My Brushes With Celebrity

Some people have been prolific in their interactions with celebrities, meeting all manner of stars from stage and screen and stadium. I am not one of those people.

I bring this up because, lately, a “thing” has been circulating on Facebook where you list ten celebrities and people have to pick the one from the list you haven’t actually met.

I wanted to participate in this, but alas I don’t have nine celebrity meetings to boast of. So I flipped it around and posted this instead:

I have nine celebrities I came within ten feet of, but didn’t actually meet, except for one that I did exchange words with. Guess who?
1. Lou Piniella
2. Harrison Ford
3. Antonio Fargas (aka Huggy Bear)
4. Mickey Rivers
5. Reggie Jackson
6. Kate Mulgrew
7. Jeri Ryan
8. Avery Brooks
9. Roxanne Dawson
10. Jerry Van Dyke

Each wrong answer, as it turns out, has a story behind it.

For example, there was the day in Fort Worth when a coworker and I went to lunch at the Worthington, a hotel across from our building. While chatting at the table, we noticed a gentleman sitting a couple of tables away. It turns out he was Jerry Van Dyke, brother of Dick and at the time a major character on the TV show Coach. We didn’t go over, since he was busy entertaining his lunchmates.

On a different occasion, I took my daughter Diane to a scifi convention in Plano TX where she got to meet Star Trek Voyager’s Jeri Ryan and get her autograph. I stood by and took a photo, but didn’t get to meet her myself. (That would have been an extra bunch of money.) Curiously, the film ended up getting stuck in the camera and I lost the whole roll. 🙁

Diane and I later hit a Trek convention in Vegas, where she got to meet and get autographs from two more Voyager stars – Kate Mulgrew and Roxanne Dawson. Again, I stood by while Diane got to meet them.

Close again, but still no cigar.

Back in my Orlando days, I was to meet my friend Eric at the annual Lotussphere convention at one of the hotels. I arrived later than Eric, and so missed meeting Star Trek DS9’s Avery Brooks and getting his autograph. I stood by while Avery discussed business with someone, in between his emcee duties. I never did get to meet him.

Also in Florida, this time I was with my brother Joe at a Spring Training game in Legends Field (home of the Tampa Yankees.) Nearby sat George Steinbrenner in the stands, watching the game with a coterie of advisors. Next to him sat Reggie Jackson, who (I swear) talked for the entire game.


Didn’t get his autograph either, partly because I didn’t want to approach George and partly because Reggie never stopped talking.

Maybe my first celebrity encounter was Antonio Fargas, who played Huggy Bear on the old Starsky and Hutch TV show which was on at that time. We were walking around at one of the many festivals/fairs in NYC (Feast of San Gennaro, maybe?) and I noticed him walking past us going the other way. Two ships in the night, as it were, but one of the ships didn’t get the other’s autograph.

That’s eight.

Elsewhere I shared the story of getting Lou Piniella’s autograph. In brief, Andrew ran into friends at a Yankee game and they ended up almost knocking Lou off the platform onto the subway tracks. While I did get his autograph, he didn’t respond when I mentioned how he was one of my favorite Yankees. So, no dice there.

No, the “winner” was earlier that same afternoon. Our first attempt at getting autographs meant standing near the player parking area, but most of the players just walked by, ignoring us. Mickey Rivers, centerfielder for the Yankees, did stop and sign for us. I told him he was one of my favorites and he thanked me.

So there’s my brush with fame!

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