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When You Meet A Star


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We ran into CHRISTINE LAHTI in Niagra Falls back in the '90's.  We introduced ourselves as fellow Michiganders and congratulated her on her success.  It only lasted about a half minute because she was there with her children and we didn't wish to impose.  Maybe if it was somebody bigger, I might have wet myself.  Can't say for sure.  I LIKE to think I'd be calm and behave in a reasonably "adult" manner, but I'll still have to wait to cross that bridge.

 

Sepiatone

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How do you react when you encounter a celebrity or movie star? Timidly stay and let them go, introduce and excuse yourself politely, or gush and make a fool of yourself like a Carol Burnett or Lucille Ball would do.

Depends. I met Ossie Davis and spoke with him on a point in the television movie he had just made, and we both agreed. Very nice man. On the other hand, I could barely contain myself when I saw Al Pacino in a restaurant at a table close by - and the person I was with wouldn't let me go say hello. Smart man! On the other, other hand, I saw Rhinestone being made, and walked on by, since I loathe both Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone. IF I had known Richard Farnsworth was in it and IF he was there that day, I would have thrown myself onto Avenue of the Americas (just assuming, I have no idea where exactly I was) to get his attention. :wub:

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How do you react when you encounter a celebrity or movie star? Timidly stay and let them go, introduce and excuse yourself politely, or gush and make a fool of yourself like a Carol Burnett or Lucille Ball would do.

 

Living in the City of Angels, encounters of the starry kind, are often more the norm than the occasional.  A group of us were at El Coyote one evening having dinner on the patio and Richard Widmark was dining nearby. We didn't intrude. Same for Sidney Poitier who we saw at Beverly Hills restaurant around the Christmas holidays.

 

When I do talk with them (and there have been more than space allows- it is easy to encounter them here), it is brief. I tell them how much I enjoy their work, sometimes a specific role or film (if they are a director or behind the camera personnel), and then let them get back to what they were doing.

 

Saw actor Neal McDonough (he of the piercing blue eyes) two years ago at the Roosevelt Hotel coffee shop during the TCM Film Festival. He had just been the big bad on Justified and we talked briefly about that and his role as Buck in Band of Brothers. And his eyes really are piercing blue.

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Having lived on both coasts, it's become the norm for me to see some celeb up close. More often than not I just nod a brief "hello" and let them go about their business. I think the only time I got excited was back in the '70s, when I met Dick Clark. I was 14 at the time and I'd watched him on TV every Saturday since infancy. He gave me his autograph and when he reached out to shake my hand, I was trembling so badly you'd have thought I'd seen a ghost! I know he wasn't a movie star, but I idolized this man. I still mourn his passing.

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For the most part, I just leave them alone or offer a quick, unobtrusive "I'm a big fan of your work" if appropriate -- I (a native of Los Angeles) run into them at restaurants, movie theatres and other social spaces, often with their families/friends, and I don't want to intrude.  I'm more apt to speak to them at charity events, where I believe they've signed up for that sort of thing -- after all, a big part of what gets people through the door of those things is the celebrity line-up.  Such venues have led to some cherished memories over the years (for example, I talked briefly with Sidney Poitier at a benefit about 15 years ago, during which conversation he reached out to touch my arm, and I didn't stop smiling for days).  Plus, it always nice to learn those you admire care about some of the same things you do.

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Working in TV for many years in N.Y., L.A. and San Francisco, I had the pleasure { most of the time} of working with many stars. But seeing them outside in public, I was  weary about going up to them. I remember having lunch at Musso and Franks one day and in the booth behind me was Dan Blocker eating alone. I never approached him. My then wife and I use to love going to the C**K and Bull on Sunset Blvd. for their wonderful Sunday Brunch. Almost every time we were there, I would see alone at a corner table Jack Webb drinking a Bloody Mary. I never approached him either, but one day I was in line getting some food and I glanced over to him and he happen to look in my direction at the same time. I just nodded and he did the same, smiled  and directed his gaze back to his drink..I just though it was sad, he looked so alone...

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I met Ruby Dee and Estelle Parsons on two different occasions. 

 

I was interning in high school at a local theatre and one of the administrative staff had a special open conversation with Ruby Dee that I attended. After her inspiring talk (of which she did talk about Ossie Davis a lot, a year after his passing), I walked up to her, told her that I was a fan of her work on stage and off, and she liked my enthusiasm and passion for the stage, but I felt bad not getting an autograph. 

 

In college, Estelle Parsons was touring with August:Osage County that I went to see, and my theatre department was invited to attend a Master Class with her, and spent most of the time reminiscing about her stage career parlaying into her film career. There was a questionnaire session and someone from a neighboring college kept trying to get her to come down and see their show, and this was right after she spent nearly 45 minutes telling everyone how stressful touring can be and how she has little time to do anything else but  perform. I raised my hand and asked if I could have her autograph as I am a huge fan of her work, and one of my friends asked me why I did that, and I told him that I hated seeing her get harassed like that and wanted to remind her and everyone that she is still loved. So, after the session was over, I got her autograph (which I still have), and took a picture with her. I still remember that meeting, and since I know the playwright who wrote the play she is nominated for the Tony Award this year (which I hope she gets), it's been on my mind a lot. 

