Some Celebrities Have the Midas Touch

Since the early days of Hollywood, some entertainers have also won their spurs as investors and businessmen.

Horse opera star Gene Autry, comedian Bob Hope and television talk show host Merv Griffin are among a rare breed who established fortunes by successfully building upon--rather than blowing--their earnings as performers.

Hope bought up great areas of the San Fernando Valley and was famous for his propensity for holding on to it. He made news of a sort in recent months when he actually sold a piece of land, albeit a small one.

Autry has parlayed his movie earnings as a famed singing cowboy into a television and radio broadcasting empire and ownership of a professional baseball team, the California Angels. His late first wife, Ina Mae, and his present wife, Jackie, have both provided key assistance in Autry's business operations through the years.

Griffin started as a band singer and later invested money from his successful second career as a television talk host and built it into a fortune by creating the game show programs "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune."

Since selling the properties in 1986, Griffin has bought the Beverly Hilton, a number of radio stations and a gambling casino empire.

Many other Hollywood actors have done very well with their investments, either on their own or with the assistance of good counsel.

Colleen Moore, a famous flapper on (and off) the silent screen in the 1920s, later became well known as a financial adviser and author on business subjects. Moore, whose third husband was a stockbroker, even wrote a book, "How Women Can Make Money in the Stock Market," based on her own experience.

Wayne Rogers, a co-star in the "MASH" television series, handled his own widely varied investments so astutely that he became an adviser and business manager for some of his actor friends in the mid-1970s. Rogers has given speeches on tax structure at seminars sponsored by professional organizations.

Other successful business people among movie notables include such 1930s and 1940s screen idols as Joel McCrea, Dana Andrews and the late Randolph Scott as well as such stars of the contemporary scene as Charlton Heston, Tony Curtis, Willie Nelson, Michael Caine, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dick Clark and Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone was quoted in Esquire magazine recently as saying wistfully about his endless series of "Rocky" and "Rambo" movies: "I wish I could just pack it in. Get into developing middle-income housing."

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