This is a blog post I've been wanting to write for a long time because I think it's fun to hear about what happens when a regular person meets or encounters a celebrity. I have encountered a few, but my friends and family members have even more stories. Some celebs are nice when approached by fans and some are not.
When you see those paparazzi shots of celebritiess out and about and they are slopping around in sweats and not wearing makeup I wonder if they think they are flying under the radar? Usually they are in for the rude shock of seeing their faces on the cover of the National Enquirer with some headline like SEE HOW FAT _____ IS NOW! or THE PLASTIC SURGERY GONE HORRIBLY WRONG FOR ______.
We lived in Augusta when I was little and James Brown was a customer of my dad's bank. James Brown lived in Augusta all his life. Dad was in the bank lobby one day and all the tellers were twittering, and Dad asked what was up and they said James Brown was in the bank. Dad had never heard his music. (Dad was a Frank Sinatra fan.) Dad introduced himself and shook his hand, and they chatted about bank accounts, most likely. When he got home that night and compared notes with Mom they both agreed they had never heard of James Brown. That was probably 1965-70, somewhere in there. Of course, when Dad told me the story I immediately knew who James Brown was and I was a little ticked that Dad hadn't gotten an autograph.
James now has his own statue in downtown Augusta:
Mom and Dad used to go to the Masters Tournament every year because it was in Augusta and they could always get badges and attend. One day Mom was standing there watching a golfer and she noticed a very short man in a trench coat who was wearing makeup - not something you saw men doing 40 years ago. She got a look at his face and realized it was the singer Perry Como. She sidled over and whispered to him "If you give me your autograph I won't tell anyone you're here or draw attention to you." She basically blackmailed him. He signed a program for my cousin who was a big fan and Mother kept quiet about his presence - and at that time he was a big star. She said he was a tiny guy - and at 5'4 Mom wasn't exactly tall.
When I was working at the Knoxville Journal one of the reporters was going to the Civic Auditorium to interview Dick Van Dyke, who was appearing in a play there, a touring company of Damn Yankees, I think. I wheedled the reporter into letting me tag along [I was just a lowly clerk] and I got to meet him and listen to the interview. He was SO NICE. Just a lovely, warm guy. Very skinny. I mean, REALLY skinny.
Years ago I went to a lecture given by Diana Gabaldon, the author of the Outlander books. She was really great. Fascinating stories about writing her books. After her speech there was a luncheon, and I chatted with her when we were both in line for the bathroom. She's a tiny lady, very pretty, funny.
Do you remember Joan Van Ark?? She was big in the 80's, on Knot's Landing. I saw her around 1986 when the Miss USA pageant was filmed in Knoxville. A friend got tickets and we went to sit in the audience. I saw Joan outside the auditorium and she looked like a skeleton. I've never seen someone so thin who wasn't in a hospital bed. When she smiled it looked like a death's head grimace. Yikes.
My BFF Lesleigh is working at a Fresh Market in Buckhead right now and not long ago she noticed that Kevin Hart was coming in and shopping a lot. He was filming a movie here in Atlanta at the time. Les said nobody bothered him and he was very quiet, had no entourage, just did his shopping. He was very polite to everyone in the store - the employees who helped him.
My friend Judy, who lives in Los Angeles, takes her kids to the same dentist where Adam Sandler takes his children. They ran into Adam one day and he was super nice, chatting and joking with Judy's daughters.
My friend Jim met Ben Affleck in an airport in Bulgaria and they chatted for a long time. He said Ben was really personable and nice.
I asked friends on Facebook to share some celebrity encounter stories and here are their contributions:
Jeff: "I met Tom Wopat and Cylk Cozart. Both were very nice."
From my friend Robin, who is an advocate for folks who have physical or mobility challenges - and who travels all over the country: "I met Kareem Abdul Jabbar recently at O'Hare. Had a young woman with me, wheelchair user, who was a WC basketball player and Big Fan. She approached him and spoke. Asked for a picture with him. He never broke a smile until the camera appeared, then a 10,000 watt smile came out for all of 10 seconds. Back to stone face and no replies. After she left, I approached him and said 'Thank you for the photo with Jill and being so nice". I was being a bit facetious since he had been such a mope. He looked at me like I was speaking Chinese and didn't even acknowledge I'd spoken. Jerk. He's off my list."
