Famous People aren't all bad.....Are they?

I looked around at some of the threads on here and I noticed that there is a lot of threads devoted to bashing celebrities, “What Celebrity should be slapped upside the head”, etc.

My question for all of you is:

"Have you ever had the chance to meet a Famous Person, who was actually nice? Who was it, and what were the circumstances?"

Now let me qualify what I mean here:

A “Famous Person” is a person who is a stand out in their field, be it a sport, film, music, journalism etc. Someone whose name should be recognized by the general public, not necessarily a household word but someone who is known.

When I say “Nice” I mean a person who was more than simply cordial, the person actually treated you with respect or appreciation. I’m wondering more about accidental meetings, not necessarily a PR front put on by an individual, but rather something genuine.

I’m not really interested in hearing about people who were jerks and pulled a “Sean Penn” or something, or some guy who only left a 14% tip.
Please note this is my first thread hopefully it won’t be my last if all goes well. Don’t flame me hardcore if I’ve missed some minor etiquette or protocol, no disrespect is intended.

Famous people I have interviewed who were friendly, cooperative and all-around nice folks: Lillian Gish, Anita Page, Ann Miller, Sharon Stone, Britt Eckland, Tommy Smothers, Karl Lagerfeld, Tony Franciosa, Ashley Judd, Olivia de Havilland, Gilbert Roland, Ian Carmichael (British actor), Adam Sandler, Lili Taylor, John Waters.

Of the above, several sent hand-written thank-you notes when the article was published. True, they may have been nice to me because I was “the press,” but there have been others who have either been “only as nice as they HAD to be,” or not very nice at all.

Most of the famous people I know are science fiction writers. Those who are especially nice in person include:

Samuel R. Delany (“Call me ‘Chip’”)
Hal Clement
Jane Yolen
Esther Friesner
Terry Pratchett
Michael O’Hare (though he is a very quiet and private person)
Raymond Feist
A. C. Crispin
Isaac Asimov

The times I’ve dealt with Harlan Ellison, he’s been very nice and charming. But I’ve seen him at other times, too. :slight_smile:

There’s another SF writer who is extremely charming and likeable in person, but who evidently can be extremely nasty in other circumstances.

I once spilled a whole pitcher of water on Jack Palance and he was amazingly, incredibly nice about it. He looked like such an intimidating guy, but he was actually very sweet.

Gwendoline Brooks is (was?) extremely nice and very, very cool. Also Joseph Heller. James Dickey, however, was a dirty old man.

Although I suppose most of the world dosen’t think writers, let alone poets, are famous people these days.

When I worked as a cashier in a Gainesville, FL grocery store, I had Emmit Smith (the football player and Florida grad) come through my line. His “posse” included his wife, her sister, and two children. They bagged their own groceries! He was very friendly, and laughed about seeing a picture of himself on a Hi-C 6-pack.

I met Christy Williams (the folk singer) at her little sister’s HS graduation. She was as sweet and charming as could be.

The only two that I can say that I’ve actually spoken to for longer than, “Can I have an autograph?”:

Joan Cusack was super nice. I met her when I was 15. She was in a play that I went to see and I stayed around afterwards hoping to meet her. She came out and I approached her for an autograph. She seemed very sweet and genuine. She happily signed the autograph for me and chatted for a few minutes. I told her how much I had enjoyed the play, and she seemed really flattered. I mean, for someone who probably hears that all the time, you would think no one had ever complimented her before.
I met Joe Piscopo (sp?) after another play I saw. I asked for the autograph, and commented that I used to watch him on SNL all the time, and that I loved his impression of Sinatra. He seemed surprised to hear this (this was when Phil Hartman was on SNL doing Sinatra), and said, “Wow, thanks! That’s so nice of you to say!” He just seemed like a really nice guy.

Like Chuck, most of my “famous” contacts have been science fiction or fantasy writers. 3 that I would single out as being particularly nice are:

Clifford Stoll
Piers Anthony
Neil Gaiman

Class acts and genuinely nice people.

