October 26, 2010

The Last Thing I Expected

The last thing I expected to see when I walked into the Verizon store on a Tuesday morning in Dallas, Texas, was Jason Bateman. Nobody else in the store realized it was him, but I did, and I think I did because I'm from Los Angeles, and very attuned to sighting celebrities.

When you grow up in the Los Angeles area, you see famous people at country clubs, grocery stores, and shopping malls. Sometimes you will even go to school with them. My sister went to high school with Maureen McCormack - aka Marcia Brady - and Lisa Kudrow and Dave Koz were a year behind me. My parents, active in liberal politics, often took my sister and I to fund-raisers where we'd see celebrities (even as a child I was a policy wonk and was thrilled to meet Senator Alan Cranston...years before he disgraced himself by being a member of the Keating Five). One night when I was in high school my parents came home from such an event and my mom literally gushed about meeting Warren Beatty, who was in his prime at the time. On the flip side, my parents were also at the Ambassador Hotel the night Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. They woke us up when they came home to share the horror of what they'd witnessed.

I'm not sure how often I mention this nowadays - I did write about it once on my old blog - but in the 1930s my dad supported his parents for more than a year when he played "Bubbles" in the Our Gang Comedies. There's no photo online, but I just located his his IMDB page. He was a very minor character, but it does make for an interesting conversation starter when I need one. Oh, and according to my cousin Jeanette, Herb Alpert is my sixth cousin, although given how far removed sixth cousins are, you might be as well.

Speaking of my cousin Jeanette, she worked in the entertainment industry for years, first in film and television, then in music. As a result I visited many a TV and film set; I met Jack Albert while he filmed a scene for The Poseiden Adventure and was lucky enough to meet all three leads in The Mod Squad; even though I was very young, even I knew how cute Michael Cole was.

After I moved to Texas, I realized my celebrity sightings were likely behind me. Over the years I've occasionally seen celebrities when out and about, but mostly through SMU, where I went to college and graduate school. I was lucky enough to sit on a panel with Jimmy Carter while in graduate school, met Bob Woodward when he gave a lecture, was lectured to by Milton Friedman...and one of the professors I chose to sit on my Master's thesis panel was famous locally, having been the political analyst for the Dallas ABC affiliate for many years.

The first time my husband visisted L.A., I told him we'd likely see somebody famous, and almost every time we visit, we see a celebrity. His virgin sighting was Morgan Fairchild, but perhaps the most exciting was actually meeting Gene Kelly at an event in Beverly Hills. By then I was already a fangirl for musicals and comedies of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, so it's something I'll never forget.

Two and a half years ago I went to L.A. to help take care of my mom, who was having major neck surgery, and my sister decided we needed a short break. We left the hospital for an hour or so to grab a cappuccino at a nearby restaurant. Not only was it the best damn coffee I've ever had, it was one of my best damn celebrity sightings. As we were waiting for the valet to bring our car, who did we see getting into his car? None other than Tom Selleck, who even in his 60s fills out a pair of blue jeans better than men half his age.

And then there was this sighting, at a pie shop in Sandy, a suburb of Salt Lake City, this past spring: My husband, daughter, and I saw Jamie Hyneman of TV's Mythbusters, a show on the Discovery Channel that explores urban myths but in actuality is an excuse for the guys who make the show to blow up things in a spectacular fashion. He lives in Salt Lake, but it seemed such an odd place to see somebody "famous" that neither my husband nor I will ever forget it. Rachael...not so much. BTW, after I tweeted about this experience, author Adele Ashworth informed me that she was once crowned Miss Sandy City; her picture hangs in city hall.

Adele is but one of a myriad of authors I was lucky enough to meet in my former incarnation as Laurie Likes Books. I think I'll leave it at that.


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