Pennies From Heaven

What does a windfall feel like? Ask former soap stars Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton.
7:42 | 08/10/13

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Pennies From Heaven
powerball ticket. Their luck appeared. Pennies from heaven, you could say. Or should we say, millions. Here's amy robach. Reporter: What do the stories of two forgotten hollywood stars and one broke barista have in common? It's the lesson that sometimes you've got to hit the skids in order to hit the jackpot. It was truly a miracle. Reporter: Meet kevin brophy. He was the lead in the short-lived 1977 tv show "lu "lucan" -- get him out of here. Reporter: Playing a boy raised by wolves. It's something that's unfathomable. Reporter: This is brophy's friend and fellow actor peter barton. Decades ago, barton was a "teen beat" sensation, famous for his roles as an alien prince on another short-lived tv show "the powers of matthew star" and then as a doctor on "the young and the restless." Remember me? Yeah. Reporter: Barton and brophy even appeared together in this 1981 movie, "hell night." In order to be a member of alpha sigma ro, one has to do what? To stay in garth manor one night, mr. President. Reporter: Redford and newman, not exactly. After their acting heyday, roles were scarce. People wouldn't even meet with me. It was a very low time for me. Reporter: Brophy went from the back lot to the parking lot, for 26 years at the hotel bel air. I was a doorman and a valet parker and a greeter. Reporter: Four years ago, that gig dried up, too. But his luck, and barton's, would soon change. It began with a simple, two-ounce letter that hit like a ton of bricks. I opened it up, and i completely thought it was a scam. It said that peter barton and I were beneficiaries of mr. Ray e. Fulk's estate. I was wracking my brain on who is ray fulk. Reporter: Good question. Ray fulk was a recluse in the rural city of lincoln, illinois. Remember "to kill a mockingbird"? Well, until his death last year at the age of 71, you might say he was his town's version of boo radley. He was eccentric. I never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. Reporter: His closest companions were his dogs. Loved dogs really more than people. Reporter: From the look of things, ray could have been on a tv show, too. "Hoarders." But hidden amongst the junk in his farmhouse? Clues about why he left his entire estate to two men he never met, describing them in his will as friends. Donald behle is ray fulk's lawyer. He showed them strange letters with talk of telepathy, which barton's character displayed on his show. But the real answer to the mystery was is in this dusty scrapbook. They found this book underneath a pile of clothes. Reporter: The scrapbook showed a rabid fan's fixation with brophy's show "lucan." He had written down every episode I had ever done, the date it had aired, what the story line was about. Reporter: Also saved, fan mail that ray fulk exchanged with his tv idol. This is the first picture i ever mailed to him. I always answered all my fan letters. He did not waste his time sending that fan mail response. That's for sure. Reporter: So what did the men inherit? Well, there was no treasure in the trove from the house. With items including a "lucan" styled wig -- there you go. Now, that's a fit. Reporter: It had a resale value close to zero. No great luck with the broken down, ready for the bulldozer barn buildings, either. Oh, wow. Reporter: But the soil they were standing on? Black gold. 164 acres of fertile farm ground, highly tillable for corn, beans and timber and worth a whopping $1 million. It's like a dream. It's a big ba of lightning that dropped out of the sky. And a puzzle of, like, why? Yeah, why? Why, ray? Reporter: Also asking why, fulk's not nearly as lucky neighbors. Over the years, they gave fulk plenty of help and even free meals. Anything we ate, we always took a plate down to him. Their reaction to losing out to the leading men? We're thinking, gosh, they're so lucky. Hmm. Reporter: But they weren't grudge seekers. They were autograph seekers. Heck, no, I don't -- begrudge them -- -- begrudge them for anything. I think they hit the lottery. It's a crazy ride, this life. And you don't know what's coming and where it's coming from. Reporter: But sometimes, luck doesn't come looking for you. Sometimes you have to go out and find it. Here's a case of another gift from the grave. But this time the benefactor wouldn't know the beneficiary at all. Meet thomas schultz. I believe that one can create their own luck. Reporter: After investing his life savings in a kitchen and coffee shop, it closed, leaving schultz unemployed, debt-ridden and heartbroken. You didn't know where your next paycheck was coming from? No, not at all. Reporter: Eager to make some quick cash, he and a business partner decided to buy a house in the long isnd town of bellport and flip it. I thought we could realize a quick $75,000, $80,000 profit. Reporter: Schultz found this 625-square foot cottage, the smallest house in all of bellport, on sale for $300,000. And it was overflowing with artwork that the owners had destined for the dumpster. So they wanted you to throw it away? Yes. Reporter: But schultz had a hunch he should hang on to it. Did you know it was worth anything? No, not at all. I just knew it was someone's life's work. And how could you throw someone's life's work into a dumpster? Reporter: The artist, a total unknown named arthur pinajian. He made a modest living in comic books, then lived isolated with his sister in the cottage where he spent decades painting abstract expressionist art until he died in obscurity, just like our farmer in illinois. Schultz convinced an art historian to take a look at the collection. Then he took three years to clean and catalogue 7,000 pieces. Nudes, landscapes, still lifes, cats, horses, cowboys. Reporter: Turns out, art experts decreed that pinajian deserved to be called one of great undiscovered geniuses of the modern art movement. The collection's worth? Wait for it. The conservative estimate -- a staggering $30 million. Schultz now runs a gallery that houses pinajian's works. This is retailing around $85,000, $150,000, $495,000. This one is priceless. Reporter: How incredible. Yeah, it is incredible. Reporter: He never did flip the cottage for cash. He didn't need to now. Schultz still lives there with his wife and three children, living off the profits from the 200 paintings that have been sold so far. You could go off and buy a mansion and never work again. And you've chosen not to do that. Aren't you tempted to sell it all off and live the high life? I believe I am already living a wonderful life. We've created college funds for our daughters. We paid off our debt. We paid off our minivan. Good fortune is not measured in dollars. I feel ray. Reporter: Our lucky actors agree. To tell you the truth, if it was only a dollar, it would have been the same effect on me. So it's not the money. He gave back to me a validation of my entire career. Reporter: And to the men that made them rich, the lucky three all feel a responsibility. I am truly thankful to this man who I didn't know, basically, and I do feel a certain obligation. I'd like to pay this forward. Reporter: And now brophy hopes for yet another lucky break. Now I have an agent and I'm auditioning. Reporter: Perhaps lightning can strike twice. You never know.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":19923502,"title":"Pennies From Heaven","duration":"7:42","description":"What does a windfall feel like? Ask former soap stars Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton.","url":"/2020/video/pennies-heaven-19923502","section":"2020","mediaType":"default"}