Johnny Bench - I took my then 9 month old son to an autograph session in Baltimore that featured Johnny Bench, among others. I spent years playing baseball, including in college, modeling my catching style after his. For that reason, you can imagine how big a thrill it was to finally meet him. I am standing in line with arm loaded with my son, his diaper bag, a sharpie and various items for him to sign. JB sees my arms are full so he immediately stands up and asks to hold my son. He held my boy and played with him as we stood and talked for about 5 minutes about baseball and kids. This despite the fact that there were still 100+ people in line behind me. What a class act! They don't make them like that anymore. - Robert
Bert Parks - We owned a Chinese restaurant in Encinitas, CA from 1987 thru 1991. During this time, Mr. Parks used to eat at our restaurant. He was always friendly, and of course we always enjoyed having him visit us. We never bothered him too much, but if we were not busy he would chat for a while. I remember him most from the Miss America pagents. - Joe
Johnny Weismuller - As a boy of 11 in Blackpool, England, I went to see Johnny Weissmuller who was appearing at a swimming show at Derby Baths. At this time, Johnny Weissmuller was THE Tarzan and I had seen most of his movies. When he got out of the water after his swimming demonstration in which he had used hand flippers as well as foot flippers, I jumped over the security fence around the pool and raced up to him and asked for his autograph. I didn't get it but he spoke to me and said, "Gee kid, I'm all wet, I'm sorry." At this point, a rather overweight security guard caught up with me and escorted me back to my seat. Just seeing and speaking with Tarzan was amazing for a kid of my age. - Bill
Jerry Jeff Walker, David Soul - In 1992 I was teaching a class at an insurance company in New York. I was staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel. My wife and I had dinner at the hotel and sat next to David Soul and his wife. As a naive midwesterner from Minnesota this was a thrill. But the big thrill came when I ran into Jerry Jeff Walker in the lobby. I was stunned to see him and he disappeared before I could utter a word. So, like an idiot, I saw his wife Susan in the card shop and mustered enough nerve to say hello and ask for her autograph. I now have her autograph on my wall. Oh well!
Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals - As a child I lived next door to Billie Jean King's coach. Years later when he died I came home from college to attend the funeral. The family was concerned during the wake that the house would be left unprotected. Billie Jean, Rosie Casals, myself and another friend stayed behind and cleaned the house. Billie Jean washed the dishes and passed them to me to dry while Rosie and my friend cleaned the kitchen. Billie Jean is a kind and wonderful person.
Bill Clinton - In 2004 I was the head concierge of the Diplomat Country Club in Hallandale, Florida. As I was leaving to go on break, at the same moment exiting the hotel the Secret Service men took another route in the direction of where I was going. It just happened to leave me right near to Mr. Clinton. He paused and we had a short conversation and I also mentioned to him that my name is William and I'm a musician. He smiled and said, "Good for you," and "Take care."
Rocky Graziano, Phil Rizzuto - One night after coming off of Rt. 280 in East Orange, NJ, it was a very hot day and my air conditioner in my car went out so I decided to stop at a local eatery. Upon entering, I met former heavyweight boxing great Rocky Graziano and former Yankee shortstop great and announcer Phil Rizzuto, who where there and I got autographs from both of them. Rocky was quite a comedian and Phil was also a great guy who lived in nearby Hillside. Several months later I met Phil two more times at the Parsippany Hilton and he was very kind and courteous and a very nice man. Both men were very pleasant and approachable and I will never forget our encounter. - Matt M.
Andy Warhol - Sometime around 1980 when people still used typewriters, I was bringing a typewriter to be fixed in a commercial building in NYC. I got on the elevator and standing there was Andy Warhol. I was too intimidated to say anything so I spent the trip up in the elevator looking at the floor. When I got back on to go back to the street, he was there again. I guess I looked surprised because he said, "My studio is in the basement of this building in case you are wondering why I'm in here so much." I just laughed nervously and probably turned beet red. - Hank
Olivia Newton-John - I worked at a tutoring center in Malibu and one of my students was "Chloe", the daughter of Olivia Newton-John. One morning, as I was working at the front desk, Olivia walked in wearing her jogging suit. I introduced myself to her and she humbly responded with an outstretched hand and the words "Hi, I'm Chloe's mom." I had all I could do not to make a big thing of it. - R.D.
Jonathan Harris - My father was CEO of several symphonies over the years and sometimes hired celebrities to appear as guests. One day (about 15 years ago) he called and said he was taking Jonathan Harris to dinner and would I like to come? Of course! But my then-boyfriend/now-husband decided he'd pass. We went to a little restaurant in a small town in Michigan and Jonathan was simply stunning. He was not recognized when we arrived. The waitress was noticeably annoyed when he ordered his steak "this thick," his drink with "a drop of..." and his potato with a different cheese than on the menu. During dinner he regaled my family with amusing stories of his life, in his wonderfully dramatic way, to the point that we could not stop our loud laughter. (How we managed to eat, I'll never know!) The few people in the room with us withdrew to the other dining room, casting disgusted looks at us as they left. About halfway through the meal, someone must have finally identified him because the waitress suddenly began fawning and asking if he wanted another of those just-so drinks. People in the other room began leaning in their seats, trying not to look too obvious as they goggled through the doorway. When we got up to leave, he graciously shook hands with the kitchen staff and the few others brave enough to come out of the other room. He obviously loved the attention and told us that he was looking forward to appearing at a sci-fi convention because "it's wonderful to be worshipped for a weekend." Jonathan was a true thespian and an utter delight. I've never laughed so hard in my life as I did at that dinner. My husband is still kicking himself for not going! - T.H. Cox
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