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How Du-par's Launched my (Short) Acting Career

I may have been fired by Du-par's in the '70s, but I got my revenge in 1995!

It seems everyone in L.A. wants to get into the show business.  Who doesn’t know someone who is auditioning 8 days a week, writing a screenplay, or simply flexing his or her vocal chords by doing karaoke?  

I’ve always fantasized being in the biz as well, and in 1995, fate took pity upon me and granted my wish.

That year, my pals Wendy Cohen, Erika Komarck and I decided to have lunch at a place near and dear to me…Du-par’s Restaurant on Ventura Blvd.  Now some of you may remember that Du-par’s was the first real job I had, and also my first experience at getting fired when I was a cashier in 1971. 

Why dine at a place that had done me wrong? Hey, nostalgia baby…Even Ted, the man who had set me loose back in the '70s was still working there.  He didn’t remember me, but I sure remembered him! At least my life had moved on.

On our way out to the parking lot after lunch, we spotted a few camera guys who were casting for a Lucky Supermarket commercial. They wanted REAL Lucky shoppers, and so we all stepped up to the plate to get interviewed.  We thought it was a kick, and of course, I hammed it up, showing off my lousy fly-fishing techniques and roster of animal imitations that I had learned from a nature magazine where I was working at the time. 

About a week later, I got a call from the advertising agency wanting to know if I’d come to their studio for another interview. I’m there!  I walked onto the set, where there were about 5 people staring at me like I had herpes. They began filming me, asking me a bunch of questions. I tried to be optimistic and energetic, even though I was quaking in my heels.

And then the bomb dropped.

“Excuse me, Ms. McGrath, you’re not eligible for this commercial, as you work in the advertising business…” she frowned. Her associates were also scowling at me.

I had to think quickly. I wanted to be on TV and nothing was going to get in my way.

“Well, technically, I’m in sales…” I began boldly.  I don’t work for an ad agency…” I beamed.  Surely they wanted a real Lucky shopper, and why shouldn’t it be me? I was Irish. How much luckier could I be? I think I even wore emerald green that day.

About a week later, the agency called again, and wanted to know if I could be at Griffith Park the following day. I decided to blow off my scheduled appointments and head to my lucky destination. I stuffed a bunch of outfits in my trunk just in case.

I was there all day. In the morning, they first filmed me ushering a bunch of kids onto a yellow school bus.  I once thought about going into teaching, so that was a good fit. I'm a nine-year old at heart.

And then they asked if I knew anything about golf. My stepfather was a terrific athlete, so I threw out a few golf terms that seemed to appease them. I quickly changed into my khakis which I had in my trunk, grabbed my putter and headed onto the putting green.

As I was putting, I looked up at the camera, and said “Lucky!”  It was the only word I uttered that day and soon both commercials were airing on cable, network TV and on several radio stations. 

The commercials ran for several months, and the checks came rolling in.

I eventually made enough from these commercials to redecorate my condo a bit, and take some nice trips.

So thank you Du-par’s, for my Lucky break! 

teresa mcgrath August 14, 2012 at 02:12 PM
nice article mary...i remember that lucky commercial ....i bet you had fun...
Mary McGrath August 14, 2012 at 02:46 PM
It was a blast, and so unexpected! Would love to do it again one of these days...
Mary McGrath August 14, 2012 at 03:54 PM
A fun Du-Par's video done by my brother Jack... http://studiocity.patch.com/articles/more-du-pars-retro-pancake-prices#video-7237052
Mary McGrath August 15, 2012 at 05:10 AM
I know that acting isn't easy...I commend those who are able to pursue their craft and persevere...

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