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5 Memorable Reverse Mortgage Spokesmen

September 6, 2019 By Michael Branson 8 comments

5 Memorable Reverse Mortgage Spokesmen

Reverse mortgages have had many famous faces over the years. From iconic television and film actors to one-time U.S. presidential candidates, celebrities from all walks of life have espoused the many advantages a reverse mortgage can provide for older homeowners in their retirement years.

While spokesmen have come and gone over the years, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable TV personalities to publicly endorse reverse mortgages for a national audience (starting with the newest spokesman to take the airwaves):

1. Latest Reverse Mortgage Spokesman, Tom Selleck

Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor Tom Selleck became the newest celebrity spokesman for reverse mortgages in June 2016 when he began appearing in TV commercials for a national reverse mortgage lender, American Advisors Group (AAG).

Most known for his role as the title character Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I. (1980-1988), and more recently as New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan in the critically acclaimed CBS TV series Blue Bloods (2010— ), Selleck continues to be an iconic figure in American television for the better part of the past three decades.

This kind of worldwide recognition made Selleck the right fit for AAG to carry out its reverse mortgage messaging.

“Our research reinforced the widespread recognition and respect that Tom Selleck has garnered among Americans and crosses generations,” AAG said in a statement on the announcement of Selleck as the company’s national spokesman. “We believe he is the best candidate for the job, and we’re thrilled to have him on board.”

AAG - Too Good To Be True - Reverse Mortgage Loan Commercial

2. Fred Thompson

Before Tom Selleck crossed into the realm of reverse mortgage advertising, the late actor and former United States Senator Fred Thompson held the role of AAG’s long-time company spokesman.

From 2010 until his death from cancer in 2015, the Tennessean Senator could be seen on national television, discussing in his familiar southern drawl how reverse mortgages can provide a comfortable yet secure retirement for homeowners age 62 and older.

Thompson’s work with AAG was only a fraction of his esteemed life and career, which included running for the U.S. Presidency in 2008 as a Republican candidate. Outside of politics, Thompson frequently appeared in various installments of the TV series Law & Order (2002-2007), including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2003-2006) and Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005-2006), as well as a variety of major motion pictures.

Fred Thompson American Advisors Group (AAG) Commercial for Reverse Mortgage

3. Henry Winkler

When it comes to iconic TV characters, few are cooler than the leather jacket wearing, motorcycle riding Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli from Happy Days (1974-1984). However, the Fonz actor Henry Winkler wasn’t too cool to begin promoting reverse mortgages.

Winkler, who has appeared in numerous TV shows and films since his Happy Days years in the mid-1970s-80s, can frequently be seen in commercials for One Reverse Mortgage, the reverse mortgage lending arm for Quicken Loans .

One Reverse Mortgage - Henry Winkler - Take Control 1:20

4. Robert Wagner

Before being the celebrity spokesman for reverse mortgage companies such as Urban Financial Group and the now-defunct Senior Lending Network, Robert Wagner was the star of the TV series. It Takes a Thief (1968-1970) and Hart to Hart (1979-1984).

Wagner also had a recurring role in the Austin Powers film franchise starring alongside title character comedian and actor Mike Myers, as well as various appearances in TV series such as NCIS (2010-2016) and Two and a Half Men (2007-2008).

While Wagner does not currently appear in reverse mortgage commercials, he can certainly add reverse mortgage spokesman to his illustrious career.

5. Jerry Orbach

If you’ve noticed a theme of Hollywood lawmen coming over to the reverse mortgage cause by now, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that Jerry Orbach had a stint as a spokesman for the product.

While he originally began his career as a stage actor, Orbach was perhaps best known for his role as Detective Lennie Briscoe on the TV series Law & Order (1991-2004). Among the highlights of his nearly 50-year acting career was winning a Tony award in 1969 for his portrayal of Chuck Baxter in Promises, Promises.

Before he died in 2004, Orbach advocated for seniors and reverse mortgages for the Senior Lending Network.

Whether they have had a personal family experience with reverse mortgages or believe in this solution for retirees, many famed Americans have put their names and faces behind reverse mortgages—and some are still on the air today.

ARLO recommends these helpful resources:

  • AIG Reverse Mortgage Problems, Please Help!
  • Reverse Mortgage TV Commercials May Come With High-Pressure Sales
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About the Author, Michael G. Branson | Mike@allreverse.com

Michael G. Branson CEO, All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and moderator of ARLO™ has 40 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. He has devoted the past 18 years to reverse mortgages exclusively.

8 Comments on this Article

Oneida G.
April 11th, 2023

This guy is a crook. You should find another spokesperson to advertise reverse mortgages.

