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A life of modeling, acting and now drawing

Sara Thomas has turned life into art.

Posted: April 7, 2008 4:02 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Sara Thomas, a Valencia resident, is a local artist who has lived an interesting life. She was a model, actress and one of thefirst Maidenform bra models.

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Sara Thomas perches elegantly on a stool in her living room as she talks about her life. Her soft voice trills through her airy apartment as the afternoon light accents her high cheekbones. Her slender arms are gracefully folded over her lap like a sphinx.

Considering her eloquence and carriage, it's no surprise that the 72-year old Thomas used to be a model and actress. She recently returned to the stage after many years of raising children and caring for her husband, bringing her full circle from her days in New York in the 1950s and '60s.

A native of Seattle, Thomas moved to New York City after high school to pursue her goal of working in the theater. A tall, slim, fair-haired beauty, she quickly picked up work as a print model and found herself in magazine ads for Maidenform and several other lingerie companies. She was eventually picked up by the Ford Modeling Agency and had a successful career in the field for about 10 years.

During that same period she continued to pursue her true passion, acting. In addition to performing in various productions around New York, she created a theater troupe called the Landmark Theater, which
wrote and staged work in a variety of genres, from comedy, to "theater of the absurd," to children's productions.

"It was a very talented group of people," she remembers.

Her biggest claim to fame was her brief but memorable stint on The Great White Way when an off-off Broadway production she was in got bumped up to the big time.

"I can say that I was a Broadway actress for 10 days," she said gleefully.

Thomas also did occasional TV work. In addition to commercials for products such as Clorox bleach, she was a member of the Johnny Carson Players and did an episode of "The Sid Caesar Show."

By the early '70s Thomas had married and started a family. Though she had a wonderful husband, Morton, a great career and three small children, Thomas still felt that something was missing from her life.

It was around that time that she decided to become a Christian.

"At the time the movie 'The Exorcist' came out, I started thinking about good and evil," she said. "I realized there was this whole spiritual realm out there. But it was a lot of struggle. The Bible did not suddenly open up to me. I had to go through a lot to get there."

Though the process was neither instantaneous nor easy, she said that her life has become richer and more meaningful since then and this has helped her through ensuing tough times.|

"I could not have done it without God," she said. "Everything in life  is for a purpose and a reason."

About 14 years ago, Morton, a former jazz musician and photographer, suffered a debilitating stroke that left him alert but nearly immobile and completely bedridden. Thomas has been his primary caregiver since then, a challenge she takes in stride, with her characteristic cheer and humility.

Several years ago Thomas and Morton moved to California to be closer to some of their four children and seven grandchildren. First they lived up north in Livermore, but about a year and half ago, they moved to the Santa Clarita Valley. They currently reside in the Fountain Glen Senior Apartments in Valencia.

Though she put acting aside for many years, partly out of principle and partly to concentrate on her family and her faith, Thomas found her interest in the craft returning recently.

"As a Christian I didn't think I could use my acting," she said. "I thought it wasn't proper. But it's resurfacing again."

A member of Grace Baptist Church in Saugus, she was thrilled to be able to perform recently in the Easter Passion Play.

"I can now use the gift God has given me to His glory," she said.

An innately creative person, Thomas's recent re-awakening extends to art as well. Though she took some classes in high school, she didn't fully explore her potential until the last few years when she started studying again and experimenting with paint and pen.

Now an accomplished artist, she makes and sells greeting cards in her spare time to help offset her domestic expenses, also does full-size pen and ink drawings of a variety of subjects.

A member of the Santa Clarita Artists' Association, Thomas will exhibit some of her work in October during the Association's Art Classic.

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