Peter Jurasik (Londo from Babylon 5), at DragonCon in Atlanta, 1998. An absolute sweetheart, had the longest autograph line every time we walked by, but remained gracious to everyone throughout. The whole thing, down to the picture he posed for with my friends and I, was like chatting with a favorite uncle at a family reunion.

I’ve met a few famous people–Hayley Mills, Tommy Kirk, Gordon Scott, Henry Winkler, Clint Howard, Pat Morita, Ann Rutherford, R. G. Armstrong, Ann Robinson, Jane Adams, Ted Neely, and half a dozen character actors–and without fail, all have been, or seem to be, genuinely friendly people. In some cases, these meetings have been on the fly, i. e., theatre backdoors, etc:
ME: Ms. Mills, I’ve very much enjoyed your work, especially “The Flame Tree of Thika.”
(Holds out photo to sign)
HAYLEY (As she hastily scribbles her name): “Thank you, darling, you’re very sweet.”
And she’s gone on to the nest person. Now, certainly one could say it seemed like she was abrupt, but, hey, I showed up in her path, intruded on her time. My take is that a lot of people get bent out of shape just because their favorite celebrity doesn’t stop and give them an hour of their full undivided attention.


Jackie Chan was in Melbourne a few years ago shooting a movie, and the mother of a girl I know bumped into him in a liquor store. She said that he was a really charming guy, and when he found out that her 9 year old son (who was with her at the time) was a big fan, he play-fought with him for a little while. (Imagine telling your mates about that!) :slight_smile:

IIRC, she entered a local radio competition for the “biggest celebrity” that competitors had met, and won a couple of small prizes.

Well, the only celebrity I’ve met was Jack Jones - lead singer of an Australian band that had a few local hits in the early 90’s. He was visiting the corner store across the road from our house when my father spotted him out the window, and Mum shooed my brother across to meet him. I wasn’t going to go, but Mum found my brother’s autograph book after sending him out, so she made me take it across to Jack Jones and get him to sign it. I was terribly embarrassed about harrassing him at the local shop, but he was so nice and friendly about it, signed the autograph, chatted to us for a while, and even let my brother have his photo taken with him.
Finally, he said he’d better go - and it was only then that I discovered my brother had bailed him up on his way IN to the store, not on his way OUT! The poor man stood there chatting to my brother, then me, then half the neighbourhood without even getting into the shop to buy what he was looking for!
About 2 years later, my brother’s class went on a music workshop that Jack Jones was attending. Apparently he spotted my bro straight away and asked where he recognised him from - so he was nice with a really impressive memory!
I also met Mark Holden once - he was nice enough, but a little distant.

In college, I worked at the front desk of one of the better hotels in Daytona Beach, so I’ve met several NASCAR drivers. Of those, I’d say Richard Petty was the nicest. Sometimes he would hang out in the lobby or by the pool (and if he took off his hat and sunglasses, nobody would recognize him :)) and chat. He was really cool, a racing legend, but didn’t have the “Do you know who I am? I’m so-and-so!” attitude some lesser drivers had.

Bryn Terfel and Thomas Hampson were big goofy affable guys – very loud and informal.I’ve met lots of other musicians, but I’m not sure which ones are sufficiently “famous” to merit mention here.

I got to chat with Kurt Vonnegut Jr. alone for 15 minutes my freshman year in college – moody but easy to talk too (until later in the evening, when he became drunk and obnoxious).

And finally not me but my wife met and chatted with the Queen, HM Elizabeth II, and declared her “extremely charming” (and “She’s got great skin!”).

As I mentioned in the “Obscure Claims to Fame” thread, I’ve had occasion to associate with Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney on a few occasions, and always found him to be one of the most human and pleasant people you’d ever want to meet. He spent a week at my college in the early 80s, and met with our poetry workshop three times that week. He was unfailing helpful, supportive, and found ways to criticize some pretty poor writing without at all being abusive, smug, or self-important. A couple of years later, when I had just dropped out of graduate school, he visited that institution to deliver a series of lectures. I attended several of the public events, and he remembered me from our previous meetings and personally invited me to some private events (including his birthday party, hosted by a professor who had very little use for me). He spent lots of time talking with nearly everyone there, with seemingly no thought whatever to their nominal status; undergraduates and grad school dropouts got just as much of his attention as the faculty, administrators, and other literary notables (poet/critic Jon Stallworthy and poet Michael S. Harper among them). This was several years before his Nobel Prize, but he was very well known in literary circles at the time and was already being mentioned as a Nobel candidate at the time, and particularly at the second instance was very much the center of attention and could easily have brushed aside those from whom he could expect no professional benefit.

