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Famous people I’ve encountered

I’ve always been fascinated with famous people. Celebrity. People whose faces are easily recognized. And on the few occasions when I’ve actually encountered someone famous, I’ve almost felt as though I’ve confirmed the existence of God. Or something. Maybe not that. But it sounded good.


Maybe it’s the shock of seeing someone out-of-context. Someone I only know from TV or the tabloids and now, here they are, doing something so ordinary like eating Schnitzel or rubbing sand off their wet suit. Not that that second example is all that ordinary – I’ve never worn a wet suit.

Go on, Pam. Git to the story.

There’s that jolt of recognition and then a need to broadcast the encounter to anyone who will listen. Before social media, I might have blurted out one of my encounters at a gathering of friends or family if it seemed appropriate to the conversation.

But now, I can Tweet it. Or put it on Facebook to impress people. Not that people were particularly impressed with my Michael Lohan (yes – Lindsey Lohan’s dad) sighting.

Oh, well. Let’s get to the list.

Helen Hunt. While visiting a college friend back in the ’80s, a friend who had the balls to move to New York City after graduation to “dance!” whilst I stayed behind in Michigan and felt sorry for myself because I had to wait tables and work part-time at an advertising agency before I got my First Real Job with Benefits, I spotted Helen Hunt eating breakfast at a trendy restaurant in Soho…or Greenwich Village…or, er, one of those places in Manhattan where cool people congregate. If memory serves (and lately it hasn’t) she was appearing on St. Elsewhere at the time. Jesus, I’m old.

The aforementioned Michael Lohan. Yep, whilst vacationing in Santa Monica with my husband and two teenaged children two summers ago, I got up early and went for a beach walk and lo and behold, if the synapses of recognition weren’t firing in all directions! I am so super positive that was Lindsey Lohan’s dad. He looked just like he did on TMZ and US Weekly and Star Magazine and…you know what? I read Time, too.

Jack Kervorkian. Same trip, but on the plane ride out. My husband and I were rather excited, as he was a part of our cultural upbringing (even if we were in our 30s at the time Dr. Death was killing all those people – assuming it was the 1990s Dr. Death was killing all those people – because if it was the 1980s Dr. Death was killing all those people, then we were in our 20s. Just need to make that clear). Anyway, kids were not as impressed. I Facebooked it, anyway.

Valerie Harper. In a hair salon. In Beverly Hills. In 1979-ish. She was at the height of her Rhoda fame and my sister and I considered chasing her out of the salon to get a better look and maybe an autograph. We thought better of it and gutted it out in the lobby whilst our Highly Sensitive About Her Hair-mother was getting hers done.

Robbie Timmons and Jim Brandstatter. These two are local to Detroit, Michigan. Ms. Robbie was a local newscaster. Mr. Jim was a local sportscaster. She was always very pretty, he was always very large, but they seemed to make a good couple. I was very surprised to see them dining, out in the very, very open, at a restaurant in Detroit’s Greektown. It was so hard not to stare.

Bill Bixby. From afar during a Universal Studios tour the same year we spotted Valerie Harper in a hair salon. Same trip, too. He was filming the Incredible Hulk, a television show I didn’t watch.

Michelle Williams. Just recently. She was in town filming, oh, shit, what is the name of that movie she was filming in Pontiac, at Raleigh Studios, the place that cost a hundred billion bucks to build only to have our fair governor, Rick Snyder, take away the tax credits for made-in-Michigan movies so that no GD studio or film maker wants to come to the mitten state anymore to make movies? It’s a Wizard of Oz story. Oh, right, Oz. That’s the name of it. Anyway, daughter and I saw her at Detroit Metro Airport on our way to New York City.

Three New York Yankees: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and some-other-player-whose-name-I-would-not-recognize. At a metro Detroit Starbucks. Last Spring. They were in town to play the Tigers during play-offs. I should have kicked them in the shins.

Anyway, those are my famous encounters. What are some of  yours?

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April 17, 2012 - 6:07 pm

D. Pecis - Pam,
Good to see you’ve launched a blog (you really have seemed itching to do so.)

All I can clearly remember meeting who is famous is Faith Hill, when I was working at the Kmart headquarters. A coworker and I heard she was in the building (she was PR-ing an album or something), so we snuck out to meet her. I put on lipstick first. This is important to the story, as Faith Hill really is gorgeous in person. And tall. And skinny. She was pregnant at the time, but I didn’t comment, as it was a little bump and I thought, well, maybe she is built like that and they just photoshop it out. It wasn’t. They don’t. I didn’t really know what to say, as I’m not a big country fan, but somehow I got a picture, which for a while I carried around in…drum role here…my waterski bag. ‘Cause a bunch of people I’d waterski with are country music fans, and I figured they’d be impressed. My bestest waterski-bud commented that we both had very nice smiles. See? Told you the lipstick part was important.

Oh, and my parents met Mr. Rogers back in the ’70’s at the DAC. Mom says she got his autograph, but I’ve never seen it. I imagine in was because they would drink through a bottle of wine at those dinners.

April 17, 2012 - 7:47 pm

Pam Houghton - Two good stories, Deb. I would have snuck out of work to meet Faith Hill, too.

April 23, 2012 - 3:25 am

lpon45 - I’ve lucked out a few times, especially back when I’d go to New York regularly to see plays while I was in school. I saw Peter MacNichol (from Sophie’s Choice, Numbers, Ally McBeal, and all that) as a young actor walking around the city. I’ve seen stars as various as Marty Feldman (“what hump?”) and Peter Martens (the ballet star) in Broadway audiences.

Still, the encounter I remember most is being in the parking lot of the strip mall near my house in San Rafael, CA north of San Francisco. I saw a skinny guy with a lot of bushy hair in a pony tail hauling about 20 pieces of dry cleaning. “Geez, who could possibly afford to have that much dry cleaning?” I wondered. It was Carlos Santana. Gotta admire that he was running his own errands …

April 23, 2012 - 1:00 pm

Pam Houghton - Those are good ones, Lisa. I do find Carlos Santana and his dry cleaning amusing. He seems like a jeans and t-shirt guy. 🙂

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