Post your random celebrity encounters here


#1

Some time in the late '90s or early 2000s I was walking through the crowded Century City Mall food court and I walked right by… BEN STEIN!!!

A few years ago I was at an art opening with my future wife at a small downtown gallery. We went up to the roof to hang out and there, chatting with some others, was Danny Devito!!! Turns out the artist is his daughter. Cool Angeleno that I am, I acted blase and completely ignored him.

15-odd years ago I used to see plays in New York with my parents pretty frequently when I would visit them. More than once, at intermission, we’d spot Lauren Bacall holding court with a little entourage. That was pretty danged cool.

When I was first dating my future wife, we were walking down the Sunset Strip after meeting some folks for drinks. This SUV pulls out of a parking garage and nearly hits us. I looked at the driver all ‘WTF?’ and he said ‘sorry’ and drove away. As he drove off I realized the driver was… DAVID SPADE!!!

Post yours!


#2

Probably posted this here before:

So I’m 21 years old. I’m working for a company called Aurea. It’s an Italian gold jewelry company. Probably still around now.

Anyway. I was just out of high school when I started working there. They had a computer. It was more down than working. What it did was produce paperwork that I filed.

It was in the “diamond district” 45th Street and 5th Ave.

On my lunch break I’d light up a small joint, usually some kind of weird rainbow paper that tasted like strawberry or something. And more than likely with a name like Panama, or Thai or gold or something.

Then I’d walk to a place called, if I remember correctly, Panacea. It was a health food store nearby. I’d be stoned and then get something really healthy to eat. It usually had sprouts in it.

So one day I’m a bit buzzed on my lunch break. I’m walking to the health food store and who do I see? Fucking John Lennon and Yoko.

Walking toward me. Hugging and stuff. Me I’m wearing a cheap blue suit and a tie. But I am stoned. But I KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

I freeze in my tracks. I’m just shocked.

And as they walk up to me John Lennon smiles and throws me a peace sign. You know, the two fingers and Yoko throws me a kiss.

And I stand there. Mouth open. Fucking stunned.

And Lennon nods and they walk by.

And I’m frozen in a moment that I will remember forever.

When I finally get to the health food store I tell the guy at the counter the story and he’s all like, “Yeah they come here all the time.”

And I go back to work and tell the story and NOBODY BELIEVES ME.

But it’s fucking true!


#3

Also in LA, IIRC. My family was waiting for a flight at the airport and Anthony Michael Hall was there making a movie. They must have done several takes, because we were not in the final film. It was a shitty movie, too.

I worked at a restaurant in college that John Mellencamp frequented occasionally. I saw him there one time.

I think the Dalai Lama visited my college a few times. Anyway, there’s a monastery nearby, and sometimes you would see the monks about town. I waited in line at Kinkos with a few of them once. They had photos of the Dalai Lama’s visit they wanted to enlarge I think. In a strange coincidence, I was there to duplicate a drawing of the Sri Yantra I had made.


#4

I saw Steve Martin eating a fruit salad once.


#5

Tell us more!! OMG, what happened?!


#6

He seemed to enjoy it? The man enjoys a fruit salad, that I can tell you.


#7

A few more:

Have I ever told the story of how I insulted Debbie Harry and lost the chance for an autograph?

I was working as a bouncer at the now defunct Kenny’s Castaways. And in walks Debbie Harry. My first thought was that she was a lot shorter than I thought. But there I was, totally star struck. I said, “Hey, I really loved you in Videodrome.”

And she was like, “Hey thanks. I really enjoyed making that movie.”

And so, I said, “You have really lost a lot of weight recently.”

Which she actually had. But anyway…

She turned and walked out of the bar. And my life.

Lesson learned.

Also at Kenny’s. I met Eric Roberts. I said you’re fucking great. He signed my autograph, Fuckin’ A. Eric Roberts.

Met Julian Lennon at the Bitter End. My buddy is the manager so I got past the bodyguards. Got an autograph.

Ron Wood showed up at Kenny’s one night. He ended up jamming with my friend Mike’s band. When word got out the place was packed.

Jeff Goldblum almost knocked me down. He was in a hurry. But he said sorry.


#8

I’ve had a few celebrity near misses, that’s about the best I’ve got. I was doing some work for a cardiac hospital that was opening in Austin, this would have been late 90s. Word got around that Nolan Ryan was checked in and people went nuts, but I gave him space. This was just before HIPAA took effect, because folks would have lost their jobs over a breach like that today. As it was, some folks got a pretty stern talking to.

I was at Mardi Gras with some friends, one of the last I attended, so this would have been early 90s. It was early morning, sun would be coming up soon, so we decided to head down to the waterfront and watch the sunrise. A couple walked by us, a woman resting her head on a man’s shoulder, and as they passed a friend said to me, did you see that? That was Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger! But we were all pretty wasted so it’s possible he was wrong.


