Brush With Fame stories

I haven’t seen a Brush With Fame thread in a while, so I decided to start one.

What made me think of this was yesterday I was in church and the Governor of Tennessee sat right in front of me. I guess that’s a brush with fame, but it reminded me of a much better story from when I was a new freshman in college.

It was my first month of school, a thousand miles from home, and I was looking around for a church near campus. I had been raised Baptist and I had seen a few blocks away from school a sign for the Second Baptist Church. So I made note of the service time and showed up on Sunday morning in a tie, Bible in hand.

What I didn’t realize until I walked in was that this was an African-American congregation. They were all very welcoming to me but I felt very self-conscious, being the only white person in attendance. Still, I thought it would be interesting (and obviously rude and hypocritical to leave) so I took a seat a few rows from the back and tried to keep a low profile.

After the opening hymns, the pastor got up to the pulpit and made some announcements. Then he pointed at me and said “I’d like us all to welcome a very special visitor today…” Everyone turned around and looked at me. I must have turned six shades of red :o and forced myself to smile weakly.

The pastor continued, “… Miss Oprah Winfrey!” Slowly I turned… she was sitting right behind me (with Stedman). :smiley:

I know it’s cliche, but that choir rocked.

I sat a couple seats down from Manny Ramirez at the FC Tampa Bay game this weekend. His family was chatting with people nearby, so we said a few things to eachother. One guy bought him a beer, and bought us one too. Wohoo.

I lived in NYC in the mid-90s.

I was walking home from work through midtown one evening, when, at a corner in Times Square, I nearly collided with a scrawny, scraggly-haired guy who looked vaguely familiar. We didn’t touch, but were mere inches from each other’s faces. We were both walking quickly and with purpose…and were equally stunned by the encounter. (We both did this :eek:) We muttered pardons and carried on.

A nanosecond after passing, I realized it was Ralph Fiennes on his way to the theatre. He was starring in Hamlet and must have really starved himself (and grown his hair) for the role.

I actually had a little crush on him… so to have been that close and not recongize him was a bit of a :rolleyes: moment. Add to that the fact that I passed billboards of him in character every freaking day to and from work and well… it was a :smack: moment too.

There’ve been more than a few, but my favorite story happened back in the early '90s.

I was delivering a pizza to the top floor of the Fairmont Hotel in Downtown San Jose; I got off the elevator and there was an older couple waiting to get on. I made eye contact with the man, very briefly, then he stared hard at the floor as he and the woman passed me as I was exiting the elevator. The wheels were turning furiously in my head as the thought flashed through: “I know who this guy is.” It hit me, and I turned around to say “Hey, you’re Dick Clark!” just as the elevator doors slid shut.

Fight with a Spice Girl, pub garden, north London, early 2000s. I won.

I worked at a bicycle shop in the early 80’s and I can’t tell you how many time I kicked Lance Armstrong out of the shop.(He was about 12 or 13 at the time.)

I interviewed Jarno Trullli once…

And Steve Gurney used to stop in at the pub dad managed on his training rides (he’s world famous in New Zealand)

I’ve mentioned celebrities I’ve met (or known) in other threads, but there’s one that I totally forgot about until recently.

While I was about 13-14 in the late 50s, my mother used to sell World Book Encyclopedias. The salespeople who sold the most sets got tickets to a speech and slide show by Sir Edmund Hillary (who, along with Tenzing Norgay, were the first to climb Mt. Everest). My father wasn’t interested in going, so my mother took me. I don’t remember much about the speech, but afterward I got to shake Hillary’s hand.

I shook hands with Tom Brokaw once upon a time.

Ive got 2.
Summer of '91, im 15 and on a carribean cruise with my family. Im in the casino on the ship playing slots (i was 6’5, 175 lbs at time and never got carded) and someone sits down at the slot next to me. I dont pay any attention till i notice 2 security guards standing right behind this guy…turns out it was Jerry Lewis (comedian not singer). I stayed beside him playing for about 20 mins and he was nice enough to talk to me and congratulate when i hit anything on the machine and was also chatting about smalltalk things.
The next summer we had a Richard Gere movie shooting very close to my hometown. This was at the time he was dating Cindy Crawford and near the peak of her popularity, 1992. As a 16 year old it was my and my friends quest to try to catch a look at her in person. We heard she was going to a gym in a nearby town pretty regularly and so we stopped by there and sure enough we looked through the window and she was inside on the treadmill in workout clothes looking crazy hot. We ogled for a min then left to go brag to others that we had seen her. Kind of a stalkerish story in retrospect but at 16 and the most famous supermodel in the world at the time nearby i wasnt thinking too clearly.

At the school I taught at in the mid-90’s, I was involved in the choir - one day I hear that they have been invited to sing at some brunch/launch thingie, but I had classes scheduled and things to do, and what with the old Protestant work ethic and all, I say I can’t go.

Turns out Nelson Mandela was the guest of honour and the little bastards all got to shake his hand and spend some time chatting with him.