 

Compared my high school to my college, one thing I have learned is that celebrities, no matter who they are, in essence, just want to be treated like everyone else with respect to their person and not so much gushing over the job they do and get paid for. But then again, I haven't met the uber-celebrity types like Meryl Streep who expect red carpet all the time and people ready with their sacrificing goats. 

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Most of the time when I've met a star, I've been standing backstage waiting awhile. That's good because you have time to compose yourself, there's others waiting with you and the star is expecting this barrage of fans waiting for autographs. 

 

I can't imagine trying to maintain composure with a star sitting nearby in a restaurant! How do you NOT stare? 

I think it's natural to want to look at the star's face since it's already so familiar. That kind of situation would make me uncomfortable and I can't imagine what it's like for them.

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Most of the time when I've met a star, I've been standing backstage waiting awhile. That's good because you have time to compose yourself, there's others waiting with you and the star is expecting this barrage of fans waiting for autographs. 

 

I can't imagine trying to maintain composure with a star sitting nearby in a restaurant! How do you NOT stare? 

I think it's natural to want to look at the star's face since it's already so familiar. That kind of situation would make me uncomfortable and I can't imagine what it's like for them.

I think it's natural to want to look at the star's face since it's already so familiar.

 

So true.

 

That kind of situation would make me uncomfortable and I can't imagine what it's like for them.

 

Hey, it's the price of fame. I doubt that the talentless bums like Kardashian and Hilton complain about the fame, and neither should any seasoned professional or up and coming 'stah'. They know what's waiting for them in this age of faux reality television and sensationalism and TMZ and tabloid journalism and E! news. I don't feel a bit sorry for any of them.

 

What was it Harry S. Truman said? If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. So true.

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In NY in the 70's my date and I went to a tiny restaurant called Jackson Hole In the Wall. Not 2 feet away from our table, there was Al Pacino and Diane Keaton. What looked like to be a script was on the table between them. They were sitting across from each other. We were both excited and overhearing them it seemed that they were going over lines for The Godfather 2.

 

Both of us had met many big stars while living in NY, so I guess both of us knew how to behave so that we would not intrude. We smiled at Al and Diane and continued eating without interrupting them. My regret is that after they had finished eating and talking we didn't ask for an autograph on a swiped menu! LOL

 

This was only one of the many times I seemed to be in the right place, at the right time while living in NY in those years. A very common occurrence while working, walking, shopping and living in the city.

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I would see alone at a corner table Jack Webb drinking a Bloody Mary. I never approached him either, but one day I was in line getting some food and I glanced over to him and he happen to look in my direction at the same time. I just nodded and he did the same, smiled  and directed his gaze back to his drink..I just though it was sad, he looked so alone...

 

Well Fred, as Jack himself might've said...

 

"This is the city, Los Angeles California. It can be a lonely place sometimes." ;)

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In NY in the 70's my date and I went to a tiny restaurant called Jackson Hole In the Wall. Not 2 feet away from our table, there was Al Pacino and Diane Keaton. What looked like to be a script was on the table between them. They were sitting across from each other. We were both excited and overhearing them it seemed that they were going over lines for The Godfather 2.

 

Both of us had met many big stars while living in NY, so I guess both of us knew how to behave so that we would not intrude. We smiled at Al and Diane and continued eating without interrupting them. My regret is that after they had finished eating and talking we didn't ask for an autograph on a swiped menu! LOL

 

This was only one of the many times I seemed to be in the right place, at the right time while living in NY in those years. A very common occurrence while working, walking, shopping and living in the city.

In LA. if you wanted to get up close and personal with stars, just go to the cinema multiplex in Century City on Saturday night. They were out in droves, and had to wait in line with everyone else.

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AND speakin' of "Los Angeles, California"...

 

As a boarding gate supervisor for Northwest Airlines(now of course merged with Delta, but thank GOD I retired before going through yet ANOTHER freakin' airline merger...ah, but I digress) at LAX for many years, I would come into contact with many a celeb, and here's what I seemed to notice about 'em. They usually fell into three distinct categories:

 

(1) "I'm a 'very important person', and so you must recognize this 'fact' and treat me as such because my, ahem, doesn't stink!"

 

(2) "I'm a very insecure and extremely shy individual, and so please keep your distance because I just might freak-out if you don't."

 

(3) "I'm a down-to-earth person who feels lucky to have achieved some measure of success in The Biz, and so if you walk up to me and ask for my autograph, I'll be happy to oblige you and with a warm and welcoming smile on my face."

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And btw, and speakin'  of "When You Meet a Star", AND for those folks either residing in or visiting The Big Apple...