#9

From a post on working in a corporate bookstore in downtown Minneapolis:

One of my favorite perks was the occasional celebrity encounter. Sometimes they would be there for signings; sometimes they’d just be in town, bored, and need a book or a magazine to get them through the crushing dullness of Minneapolis. I once drifted around the store on a glorious haze because Danica McKellar, one of my first childhood crushes (Winnie Cooper, guys! Winnie Cooper!), was wandering around the store with her then-husband. I couldn’t work up the courage to bother her though. Nor did I gush over Bruce Springsteento his face. I did tell Ethan Coen how much I enjoyed his movies, but that was after annoying him with my membership card spiel. I once told our county attorney to get in the back of the line; she was coming through the line’s exit, not the entrance. Now that woman is our U.S. senator [Amy Klobuchar]. The time Pete Townsend came to the store was something else, though.

So there’s this English musician named Rachel Fuller. Rachel makes perfectly lovely music for English housewives that is not my cup of tea. Apparently she and her boyfriend, rock icon Pete Townshend , were friends with the brothers that were, respectively, CEO and president of this bookstore chain. Rachel had a new CD out, and somehow worked out a deal with her bookstore-owning friends that she would go to a few of their stores, play a quick set, and reap the benefits in record sales. Her boyfriend would tag along for moral support. Word got out to the local classic rock station that the bookstore was going to have a free Pete Townshend concert. This was not actually the truth, but hey, any publicity is good publicity, right?

The day of the Rachel Fuller/PETE TOWNSHEND concert, I’m helping a friend in the music department ring up customers. Out of the corner of my eye, I see her talking to a tall scruffy-looking guy. I see him hand her something and say “afterwards, look at this. It will explain everything.” Then he left. He had given her a CD-ROM. I asked what that was about, and she summons the manager and cop on duty. The guy had told her that Pete Townshend had stolen one of his songs and owed him an enormous amount of money (I regret my memory fails me as to how much money he wanted. The guy was sure that Townshend owed him a very specific sum, like sixty-one thousand dollars or two hundred grand, or something) and “after twenty-nine years, it will finally come to an end.” Well, that sounded like some sort of threat, didn’t it? Some kind of imminent deadly threat to a celebrity? The cop was on it . The crazed fan had left the store, but our cop started reviewing security footage with an alacrity I had never before seen him use. He was able to take the crazy’s image, get it to the police department downtown. Soon they had the guy identified. They try to track him down. They call his parents.

“Oh, we haven’t seen him in months, but we know he stopped taking his medication!”

Our community relations manager puts the CD the crazed fan had dropped off in her PC upstairs. On it is some sort of multimedia presentation. It looked like it was addressed to Pete, and each animated frame of his slide show had some message. They might have been ravings, they might have been references to Townshend’s lyrics. Honestly, I’m not much of a Who fan, could be either. Stuff like “If you look through your Mirror Door, you know what you must do.”

Two hours before the concert starts, and every police officer we had ever hired for off-duty security is hanging out in the store, whether they were scheduled to be there or not. This is Christmas for cops. The crazed fan walks in the store. It’s crowded, but the police spot him right away. They surround him and bustle him into a cop car. I hear he’s held for a mental health examination for 24 hours. Sometimes the best climax is an anti-climax. The show eventually begins. Rachel Fuller comes out with her synthesizer and puts on a few numbers, her boyfriend backs her up on vocals for a few of those songs. It’s nice enough music, I guess. I never see the crazed fan again.

Also:

  • Once, at a different bookstore in a nearby suburb, I had a stack of vintage paperbacks in my hands. I kept looking between them and the circular rack I had pulled them from, wondering if it was worth owning an incomplete set of “Doc” E. E. Smith’s “Lensman” series, especially if they didn’t have Galactic Patrol. I became aware of a short man who was glaring at me. We made eye contact. I thought he was trying to telepathically command me out of the way or telekinetically shove me aside. Either way, he wasn’t using his words. I looked at the rack one more time, and almost started using my words to say something like “did you want to look at these” or “I don’t work here, but can I help you with something”, when something about him started looking very familiar. I moved aside and he floated past. Was that man… I mean, he was so old, and so small, and his hair was frizzy, and his skin was kind the color of blonde wood, and his eyes were flashing and furious… I made my way over to the used CDs and picked up a copy of “1999” and “Purple Rain”, such was his power. As I bought the CDs and left, I saw the short man behind the wheel of a large red Suburban. Whether he had bought anything in the bookstore or not, he did not stay long. Someone else in the parking lot was backing up in front of him, and he was laying on the high-pitched horn. He had no time to wait. It was Prince, I’m sure of it. It was the summer before he passed away.

  • Once I went through an airport security checkpoint in St. Louis. The pre-TSA airport screener was gushing that the man right in front of me was Travis Tritt. The guy was with a small entourage. It took me less time to get my stuff than for them to get situated, so I walked past and took a closer look. I guess it was him. I’m not a country fan, and can’t name any of his songs, though I’d heard of his name. He seemed pleased that people were recognizing him.

  • I think I might have rung up Dennis Farina when I worked at a gas station. It would have been unlikely, sure but the station was on a U.S. highway and the guy was putting off a very Dennis Farina-like vibe. Stranger things have happened.

  • Har Mar Superstar and a woman walked past us as we stood in line for a Regina Spektor concert.

I’ve had a number of other celebrity encounters, but they were planned, not random.