A few years ago I was working in London and seeing a Dublin girl. To make that work I’d booked cheapo flights to Dublin pretty much every other weekend for months in advance. I had to work late one Friday so my secretary rebooked me for first thing Saturday morning, and because it was on the business dime she booked me into business class.

Well, it was an early flight but I checked in even earlier and bagged seat 1a. Shortly before the aircraft doors closed a tall, scruffy guy with a small overnight bag got on, looked at his boarding pass and took the seat behind me. Directly behind him was a short, much tidier looking guy who sat across the aisle from me, and right behind him was Bono. He looked at me and asked if I was in seat 1a? I replied that I was, so he said “well this one must be me” and sat down next to me. That’s right, it was U2 flying back to Dublin after a one-off charity gig at the Brixton Academy the night before.

I once sat next to Wim Duisenberg, then chairman of the European Central Bank, on a flight from Amsterdam to Geneva, but that’s a much less exiting story.

I lived on the same street at Stephen Hawking when I was at uni - we used to cross paths a lot as he trundled down to the local curry house in the evenings.

(A friend of mine met Prof Hawking at a college garden party in the 1980s - friend would have been about 7-8 yrs old. He asked whether Hawking’s voice synth could say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” before being dragged away by embarassed parents. Hawking spent the next couple of hours (on and off) programming his machine, and found my friend a while later to play it to him).

I was also in the same airline check-in queue as David Bellamy a couple of years ago - most Brits who grew up in the 1980s will recognise him (and could probably do an impression of him!).

Not my story, something I have overheard: A semi-regular at one of my homes away from home is a staunch follower of one of the local football teams (he is also not the brightest kitten in the litter). I once heard him tell somebody how he, as a teenager had shaken hands with the chairman of the club, later to become head of UEFA and commented “He must still remember me”.

I’m in a profession that puts me in occasional contact with famous people (I’m a singer) so I have a few. There’s a thread that I’m too lazy to search for where I sang “America the Beautiful” in front of Quincy Jones (Chris Matthews and Phyllis Schlafly were there too). I didn’t meet him because he was in the audience, but I recently found out that Howard Stern’s daughter graduated from my university that day (it was a commencement ceremony), so he heard me too.

Christine Brewer studies in the studio next to mine (most people who aren’t opera singers or fans won’t have heard of her, but she’s one of the top dramatic sopranos in the world).

Other random celebrity encounters: I went to the same high school as Sarah Silverman. I never knew her (she graduated the year before I started) but my sister was in Sweet Charity with her.

I once sat next to Carl Cameron on a plane. I didn’t know who he was, not being a Fox News watcher, but some guy shook his hand and said “Great to meet you! I watch Fox all the time!” and his kids kept saying his name so I figured out who he was and what he did. He offered me his newspaper. What was interesting about that was that a correspondent on a major news network, who is presumably fairly well paid, was flying Southwest, which doesn’t even have first class. I actually found that kind of refreshing (notwithstanding the allegations of journalistic fraud; that’s not so cool).

One degree of separation things: I taught Jon Cryer’s half brother for a couple of years. Bill Kristol’s daughter also went to my university and I sang in choir with her for a while. I have no idea why I have random connections with Fox News personalities.

I was waiting outside the theatre with a newly purchased windowcard for the play Fifth of July. The lead came out and I asked him to sign it. He asked me where I got it. I told him they were selling them at a store down the block. He signed my card and asked me to show him the store.

And that is how I walked down the street accompanied by Christopher Reeve!

ETA: I later got a (very rare) windowcard for Richard Thomas, who replaced Reeve when he left. I got him to sign it at a event. When I handled it to him, he stared at it, then looked up at me and said “I don’t have one of these.”

I’m keeping the matched set until Thomas dies. Then I’ll sell them and make a fortune.

My ex-wife was staying at a hotel, and heard shots outside the room. She went out to the railing to investigate. The guy in the next room also came out and said “What was that?”

She was unable to cobble together much of an intelligent response to Gregory Peck. “Well goodnight then…” he said.

I and some friends, including a well know (in Sweden) musician (Stig Vig, if anybody wonders) were once sitting in a bar having a beer when someone came in, saw him and started yapping about how he (Stig) was his (the newcomer’s) biggest idol, “do you remember that gig you had at that festival 15 years ago” and what have you. When the intruder had finally left someone asked Stig, who is a rather shy person who don’t really like to be recognised on town, how he could stand situations like that. The answer was “I’ve become so used to it”.

Growing up in SoCal we saw a few more celebrities than most folks might.

At about age 12 I exchanged "Good Morning"s with John Wayne as he was leaving & I was entering a restaurant. This was well after his prime, he was almost completely retired, but still instantly recognizable.

Delonte West went to my high school for a year as a punishment for getting kicked out of his regular school. He was in my brother’s year so there were a couple of times that we’d meet in passing.

May or may not have met other people… I generally have no idea who the famous people are, so I’d likely walk right past anyone who doesn’t have some sort of iconic look.