Jim Nabors

May 24, 2008

In a very strange way, I still mark this meeting and this particular picture as the last celebrity picture I took.  It was, in the set of photographs of celebrities that I met at LAX anyway.  Let me explain.

Jim Nabors got off the flight from Hawaii where he was actually spending time with his good friend Carol Burnett.  I never really realized this about Gomer, but at least this night he seemed well….how do I put it delicately…a bit light in the loafers…as Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Not there’s anything wrong with that!”

I must say that for the several minutes we talked while coming from the gates and getting his baggage, he was very kind, even went so far as to say that he bet my mom and he would make great friends after I told him why I wanted his picture.  Still, the whole encounter left me with the impression that his was either inibriated or bordering on flamboyant.  Looking back on it now, it may have been both.

The other very strange thing about this is what happened after I took this picture.  It was the last picture on this particular roll of film, and after I snapped the photo by the Traveler’s Aide Desk, a thought came to me that said, “OK, your done.”  It was a very overwhelming thought, and it puzzled me for several hours while on post.  Then, at about 12:30am, as I was walking from baggage to ticketing at United’s old LAX terminal, I stopped dead and my tracks, as if (to go Star Wars on you here) there was a disturbance in the Force.  It came over me at just about the same spot as I took the picture of Jim Nabors.  At the time I couldn’t figure it out.

I mentioned it to some of the other people with whom I worked, and it kept nagging at me all night long.  When I got off at 5 in the morning, I caught the shuttle bus over to where the regular RTD bus lines and Airport Express Buses waited at their layover point, caught the first RTD that ran East on Century Boulevard to downtown LA, all the time thinking about that “disturbance”.  I got off to change buses at Crenshaw Boulevard not too far away from the Crenshaw Christian Center (Dr. Frederick K Price’s Faith Dome) and waited for the bus to take me North onto Vine St, and my stop several blocks South of Hollywood and Vine.

So there I am, at dawn, most of the sky above me  clear, with some very cool pastel morning shades as I was just gazing out, looking west.  There up in the sky, just like out of a cartoon, was a single puffy white little cloud, flat on the top, and just a bit rounded on the bottom.  The thought came to my mind that it looked just like one of those clouds where you’d see a dead Elmer Fudd angel playing a harp on his way up to heaven.  It was the only cloud in the sky.  It made me raise an eyebrow and say to myself, “I bet that overwhelming feeling meant maybe someone died.”

The trip from Century Boulevard and Crenshaw all the way up to Hollywood was a long one, and I was exhausted, and wound up falling asleep.  I don’t remember my dreams much if I ever have any, but this one was vivid.  In the dream I remember seeing my then dead grandfather and grandmother together, their faces not too far away from me as if they were sitting across a coffee table from me.  As the dream went on, Uncle Henry, my grandfather’s brother, and my mom’s only surviving “older generation” immediate family member, came in from the side, and then all three were together looking at me, more or less reassuring me that everything would be OK.  It puzzled me at first, but after waking up I kind of put it all together.  By the time I got off the bus and started the block and a half walk home, I pretty much knew what happened.  The last part is even stranger.

Every night as I left my garage apartment I check the front house’s utility room window where they usually put my mail.  That previous night I checked it and got my mail.  But this morning, just as I passed the door to that room, I stopped dead in my tracks and without looking over, I said to myself, “Check your mail!”.  I replied to me, “I did, I have it in my little bag I take with me to work.”.  “Check it,” the other side of me says, so sure enough I looked to my left and there was a letter in the window.  It’s from my brother who was on a mission for the LDS Church in Chile at the time.  I then figured out that Uncle Henry passed on.  So I walked back to my apartment.

As I approached the door, I heard the phone just start to ring, it was on the edge of the couch just inside the door, so I quickly opened the door, picked up the phone and said, “Hi mom, what time did Uncle Henry die last night?” (Keep in mind this was in 1982 before caller ID) Baffled, she said, “What?  How did you know it was me?”  I said, “Never mind that, did Uncle Henry die last night at 1230am?”  She said, “No…he died at 3:30am.”  “Mom, 3:30 your time IS 12:30 my time.  Nailed it!  Don’t worry, I know just what to do.  Your going to get something in the mail in a few days that will help distract you from this loss.”

The reason I said that I nailed it is because I had a similar experience the year before when my grandmother passed away, and it woke me up at just after 3 in the morning.  Before leaving for California I asked my mom to tell me, if anything did ever happen to Uncle Henry, get the exact time of death.  A morbid thought, but I got the time right.  By the way, Uncle Henry died on the 6th of December, one day after my grandmother’s birthday.  who died a year earlier.  I’m sure he missed her.

So later that morning, I went and had that last roll of film developed, bought a photo album, put the pictures of all the celebritiesin with a little story of how I met them, and sent the book off to my mom, who kept it on her coffee table until the day she died in 2002, two months after my older brother passed away from complication related to Aids.

And while Jim Nabors was the actual last picture for that part, he was not the last celebrity I met.  As a matter of fact, there were plenty of others to follow.  I just kind of got out of order in how I bring up their names.  So stay tuned…there’s plenty more to follow. 


Jerry Buss with his daughter Jeanie

May 18, 2008

 

I got to meet Dr. Jerry Buss and his daughter Jeanie when they returned to Los Angeles from Hawaii.  I didn’t get a chance to really talk to them very much, but I did make sure that other paparazzi kept away…he was doing his best to keep his trip with his daughter a bit more private.

While Jerry is most famous for being the owner of the Lakers, he also had his hand in the Los Angeles Kings in hockey and the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA, and Los Angeles Lazers soccer team.  As an official doctor, his PhD in physical chemistry came from the University in Wyoming.  Now he could also be considered a doctor of poker, having ranked really well in many poker championships.