 

...word is you are best advised to NEVER pull out your camera(and/or cellphone) if you might happen upon the oldest of the Baldwin brothers while out and about in that city located upon the Hudson River.

 

(...just a friendly warning here)

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When I meet a star, I just stick out my hand and say "spare change?" At least that's what I did when I was living on the streets of LA, in '68.

 

Well, ya know VX, word was THE best place for THAT was always at the end of the 405/Sunset Blvd off-ramp!

 

(..in fact, there was once a report that the guy most often seen there would end his day walking over to his Mercedes S-class sedan parked nearby and driving off to his apartment situated along Ocean Ave in Santa Monica!!!) ;)

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Well, ya know VX, word was THE best place for THAT was always at the end of the 405/Sunset Blvd off-ramp!

 

(..in fact, there was once a report that the guy most often seen there would end his day walking over to his Mercedes S-class sedan parked nearby and driving off to his apartment situated along Ocean Ave in Santa Monica!!!) ;)

If it's a star, you shouldn't ask for spare change,you should ask for spare twenties.

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I briefly met Debbie Reynolds in (I think) 1989 at a Las Vegas video convention.  There were many Hollywood stars there for meet and greet with video dealers.  When it was time for DR to come out to meet us she had the longest line of any of the stars who were there.  She entered the room from the back door and started at the back of the line and headed toward her booth at the front of the line.  She stopped and shook hands and kissed each of us (quickly) on the cheek as she worked her way to her booth.  As she signed her 8X10 glossies for each of us, she gave us time for a brief conversation.

 

She smiled, she was chatty and friendly.  Her autographed photo is on a shelf near my desk right now and I treasure it.  She is one classy lady.  

 

bOb39

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Fascinating topic!  Such fun to read about the various encounters.

 

In the late 70s I worked in a department store in southern California and saw Martin Milner and Diahann Carroll (on separate occasions) walk through my department.  She was just gorgeous and he was very tall.  No one approached them, at least not in my area of the store.

 

In the early 80s The Magic Castle in Los Angeles held a couple of animal welfare events with Bob Barker as the main attraction.  I admire him very much, so my boyfriend urged me to go up and say hello.  I shook his hand and thanked him for his work on behalf of animals.  My impression was that he is a strong, tough, no nonsense person, but kind and polite.  (We also met the owners of The Magic Castle and they were wonderfully warm and gracious.)

 

In 1998 a friend and I went to a fundraiser for an animal sanctuary in Galt, California, with Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin as the special guests.  It was over 100 degrees, hotter than hell, and a long day/evening of various events.  Kim was a dynamo, doing interviews, mingling, posing with the elephants, talking about the cause, and acting as auctioneer.  At one point she was alone and I (melting and half crazed from the heat) approached her and said how much I admired her film work and her work for animals.  She was gracious, charming, and engaging, everything one would hope of someone they admire.  And so beautiful--at close range she looked as stunning, if not more so, than on screen.  My friend and I agreed she exuded a luminous glow.  (Alec was very handsome, but, alas, no time to chat with him.)  I gave her a small gift, just a token of appreciation for her work with the sanctuary.  A couple weeks later I received a handwritten note of thanks from her.  Apparently she'd gotten my address from the animal sanctuary and took the trouble to write.  Needless to say, she's tops in my book!

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When I first moved to Hollywood in 1969, I was living in an apartment building on Franklin right off La Brea. One day at the pool i was talking to my neighbor about seeing movie stars. He told me sometime in the mid 1950's  he was at the May Co on Wilshire Blvd. one morning around 11 am and who walked in but Clark Gable by himself.  He said there were a few people in the store, but as he walked down the aisles, the people stopped and just nodded to him or said "Good Morning, Mr. Gable", He smiled and nodded back or said"Good Morning". He stopped at a counter to look at some shirts or ties, but no one ran up to him for an autograph or shake his hand, they just kept their distance, my friend said that it was almost like royalty { A real King } had walked in. He almost expected people to curtsy. When Gable walked past him, Jack said all he could was smile and nod..He added that in his years of living in Hollywood he had seen stars before, but never had an experience like that one...

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When I first moved to Hollywood in 1969, I was living in an apartment building on Franklin right off La Brea. One day at the pool i was talking to my neighbor about seeing movie stars. He told me sometime in the mid 1950's  he was at the May Co on Wilshire Blvd. one morning around 11 am and who walked in but Clark Gable by himself.  He said there were a few people in the store, but as he walked down the aisles, the people stopped and just nodded to him or said "Good Morning, Mr. Gable", He smiled and nodded back or said"Good Morning". He stopped at a counter to look at some shirts or ties, but no one ran up to him for an autograph or shake his hand, they just kept their distance, my friend said that it was almost like royalty { A real King } had walked in. He almost expected people to curtsy. When Gable walked past him, Jack said all he could was smile and nod..He added that in his years of living in Hollywood he had seen stars before, but never had an experience like that one...

Oh, what a thrill for your neighbor! Royalty indeed!

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