The idea for this post came to me today. I suppose it was because it’s Masters time and everyone is on the lookout for the rich and famous. I’ve met numerous famous people during my lifetime. People love celebrity stories so I thought I would bore you with some of mine.
I’ll start with the two whose autographs I asked for and received. Not being an autograph hound, the idea usually doesn’t come to me. I’m not counting the ones who have signed books for me, those are numerous.
I met Don Knotts at Mississippi State University in the early to mid 1980s. He was in Starkville to give a comedy-laden speech about his life and career. He was genuinely one of the funniest and down to earth person I’ve ever encountered. The demeanor he exhibited on Andy Griffith and Three’s Company was him, unless he was hamming it up the night I saw him. I can’t recall anything he said but I remember it was fascinating. He signed a picture of himself for me. I lost it.
Any good old boy from Georgia would be compelled to get the coach’s autograph. So I did one afternoon. The funny thing was, I had him sign a baseball. I was at a baseball game in Athens and decided to go get a hotdog. On my way out of the stands a pretty girl in a UGA outfit gave me a UGA baseball. I put it in my pocket and proceeded to the concession stand. While I was waiting in line I happened to look behind me and there was Dooley. He had a pen, I had a baseball. The rest is concession stand history. He was overly gracious. I have since misplaced the ball.
I has working out (back when I was in super-shape at the brand-new UGA athletic facility (we called it the SPACE Center, it has a different name now). Being a dumbbell I was hanging out with my kin. I noticed an extra attractive blonde next to me. It was Yoculan. We had a nice chat between sets about gymnastics and fitness in general. So, I think I’ve met UGA’s most famous coach and their winningest coach. Yoculan was very nice. Almost all the celebrities I’ve ever met have been very nice. Not so many looked as good as her though. I think I was on a flight to L.A. with the hottie who played Princess Ardala in Buck Rogers but I’m not sure. She may have just been a hottie.
I met a slew of famous folks in and around Athens, as you can gather. I had a girlfriend who managed a Hallmark card shop. I was hanging around one Saturday, being a general nuisance. I found the name tag maker and made myself a name tag – “Bubba.” In walked Rogers and his beautiful then-girlfriend, now wife. He stood around like an average ordinary dude while the woman shopped. I recall she ran up a good-sized tab, which Rogers paid (with cash). I jumped behind a register and acted like I worked there. One of the girls pushed me aside. After the payment, the Misses decided she wanted to shop some more. Kenny had enough and headed out to sit in the car, which turned out to be a mini-van. I strolled out and talked to him for a minute or two about his music and his chicken franchises (remember those?). I might have him autograph something but I can’t remember; if I did, I lost it.
Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro
Daddy taught at MSU when I was young. We went to almost every home game – football and baseball. During the 1984 or 85 season he got me a ball autographed by the entire team (including Ron Polk). I think Brantley or Thigpen or someone was in one of his classes. He pulled rank, not me – therefore, I don’t count this encounter as one where I sought the autographs. By the way, I have that ball under glass on a shelf at home. It turns out a good friend of mine was on the team the year before. I showed him the ball once and he went into a time-warp memory trance. Autographs are powerful. Anyway, I think it was the evening the team got back from an unsuccessful world-series run or maybe it was on their way out). The media were gathered and many interviews occurred concurrently. Clark and Palmeiro had no trouble taking a moment or two to humor little me. Great men.
(If you’re a MSU or MLB fan, I might consider selling the ball. $erious offer$ only…)
This really doesn’t count as a meeting so much as a random funniness. A friend of mine and I were visiting with my doctor in .. you guessed it – Athens on morning. The Doc was developing a bar/apartment complex on Clayton Street. He had invited us over to look around. Anyway, we were all standing out on the sidewalk when this bald-headed skinny guy in a sweat suit came jogging by. One of us said, “It that Michael Stipe?” The second said, “That looks like Michael Stipe.” Then third said loudly, “That’s Michael Stipe!” Stipe glanced nervously over his shoulder and then bolted off at a full sprint. Funny if you were there. I was.
