Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Famous people I've met who would never remember me in a million years

Many people have a story about an encounter they've had with a famous person, whether it was in an airport or restaurant, at a sporting event, or wherever.

And by the way, I always say you should never judge celebrities based on your one encounter with them, good or bad. You're not always at your best (or worst), and there should be some understanding on our part that in the end, they're people just like us.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I've had the opportunity to encounter a few famous types. I have friends and co-workers who have met far more stars and world-class athletes than me, but I'm going to say I've met more than the average person.

And by "meet," I mean you have to shake their hand and/or have direct conversation with them, no matter how brief.

Here's my list:

Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Sarah Silverman
I met the three of them on the set of a movie in which my company is pretty heavily integrated. The release of the movie, titled "Marry Me," has been pushed back a few times and is now set for February 2022. The photo at the top of this post is Sarah and me. She might actually have a faint memory of me because we talked for a good 10 minutes on the set and she once did a skit about Vitamix on "Saturday Night Live." She was nice. Owen Wilson was also nice, though I didn't get to speak with him for nearly as long. As for J-Lo, she was sitting in a director's chair and I just walked up to her, introduced myself, and quickly said how excited we were to be involved in the film. She was soft-spoken and polite to me, but clearly I wasn't supposed to do this. I think I interrupted her while she was studying her lines or something. I chalk it up to being a hayseed Midwestern PR guy who didn't know any better.

Gerard Butler
Met him a few years ago at the Sundance Film Festival. He drank lemon curd directly from one of our Vitamix containers. That's a true story. He was extremely friendly, in part because he had clearly been imbibing that evening. I asked if I could send him a Vitamix to use and possibly post about on social media. His response was, "You sure can!", only he inserted an extremely bad word in gerund form between "sure" and "can." It was in his Gerard Butler Scottish accent, which made the whole thing even better.

I wrote about the encounter my nephew Mark and I had with the Sting-ster a few years ago. It was July 1996 and we met him before a concert. I have seen Sting play live 10 times in the past 33 years, but this was the only time I actually got to shake his hand and briefly converse with him. He was a little distracted in that he was about to go out and play a show in front of a big crowd, but he was also used to these little meet-and-greets and was very nice about the whole thing.

Octavia Spencer
Had my picture taken with this wonderful actress a few years ago after she gave a speech in Cleveland. I was one of maybe a hundred people with whom she shared a handshake, a moment of small talk, and a quick photo. And then I moved on. And so, I'm guessing, did she.

Colin Hay
My roster of truly famous people gets really thin really fast, but I enjoyed meeting Mr. Hay, the former lead singer of Men at Work and someone whose solo work I've followed and listened to regularly for three-plus decades. This also happened with Nephew Mark, and it was after a show Colin played at the Winchester in Lakewood, Ohio. Terry always makes fun of the fact that in the photo I took with Colin, he has a sour expression on his face, while in the photo of Colin with Mark, he was smiling broadly. I choose to think he was just overwhelmed meeting his #1 fan (me).

Bob Barker and Meredith Vieira
This was when I was a contestant on The Price Is Right and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, respectively. I will not go into detail here, since Terry will once again accuse me of bringing these experiences up at every possible opportunity. I will only include links to The Price Is Right video here and the Millionaire video here. And that's it. Really, I won't say anything else about this.

Dave Koz
Dave is a big deal in the smooth jazz world. A supremely talented saxophonist. You either know him or, as in most cases, you don't. But I think he led Arsenio Hall's house band for a while. And he used to appear regularly on "General Hospital." And Terry and I have become friends with him, so he counts. He's the only person on this list who definitely does know who I am.

Bernie Kosar
My Cleveland friends certainly know who Bernie is, as do football fans from around the country. He was the face of the Browns' franchise in the 80s and early 90s, and he is a big fan of Vitamix. In fact, if you saw Bernie five years ago and then looked at the photo on the right, you almost wouldn't believe it's the same person. He has really slimmed down and now works to help others understand the value of proper nutrition.

Hockey Players You May or May Not Know
Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, and Marty McSorley. This was when I was sports writing. All very nice gentlemen. The first two are famous as two of the greatest hockey players of all time. The third was famous for punching people. Covering hockey taught me that in 95% of cases, the fighters are the nicest guys you'll ever want to me. Off the ice, that is. On the ice, they are likely to cause you permanent facial damage. I met Marty off the ice and he was a delight to talk to.

Other Athletes That, Again, You May Not Know
And again, this was from my sports journalism days. Carlos Baerga, Kenny Lofton, Dennis Eckersley, Johnny Damon, and Warren Sapp are on the list. There were probably others, but we're really starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel now, so let's stop.

The point is, almost none of these people would (or could) ever remember who I am, but I remember all of them. Such is the nature of fame.

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