Mary: "I met Shamar Moore at a restaurant in downtown Atlanta. I just said hi and told him I thought he was a great actor and that I really loved Criminal Minds. He was a very nice guy about the whole thing."
John: "Years ago I was in New York City and I met Burgess Meredith, in a bar. He was quite drunk but we talked and joked around. He was really nice."
Pat: "My youngest daughter(Kristen) loved Javy Lopez. My middle daughter(Jill) was at a gymnastic meet and he and his wife was sitting behind her. Jill asked him if he would talk to her sister because she was in the hospital. ...he said of course. So he called Kristen and talked to her. She told him that she wasn't in the hospital and he laughed...he was a very good sport. Also, Jill got a picture of him talking on the phone to Kristen."
BA: "I "met" June Lockhart at Dulles airport years ago. We were on the tram that takes you from the terminals to luggage claim and she asked me if I knew where we needed to pick up our luggage. I started to explain how to get to baggage claim and she interrupted me with a scowl and "I know all that I just wanted to know the carousel number." um ok you could have asked that."
Charlie [my cousin who lived in New York years ago]: "In 2004, I was riding the subway and Philip Seymour Hoffman was talking to a guy across the car from him. The guy was carrying a guitar case and Philip chatted him up about his band. Seemed very down to earth & wanted to know all about the kind of music they played & the bars they were playing in."
Charlie Story #2: "Another time, I was on a date at a restaurant near radio city music hall & Mila Kunis sat down next to us with a friend. Our appetizer looked amazing so she asked us what it was."
Charlie story #3: I was walking up third avenue one morning & saw Heather Graham walking towards me on her way to the Duane Reade. She was surrounded by security & paparazzi. You couldn't get close to her, but she seemed to be handling it all in stride.
Brenda: "There used to be "stars"...you may recall. And we were taught not to start conversations with strangers. (That still sticks with me, but I do it anyway!) Anyhow, way back in the early '60's, I was at the airport in San Diego with a couple of friends meeting someone.....and there sat Efram Zimbalist, Jr.! WOW! Y'all remember him? Wasn't it 77 Sunset Strip? My bold friend chatted him up, and he was nice as could be..........but he was SHORT! I was so disillusioned!....sigh....."
Chuck: "The sportscaster Lindsey Nelson came into the store when I worked at Gray's TV & Appliance in Knoxville in the early 80s. I greeted him immediately. He was such a gentleman."
Nancy: "A friend and I used to have dinner at the Hyatt Hotel across from the Knoxville Civic Center before concerts we attended. We met several musicians, but one may be of interest to you. Ted Nugent. This was back in the 80's. We saw him in the lobby and approached for autographs. He looked like a rock cowboy, hat and all. He was really soft spoken and almost shy. He said, "How are you doing, girls", signed our papers and said something like hope you enjoy the show. Very low key, nothing like his stage persona."
Aurore: "I was leaving a work party, late at night, with a guy I worked with in downtown Chicago. We had to walk through a movie set to get to the train. My friend Mark took my camera and started taking photos of the movie set. They were filming Next of Kin with Patrick Swazye. He used up my film then walked into a store for a minute, just then Patrick Swayze walked my way (no one around on the dark street) and asked if I wanted a photo. I said no film. He asked if I wanted an autograph and I said no pen. He said OH Well and laughed. I think he thought I was an unprepared fan waiting for him. When Mark walked out of the store, I punched him in the arm, he said why did you do that...because you used up my film. Thank God for digital and iPhones."
Mary: "My favorite encounter happened when I worked part time in a moderately upscale gift shop We had been told by the owner to get license numbers for checks. One of the really popular St. Louis Blues hockey players came in with his son and bought a decorative plate for his wife. The older woman who worked with me, rang him out while I wrapped the plate. He wrote a check. His real name was on it, but the address was the arena where the Blues played. She asked for his license and he looked at her funny while saying it was from Canada. I told her to take the check. She insisted that she needed to see the license and he gave it to her. He was so nice and I was dying! When he left, I told her who he was and why the addresses did not match. He had more money than both of us would have in our lifetimes! She harumphed and said she could not be expected to know people from sports!"