July 31, 2008
All pink, all the time
Although her convertible is silver, her license plate reads LUVPINK.
For Jackie Goldberg (no relation to the politician of the same name), 75, "Thinking Pink" has been a way of life since the late 1960s, which she's carried into a vibrant, colorful second career.
A self-promoting senior personality, Goldberg was dubbed Ms. Senior Los Angeles County in 2005 and is actively pursuing acting, both on stage and in commercials.
A widow with five children and six grandchildren, Goldberg is also on a mission to redefine what it means to be a senior. She lectures regularly around Southern California about making positive changes in attitude, work ethic and lifestyle. She dreams of starting a yoga class for seniors, a magazine she cheekily calls Senior Chic and an "American Idol"-style television talent show for the over-60 set.
"I know out there are hundreds of thousands of extra-special, extra-talented zesty seniors who are dying to perform and are good," she said.
Goldberg moved to Los Angeles in her 20s to pursue a career in radio, but was held back by what employers considered a thick Boston accent. Determined to succeed in the Southland, she worked as a hostess at Delmonico's and as a manicurist before she met her husband, Walter Goldberg.
The Pink Lady persona was born more than 40 years ago when she joined her salesman husband in the garment industry. Walter thought the gimmick might help increase her sales, and it did. Even before she recently retired, Goldberg was working with her daughter, Michele Hirsch, selling resortwear through a business called Pink Lady and Michele.
"She loved it. It was great for business, and that's how she was known. It sort of just took off and it ended up giving her an edge," said Hirsch, who has since taken over and renamed the business Michele Hirsch Sales.
Goldberg began dating again a year after Walter's death. One of the men she was seeing at the time suggested she enter the 2005 Ms. Senior Los Angeles pageant. She was hesitant at first.
"Never in my life did I think I would ever enter, let alone win a pageant," Goldberg said.
Based on her experience speaking before the judges and winning, Goldberg said she knew she could help other seniors, which inspired her to take on the "Get Up, Get Out and Get a Life" seminars.
"At the pageant I saw all these seniors, aged 70 through 90, singing and dancing, and I realized there were so many that weren't doing this. I knew, being the way I was, that I could help them," she said.
Goldberg has since spoken in front of several hundred L.A. seniors, communicating the message that there is life after 60. The philosophy she espouses during the seminars is also PINK: pursue your interests; imagine new goals, never stop learning, keep going.
"I love people, and I love to talk to my peers. So I figured I'd do my 'Get Up, Get Out and Get a Life' as a way to connect with them. And it sort of took off," Goldberg said of the lecture, which she promotes with a line of T-shirts, bags and mugs emblazoned with the slogan, "Get Up, Get Out and Get a Life."
She says that most women who are now in their late 60s to 90s were taught from a young age that there was nothing out there for them once they got older, including sex.
"So I tell them, show them ways to get out," Goldberg said.
Her next seminars include discussing "Sizzling and Sexy Seniors" with a Red Hat Society group on Aug. 27 and "Senior Sexuality" with Pierce College's OASIS program in October.
"I've always been out there," Goldberg said. "If I walk into a room with 500 people, within an hour, they're going to know I'm in that room, and they're going to know who I am.... What I'm saying is I've always made my own mark."
Goldberg said she reaches more than just seniors.
"It's not an age thing, really. I can speak to kids and they get it, because it's something that's there. How can you be down when you're around someone like myself?" Goldberg said.
The Pink Lady seems to practice what she preaches. Her energy is palpable, and it certainly shows.
"I believe that age is just a number, and it really is. I sit now and I talk to my 23- and 24-year-old grandkids and they say to me, 'Pink Grandma, you're real, you're not old.'"