Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Brushes With Fame (Kinda')

In one of my last posts, I detailed my (sordid) encounter with Frank "The Riddler" Gorshin. It got me thinking (NEVER a good thing). Who are the other famous (or nearly famous) people I've encountered?

Here's a quick checklist:

*SKIPPY from the 80's TV show Family Ties. (Think his name's Marc Price, but I'm too lazy to IMDB him). During the late '80's, my recently post-collegiate friends and I were having a blow-out party time in Florida during Spring Break. Think "The Hangover." Sure, we were a couple years too old to be there, but it didn't deter us. We ran into Skippy at a bar. My brother gave him a double-take, paused, and asked if he was Skippy. Skippy sheepishly grinned and nodded. We tried to kidnap him, force him to pursue other bars with us, but he declined. We did keep running into him, though, through the wee hours of the morning.

*Blues legend LONNIE BROOKS. We saw him perform at The Grand Emporium in Kansas City, Missouri.  We asked him to join us for a drink. He did (he drank orange juice. But we gladly paid for it). Awesome guy and performer. But things didn't end so well. When I asked him if Johnny and Edgar Winter (Lonnie collaborated with one of the twin brothers; the other was famous for a metal instrumental entitled "Frankenstein") were really albinos, he shot me a look and left in a huff.  I know, right? Really dumb and offensive question. But, hey. I was young, dumb and drunk.

*BENJAMIN BRATT. At my brother's bachelor party in Las Vegas, I gambled at the same blackjack table with him. Didn't know it at the time, but it was verified later by several sources. Although in all fairness, I don't think I even knew who he was at the time.

*JAMES MARSTERS (aka "Spike" from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer). I took my young daughter to meet him at a Kansas City comic convention. He was one of her first TV crushes. No real story to tell. But he was a nice guy and treated my daughter like she was a princess.

*JAMES GARNER! During my senior year in high school, my friend and I had skipped the last couple of hours and were endlessly cruising up and down Shawnee Mission Parkway (because, hey, it beat school). I looked over to the car next to me. Dang if the guy didn't look like James Garner. I nudged my friend and he agreed. I rolled down my window, caught the look-a-like's attention and motioned for him to do the same. He did. We yelled "You look like James Garner!" He took his sunglasses off, laughed, and said, "thanks!" That evening on the news, I saw that James Garner was in town for a Kansas City sporting event. GAH!

*WHIZZO THE CLOWN. Whizzo was a legend in Kansas City. We were practically raised on him (back in the day when we had three channels and on a good day with nice weather, a fourth). I worked at a small public relations firm when I first got out of college. Whizzo was someone we represented. It was up to me to drive him across town (he couldn't drive with those huge, floppy shoes) to a radio interview. It was somewhat disillusioning having Whizzo riding shotgun, chain-smoking, cursing, and hawking loogies out the window. He shattered my childhood memories.

*Finally, the big one. The late DR. JOYCE BROTHERS! Not only did I meet her, I saw her in her underwear! At the same PR firm I mentioned above, Dr. Brothers was one of our clients. A female co-worker and I were dispersed to pick her up. When we knocked on her hotel door, she called out, "who is it?" My co-worker identified herself. Dr. Brothers opened the door in nothing but her underwear, saw me, shrieked, and shut the door. Okay. Sure, she wasn't told there was a male outside. But, still. Who would answer the door in their underwear to an unknown person of the same sex? Someone well-versed in psychology, no doubt.

There you have it. Now, I want you all to tell us about your brushes with super-stardom (or people on the perimeter) in the comments below. Go!


  1. I taught for 23 years in same school district that Lyndon B. Johnson started his career as a grade school teacher. Cotulla, Texas would later be the site where he signed his signature education legislation. Of course, I never met him because he was already quite dead when I started teaching in 1981. And in his memoir he called Cotulla the "donkey" hole of Texas... well, not quite in those words. Not a very good encounter with fame, huh?

  2. Hmmm, Michael. I think we need to make a new rule for "The Fame Game." Celebrities must be living (unless you contact them through a séance). But thanks a lot for playing along with "The Fame Game!" Your consolation prize is awaiting you at the door!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Only one I've really met and talked to (and his brother hugged me out of nowhere) is Jared Leto a few times, and he stopped a bouncer type person from kicking my sister and me out by saying we're with him.

    For voice actors, I would've gotten to meet Cassandra Lee*, but I had a wedding to go to, so I asked my brother to sign my game she voice acts in and write down a butt quote her character says ("Cheria, Listen...Everyone thinks we should go out through the butt. Let's look for the butt, Cheria. It's the only way." And she did sign and write it! She thought it was funny).

    I suck at this game. :(

    * = I wrote the wrong last name so I deleted my comment to correct it.

  5. Ae(milia)! That's pretty cool about Jared Leto!

    Guess I shoulda' mentioned I saw Keanu Reeve's band, Dogstar (they sucked!). But I didn't meet him. Just saw him.

  6. I'm totally cracking up at the Whizzo story--reminds me of Krusty from the Simpsons :) I'm afraid personally I've had very few celebrity sightings, or people I've even met. Chevy Chase once in Vegas, Robin Williams in Frisco. There have probably been more, but I'm pretty lousy at knowing celebs so if I did see them I'd probably never know it!

  7. We were staying at the Westin in Ottawa in 2005. So were the Rolling Stones. I know this because Ron Woods bumped into my as he and Charlie Watts were running into the elevator I was exiting to get away from the paparazzi. It was all a blur. I stepped out into the lobby and into a flash of cameras and a gazillion people.

    When I was walking around Rome and saw Billy Connolly.

    In Niagara-on-the-Lake I was in a little boutique shopping and I accidently bumped into a man. I looked up to apologize and had to keep looking up, up, up. It was Bull from Night Court.

    And, I saw Jasmine Guy, back in the 90's, (she played Whitley on A Different World) in the airport in Montego Bay.