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From Street to Screen: How an Ex-Cop Is Recasting Herself as an Actress

Patricia Getty is an ex-cop who has transitioned to a career in acting.

Twenty-six years as a Philadelphia cop taught Patricia Getty a thing or two about acting. Simply by appearing to be unthreatening, she says, “I found I could get in just about any door anywhere.” Since retiring as a lieutenant detective six years ago, Getty, 53, has slipped through the stage door, into a new acting career.

Progressing from local productions of musicals to TV commercials to small film roles—you might catch her in National Lampoon’s Robodoc, due out in August—she continues to hone her acting skills by drawing from previous life experience. Police training, for example: “My people-watching skills help me build the character I’m playing,” she says.

In May, Getty played the role of Margaret Tutweiler, the director of communications for the George Bush 2000 election team, in Recount, an HBO movie about the battle over the presidential election returns in Florida. Before auditioning for the part, Getty did her homework, researching Tutweiler’s physical appearance and her role in the controversial recount. She learned that “Tutweiler was probably the only girl in the boys’ club,” she says. So, recalling her own precop experiences as a Democratic ward leader in Philadelphia’s male-dominated political club, that’s how she played her—as a tough, brass-tacks operative.

What does Getty, who now lives in New Port Richey, Fla., with her husband, a retired Philadelphia homicide lieutenant, enjoy most about her new career? “I can be the bad girl in the scene and come out of it. You get to impersonate all kinds of people.”

And it’s all perfectly legal. 

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