ARLO ™
April 11th, 2023

Good Afternoon Oneida,

Tom Selleck is not affiliated with All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. in any way, nor has he ever done any commercial advertising for our company. In fact, my company, All Reverse Mortgage, Inc., has never paid for any celebrity spokesperson as we prefer to pass the savings on to our customers, and hiring celebrities and airing TV ads is an expensive proposition that would require us to charge the kind of rates and fees that his employer charges. And to be clear, we are not saying that the company Tom Selleck advertises charges anything that is not legal or ethical on their loans. We have a different business model and choose to originate loans at a lower cost and pass the savings on to the borrowers.

Mr. Selleck has done extensive advertising for AAG, and we are not affiliated with AAG, nor do we share any common ownership, business ties, or dealing with that company or anyone in it. We have only commented on Mr. Selleck on our website because we operate a reverse mortgage blog on which we answer questions for the public. Members of the general public have written in and asked if some of the claims Mr. Selleck made about reverse mortgages were accurate or if he was “lying” (their words) in the commercial. We have gone out of our way to say that we have no comment about the man or the company he represents, especially when some of the posters to the website’s comments get personal and even include his acting and background. Still, the statements in the commercial regarding the reverse mortgage program were accurate, and we said as much.

We are fine with correcting people or institutions when they misrepresent the reverse mortgage program or any aspect thereof, and we have done so many times. But we don’t typically post our opinions of the individual people or their companies – we leave that up to you and others to make your assessments. We think that if people take the time to look up company ratings on sites like Google and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and not use “review” sites that are nothing more than paid advertising sites on which the lender pays a fee to be listed, they will see honest reviews from actual borrowers that the lenders cannot influence. We encourage people to do their research. The BBB reports 81 consumer complaints closed against Mr. Selleck’s employer in the past 3 years and current government actions outstanding against Mr. Selleck’s employer. https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/irvine/profile/reverse-mortgage/aag-1126-100017572 . At All Reverse Mortgage, Inc., we are proud of our almost 5-star review rating and 0 customer complaints: https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/orange/profile/mortgage-lenders/all-reverse-mortgage-inc-1126-100061898.

The bottom line is that we will not take a stand on Tom Selleck, the individual, because that is not what our site is all about. Our site is for educating borrowers regarding the pros and cons of the reverse mortgage program and answering any questions they may have whenever possible. His claims about reverse mortgages in the TV ad that started that particular blog in which Tom Selleck was even named were accurate. Therefore, we affirmed his statements in that ad and have refused to take any positions on other issues unrelated to reverse mortgages. But please don’t take our silence as approval or condemnation, and by all means, please never confuse us with another company, especially one whose reputation is not so good! ;>) We are proud to be All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and we have never had any celebrity advertise on behalf of this company (other than our mascot, ARLO which is an acronym for All Reverse Loan Optimizer which is a proprietary calculator we designed and make available to borrowers free of charge and one that they are not required to insert personal information to receive an answer like so many of our competition and he “works” for free).

I hope you have a great holiday season.

A is Grant
April 6th, 2021

I turn channel OFF 100% when this guy comes on because he is so wrong about this product. Be honest. How many of us lost our homes within four months due to exorbitant fees? SHAME ON ‘”that guy”. refuse to even utter his name. He is promoting a scam product and I never want to see his face again, TS

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ARLO ™
April 8th, 2021

Hello Grant,

Everyone is entitled to watch what they want, and we are not here to try to change your mind on that. If you want to turn off the TV when Tom Selleck is on, that is your prerogative. However, since you have asked me to be honest, I will. I know of no one, including my own mother who had a reverse mortgage, who lost their home in 4 months due to the loan or the fees. A reverse mortgage is not an inexpensive loan – on this we can agree. But I have never met anyone in my 45 years of mortgage banking who lost their home in 4 months due to high fees on a loan. Any loan! Especially one with no mortgage payments after the loan closed. I could almost ignore the exaggeration of the timeframe needed to foreclose on a loan if that was just an error. You see, even a forward mortgage with required payments will typically go 60 – 90 days delinquent before a lender will begin a foreclosure process and then another 6 months before the sale date then another 30 days – a total of 9 to 12 months from the start of a default – before anyone is removed from their home for non-payment but there is no payment due on a reverse mortgage. Your statement about people losing their homes within 4 months due to exorbitant fees on a reverse mortgage is false. You say shame on Tom Selleck, but he was truthful about the program in the commercial, you are not being truthful. Since there are no payments due, no one loses their homes within 4 months due to the fees or for any other reason for that matter and therefore I cannot excuse your blatantly false statement that appears to be meant to scare people.

And let’s talk for a minute about those fees “exorbitant fees” about which you complain. There is just one fee that goes to the lender, the loan origination fee, and it is regulated and capped by HUD. The most expensive cost on any reverse mortgage is typically the HUD mortgage insurance that is necessary to ensure that borrowers always receive their money no matter what happens to the lender, that investors who often wait 10 years or more to receive any return on the bonds they buy backed by reverse mortgages (because borrowers make no monthly payments) and the loan available to borrowers grows over time on the adjustable rate program so HUD ensures that the funds are always available. Any other costs of the loan are to bona fide third party providers and government entities (appraiser, credit report, title company, closing attorney, recording costs, documentary stamps or taxes charged by the state or county if any, etc.). The lender may not add even one cent to the actual cost charged by these entities and are examined yearly by accounting firms and state examiners to verify that the lender’s charges match those of the service provider. In fact, other than the mortgage insurance, the costs are the same as they would be for any other closing with a loan involved.

