Monday, November 10, 2008

Celebrity Sightings/ Name Dropping!

One of the benefits of having lived in New York and Los Angeles is the opportunity to see/meet some of your favorite film and TV legends.

When I first came to Los Angeles, I worked in Beverly Hills. While eating at Johnny Rockets (a '50s-style chain restaurant) I was shocked to see, one table over, none other than Billy Wilder. The people I sat with thankfully knew who he was and complimented me on my eagle eye sighting-- but how could you miss him? I soon discovered that Johnny Rockets was a favorite of his. The staff would serve him and greet him by name. Finally, after seeing him about four or five times I got up the courage to talk to him as he exited one day. We exchanged the usual pleasantries (none of which I remember!) but I do remember being shocked at his thick accent. Now, I'd seen interviews, and I was surely aware of his background-- but nonetheless it was shocking to hear his voice in person, the man who was responsible for some of the wittiest films in the English language. After we chatted, off he went, looking pretty good at 90+, walking with his cane down the sidewalk. That was the last time I saw him at Johnny Rockets-- can you imagine how I would have kicked myself if I hadn't talked to him! I did subsequently see him one last time when he was given a tribute at the Motion Picture Academy shortly before his death. I had an older friend who told me she saw John Huston in person and I was like "oh wow!" Now I can tell younger people-- I met Billy Wilder!

Here comes the name dropping! Among the many luminaries that I've had the occasion to meet, and have a pleasant experience meeting are: Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Mel Brooks, Steve Carell, Glenn Gordon Caron, John Cleese, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Roger Ebert, Ricky Gervais, Charlton Heston, Hal Kanter, Martin Landau, Angela Lansbury, Norman Lloyd, Carl (and Estelle) Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Seinfeld, William Shatner, Betty White, Robert Wise, Jane Wyatt, and the aforementioned Billy Wilder. There are many others, but those stand out the most.

Among the big names that I'm glad I've at least seen in person are: Robert Altman, Lauren Bacall, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Sean Connery, Olivia de Havilland, Kirk Douglas, Harrison Ford, Katharine Hepburn, Nicole Kidman, George Lucas, Jack Nicholson, Sidney Poitier, Steven Spielberg, and Peter Ustinov. Again, there are others, but these come to mind.

The person I most regret having not met would probably be Marlon Brando. Of the classic film personalities I'd most like to meet are: Jane Fonda and Woody Allen (I've never met or seen Elizabeth Taylor, but she seems so frail these days) [and of course there's Paul McCartney, who I suppose counts as a film person] and of the contemporary I would say Anjelina Jolie and Bruce Willis.

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