smart spending

In Steve Guttenberg's 'Bible,' family rules

It's a good thing Steve Guttenberg is a lousy listener. The first agent he met in Hollywood offered this advice: "Forget being an actor. You don't have the look, you don't have the talent, and your name is ridiculous. You are the last guy I would ever pick to be a movie star." Undeterred, the native New Yorker with the boyish charm went on to star in such Hollywood blockbusters as "Diner," "Police Academy," "Three Men and a Baby" and "Cocoon."

In his new memoir, "The Guttenberg Bible," the down-to-earth actor describes how he conned his way onto the Paramount lot by posing as Michael Eisner's son, set up his own clandestine office and forged a successful career by ignoring the advice of others.

 
Steve Guttenberg
Steve GuttenbergPhoto by PR Photos
How long did it take to get your feet on the ground financially?

From the day I was born, I never had my feet off the ground. Even as a kid, I've always had an interest in saving money. I had my own odd-jobs business; I was a paperboy, I'd wash windows, cut lawns and baby sit. I've always been a saver, and I've always invested since I was a kid. I got AT&T stock for my bar mitzvah. I've always understood that I'm an ordinary guy who happens to have an extraordinary life. I'm the same as everybody else. I'm a guy who understands that there are limits, and most of this isn't real. The fancy restaurant isn't real. Being honored at some event isn't real. Being on TV and a movie star, it's not real. I mean, you make a big deal about it but just because you're on television doesn't make you better than anybody else.

Steve GuttenbergPhoto by PR Photos
You starred in three hit movie franchises in a period of four years, including 'Police Academy.' Were you ready for the riches that followed?

Oh my God, yeah. When I started making movies that made a lot of money, I was able to basically become an owner of them. And then the checks would come in. I remember sitting in my business manager's office, and I always asked to see the checks because I wanted to see what a check looks like for that much money if it's a six-figure check or a seven-figure check. So he wouldn't cash them until I came in and took a picture of them or photocopied them. I mean, I come from a regular background, so when you make this kind of money, it's pretty extraordinary.

Steve Guttenberg
Once you made your fortune, how did you spend it?

I share everything with my family. My sister and my mother and father have as much security as I do. Oh, I did some dumb things. I bought a Ferrari. But that's maybe the only dumb thing I did. A few years ago, I bought my mom an extraordinary Harry Winston ruby-and-diamond necklace and earring set. My mom has been a little "under the weather" the last five years and I went in and said, "I don't give a hoot how much it costs, give me the biggest thing you got." Actually, what I said was, "I want my mother's eyes to pop out of her head; give me what will do that." She calls it the queen's necklace. But that's not a splurge, that's my mom. I'd give my entire fortune for my mom, her and my dad. They're No. 1. Family is No. 1. Very important.

 
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