If you live long enough in Los Angeles or spend enough time there, you're gonna end up with some celebrity stories. And if you were raised while watching about 10 hours a day of television like I was, you're also gonna gravitate towards B- and C-list actors.
10 Goofball Celebrity Encounters
Posted by Charlie Recksieck
Famous, Infamous & Nonfamous
With that as a backdrop, this week I wanted to just unload 10 rando encounters with celebrities. Though numbered, these aren't in a particular order:
1 - Bill Walton (at Billy Joel concert)
I've run into Bill Walton a few times, usually around a UCLA basketball game or at a Grateful Dead show. But the first time I encountered him was at a Billy Joel concert. He was at the urinal next to me, mid-show. First of all Bill is over 7 feet tall so there's always gonna have to be some angling-downward at a public urinal for him. I was about 15 or 16 so I wish I could say I didn't sneak a peak but he was a 7-footer and my beloved San Diego Clippers gave up everything for him. All I can say about that private subject that the man is a Hall-Of-Famer and that's that.
2 - Norma Connelly, Ruby from General Hospital (Venice Beach pizza stand)
I'm recounting this one not because she was such a celebrity; quite the opposite. But I loved GH as a kid - despite realizing that Luke raped Laura then they got married to a James Ingram - Patti Labelle song?!! It was I believe my 2nd day at college (UCLA). I met a fun girl who I really loved night one a college and asked her to ride bikes with me at the beach the next day. We rode to the boardwalk in Venice and I lost my shit that Ruby from General Hospital was right in front of us. She was very nice. I just thought on my first real day there that Los Angeles was populated by about 65% celebrities. I was very wrong.
3 - Emmanuel Lewis (shopping in Westwood)
You know who is more impressed by any celebrity than I am? My sister. She almost had a heart attack when she talked to David Birney at Westwood Farmers Market. So when I was first at UCLA, my sister came up from San Diego to visit and we were out in Westwood (the cutesy neighborhood next to UCLA) and we saw Emmanuel Lewis (TV's Webster) and his bodyguard. My sister kept following him into two or three stories and his security guard eventually had to tell my sister to get leave the Foot Locker store cause she was making Webster nervous.
4 - Geraldo Rivera (NYC Party)
I don't want to share too many names about who's house or why I was there but I happened to get invited to a very cool party in Manhattan (with Tim Gadzinski of Bigfellas 1.0 fame years ago). There was a jazz trio there and a Blossom Dearie type singer there. It was all very sophisticated and we really did have a great time. But one of the guest at the part was Geraldo Rivera and a girl I described as his "child bride". She maybe weight 80 pounds and looked like she was 15 - she wasn't, I want to be clear about that. But they were both seated on top of each other in a chair. Not a loveseat, not a Lazy Boy. Just a tiny fucking chair while they were canoodling amongst jazz standards. Neither of them got up out of that chair once for 2 and a half hours. Just fucking weird.
5 - Don Adams (Jerry's Deli, Burbank)
A group of us had been showing some out of towners some tourist sites one weekend during college so we did Universal Studios so after wrapping up the A-Team Stunt Show we headed to the always fantastic Jerry's Deli not too far. About six of us were walking in and a girl Molly and I were walking in to get a reservation. Nobody was there at the host podium, then a dude with a moustache came out of the private party room to the podium. It was Don Adams of course of Get Smart fame but who I also loved from Don Adams Screen Test and just being part of the world of 60s comics and Steve Allen's repertory. I'm immediately just saying "Don Adams! Don Adams" while Molly didn't recognize him. So she asked how long for a table. I need you to picture Maxwell Smart saying this exactly: "That'll be 22, 23, that'll be 22 and a half minutes."
6 - Miles Davis, Bill Cosby, Hugh Hefner (Playboy Jazz Festival)
Late in my UCLA career I joined the student newspaper, I wanted to write music reviews. I was late to the party and got crummy assignments no cool student wanted (Journey, Chicago) but I also liked jazz so my reward for writing thankless reviews of a new Pat Metheny album would be to get to go cover the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. This was all-access and included the backstage spread area. First of all, letting a college student near all you can eat shrimp was amazing enough, on top of seeing Lionel Hampton's last performance and a bunch of great stuff.
Then comes the haymaker. I was walking up to the buffet - again - but froze in my tracks when I saw Miles Davis hanging with Bill Cosby in front of me at the buffet. I tensed up behind them when all of a sudden all of the oxygen went out of the whole room. Hugh Hefner walked in the rom with his young wife at the time (Kimberly Conrad, I think - not the period when he walked around in his pajamas with 6 women). So Hef and Kimberly are drifting through the room and it's like they were parting a sea of celebrities. Which meant that as they walked by, Cosby and Miles both took a step back which now meant they were both flanking me as the now-three of us watch Hef and his lady walk by. I need to add that this was the most gorgeous woman I'd ever seen in person and even jaded celebs like Miles and Cosby also seemed to agree. We three just watched as this hottest model walked by with a human cadaver in a bathrobe. As they passed, Cosby, Miles and I all just look at each other, shake our heads and laugh as if to say "that woman has to fuck that guy?!" Amazing.
7 - Magic Johnson (UCLA Wooden Center basketball gym)
NBA players often would play pickup and workout games at the student gym at UCLA. Same courts where me and my friends would play intermural leagues. One time walking into the gym, the double door flew open hard and clocked me. I fell to the ground and my first instinct was to be pissed. "What the f-" then saw Magic Johnson over me with an outstretched hand asking, "You ok there, big man?" All of the friendliness and coolness you'd want from a Magic encounter, except for the mild concussion.
8 - Dena Dietrich, Parkay Margarine lady (ATM Machine, Inland Empire)
Remember when I said this list wasn't all about how big the stars were? If you're old enough to have been there, there's an old Chiffon Margarine commercial
that might be stuck in your mind ("It's not nice to fool, Mother Nature.")
One time my friend Scott and I were on our way driving to Las Vegas and we stopped somewhere in the Inland Empire to go to an ATM machine. Said commercial actress, Dena Dietrich aka "Mother Nature" from a margarine add, was ahead of Scott in line. When she turned around he recognized here and as a reflex said, "I love your work."
9 - Michael Moore (San Diego Padres Game)
I met him at a concession stand during a San Diego Padres game years ago, at the old Jack Murphy Stadium. What's odd about that encounter was it was a crummy stand in the left field upper deck. What the fuck was a successful filmmaker and tv producer doing out there with those seats?
He was wearing a Detroit Tigers hat as we both ordered our food - and I do remember that we both ordered way too many hot dogs for each being alone. With celebrities I get half star-struck and also half-quiet just to be respectful, although I did tell him that I was bummed and pissed that his show "TV Nation" had been canceled on Bravo. I think he appreciated that, or he appreciated how many hot dogs I ordered.
10 - Bill Cosby (Drake Track Stadium, UCLA)
Between my 4th and 5th year of college - hey, back off! - that summer I was sharing an apartment with some people, one of whom Lizzy I had a thing for and we pretty much hung out that whole summer. We'd listen to music, get high, play Scrabble, you know cute young person stuff. But we also lived very close to the UCLA campus which had an incredible track stadium. So we'd go over there to work out and run.
On a few occasions when Lizzy and I were running over there, we'd see Bill Cosby out there as well working out on the track. It's all so weird to say now after what we know about him, but he was great with the public and everybody who came up to him. In retrospect, he was particularly friendly with Lizzy - to the point on the second occasion when I did say, "Hey, I'm right here!" and we all had a good laugh. A little less funny with all of the drugging, and the raping, and the ladies. That said, at its time it was a funny moment.