And, just in case you didn’t know, HUD also charges Mortgage Insurance on their forward loans. This means that those loans are also much more costly than a conventional loan but the borrowers who choose to use them, do so because they are not required to place as much money down as do borrowers who utilize conventional financing. Therefore, the insurance is required because the loan is riskier due to the lower down payment made by borrowers as well as the underwriting criteria. The reverse mortgage also carries a higher risk because borrowers can stay in the home for the rest of their lives without ever having to make a mortgage payment, regardless of what property values do or how much is owed. So when you talk about people who lost their homes within 4 months, I honestly do not know to whom you are referring. Borrowers with reverse mortgages need to pay their taxes and insurance on the property, must live in the home as their primary residence and must maintain the home in a reasonable manner. Reasonable manner just means you can’t have the city or county posting notices that the property is substandard and will be a hazard or must be repaired for some reason.

If borrowers meet those requirements, they can remain in the home for the rest of their lives without making a payment on the loan – no matter how much they owe on the loan or what property values do during that time. Under the HUD reverse mortgage program, every borrower received 100% of the funds due them under the program even when values fell such as during 2009 to 2012. No reverse mortgage borrowers with lines of credit reverse mortgages were cut off due to falling values as happened with Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) borrowers who suddenly had their lines frozen or eliminated by their banks when values dropped. This was possible by the HUD mortgage insurance protecting those loans and those borrowers were not forced into foreclosure as were many others when they could not make their mortgage payments and could not sell their homes for anywhere near what was owed on them.

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Tom Selleck is not our spokesman so we have no reason to defend him as an individual and a reverse mortgage is not for every homeowner over the age of 62. We recommend that you educate yourself on the pros and cons and make a sound decision whether the loan is right for your circumstances. However, we have analyzed the comments in the Tom Selleck commercial and his statements are factual regarding the reverse mortgage program itself. We also encourage people to compare because we believe that when they do, they will see that we can save them money over the company that Tom represents but that doesn’t make the program itself a sham. Some people pay more for one car than another without shopping around and that doesn’t make the higher priced dealer bad if they have a higher overhead and need to charge more. We just don’t believe that borrowers should have to pay for it if they don’t want to. Think what you may about ol’ Tom, and don’t get a reverse mortgage if you don’t want one, but you should educate yourself about reverse mortgages before you make such factually incorrect statements about the program in general.

Nothing Up My Sleeve
April 20th, 2017

Seek a lawyer’s advice first.

The federal protection you here about is for the lender, not the borrower. It’s one reason banks are so eager to offer RMs. The ads are very cleverly crafted.

You may have procession of your house, but you are now not the only owners, the bank owns an ever increasing percentage. RMs are right up there with car title loans.

Fees upfront and monthly will milk the equity from the house, sometimes very heavily. It’s to the lender’s advantage to reduce the equity as fast as possible.

Leave the house, say to recover a broken leg at your daughter’s, you may find you don’t have a house to return to. Insurance, upkeep, taxes all your responsibility, fail one or more, the loan come due.

RMs are a very last option.

Look these are trained actors, memorizing a script, a job to pretend to be someone else, convince you. See the problem? Getting paid every time an ad runs kind of takes away any credibility?

And you have no idea how bright the actor is? Is profession by definition would hide that.

Consumer Reports Magazine a few years ago had an article on RMs, well worth a trip to the library an read.

Sarah
July 26th, 2021

My mom took a reverse mortgage out after my dad passed. Totally not a good idea as the home was paid off! She has a stroke a few months prior and someone in the family took advantage. She now has dementia and cannot tell us who got all the $$ which the RM people said was taken out at a rapid rate. This wasn’t like my mom at all, and it really is a shame. I’m sure good for some who can handle the situation and don’t own their home straight out. Like if they want, I make improvements or just get a little money for a long awaited trip, etc. I Just hated to see how it all worked out for my mom.

ARLO ™
August 2nd, 2021

Hello Sarah,

This is one of the areas we have uncovered that has long plagued seniors but not just for reverse mortgages. Often, when seniors are taken for their money because of fraud or deceptive practices, it is a family member or someone close to the senior and it wasn’t the loan that was the issue at all.

I am so sorry to hear that your mom had this happen to her. It is so sad that some people would stoop to this and it’s even more inconceivable to me that people would prey on their own elderly family members!

Hogie Hogendobler
April 14th, 2017

Lost respect for all these “spokesmen” peddling fake finance. Tom Sellick looks especially phony trying to convince people about reverse mortgages. Not at all convincing.