Earl Owensby – 2
The Forest City Courier-Sun, Monday, February 4, 1974
Busy, Busy, Busy . . . .
The Many Moods of Millionaire Movie-Maker Earl Owensby
A friend of mine asked me one day why I didn’t do an interview with Earl Owensby, movie star, millionaire, etc. Says I, “He’s probably too busy, and how would I get to see him?” She said, “I’ll tell you what,” she said, “If you’ll do it, I’ll call him.” “Okay,” says me. And that’s the way it came about.
While driving to Shelby to see him I was trying to think of some things to ask the man everybody has been talking about. What do you ask a man like Earl Owensby.
I decided just to wait and see what kind of questions popped into my head as we talked over coffee and lunch.
I found that the 38-year-old Cliffside native is a millionaire several times over, a movie star, and a plain hometown person that through hard work made it good in the world.
He is a sensitive man, sensitive to others around him, not himself. A man who looks to the future with an air of confidence that makes the people he talks with see his ideas, dreams, and hopes.
An open man who will tell you anything you want to know. He has an answer to anything you might ask. A man who loves his God, his fifteen-year-old son, and Libby Reep.
He loves business too. He dreams of business, at least that is what he said when asked what he dreams about. People is another one of his loves. Earl, as he wants to be called. “Don’t call me mister, my name is Earl.”
“I would rather talk to people than eat,” he told me. “I love people.”
He is always looking to the future and thinking of ways to improve something he just finished improving last week. Always on the go, stopping to eat one meal a day. Going from six o’clock in the morning till three o’clock the next morning is an average day for him.
Earl began his days in Cliffside, selling popcorn at the old Cliffside theater. He lived and worked there until he was 18 years old. He then served a hitch with the U. S. Marine Corps. And after that he went to work for a supply company driving a truck on deliveries.
After driving awhile he worked his way into sales for the company, and that’s what he’s been doing ever since. “I’m
a salesman,” he says. “That’s how I make my living, that’s how I made my money.
“I worked and worked hard for quite awhile and then I went into business for myself.” Looking back at the past for a few moments, a strange gleam came into his eyes and a thin smiled pursed his lips as he relived how he made his first million.
“When I started in 1967, I had $200, a seven-dollar brief case and a pocket full of business cards. With a lot of hard work I am where I am today.”
How much money do you have? I asked. “I don’t know. I know how much I spend, but I don’t know how much I make; the only thing I do know is that I make more than I spend.”
You got folks: the next question I asked is “How much do you spend a day?”
Without batting an eye he replied “$30,000 roughly.” The answer was given as we would talk about thirty cents.
If $30,000 doesn’t grab you, just think about it a minute. Thirty thousand a day comes out to about a million dollars a month. Think, too, that he makes more than he spend
He said he was a salesman, a “professional salesman.” And sell he does. Just listening to him sell over the phone is something everyone should hear, just once. It’s like he’s the best in the west.
What about the movie you ask. We talked about it at length. The movie is finished as far as filming goes but more hard work comes into focus now. Editing, dubbing the sound, and putting in the music.
The sound and actual editing is being done in the basement of Earl’s home on the KEM editing machine he has there. He said it is the best money could buy. There’s none better, even Hollywood.
And that’s according to Jack Hofstra, who is editing the film. Earl says the same thing about Jack as Jack says about the KEM machine.
The movie is scheduled to be released sometime in March, and will premiere in Charlotte, Shelby, Forest City, and Asheville.
The movie of which I got a sneak preview looks like its going to be great. The problem is they have 14 hours of film to be cut down into two hours. It was all so good I couldn’t decide what to take out and what to leave in.
If you’ve never seen 14 hours of film is comes out to about 15 miles worth. And brother that’s a lot of film.
The picture “Challenge” will be rated G or PG, Owensby said of the motion picture, it’s one that the whole family can come see. “It’s the way I wanted it. There is no profanity, nudity, or sex in the picture,” going on he added, “Don’t get me wrong, the movie is good, it’s action packed and will keep the people on the edge of their seats, and it will bring tears to their eyes too.”
In my own opinion, it will. I saw part of it.
Earl spent a half million dollars on the movie, and he said if it flops, “I’ll at least have one I can see at home that I like.”
The next movie is already in the works. The movie will be filmed at Cliffside. The filming starts in February. The time will be the years between 1945 and 50, the place, “my hometown, Cliffside.”
Talking about Cliffside Earl says “its the greatest place in the world. I still go there sometimes whenever I can and walk the railroad tracks, and kick rocks. That’s why I wanted to make a movie there.”
He is building an industrial park, too. The park in Shelby, just below his home is something to see. In talking about it as he showed me around the place, it is going to be something to see.
All his companies will have offices there along with a filming studio, sound stage and private airport. “It will be not only beautiful, but workable, and pollution free. This park is my dream, and I’m making it come true.”
What is the key to Earl’s rise to fortune and fame. He says, “hard work. Those are the only four letter words I use.” He added “To be successful you have to do something for someone else. I find a need that the public has and I fill it and I make money at it.”
Earl is deeply religious man and is very active in his church. “I don’t work on Sunday at all. He is also active with Boy’s Club. And on the Board of Advisor’s of Gardner-Webb College, along with many more activities.
In writing about him one could write a book but not having the space I’ll end the story here and add. If you ever have the chance to meet him take it.
I came away from his office and home with the feeling that I have a new friend, a good friend, so will you.