He'd Love To Practice His Second Career On Tv

Posted: November 05, 2000

MEDIA — Wes Tomlinson entered Commerce Bank to open an account and walked out with a new career.

The 70-year-old lawyer, pilot and former Marine became a member of the Screen Actors Guild in 1998 when he appeared in the first of nine commercials for the bank. These days, "Hollywood Joe," his nickname at the Delaware County Courthouse, is having a lot of fun with his new passion.

"My agent said she is going to send me to New York to audition for One Life to Live. I've never seen the show," Tomlinson said of the popular ABC-TV soap opera.

"Maybe they will cast me as a young lover."

The trip to the soundstage was a matter of being in the right place at the right time for Tomlinson, who lives in Swarthmore. He went to the Media branch of Commerce Bank to open an account and say thanks for the bank's $5,000 donation to the Media Boys' Club, now called the Media Youth Center.

The rest may someday be Hollywood history.

"I told the bank manager someone should thank the bank for the donation to the community. She gave me an address, and I wrote a short note to the company's headquarters," Tomlinson said.

"Several weeks later, I received a call asking me to come to a screen test. They were looking for customers to feature in Commerce commercials."

Tomlinson, who had acted once before in the Swarthmore Players production of Inherit the Wind, agreed to audition.

He received a free dinner, about $100 in Commerce Bank merchandise, and he read a script before a panel of five judges. Three weeks later, he was on the set of his first commercial shoot.

"I signed some papers in makeup. I didn't read them, because I thought I was volunteering, and the papers were to release them from damages if I fell on the set," Tomlinson said.

Instead, Tomlinson had signed on as a member of the Screen Actors Guild and agreed to New York scale for his work.

The first commercial was seen locally during the 1998 Thanksgiving Day Parade. Royalty checks and paid health benefits followed.

Tomlinson hired an agent, who arranged for 100 head shots and a printed listing of his pre-actor biography. It includes a civil and criminal legal career and a seven-year stretch drafting contracts for the Miss America Pageant.

He is the former national director of the U.S. Jaycees; past president of the Community Arts Center in Wallingford; and past commander of the local American Legion Post in Media.

Tomlinson, who speaks Spanish, French and German, has been listed in Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges and Who's Who in American Law.

A former infantry officer and pilot, he enjoys flying civilian planes. And he recently took a few acting lessons.

Tomlinson, who now deals mainly with estate law, is not ready to give up law just yet, but he would be willing to play a lawyer on his favorite TV legal show, The Practice.

"Acting is a heck of a lot more fun than law," Tomlinson said. "The pay is better, and there is no stress."

Gloria A. Hoffner's e-mail address is gloriah@phillynews.com

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