Have you gotten up close and personal with a star?

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!

I met Anthony Warlow in person, and he actually sang to me.

I used to work at a mid-size club where has-beens played. I was also friends with a fellow who used to produce Kiss. Between those two places I met a fair amount of people.

My favourite was Nina Hagan. Off stage she’s a doll. Very soft spoken and polite. Gene Simmons is also a perfect gentleman. Really nice guy. A fucking monster though. The guy is huge.

All the guys from Blue Oyster Cult cracked me up. They acted like a bunch of teenage boys up to pranks. I don’t care much for their music but I’d hang out with them again.

My least favourites: David Lee Roth (self obsessed prick). Paul Stanley (same).

My older sister briefly dated Johnny Kidd.

She used to come home with cuts all over her face.

I had my picture taken with Cliff Robertson eons ago - it’s a long, boring story which ended with me discovering that he was a jerk till someone brought out the camera.

I also stood within 6 feet of Harry Chapin and we stared at each other for a few seconds before he charged off. The way he acted after that forever changed my perception of him, and not for the better.

Oh, and Ben Vereen did a show in Baltimore and danced down the aisles, right past me. He’s a little guy, but doggone, could that man move!!

I ran into Hakeem Olajuwon at a mosque once and spent some time chatting with him. He’s bigger than he looks.

I’ve spent some time with some semi-famous comic writers/artists, including:
-Adrian Tomine (shy, but cool.)
-Dan Clowes (quiet. painfully so.)
-Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead) ASSHOLE.

I partied with:
-the band Nashville Pussy - by sneaking backstage! They were awesome but the singer got very wasted rather quickly and had to practically be carried out.
-the band Galactic, including Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet. He was nice but didn’t really talk to me since he had no frickin’ idea who I was.
-Merle Allin, brother of G.G. Cool guy.

I also went to a convention and talked briefly to David Carradine (wow he looked OLD), Jeff Conaway(charming bible thumper), and several other Babylon 5 cast members, and rode in an elevator with Adam West (creeeeepy guy, major ick factor).

And my sister boned some hotty from some famous daytime soap, I can’t remember his name or the show’s name, but several of her friends flipped out after they heard. She said he didn’t shut up the entire time and avoided him like the plague afterward.

I’ve been a musician for ages, up in Canada, and I’ve met and talked with a fair number of musicians: Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), Kelly Jay (Crowbar), Ian Thomas, Bill Henderson (Chilliwack), and quite a few less-well known guys from Canadian bands in the '50s and '60s, whose records go for hundreds of dollars now. They’re not internationally famous, but in Canada, they’re legendary.

I interviewed Rick Derringer when I was 18. I wish I had the tape. I was the tape operator on an interview with Tom Waits, and another with Bob Weir. My wife and I have been at the home of actor Curtis Armstrong, who has been involved in getting Harry Nilsson’s RCA catalogue remastered and reissued. Through him, we met a bunch of famous people in the music biz in Hollywood. I was most impressed by Andrew Sandoval, who is not a star, but if you own any of dozens of compilations on Rhino Records made in the last ten years, you’ll likely see his name in the credits, as producer and/or compiler, and he may have written the liner notes.

I went to a taping of “The Wolfman Jack Show” at the CBC facility in Vancouver in 1976. We stayed for two episodes. At the end of both, he came up into the audience bleachers and shook peoples’ hands. He shook mine both times, probably because it was in the camera blocking - I was probably sitting on his mark. That’s as close as I got to that legend, but hey, he shook my hand! Twice!

When I was a kid, I met “Big Al” Jones, who had a kids’ show on Channel 13 in Kitchener, at a public appearance at a mall. He shook my hand, too, and I remember cracking up my mom by saying “I’ll never wash this hand again!”

I’ve also met or worked with many people known and heard all over the place in radio.

In the late 60’s I tended bar at the Rudder Room, on the silver strand south of Ventura, Ca. John Carradine, father of David, Keith and others, used to come in the bar. He apparently had a beachhouse nearby. He called me “My boy” and entertained us w/ shakspearian quotes. One night he was pretty drunk and interferred w/ a pool game. The two young guys playing didn’t know who he was and started cursing at him. I calmed things down and took him back to the bar. He came in a day or so later and apologized and thanked me for helping him out. He was a nice guy, not stuck up at all, but he liked attention.
When I was a kid I met Jack Carson at the soapbox derby in Akron, Oh.

I recently met, shook hands with, and had a short conversation with Victor Wooten, who’s famous for being considered one of the best, if not the best, bass players in the world. He seems to be a really nice person.

I’ve played music a bunch of times with Freddie Curci, who is famous for being the lead singer of the bands Sheriff and Alias. He’s a very cool guy, and lots of fun to play music with.

Oh God. I melted just thinking about that. I’m all jealous now.

As for me, I’ve met “Weird Al” Yankovic twice after concerts, and I have a pillow and a spatula signed by him and most of his band. I had dinner with Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy author) and a few other fans several years ago.

I’m related to Jim Davis, the cartoonist. His brother, Doc Boy, comes to most of the family funerals.

Does Doc Boy count?

Ummm, yeah.

I met and chatted at length with country music legend Hank Locklin when I was shopping at my local grocery store. (We live in the same small town.) An extremely nice gentleman and he kindly signed the bottom part of my shopping list!

George Takei came to our local college to speak to the honor society and since alumni were invited, I eagerly attended. He spoke on his experiences which included living in the Japanese internment camps. Afterward, he signed some autographs. As there was not a long line, I did get to chat for a moment and he kissed my 18 month old daughter’s cheek as she lay sleeping in my arms. Real nice guy! (But he doesn’t care for William Shatner much!)

