I wonder what it's like for a celebrity to NOT be noticed?

As I age I am familiar with fewer and fewer stars of tv, movies, sports, or music so if say I happened to sit down next to the star of a top tv show for example, I wouldnt know them.

So I wonder, what is it like for a celebrity who seems well known and can often have fans mobbing them, to suddenly walk into a situation where they have to show ID and explain who they are or what they do?

In the same way I wonder what its like for a top athlete to walk into a situation with a person who not only doesnt have a clue who they are, but knows nothing about their sport? Perhaps an American baseball player in a country where nobody plays baseball or an English cricket star in the US?

My guess is that it depends on the individual’s ego. I expect there are some who would be highly insulted, but I bet for others, it might be a relief to be anonymous for a while.

I know I prefer to fly under the radar… OK, I’m not famous, so it doesn’t count. :smiley:

About a dozen years ago my oldest son had to go for a minor operation. The hospital had an open day the weekend before so that parents and children could go and see all the scary equipment and ask questions. There were about 20 kids there, almost all with just their mothers. So I natuarally ended up chatting to the only other dad in the room. We chatted about parent stuff and what operation our kids were having. As both our kids were having the same operation on the same day we arranged to meet up for coffee. I was happy as I’d made a new friend, but my wife was glaring at me the whole time.

It turned out that she had recognised that my new friend was Paul Gascoigne the football (soccer) player. In his day he was as famous as Beckham, but his fame was mainly for his off pitch exploits. Hard drinking and wife beating, hence the glaring. I am probably the only english man in the world to not like football, so I didn’t have a clue who he was. She had actually recognised his ex wife and child, who were with him, from glossy magazines.

We did meet up for that coffee and had a long chat. During that he said that he really liked the way I treated him as just another dad rather than mentioning his fame. I didn’t have the heart to tell him why I had done so!

So at least one of them appreciates not being recognized.

I haven’t listened to Howard Stern in ages, but he used to have this bit where he would send Stuttering John out to celebrity functions. He would instruct John, no matter how famous they are, or how recognizable, always ask them: “Who are you?” “What is it that you do?” and gauge their reaction.

Most of them just went with it. Some of them though, took the bait with hilarious results.

Wish I could remember who.,

Marc Zwiebler is the best German badminton player who is currently ranked 14th in the world, but he hasn’t won a really big title. Even seasoned sports journalists from his home country probably would not recognize him if they sat next him on a plane.

However, Zwiebler once described what it was like when he traveled to a tournament in Asia where badminton is a big, big sport: At the airport, he was greeted by camera crews, photographers with flashlights and crowds of cheering fans who wanted his autograph.

On the other hand, there was Thomas Gottschalk, a German entertainer/TV host who was so popular in his heyday that he could not be seen in public without being surrounded by paparazzi and nosy fans instantly. To escape from this, Gottschalk bought a house in Malibu where nobody had ever heard of him. He only flew to Germany to produce his shows there.

I remember that Johnny Carson used to take his vacations in Europe because while he was famous in America, he was basically unknown in Europe.

I recall hearing one with Bon Jovi’s keyboard player, David Bryan. At the time he was getting an award, I think, for his score for the hit Broadway musical, Memphis. Stuttering John kept acting ignorant and Bryan got frustrated then figured it out.

Some of them would be relieved. Some would appreciate the lack of notice but get nervous. Some would fire their agent or publicist. Some would commit suicide.

I remember reading that a journalist was going to an interview with Marilyn Monroe. She suddenly said “let’s go for a walk.” He was dubious, because he thought they’d be mobbed and he wouldn’t get the interview.

Marilyn put on a pair of sunglasses and they set out. To his surprise, no-one seemed to notice her. He commented on it and she said "If I don’t want them to notice me, they don’t. "

There used to be this little hole in the wall restaurant here in Kansas City called Georges Cheese and Sausage shop that many celebrities would go to eat because 1. it was unique and the food was good 2. they would get invited by members of the press and some top corporate people and 3. the owner George really didnt know anyone. So one day the owner of the KC Chiefs came in with former KC Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana and George served him but only found out later who he was.

Could you find a youtube video of that?

One of the big reasons I like hanging out here is because the anonymity is a refreshing change from dealing with my fans.

Could you please send me an autographed photo (for my grandmother)?

I recall reading that Rowan “Mr. Bean” Atkinson loved Italy and would not let his TV shows and movies show there so he could visit there in relative peace.

They’re just people, like everyone else. I’m sure there are days where, “OMG, no one noticed me, today!?”

Many celebrities don’t have a very unusual or distinct face. Britney Spears for instance. Could easily go unnoticed.

It is probably a lot easier for female celebrities to go incognito, if they forego the hair and makeup they usually wear for public appearances. A lot of those “celebrities without makeup” sites back me up on this.

I’d say it greatly depends on circumstance as well as person. If they’re with any sort of loved one, I’m sure it’s a huge relief most of the time.

For a sideways perspective:

I’ve come across several moderately to mildly famous people that I did not quite recognize between the stimulus of a familiar face and the response of a warm, personal greeting. They all - except Steven Wright - found it extremely disconcerting; they could distinguish a genuinely warm and friendly greeting while being absolutely certain they had never seen my face before.

I would expect that a lot of the time celebrities are surrounded by a big entourage. And this big entourage clues people in that this is someone famous. So if they don’t have the entourage people often don’t recognize them.