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Barbara Sholz McCarthy ’71

The actress and President’s Club member has always loved the theater and it was that love that brought her to Montclair State, as well as pushed her to give back to its arts program.

Posted in: Alumni Profiles


Barbara Sholz McCarthy ’71 has always loved the theater and it was that love that brought her to Montclair State. “I chose Montclair State because it was in sight of New York City,” she says, adding with a laugh, “and it was the right price.”

Barbara majored in Speech and Theatre and also earned a certification in English, which turned out to be a fortuitous addition to her resume. “My first job out of college was a teaching job,” she says. “If I didn’t have the certification in English, I wouldn’t have gotten the job.”

That first job was teaching theater and directing the school plays at Clifton High School, but Barbara’s desire for a career in theater was too strong so after two years, she chose to leave. “It was a nice job but I really wanted to do theater,” she explains.

She went on to a successful career in theatrical and operatic productions in New York City and beyond, landing acting roles in productions at venues such as The Manhattan Theatre Club and operatic roles with the Stuyvesant Opera Company and New Jersey State Opera Company. She also performed with touring companies and worked in regional theater.

Television played a big part in her career as well. She appeared in industrial films and in more than 250 television commercials for such companies as American Express, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Hallmark, Nabisco and Proctor & Gamble, as well as landing roles in the daytime television soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live.

Barbara still performs as a singer in clubs and venues in the metropolitan area. “I sing American standards of the 20th century,” she says. “Mainly songs from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I have some work in New York City but mostly perform in northern New Jersey.”

Although she admits to having preferred the acting part of her studies to the speech part, Barbara enjoyed her time at Montclair State and still keeps in touch with some of her former classmates, a number of whom also pursued acting careers.

As a member of the President’s Club, Barbara has been an active supporter of the University and continues to maintain her connection to it. She especially enjoys attending the theater productions of the College of the Arts. “I’ve been to a number of shows and they are just wonderful.” She is impressed by the professional caliber of the productions, and about the student performers, she says, “I hope they really understand just how good they are.”

Barbara is enthusiastic about the way the University has grown since her college days. “I am so impressed with the physical part of the campus – it is really fabulous,” she says. “The plan was really well thought out and the Spanish Mission style buildings are really beautiful.”

As an alumna, Barbara is proud of the University’s growth – but she is also proud because she is a Montclair resident. “I want the community to be enhanced, and it’s very important to have a university like this in the community,” she notes. “It makes the town look wonderful, and I’m very attached to the town.”

It is one of the reasons that Barbara supports the University financially. “I want to give and make the community better,” she says. “No one was wealthy when I went to school. We all came from hardworking families and did our best. Now I want to give something back. I give to Montclair State to help make it better. I want to give back – with a focus on the arts.”