Hooray for Hollywood!
I spent much of yesterday out at the Hollywood Show (formerly the Hollywood Collectors Show) in Burbank. These are two-day weekend affairs where the great, the near-great and the once-were-great sit behind tables and sell autographs and photos and such, and their fans have the opportunity to buy those things and meet their faves. The folks wandering the aisles are often as interesting. I spent time yesterday with Chuck McCann and with Shelley Berman, neither of whom were there as vendors.
Among those who were: Valerie Harper, Billy Dee Williams, Martin Landau, Peter Lupus, Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson, Traci Lords, David L. Lander, Lainie Kazan, Piper Laurie, Sybil Danning and the Green Hornet himself, Van Williams. The whole list can be viewed at the website I'll link to in the last paragraph. There can be a discomfort if you want to say hello to a star (or even make eye contact) without purchasing a $25 signed photo but for the most part, I find these a lot of fun. The show usually has at least one Cast Reunion and this time, it was Starsky & Hutch, with appearances by David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Antonio Fargas and replicas of the famed Gran Torino. The lines were rather long and I think even the cars were signing pictures.
Most of all, there are nice encounters like the one I'm about to describe. My friend Shelly Goldstein, who is often mentioned here, is a huge fan of The Monkees and especially of Davy Jones, who was there. She stood in line maybe ten minutes to get a signed pic and to chat with him for a few moments…and when she got her few moments, she didn't talk to him about The Monkees. She mentioned his work as a lad in the musical, Oliver!
Here is a tip for those of you who are ever nervous about meeting celebrities. Anyone who's at all famous has certain comments and questions that they hear all the time. Stan Laurel, whose photo is never far on this blog, was in retirement said to have been very tolerant and polite as every single person who met him started their conversation by asking how he and Oliver Hardy teamed up. There are folks in the entertainment industry who are proud to have done many things but distressed that most people only seem to know of (or care about) one. I remember the first time I met Robert Morse, there was a look of delighted surprise when I started talking to him about something other than How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. The same thing happened when I met Vincent Price and didn't immediately engage him on the subject of horror movies or when I met Don Adams and asked him not about Get Smart but about his old stand-up act.
Anyway, I was present and a witness when Shelly started asking Davy about Oliver! I could not only see but feel his face light up and I heard as he launched into a little a cappella rendition of "As Long as (S)he Needs Me," singing for her not just a few bars but the entire song. He was that happy someone wasn't asking him how Micky Dolenz was or which episode was his favorite.
Shelly was thrilled then and an hour or so later, she was thrilled again. We were walking by his table and Mr. Jones remembered/recognized her and ran over to give her a free CD (one of the ones he was otherwise selling for $25) because it had a medley of songs from Oliver! Short of offering free sexual favors, as I once saw a former Playboy Playmate do with a devout male admirer, that's about as nice as I've ever seen a celebrity be to a fan. Shelly is a professional writer and performer who has fans of her own…but in that context, in relation to Davy Jones, she was a fan and she was quite overwhelmed by his kindness.
I always witness a nice moment or two like that at one of these shows. My friend Jewel Shepard had many admirers around her, buying pictures and just being thrilled to meet someone they knew from movies and photos. She made some money she needs for medical treatments. Her fans got to meet (and help) someone they'd always wanted to meet. Works for me.
The Hollywood Show continues today, though by the time you could read this and get there, most of the celebs will be packing to leave. The next one of these is April 20 and 21 and I'll try to give you a head's up when it's approaching.