--TV Commercials for Seniors," offered by the Los Angeles Unified School District through Oasis, a national organization for seniors. "OK," I said, "I'll go with you." We went, had a lot of fun and by the time the class ended, just before Christmas 1994, we had an agent. But I still wasn't thinking of making a career out of it.

A few weeks later, Beulah got her first audition call. I had to take my car in for service that morning, and Beulah was going to pick me up and take me home before her audition. It turned out that she didn't have time, so I said I'd go along and wait for her. Then, while she was in one studio doing her audition, a young woman came out of another room, walked over and asked me, "Have you ever thought of doing TV commercials?"

And that's how it started. Now, two years later, I've got an exciting new career and a very bright future. I've done 15 national TV commercials, three regional commercials and one radio commercial. I've also been interviewed on "Day and Date," I have a featured part in the upcoming movie "Soulmates," and I appeared in a recent "Seinfeld" episode. And I love it all--getting called for auditions, participating in acting and voice workshops, having total strangers ask me, "Hey, weren't you in that coffee commercial?" I'm 81 and a little hard of hearing, but I've never felt so alive.

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