A couple of years ago, I was in a toy store in Phipps Plaza (a very upscale mall in Atlanta) when Braves catcher Javy Lopez came in with his wife and son. My son was playing with the display Brio wooden trains, and Javy’s son and wife soon wandered over as well. After watching her son play with the trains for a few minutes, Javy’s wife asked me if I knew how much the set in the plastic treasure-chest-style box she was looking at cost. I told her the approximate figure (several hundred dollars). She looked shocked, whistled, and led her son away shortly afterward. That’s always made me think more of Javy and his family; annual income of several million a year, and just as concerned about how they spend their money as any middle-class family.

I had the chance to meet Eddie Vedder outside a club once but did not, because I was only 14 and too shy to approach him. But I did observe him speaking with a number of other people for over an hour before the show started. He was very charming, friendly, and sincere. Several guys who hated Pearl Jam later pronounced him “a really cool guy, even if his band sucks”.

Back in 1988, I accidentally urinated on Mr. T’s leg.

He was very nice about it, said he certainly hoped I hadn’t splashed any on my own pants. I offered to pay for his dry-cleaning, but he just laughed and complimented me on my necktie and asked me if I had any pets. We got into a long and fascinating conversation about the barbering of French poodles. When I had to leave, he gave me a warm hug, an autographed photo, and busfare.

Then I pissed on his other leg.

Well, THERE’S a thread topic: “What celebrities have you peed on?”

[and people wonder why I don’t sit next to Ike at get-togethers . . . ]

Celebs I have met:
[li]George Takei - Sulu of “Star Trek” fame. Extremely gregarious guy. He signed a picture in my “Star Trek Compendium” of him brandashing a fencing sword as “D’Artagnan” (from the episode “The Naked Time”). And this was after he’d been signing for at least an hour, with about another hour of autographs to go. (This was at a Sci-Fi convention, BTW.)[/li][li]James Doohan - Scotty of “Star Trek” fame. Also very friendly. He took interest in the Compendium that I was having him sign and found it very interesting. I had him sign a picture of him electrifying the hull of the Galileo 7 by shorting out a battery. He was at an auto show rather than a SF convention.[/li][li]Wil Wheaton - Wesley Crusher of “Star Trek” fame. He was polite, enough so as to give me two autographs on ST novels that had his likeness on the cover. But I didn’t really engage him in conversation.[/li][li]Pat Oliphant - Political Cartoonist. I actually met his wife first. (She and Pat were patients of the dentist my mother worked for in DC.) She was very sweet (and quite beautiful IIRC).[/li]
Later, my mom gave me something that Pat had given her to give me: an autographed book of his lastest political cartoons. Cool!

About 6 months later, my mom had arranged my appointment to coincide with his, so I got to meet and thank him. A real regular guy, you wouldn’t think it was the same guy that drew some of his more scathing and critical cartoons.

PS - Ike, I didn’t piss on any of them. :D:D:D

I was on a TV crew for the Bob Hope Classic golf tournament.
On the pro-am days, it was our assignment to follow Mr. Jordan and Mr. Barkley around in our golf cart/mobile camera
unit. While Michael was preparing for his second shot, the ball from Charles’ second shot ricocheted off a mountain (and who knows what else - ugliest swing I’ve ever seen) and
the ball lands UNDER the wheel of our golf cart. MJ, between fits of hysterical laughter, came over and scouted out the situation. He helped by telling me which way to steer the cart so I wouldn’t interfere with the ball.

This is not the only time I have met up with Michael Jordan,
and each time he has been exceedingly polite and gracious, which is truly amazing when you think of all the goof-balls with cameras trying to get close to him.