#10

Last time I was in NYC was about 2002, and in a week there I spotted:

Gordon Clapp (Detective Medavoy) on Amsterdam Ave.

Richard Kind in the audience of an off-Broadway show

and Doctor Ruth walking down 5th Ave.


#11

I’ve played hockey through the years with random celebrities and TV folks. Various random sightings around here but can’t think of any outside L. A.


#12

I was in a checkout lane next to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith in a downtown Seattle Whole Foods.


#13

I sat in the seat behind Susan Aglukark on an airplane. Many many years later, I was in the checkout line behind her at the supermarket.


#14

I’ve had a lot, through the years, some intentional, some not. Roughly chronologically:

For a brief period after my parents divorce, my mother dated New York Yankee Joe Pepitone.They met at a bar in the neighborhood that I discovered later was owned by Henry Hill (more on that in a bit)

In high school my uncle got me a job working at a gourmet wine and cheese shop owned by a friend of his. Duke Ellington was a regular customer.

While hanging out in the parking area for the Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park, I was almost run down by Duane Allman on his motorcycle. That’ll teach him.

One Summer I worked in the office supply dispersal department at ABC-TV. Since all employees were required to ride in the same specific elevator, I rode with Howard Cosell (as big a prick as you might imagine) and Dick Cavett (just the opposite).

For a while I worked for a computer magazine (back in the early days of the industry). I attended a press event for the Mac, where I spied Robin Williams. Later that year Ken Uston played piano at our company Christmas party.

Up until recently I spent 20 years managing home and garden shows in Arizona, and one day came up with the idea of bringing in TV stars from the 50’s and 60’s to attract more people. Brief impressions of some of them:

Ed Byrnes - from 77 Sunset Strip. I didn’t spend much tie with him, but he seemed OK. He insisted we also pay for his much younger “secretary” to accompany him.

Jon Provost - Lassie. Real nice guy. His wife owns an agency that books a lot of these people into events like ours. We both agreed that Lassie is a lie, since Collies were bred to only be smarter than sheep, who aren’t very smart.

Johnny Crawford - The Rifleman. He works a lot of rodeos as a professional trick roper. He tried to teach me how to use a lasso. It didn’t go well.

Paul Peterson- The Donna Reed Show. Another guy I didn’t spend much time with, but he seemed OK.

Ken Osmond - Leave It To Beaver. Mean, nasty old drunk. Unpleasant as only an ex-LA cop can be.

Ruth Buzzi - Laugh In. A sweetheart. We bonded when I took her around town trying to find her missing purse. My wife and I had breakfast with her several times. I wanted to bring her back a couple of years ago but heard her health wasn’t good.

I mentioned my parents hung out a a bar owned by Henry Hill. Not my personal encounter’s, but my father was on the periphery of the Goodfellas crowd, although not involved in anything illegal as far as I know.
He worked in the same flower shop with one of Hil’s goomars, and wore a really shitty rug the he bought from Morrie ( the wig guy in the movie whose real name I forget).


#15

It was in the mid-1980’s. My company had a softball team in the New York Central Park league. We had a favorite watering hole on 2nd Ave. that we went to after every game. So late one evening, we’re trooping out of the bar still wearing our dirty softball unis. Walking down the street comes Ted Turner with his arm around a beautiful blonde (this was pre-Jane Fonda). Turner looks us up and down and says, “I hear you guys beat the Dodgers tonight.” Without missing a beat, one my co-workers responded, “So buy us!” Turner thought that was pretty funny.


#16

Late 70s or very early 80s - went over to my sister’s place, and my 3- and 4-year old niece and nephew were playing in the driveway with Eldridge Cleaver. We chatted awhile about nothing much. My sister was doing some sort of clerical work for him, apparently.


#17

That’s pretty cool.


#18

When I was a kid, my parents took me to Universal Studios. We were eating at Planet Hollywood and Sinbad was having dinner there as well. His bodyguard prevented me from getting an autograph.

During the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I was a member of “People to People - Student Ambassadors” which was just a way to get parents to pay for their kids to travel to other counties. We were visiting Italy, France, and Spain. Well, we were doing a day trip to Andorra, this little mountain country between France and Spain, and were having lunch in this terraced garden. I saw a guy walking alongside the garden, big camera around his neck, walking a little dog. I recognized him, but couldn’t place him right away. Suddenly, a girl besides me shrieked BRUCE WILLIS!!! He turned towards us with a look of terror as a sea of 60 teenagers all rushed him. Bruce straight up ran and about half the group gave chase. I don’t remember how that story ended.

Poor celebrities can’t enjoy dinner/vacation without being bothered.


#19

I worked with Mike Wallace (from 60 minutes fame for those of you to young to know) to raise capital funds for the University of Michigan.

I was interviewed by Barbra Walters and staff for a special on genetic engineering. I was pissed because they kept wanting to focus on engineering a perfect baby and abortion, when our research was only directed at curing those who are born with genetic diseases. News sensationalism at its worst.

Met Reagan/Bush in high school as our band played for them during their re-election campaign. Bush was nice, Reagan seemed vacant.


#20

Ha, that’s right out of A Hard Day’s Night.