Scott Patterson: then and now

Scott Patterson, the lovable but surly Luke Danes of Gilmore Girls. With a rags to riches story that will inspire you to love him even more.

Here is a brief glance into the life of Scott Patterson, provided by the New York Daily News.

Scott has a $90k Mercedes, a $60 BMW and lives in a $1.27 million home in Hollywood Hills, close neighbours to Lucy Liu and George Clooney. Gilmore Girls has been good for him.

But here is what you didn’t know. Less than 10 years ago, Scott Patterson was broke. Scott used to play ball, but after dropping basebal, the actor was destitute and ended up living in his $400 1966 Pontiac Tempest.

Was Scott getting work as an actor? Yes, some. Commercials, small TV roles (even on Seinfeld), small film roles – not making more than $33k for the year.

So, at the age of 47, what does Luke now have to say about his life then and now? This about sums it up…

[Scott Patterson] is determined never to be hungry again.

Here is Scott’s plan to keep the money he is finally now earning when it will, eventually, stop coming in from the Gilmore Girls:

Along with Jeffrey Fishman, a Los Angeles-based financial planner with a big Hollywood clientele, Patterson has scripted a financial plan that will let him sleep at night even after the studios stop calling…

"Actors suddenly come into money and there is a temptation to spend. Then suddenly the show is off the air and frequently people aren’t prepared," Fishman said. "We want to capitalize on his years of highest earnings to ensure his long term financial security."

So, Scott has devised a plan that will give him the enjoyment now, while his show is still popular and filming, but which will give him peace for the rest of his days. This "save when you earn most" is something most people, whether they earn a little or a lot, learn far too late. I’ve already started saving heavily for my retirement, even before buying a house. Why? For the same reasons. I won’t always make what I do now, especially when I’m old. Now, back to Scott:

But Patterson is no typical celeb who hands off his money to a financial planner and heads for the studio set.

He reads Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal and considers fabled Berkshire Hathaway sage Warren Buffett a hero. If his acting career stalled, he would pursue a degree in economics and finance, he said.

In May, when Patterson came to New York for the network "upfronts," to join his "Gilmore" co-stars in a glitzy presentation for advertisers, he made time for a visit with a "top derivatives" guy on Wall Street.

"Money fascinates me," Patterson said. When asked why, he noted his less-than-privileged childhood in Haddonfield, N.J., an affluent suburb in South Jersey. His father left his family when he was 15. His stepfather was a contractor.

"Growing up in that town, you saw the wealth you didn’t have," Patterson said. "If I wanted a bike, I had to buy it."

By the time he met Fishman around 2001, Patterson already had his big break in "Gilmore" and was suddenly seeing sizable checks flowing in. He declined to reveal his salary. Actors on a series will typically start out earning $25,000 per episode – a full season is 26 episodes – but those numbers go up as a show gets renewed.

But even with money coming in, Patterson needed help. Flush with cash, he was taking big risks. During the dot-com bust, he lost $25,000 in one day on tech stock eToys…

Patterson lost $5,000 in one night gambling in the Bahamas. Family members and friends were coming out of the woodwork asking for money. Everyone from real estate brokers to Steinway piano salesmen had something to sell him.

He was about to buy a home in Malibu he couldn’t afford when Fishman brought him down to earth.

To start, the financial planner urged Patterson to create an emergency fund with about 12 months worth of living expenses. Then they set up a defined benefits pension plan. "We put in the maximum allowable by the IRS," Fishman said. "Very often actors do not have this."

A low-risk investment portfolio, a mix of stocks, bonds and mutual funds came next…

Could he still live the good life if "Gilmore Girls" expired? "I’m just about there," he said…

Scott, I don’t do you enough justice here on the blog a lot of the time. You’re really a quiet guy, a smart guy planning wisely for the future, and it’s easy to overlook you. But, we love you and what you do for our Gilmore Girls! We wish you luck in whatever may come after!

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    • Kelly Litchard

      After reading this about Scott Patterson, I am shocked. I love the Gilmore Girls and my ultimate goal is to meet Scott, Alexis and Lauren Graham. I am so interested in their lives and how they got where they are today. Sometimes I feel like I struggle with my life trying to find what I want to do in life and trying to make ends meet. It is just good to see other people who struggled to get where they are today. They are very inspiring people that you want to meet.