I have a friend who played organ for Stevie Wonder on his album Innervisions. He is still good friends with Stevie and has met and worked with a number of musicians, including Lou Rawls, Cuba Gooding, Sr., Sam and Dave, etc. He also worked with Lavar Burton on Reading Rainbow. Recently, he performed on a PBS show that was wrapping up Black Music Month.

I’ve briefly met a number of perfomers after shows in Branson–long enough to get an autograph and a handshake. Mel and Pam Tillis, Larry Gatlin, Brenda Lee–but of course, that’s not what you’d really call an encounter!

Oh, the joys of living in L.A. You get to see the celebrities in their native environment. It’s kind of like “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” but with more wild monkey sex. :wink:

I once sat two rows in front of Drew Barrymore at a movie release (or rather, re-release). She wouldn’t shut up; unfortunately, she was an executive producer on the film (Donnie Darko), so it didn’t seem right to stand up and tell her to get the hell out. :frowning:

Dee Wallace Stone (the mother in ET and Cujo) allegedly used to babysit me back before she went off and became a star. I don’t know the details, but I figure I must have been less than a year old.

I once saw Val Kilmer take out his aggressions verbally on a production assistant. He looked more scummy that you can imagine; grubby beard, chain smoking, sailor-blushing language. It turned out that the film they were shooting was Wonderland, and he was playing John Holmes who certainly was a large-type scumbag, so maybe he was just staying in character or some kind of Method exercise, but still…scumbag.

I don’t think he really qualifies as a star, but a couple of years ago I was having lunch up at the bar at at one of my regular Old Town haunts and had a conversation with Wil Wheaton (the Wesley Crusher character from Star Trek) about Guinness and videogames (I didn’t have much to say on the lattertop , but that kid can talk). I didn’t realize who it was until after his girlfriend (who was very cute) came to collect him and the bartender told me who it was. Seemed like a nice guy, but then, I guess he doesn’t have much of a reason to be uppity to begin with. I guess he’s given a couple of talks at the Caltech Linux UG (which I keep meaning to go to but always miss the meetings).

A guy I work with claims to have seen Britney Spears climbing out of a limo somewhere in Hollywood, insulting her driver, smoking a cigarette, and drinking out of a forty. I have my doubts–it’s a little too perfectly white-trash celebrity behavior–but it makes an amusing story.

I have yet to see Jack Nicholson beating the living crap out of a motorist on the side of the road, so my Hollywood Celebrity-Spotting Scorecard is still incomplete, but I have faith.

I was out running one night and ran past a mansion when the gate opened and this guy wheeled out the trashcan or recycling bin. I had to do a double take, but sure enough, it was David Lee Roth, takin’ out the garbage. I think he gave me kind of a dirty look, but it was a little dark and I kept going, so maybe it was just my imagination.


I used to be actual buddies with Ben Folds until he moved to Australia. Some of my friends still keep in touch with him I think. I’ve met the other two dudes in Ben Folds Five (Darren Jesse and Robert Sledge) and hung out with them a little bit. I brought a rather attractive friend from college backstage to one of their shows and Darren was convinced I brought her “for” him. heh

Being in and around Chapel Hill alot I also got to be good friends with at least one member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers (hence the screen name) and we’ve hung out a lot and still keep in touch. There are 7 other members, and I’ve met all of them but I wouldn’t say we were pals like me and Ken are.

But uh…those folks are only famous to like 10% of the general population :slight_smile: (although I will admit my pop-culture dumbness and say I don’t recognize half of the folks people are listing here)

I met a lot of celebrities when I worked in a hotel. We hosted a benefit put on by an old AL umpire and had the house full of athletes. Darryl Talley is areally nice guy, but huge and ugly. A thousand years ago, he’d have been classified as an ogre. We weren’t allowed to transfer calls directly to the celebrities’ rooms. This got me chewed out by Mrs Billy Martin, who was trying to reach her husband, and did not want to go through the security officer. Later that day Billy found out and came down and chewed me out for about ten minutes. He spat a lot when he yelled.

I once met REM in a club after they’d played down the street at a small theater. Michael Stipe was cool, but a little stand-offish. My buddy Barry’s girlfriend left with Peter Buck.

In college, I lived in the same dorm with Christopher Reeve for two years.

I’ve had breakfast with Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, lunch with Mariel Hemingway, and dinners with composer Aaron Copeland and Pulitzer prize winner E. O. Wilson. I’ve also met **Jared Diamond ** and Stephen Jay Gould.

And I had a brief chat with Al Gore at a reception once.

I met Hakeem in an oddly personal setting. Hakeem’s personal accountant was a friend of mine’s father, and I was over there while we were taking summer school, working Algebra problems.

The situation went something like this:

Me: “Hey- how does this function work?”
Friend “It works like … hey Hakeem.”

(I looked over, and saw Hakeem Olajuwon leaning DOWN through the kitchen doorway)

Hakeem “Hello <friend>.”

Friend: “Hakeem, this is Mark. Mark, this is Hakeem.”

Hakeem: “It’s very nice to meet you, Mark.”

Me: “Nice to meet you too!”
Later on, after we’d finished our homework, we went into the family area, and sat there with his dad and had a nice conversation with Hakeem. He’s a really nice guy- absolutely polite and very personable. Very tall too…

Oh yeah… I also met Jack Lousma at a church function when I was about 12. (circa 1984). I don’t remember what the deal was, but I sure remember thinking about how cool it was to get to chat with a real live astronaut and get him to sign a picture.