Something triggered a memory for me today, and it concerns famous people that I have met, up close and personal.
I am, by no means, famous myself, but, on seven occasions in my life, I have shaken hands and engaged with small talk, the following, in no particular order:
Heavy Weight boxing Champion Jack Dempsey. My Dad had taken me to the champs restaurant in Times Square. When we were served desert, he came to our table and sat down, eventually offering that the desert was on him. I had told him that I was leaving for US Navy boot camp in a week, and he asked that I have a color picture of myself taken in my uniform… did that, sent it to him, and he put it in the front window of the restaurant.
Jockey Eddie Arcaro. He was standing by himself in the paddock area at Saratoga race track. I walked over, introduced myself, wished him luck on his next ride and got a passerby to take a picture of us.
Broadcaster Mel Allen and Yankee great Whitey Ford. Yankee stadium, and my Dad and I were seated just below the radio broadcasting booth. Between innings, my Dad knocked on the door, told them we were great fans of them both, and we chatted until the next inning began.
Sidney Poitier and James Darren. My Dad and I again. Walking through St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NY City. There are numerous chapels all around the main body of the church, and at one there was a wedding being performed. I am telling my Dad that James Darren was the groom, and my Dad is talking to a black man in the back of the chapel. Have no idea what connection these two had (Darren and Poitier)…but, anyway, I asked Mr. Poitier if he was making a new movie, and he told us that he had just finished ‘The Defiant Ones’ with Tony Curtis.
(I’m showing my age now…that movie was in 1958.)
Carol Burnette and her then hubby, producer, Joe Hamiton. I was a caddie for Mr. Hamilton for a round of golf, and Carol had no swing at all.
Last, but not least…as far as my 12 year old mind played it…Moe Howard…in the lobby of Radio City Music Hall, walking with his wife, hair slicked back, but not able to fool me. Nyuk, Nyuk! He gave me a post card of the Three Stooges, and signed it “Hi boy! Moe!”
Anyone else want to throw some names out there? Politicians don’t count!