Aurelian Smith, Jr.
You know Smith better by his ring name, Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He was the first of the many wrestlers I’ve met and the first of two I’ve worked out with. I was pumping serious iron at the Gold’s gym in … Athens on morning when I noticed this tall guy on a bench (bench press bench) reading the paper. I took a second look and determined it was Roberts. About that time he noticed me and asked for a spot. We talked a good deal about his life and things generally. I had just seen him on the Benny Hinn show and had some questions about Hinn’s performances, which, honestly, look as scripted as anything from the WWF. Roberts assured me that Hinn was a sincere Christian and that he exuded an uncanny “electric” presence – one that could be felt physically. He and I worked out quite a few times and talked frequently in the parking lot. Jake drove a rotating variety of older vehciles. He was a great conversationalist and as un-snake like as could be.
Marcus is better known as Buff Bagwell. I met him in the Gold’s Gym in Woodstock, Georgia. This was during one of my short-lived attempts to get back in shape. Buff was in great shape, naturally, and his encouragement and friendliness helped me during the run. The poor guy was in a bad automobile wreck not too long ago. A lot of the wrestlers I’ve known, including Jake, have had problems later on. Sad, but I guess it comes with the territory.
When I was a teenager I worked out at another of Bill Smith’s great clubs – Bodytalk. On summer day I was milling around and saw Penny. You may remember him from Jake and the Fatman and Riptide. His dad was a local school principal and Joe came for a visit. Like Jake he requested a spot and we struck up a conversation. I naturally get along with most people and since I’m not a pop culture nut I suppose I don’t annoy the celebs as others might. Anyway, he was a very quiet but personable fellow.
I worked in and around the Georgia General Assembly during the last year of law school. The former President came to town and gave a speech one day. I attended and found what he had to saw inspiring and common-sensical. I don’t really recall what he talked about but it was interesting. After he talked and was shaking hands with the resident ticks, I made my way down to Governor’s private door. I figured that’s where Carter would exit. I was right. After a few minutes he and Rosalynn came along with one or two Secret Service agents and some State Troopers. He stopped for a second, shook my hand, and made pleasant small talk. It’s funny; I don’t generally view his Presidency as a particular success but I was very pleased to meet him. He’s the only President I’ve ever met. The next best person is John Anderson. He was a professor of mine in law school and is now a friend. I’ve met so many other politicians, they don’t faze me anymore (I do keep my hand on my wallet though…).
This is one of the few cases where I heard a famous person talk about something and remember what he said. Forbes spoke to the Federalist Society’s 2001 national conference about the ridiculous monetary policy of the Federal government. While not outright calling for a return to the gold standard, he advocated SOME standard so we at least know where we stand. He analyzed it to a carpenter trying to build a house when his tape measure changes units every day. After he spoke I mosied up and we talked for a little while about the subject. I asked him how we could ever got back to a sane system. He said all we could do is to keep hammering the point over and over. Ron Paul did a great job of this. Forbes was by far the wealthiest person I ever met yet one of the absolute nicest.
I first met Ken at the same Fed-Soc function where I met Forbes. I’ve since met him many, many times again. Our second meeting was at Ted Olson’s Virgina home the next summer (I once ran with the elite…). I saw Ken and his wife and guided my wife over for an introduction. He saw us coming and walked over. He actually remembered me and said, “Hello, Perrin!” The wives were happily introduced and we went on drinking champagne and doing snooty country club stuff. How cool is it to be recognized by a celebrity, whatever you think of his professional work?
Through my cigar connections, I’ve met many of the biggest names in the cigar world. I won’t name names here. Like politicians, to me they are a dime a dozen. However, unlike the ticks, I consider these folks my friends (in real life and on Facebook!). All are exceptional and kindly. ALmost everyone in cigarland is that nice.
My favorite celebrities are my beloved readers – you! Maybe I’ll write some funny snippets about you someday!