Larry Jaffe (at left) never imagined he might one day become a Hollywood film producer – at 98. Growing up in the silent movie era, the former Marine Corps lieutenant served in Japan in WWII, and had a successful marketing career in New York before retiring with his wife, Hope. They celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary before. sadly, Hope passed away last October.
But, even in mourning, Larry’s zest for life is undiminished, starting a new chapter by becoming a first time producer at the helm of star-studded movie released nationwide in theaters April 2: The Girl Who Believes in Miracles. Larry’s own life, he tells us, is nothing short of miraculous:
Q: How did you become a rookie Hollywood producer at the grand age of 98?
Larry: An old friend, Richard Paley, had a dream of writing a screenplay when he retired. But he gave up after three years trying to place it because he had no film connections. But I really liked his script so we became partners. A producer friend introduced me to Rich Correll [Hannah Montana writer] and he, in turn, told me about a book he was interested in adapting for screen called The Mustard Seed… so we bought the rights to the book and Rich adapted it into a script and agreed to direct it. Because of Rich’s involvement we attracted these big stars – Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino, Emmy-winner Peter Coyote and Kevin Sorbo – who everyone knows as Hercules.
Q: How did a Jewish man, such as yourself, get involved in this Christian inspirational film?
Larry: Now isn’t that interesting? I’m a Jewish man of faith responsible for bringing to life a Christian faith-based movie. The world is small but we all come from the same source. I actually do believe in miracles and a story came along based on miracles so it was a beautiful thing.
Q: You were born in 1923, the same year Cecil B. DeMille was filming his Bible story The Ten Commandments. Is there a coincidence there?
Larry: The joke on set was that Moses and I went to Hebrew school together!
“I also want older people to know that you’re never too old to start something new and succeed.”
Q: What can audiences take away from the film?
Larry: I hope they recognize the importance of empathy to make their lives meaningful. A meaningful life can be joyful because givers get as much joy from giving as the joy receivers get from receiving. I also want older people to know that you’re never too old to start something new and succeed. After the year we’ve all endured, the world needs an uplifting movie like this to give us the capacity to trust once more.
Q: Have you encountered any miracles of your own?
Larry: I was in the Marine Corps in WWII, and was part of the Honor Guard in President Roosevelt’s funeral service in DC. We went on an overnight passenger train from DC to President Roosevelt’s estate where he was buried. The next morning we pulled into a local stop and I got out to wash up at the station but, in my sleepy state, I got out on the wrong side and walked up a track and suddenly, out of nowhere, I got lifted up off that track, and put on a platform – seconds later an express train came through the track I was walking on. So after that miracle happened, my faith is now based on fact – not just on belief. So it’s beautiful for me to be involved in a movie about miracles.
“I’ve never been one to look back, only forward.”
Q: Any advice for fellow seniors?
Larry: I think its all about having something to look forward to and I am lucky to have that with this movie and also watching my grandkids and great-grandkids grow up. I’ve never been one to look back, only forward. Life is a miracle and our bodies are miracles and I wish for all my fellow seniors to enjoy their life as best they can.
Q: What’s your secret to “Aging with Attitude”?
Larry: At my age, we’re just thankful we made it to another day. My retirement community has a wonderful gym where I still do 150 push-ups every day. I recommend everyone continue to exercise; its the secret to longevity. My wife got me involved with acupuncture and I also take Chinese herbs.
Photo credit (top inset): Courtesy of the Jaffe family.
Photo Credit: (top pic and second inset) The Mustard Seed Production Corporation.