Celebrity Retirement Scorecard: Victoria Principal

Who is making it? Who is not? We've concocted retirement scorecards for some showcase retirees in entertainment, politics and sports. See the full list here.

Victoria PrincipalWinner: Victoria Principal
Former occupation/notable position held: TV actress (Pam Ewing on CBS's Dallas)
Activities during retirement: Cosmetics entrepreneur; part-time actress; civilian astronaut (upcoming)
Retirement Report Card Grade: B

Tabloids and 90210-zoned plastic surgery offices are jam-packed with once breathtaking actresses seeking to stretch the soup just a little further. (See "Dunaway, Faye"; "Ryan, Meg"and too many others to name.) Otherwise known as deferred retirement, it's not a pretty sight.

Not Victoria Principal, who showed big-picture acumen and a proclivity to plan early on – essential seeds to sow for healthy retirement and overall life planning. Disappointed with her career's early course, Principal was on her way to law school, with the intent of becoming a studio executive. Then legendary producer Aaron Spelling found her and offered her a year's tuition to take a role in his pilot for Fantasy Island. She accepted, and her Dallas opportunity soon followed.

Her Principal Secret line of skin care products, set in motion while she was still riding high as Dallas mainstay Pam Ewing, broke new ground. Instead of endorsing a product (and scooping up the quick dollars that come with), she was the product, opting to build an eponymous brand with potentially serious, long-term value.

Her skin care line may owe in part to her omitting a clause in her Dallas contract that would have granted CBS the right to consent on, and participate financially in, her outside projects. (She was the only cast member to hold firm on the language.) She also started a production company soon after leaving the series. "I retained the control and ownership of my image," she said. "No one owns me."

Evidence of solid, early and long-range planning rates Principal a healthy "B." She's kept a relatively low profile the past few years, opting for a few acting jobs, and divorcing from her husband of 21 years in 2006. Living privately in semi-retirement is, of course, her prerogative, and perhaps reason enough to upgrade her upon later examination.

Principal may, indeed, have a career re-launch in mind, but one of a quite different kind. She is reportedly training to be one of the first female civilian astronauts on one of Sir Richard Branson's upcoming commercial space flights. Stay tuned.

Michael Burnham is CEO of My Next Phase, a consulting firm offering non-financial retirement planning products and services (www.mynextphase.com).


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