What would you say to a famous person if you saw one? Would it be something memorable, so the famous one would remember you? Or something controversial to engage the famous one in a discussion? Or just a friendly, “Hi, how’re ya doin’?”
Maybe this question wouldn’t occur to me if I didn’t live close enough to New York to occasionally bump into a famous face.
I saw Chris Rock at an art gallery with an agent, looking for artworks to buy.
I saw Robert Duvall standing next to me crossing a street in Manhattan.
Adam Arkin just strolling and chatting with a buddy after a matinee performance.
There was Geoffrey Holder paying his check at Balthazaar restaurant.
And Don Johnson having lunch at the restaurant as we were.
I saw Cher in the audience of a small off-Broadway production, calmly waiting for the rest of the audience to exit the theater.
When I was a teen-ager I had a crush on the singer Eddie Fisher. One day a group of friends and I went into the city to see his TV show, after which we had snacks in the cafe downstairs from the NBC TV studio. Eddie was sitting at a table, with lines of teenaged girls waiting for his autograph. How could I resist? So I joined the line, and when my turn came he looked at me, took a large photograph of himself, wrote something on it, and handed it to me. When I stopped shaking long enough to read what he wrote, I saw, “How Do You Speak to an Angel?” That was the name of his latest hit song.
The biggest star I ever saw close up and personal was John Wayne. We were in a small toy store and he was shopping, just as I was. There was no mistaking him: He was huge! I don’t know what I should have said, but I still think that standing face to face with someone you recognize should elicit something. But what?
Once we went to a restaurant in Greenwich Village, “The Grange.” A familiar face was at the bar and I asked the waitress “Is that F. Murray Abraham?”
“Yes,” she said, ”He’s my father.” I enjoyed his performance in the film about Mozart, “Amadeus.” He played Mozart’s rival. I asked her to ask him a question for me. “Is it better to be hounded by fans or not to be recognized?”
When she returned she said, “Dad says he would rather be noticed by fans than ignored. And he also said that if you’d like to pay for his dinner that would be fine too.”
So be careful; if you pay attention to a famous person you might get stuck paying for their dinner!