August 27, 2001 12:00 PM

Fresh off the success of the sitcom The Hogan Family, Jeremy Licht, who played the more straitlaced of Jason Bateman’s younger twin brothers, couldn’t believe he wasn’t barraged with offers after the show ended in 1991. “Shouldn’t they be knocking on my door?” Licht, then 20, wondered. “Where are the knocks?”

Nowadays, he says, they’re knocking again—but at another entrance. Licht, who started his own financial-planning company, JL Capital Management, in 1996, now handles roughly 300 portfolios, many for people in the entertainment industry. “I like strategizing and calculating,” says the former child star, 30, who adds that the current downward turn of the market hasn’t hit him too hard. Confirms his client and friend Robin Spector, 27: “I have friends with high-powered stockbrokers who are losing money and switching to Jeremy—he has a knack for picking the right stuff.” Licht’s new line of work comes as no surprise to his Hogan costars. “He always had his head on straight,” says his more mischievous TV twin, Danny Ponce, 28, who is still acting. “People used to joke that we were like our characters on the show. It’s true. He’s been 40 since we were 10.” As Josh Taylor, 57, who played Licht’s dad, recalls, “I used to say, ‘Treat Jeremy well, we’re all going to be working for him one day.’ ”

Licht honed his mind for money, studying finance at the University of Southern California before leaving in his junior year to intern for Merrill Lynch. He took total control of his own accounts, building his savings (he earned roughly $1 million in acting) into what he calls “a nice sum today.” Obtaining his license as a financial adviser, he began trading for family and friends. “He just has a great business mind,” says pal Lisa Richman, 30, who has enjoyed 20 percent returns under Licht’s management.

Saving for the future was the goal when he entered show business at age 5. Raised with his brother Matthew (now 27 and a pharmaceutical rep) in the Los Angeles area by their parents, Trudi, 53, a director at the Jewish Federation, and Dennis, 56, an advertising salesman, Licht got his first break modeling for Sears ads. Commercials followed, and within a year he was winning roles in TV movies. “I was always the cute boy that died in the end,” he says. “I was bucked off a horse, I fell off a cliff, I was hit by cars. I died all the time. That was my niche.”

When he got the part of Mark on The Hogan Family (initially called Valerie, the series starred Valerie Harper before her much-publicized contract dispute with NBC landed Sandy Duncan in the lead) in 1985, Licht, then 14, had to study with a tutor rather than attend high school full-time. But his mother stipulated that The Hogan Family not interfere with the Licht family. “Even if we were home at 8 o’clock, we’d sit down together to dinner,” says Trudi, who warned her son that she’d pull him off the show if he let the success go to his head. “I used to tell him, ‘This is all wonderful and fun and games, but it’s not real life.’ He’s experiencing real life now.”

That’s for sure. After five years of marriage to college girlfriend Carol-Ann Plante, 27, a production manager who as a teen starred in TV’s Harry and the Hendersons, Licht became single again when the couple separated last month. “It’s really tough,” says Licht, who has no children. “I loved being married. But I will survive this.”

Now living the bachelor life with his two dogs, Joker and Sasha, in his two-bedroom Los Angeles-area home, Licht is toying with the idea of acting again. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t intriguing,” he says. “I not only love what I do, but I love what I did.”

Jennifer Wulff

Jenny Hontz in Los Angeles

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