Willie Nelson - In the early '90s I drove a cab in Laughlin, NV. After dropping off a fare at the Emerald River Golf course, I noticed a guy taking a set of golf clubs out of the trunk of a car. I knew Willie Nelson was in town because he was playing that weekend at Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort & Casino. As I watched the guy getting the clubs out, I realized it was Willie. I said, "Willie," and he turned around, smiled and walked over to me and shook my hand. I asked for his autograph and he said, "Sure, what's your name?" I told him and he signed it to me. He said he was gonna knock a few balls around before his show that night. I have always been a big fan, and this was the best meeting of a celebrity I have ever had. - Jim B.
Benny Parsons - I met Benny Parsons a few years back. He was in Michigan at the Roush Truck Shop when it was in Livonia. I have a NASCAR flag with quite a few autographs on it, that includes Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, and Adam Petty. When I gave it to Benny to sign I asked him not to sign in a certain square because it had Lee Petty's and Adam Petty's signatures on it. I wanted to leave that alone in honor of them. When I told him that he said with a great big smile, "That's nice." He shook my hand and gave me that big Benny Parsons smile. Now I have another square that I will ask other drivers not to sign. - RJI
Lou Rawls - It was the summer of 1979 and I was stationed at Reese Air Force Base, Lubbock, Texas. I was dating my wife-to-be at the time and she had come to the base for a summer bar-b-q (Field Day). My squadron's first sergeant had promised us all a surprise that day .. but refused to say what it was. It was a scorcher! Within the hour, a flashy limousine drove onto the field and pulled up within twenty feet of my fiancée and I. The door opened and out stepped Lou Rawls. My fiancée - an avid Lou fan - recognized him immediately. She shouted, "Oh my God. Lou Rawls!!" and instinctively ran up and asked him for his autograph. The diminuitive Rawls smiled and asked her for a pen and something to write on. She stuttered and said she had nothing, so Mr. Rawls produced a felt-tip pen. She offered her hand, but he suggested the polystyrene cup she was sipping beer from (still half-full). As she struggled to react, he took the cup from her hand, sipped her drink empty, gave her a big smile and asked her name, then signed the cup before greeting our First Sergeant, who was approaching from the other side of the field ... it turned out Lou was a personal friend from his childhood. My wife still has that cup to this very day!!! We were saddened to read of his passing from cancer recently. - SNW
Hank Aaron - Over Christmas break I went to my uncle's house in Augusta, Georgia and since he co-owns the Hank Aaron BMW car dealership I got to play two rounds of golf with Hank Aaron. I also got a signed baseball and rookie card. No joke. - Chris
Harrison Ford - Harrison Ford grew up in the upper class neighborhoods of the North Shore of Chicago. Ford's upper crust upbringing afforded him quite a knowledge of the neighboring state, Wisconsin's spectacular north woods areas, and since he appreciated the north, he's built a respectable waterfront home on a lake near our family's cabins. One fall, my brother and I were readying the cabins for the winter, picking up supplies at the local Ace Hardware store when Harrison Ford was checking out in front of him. Of all things, Ford was wearing a "trademark" Indiana Jones type hat and when the polite-as-can-be North Woods checkout girl asked for his autograph, he curtly and angrily responded, "my signature is on the credit card receipt, that's all you get." It was neat to see Ford, my brother said, but after that attitude Ford chose to show, we wish he'd stay in Hollywood where perhaps the fame he's gained with his public following isn't as offensive to him as it seems to be to him in our North Woods. - Bud
John Ritter - In the late '90s, a buddy of mine was attending Eureka College in Illinois when John Ritter was there for a lecture/interview session. My buddy and his friend ran into John in the bookstore. Since the friend was too shy to approach him, my buddy walked right over to John, shook his hand, and said, "Hi, John. How are you doing?" My buddy is a bit over the top and startled John, but John was very accommodating and friendly to them both.
Evelyn Keyes - I had volunteered at a Women in Film Event for the Academy Awards in the early 1990s. It was held at a Beverly Hills country club and as a USC film student I was given the task of basically running around picking up discarded beverage glasses and helping decorate the tables as the guests watched the awards on television. I was really hoping to make connections in the industry but this lonely, sweet, old lady came and sat down next to me while I was taking a break. Obviously she was not a Hollywood heavy-hitter but I introduced myself and told her I was a film student. She introduced herself as Evelyn Keyes. Now meeting Scarlett O'Hara's sister Suellen and the former wife of John Huston was great. The stories she told for the next hour or so made my night! - SLS
Woody Allen, Bette Midler - Beverly Center shopping mall/LA,summer early '90s - I see Xmas decorations and treess on the side of buildings and notice a movie being filmed. Scene being shot of "Scenes from a Mall". Red convertible sports car of Woody/Bette driving into underground garage. Car being towed by movie camera truck for the shot. Woody and director decide to re-shoot shot. He and Bette stand waiting on the curb. Stretch limo pulls up, driver opens back door, Woody jumps in and they drive off. Bette waits a minute and then jumps into a regular movie company van and both end up about a hundred yards away for the re-shoot! Weird! - JH / Reno
Bill Cosby - My wife was with her first husband in a Chicago restrurant. Her ex wanted to get Bill's autograph but another person went up and Bill was with his wife and told him matter-of-factly, "Do I bother you while you're eating your dinner? So I will ask you to let us eat ours." Then my wife and her then-husband did not have nerve to go up after that excange. - RD
Frank Sinatra - It was in Atlantinc City back in the early '50s where my great grandmother managed a small hotel called The Palms, which happened to be several buildings down from the famous 500 Club. My uncle, who knew the bartender in the club, would go in the afternoon and sip a few beers. One afternoon, he took his daughter and me with him. He sat us in the seats in the theatre and told us not to move, while he got a beer. Guess who was re-hearsing that afternoon? Frank. Entire band, high stool, and yes, his recognizable hat. He said to us, "How am I doing kids?" We nodded, and I said, "You're all right." He giggled and so did we. That night the spotlights were outside the 500 club, waiting the arrival of the top billing, Dean and Jerry. Frank was a backseater then and I learned, later in life, that the owner, Skinny D'Amato, gave him his boost back to stardom. My cousin was younger at the time, and still has to ask me if it really happened. It did, and I cherish the experience today. I don't remember the song he rehearsed that day but who cares. We had a personal audience with "Ol' Blue Eyes". - FJG
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