Thursday, 5 June 2008

First-million story #5 - I knew I would have to earn this

Scott Patterson, star of the "Gilmore Girls" TV series, worked for years to get into the big leagues, honing his craft in small towns and throwing a curveball or two to keep things interesting. And that was just his baseball career.

Patterson pitched in the minor leagues during the 1980s, and came tantalizingly close to the majors. He was traded to the Yankees and then cut from the team.

Undaunted, he started a second long-shot career, moving to New York in 1986 to study acting. He worked with members of the Actors Studio and appeared in a couple of commercials a year to earn money to pay the rent. "I knew I would have to really, really earn this," says Patterson. "It turned out to be an endurance game."

He made a short-lived breakthrough in 1991, when ABC flew him to Los Angeles to audition for a TV movie, but that "crumbled very quickly." Back in New York, Patterson landed a few theater credits and then returned to L.A. He crashed on friends' couches and slept in his car -- a 1966 Pontiac Le Mans -- as he made connections that led to small movie roles and TV appearances. Eight years later, he says, he read for the part of Luke Danes, the male lead in "Gilmore Girls," and "I felt like I was home."

He didn't get rich the first year. "The money was good," he says, "though not as good as you'd think." But his salary has risen with the series' popularity, and as his character has grown. With a net worth in the millions, thanks to some astute investing, Patterson says he "can parachute out of this series and be pretty comfortable for the rest of my life."

Now Patterson shares his wealth by helping raise funds for a new pediatrics wing at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and for the National Children's Alliance. His advice: "Even when you've been pounded for 20 years, don't give up. If you stay in the game long enough, you get lucky."

TIP #5: Don't let setbacks get you down. It took actor Scott Patterson of "Gilmore Girls" 14 years and several big disappointments to become a Hollywood star.

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