His beautiful daughter Jeanie is now a vice president covering business operations with the Lakers.  She had gained some popularity after posing for Playboy, but she is now romantically linked with the Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson.  I guess she never did have a taste for short guys, darn it all.


Jayne Kennedy

May 18, 2008

 

Sometimes the “beautiful people” we see on TV turn out to be really not the nicest people when you meet them in public.  That could never be said about Jayne Kennedy, who was a sports reporter for The NFL Today when I met her in the baggage claim area of United Airlines at LAX.  Jayne was also very charming.  My opinion may be a bit skewed because in my high school days I dated a girl who was a lot taller than I am.  While my old girlfriend and Jayne Kennedy were not nearly twins, they had other very similar attributes that had me bordering on “enamoured”. 

Jayne’s marriage to Leon Issac Kennedy in 1970 had Smokey Robinson as the best man.  She also made exercise videos in the early ’80’s and had contracts with Coca Cola’s Tab and Diet Coke.  The former Miss Ohio was also on the cover of Ebony and Jet magazines, and was even the first black woman to be on the cover of Playboy magazine. 

I had to keep telling myself that this picture was part of a collection for my mom, who really didn’t know a lot about sports even though she did watch a lot of TV.  Miss Kennedy has for the most part dropped out of the public eye since the 1990’s, but has done work for the Children’s Miracle Network and Christian Television Network shows.  To me, beautiful outside and in, and a bit more than just a celebrity I’ve met.


Jay Johnson

May 18, 2008

Anyone who watched the situation comedy “Soap” will remember Jay Johnson as Chuck Campbell, the ventriloquist who had no control of what Bob, his wooden dummy would say.  I caught up to Jay outside of the baggage area at LAX where I am seen here as the dummy in the picture (not a far stretch for those who know me well).

The brief conversation we shared had me telling him that I did indeed learn ventriloquism, but never did go anywhere with it.  He told me that whenever he traveled with Bob, who was too shy to come out of his suitcase on Jay’s right hand when the picture was taken, he always kept Bob as his carry-on luggage.  Jay said that it didn’t matter if they lost whatever else he had, but, losing Bob would be out of the question.

Again, another example of just a single meeting with a celebrity who was very genuine, friendly, and polite.  I was a bit disappointed that Bob didn’t want to have his picture taken, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that after a long flight, I’m sure the dummy wasn’t in the best of moods.


Jackie Zeeman

May 3, 2008

Anyone who has watched the soap opera “General Hospital” knows Jackie Zeeman has been Bobbie Spencer since 1977.  I got to meet her briefly on her way back from the baggage claim area of United Airlines at LAX in 1982.  As many times as I’ve looked at this picture, I just can’t seemed to remember why some of her baggage is tagged as “special”.  Perhaps because this bubbly actress was so happy to be recognized that it made her feel special.  Ok, I was reaching a bit there, but I do remember she was very upbeat, even if the encounter was brief.  Along with her long lasting role on GH, she has also been in TV shows Chicago Hope and Mike Hammer, and was even in Deep Throat II as an office girl in 1974.  Hmmm….special indeed. 


Harvey Korman-Updated

May 3, 2008

In the baggage claim area of United Airlines at LAX after a flight from Hawaii, I met Harvey Korman.  I actually met up with him closer to the gates, but he wanted to be sure he got a good spot to get his bags, so he asked me to wait until we got to the claim area before allowing me to take the picture.

Best known for doing his best to keep a straight face while around Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett Show, many also remember him as Hedly Lamarr in the Mel Brooks classic film “Blazing Saddles”.  This is the only time that I met him, and was a bit disappointed that I never did meet his comic nemesis, Tim Conway.   I’m sure even in the baggage area of LAX, there would have been no stopping Tim from trying to bust up Harvey, and everyone else.

In February of 2008 Harvey suffered a abdominal aortic aneurysm that sent him to the hospital for several major operations.  On Thursday May 29, 2008 Harvey Korman passed away from the complications of that rupture.  I was driving home from work when I heard the sad news and pounded my steering wheel and said to my windshield, “Damn, Harvey.  I’m going to miss ya.”  Heaven just got a lot funnier.

There’s another interesting thing about this picture that I haven’t been able to verify.  Some people that have seen it say that they thought I got a double capture here.  It’s been said that the boy in the baseball cap in the background may just be Ike Eisenmann, who here was recognized because played Tony in Escape to Witch Mountain and Return from Witch Mountain.  Ike has also been in many TV shows like CHiPs, Wonder Woman, Fantasy Island, and the Jeffersons, and in the movie Star Trek II, The Wrath Of Kahn.  It would be cool to verify that it’s Ike before “Race To Witch Mountain” comes out in 2009. 

Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – Harvey Korman 


George Gobel

May 3, 2008

I met George Gobel at the Los Angeles International Airport in 1982 when he came to LAX for a flight out.  This was several years before he died from complication from heart surgery, but you may remember watching him on Hollywood Squares, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, but probably best known as Mayor Harper in the 80’s show, Harper Valley PTA.  You’ll see that even here he was not in the best of shape.  Although he was frail at best, he was very pleasant to speak with.  Perhaps he was not big on traveling, but even though he was happy to have someone recognize him, he seemed just a bit disoriented.  He needed the cane to get along, and I helped him as well, but refused to embarrass him by using a wheel chair.  He was very grateful that I allowed him that bit of dignity.  I told him it was out of respect for him not only as a celebrity, but also because of his age.  If I had to sum it up in one word, it would have to be class.  Sadly, George passed away in 1991.  To many a funny comedian and actor, but to me he was also a Celebrity I’ve Met.