That sighting got us to talking about the celebrities we've seen in our lives; of which she claims to have never seen any at all. Well, except for George Jones, the country singer; and that only happened because I dragged her to stake out a songwriters funeral in Nashville hoping to get pictures of some of the big stars as they exited the building after paying their respects. Yes, I know, I am now official paparazzo scum.
I then started to rattle off all the people I've come across over the years and realized that I had an actual list. The more I thought about, the more names that came to me. I have to say, I always have been a bit of a celebrity hound. I wouldn't say I get star struck necessarily, just mostly think it's cool to run into or talk to a celebrity that I wouldn't normally have the opportunity to, in a place I don't expect them to be; which is really anywhere I happen to be.
When I was younger, I worked at our family restaurant in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Over the years, many famous people ate there when they were in the area performing at the local resorts. Most of those celebrities were before my time, but the ones I did meet when they stopped in for a good steak were:
* Michael Spinks, a light heavyweight/heavyweight boxer who went to school with my step-brother.
* Frankie Laine, of the song "Rawhide" fame.
* Alan King, a Brooklyn born comedian who entertained predominately Jewish crowds with humor about everyday life and Pat Cooper, who kept the vacationers in the Catskills laughing with his politically incorrect humor, delivered with the accent of a typical New York Italian.
In my teens, I was addicted to "As The World Turns" and was beside myself when I ran into the following soap stars in New York City:
* Justin Deas and Margaret Colin, who are married in real life, and who my cousin Ro and I sat next to in a restaurant named Ernie's. We tried to act normal, but it was so hard not to keep looking over at the people we saw on TV everyday. And another time, with the same cousin, out at a NYC nightclub, we ran into James Wlcek who played Lincoln "Linc" Lafferty, the resident hottie in Oakdale. I touched him on the arm and told him I thought he was a great actor. Great actor??? He played a steamy soap hunk. I didn't know what else to say. But I did get to touch his bulging bicep!
Working at high end resorts also allows for lots of star sightings. When I worked at the Westin La Paloma in Arizona, I had several brushes with celebrity. The following celebrities I spoke to only on the phone, but it was kinda cool nonetheless:
* Kris Kristofferson
* Anne Margaret
* Andrew "Dice" Clay, who I spoke to and also got a sweatshirt from
* Mary McDonnell, the woman who played "Stands With A Fist" in one of my favorite movies, Dances with Wolves
Another little phone brush with celebrity happened while I was working at American Airlines; I got to speak to Joaquin Phoenix when he made reservations for him and Liv Tyler, who he was dating at the time.
Others, I actually dealt with in person, which although I couldn't show it, had me all excited by the fact that if I reached out my hand a mere foot, I could touch them! Those few are listed here:
* Tom Selleck
* Operatic Diva, Renee Fleming: She needed my assistance in mailing a package to Italian fashion designer Gianfranco Ferre. I remember asking her, "The Gianfranco Ferre??" and she answered in a such a way, I got the impression she thought everyone was close personal friends with him.
* Jamie Gertz: Square Pegs, The Lost Boys, Less Than Zero!
* Emilio Estevez
* Martin Sheen
* Dr. Ruth: Who is SO tiny, her head barely came to the top of the front desk counter
* Rita Rudner: Comedienne
* James Avery: He played Philip Banks, the father on Fresh Prince of BelAir
* Carroll O'Connor: The unforgettable Archie Bunker and then later in life, the Sheriff on In The Heat of the Night
* Betty White: The ditziest of the Golden Girls
* Daniel Baldwin: The chubbier, very blue eyed Baldwin brother
* Josh Brolin: Who used to film Young Riders just 20 minutes from my house
And finally, random sightings up close with celebrities:
* Halle Berry, shopping for shoes RIGHT NEXT TO ME at Century City Shopping Plaza on Santa Monica Boulevard in California.
* Trick Pony, the country music trio, when Heidi Newfield was the lead singer, who happened to walk in and sit down RIGHT NEXT TO ME in an airport restaurant. I didn't believe my eyes at first because they looked like they just stepped off the album cover. It was very odd.
* Brigitte Neilsen (before she was weird) and Mark Gastineau (before he quit the NY Jets for fear of getting caught using steroids) towering over the crowd at New York City's San Gennaro Feast in Litle Italy, like two beautiful giants.
* George Jones (as already mentioned)
* The beautiful Diahann Carroll with her husband, Vic Damone , in Atlantic City, dining out with their posse at the table RIGHT NEXT TO ME.
* Alec Baldwin and a lady friend, as he was coming out of a restaurant we were standing in front of, then wound up going to a pizzaria that we were already on or way to. He took the table RIGHT NEXT TO ME and even spoke to my friend Alan.
I can't think of any others at the moment, and I'm sure my list isn't as extensive as people who live in NY or LA, but for me, I get a little rush each time I see someone famous.
I'm still waiting for Brad Pitt or George Clooney to appear before me; although, I think I would hyperventilate and make a total fool of myself. And I just know my fingers would cramp up or something stupid like that and be unable to work the camcorder, the cell phone or my camera.
So you'd just have to believe me.