A Life Loaded with 2nd Acts

When John Joseph Brennan, who passes J.J., began making his bachelor’s degree in 1949 he found out an essential lesson from a theater professor.

In theater, and in life, you need to change.

“With that in mind all issues are understandable,” said Brennan, who on Saturday will lastly complete a 68-year journey for his bachelor of arts degree. The 85-year-old is the oldest UNLV graduate of the 2017 class, an achievement that was far more hard than one may picture.

A Chicago native, Brennan imagined becoming an actor and performer, a career he started pursuing as a theater significant at Loyola University in the second city. After a few years, opportunity knocked and he began to land functions, including the lead part in a 1950s instructional film called Snap Out of It. Quickly he began to bounce around. Brennan acted upon Broadway with Buddy Ebsen and performed with Jerry Stiller. He strove to land roles in funnies, which he chose over dramas.

Brennan’s growing profession took him around the country. He carried out a Frank Sinatra-styled lounge act in Miami and ultimately in Las Vegas. But breaks kept falling through. One big break ended quickly when a Chesterfield cigarette television advertisement part he got was cancelled because tobacco makers decided it might not be a good thing to motivate young people to smoke. “I did earn money, I simply never got any residuals,” he quipped.

Brennan chided that he seemed to be the kiss of death of functions. A Broadway play that took him to Chicago ended after a month long run. He discovered himself singing in Las Vegas lounges in the Tropicana and Flamingo and met a showgirl named Karen, whom he wed and would invest 45 years with.

After the newlyweds had a child, Sherry, Brennan moved his household to Los Angeles to be closer to medical experts his wife needed to treat a condition she established after the pregnancy. Deciding acting and entertainment did not offer sufficient constant work, Brennan and his partner began careers in southern California property.

The couple ultimately went back to Las Vegas. But, in 2007, after being identified with diabetes 2, Karen unexpectedly died. Deep space in his life was absolutely irreplaceable. “I was rather distraught by this. I wasn’t doing much. I still dream about her today, after her being chosen 10 years,” Brennan described.

Brennan understood he had to do something and in 2011 chose he should try and understand his dream of finishing his college education. He registered at UNLV where he planned to study film and musical performance.

The roadway to graduation was anything however smooth. He established neuropathy in his feet that prevented him from feeling the gas and brake pedals in his vehicle one term. He struggled getting to class till friends used to take him.

Brennan then suffered, not one, however two strokes.

But Brennan is not one to accept no for an answer. “When my theater professor taught me to adjust when carrying out a function, he was teaching that there are solutions to every problem. We simply need to find them,” Brennan said. He found that to be real on stage and in life.

And so Brennan asked a medical professional to help get him a motorized chair to enable him to walk around. He started using the Regional Transport Authority’s Paratransit Bus System. He was soon back in the swing of things studying film at UNLV.

“I was constantly amazed by the reception by my fellow students,” stated Brennan, when inquired about the age difference. “I never seemed like a complete stranger in this environment.” At UNLV, Brennan concentrated on directing and dealt with his fellow undergrads on their jobs. He just recently completed voice-over work as the narrator for a fellow UNLV film trainee. “Being associated with something in the creative field … it makes me happy,” Brennan stated.

Brennan lauded his UNLV teachers. “I ‘d never ever lagged the video camera. Never ever directed. I learned a great deal about what it takes to make a film versus being a performer,” he said.

However most of all he liked dealing with his fellow students. Brennan was open about his entertainment profession and provided recommendations when asked by other trainees. “You have to be all set for success when it comes. When opportunities emerge, if you’re ready you have a terrific opportunity of success,” he said. But you likewise need to love exactly what you are doing, he said, because there’s a great deal of rejection in the home entertainment world. Brennan doesn’t have immediate strategies following his graduation. He’s thinking about a postgraduate degree and would captivate chances to take part in artistic or imaginative tasks. “I have actually accomplished my objective. I’m not trying to find financial gain. But I’m always searching for brand-new objectives to keep me occupied.”

On the other hand, he’ll probably spend a little time in the theater this summer. One seeing likely is the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. “I simply enjoyed the very first one,” he stated.

When asked why, Brennan smiled. “It made me laugh.”

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