Betty White and Allen Ludden

July 31, 2006


Having been around the theater all through high school where I did lighting, it was a thrill to see a Sondheim show at the then Huntington Hartford Theater.

Even better was the seat that I got from Ernest Thomas.  It was just about 5 or 6 rows back from dead center stage, and one row in front of me, slightly to the right were none other than Betty White and her husband Allen Ludden.  Of course I recognized them both, but felt embarrassed to introduce myself because of the way I was dressed.

The late Allen Luidden is most famous for hosting the original Password and several other game shows on TV, but he has also been on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Banacek, Batman, and even The Milton Berle Show.   Betty White had her own self titled show twice, once in the 50’s, then again in the 70’s after she was on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Of course, many now remember her from her time with the Golden Girls.

I don’t know if they talked about their theater experience that night,  but I can only imagine how they discussed the young man who dared going to the theater in the blue jeans overalls that day.  Not exactly a very personal interaction….but it was close enough.

 Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – Betty White Allen Ludden 

Ernest Thomas

July 31, 2006


In the mid 70’s, the Ricardo Montalban Theater was known as the Huntington Hartford Theater.  As you face it, to the left was Molly’s Charbroiler.  When I lived in the Hollywood area, if at all possible, I had at least 4 meals a week at Molly’s.  One Saturday I was walking South toward Molly’s after a walk on Hollywood Boulevard when I was stopped right in front of the theater.  A black guy got out of a (even then) ratty old red Toyota or Datsun and asked me if I wanted tickets to a stage production of Sound on Sound By Sondheim playing at the theater.  I looked at him like he was crazy, because I was dressed in a tee shirt and a pair of overalls.  I said, “I can’t….I have no time to change for the theater.”  He said he had to go.  He was Ernest Thomas, who starred as Raj on the What’s Happening!! TV series and he got called into a late dress rehearsal for his TV show.  He told me, “Here, just take the tickets and enjoy the show!”  He really had no time to worry about me paying him or anything.

It was very surprising and very generous.  I felt like a fool going to the show in a pair of overall jeans, but the price of the seat couldn’t be beat!

I never was able to find a way to thank Ernest Thomas for the tickets, or pay him back.  It was a brief encounter, but it ranks up there with one of the reasons why some celebrities stand out as genuine and really giving people.  Perhaps he’ll see this post.

Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – Ernest Thomas

Christine Lund

July 31, 2006


The job I had as a security guard at the Prospect Lot, which was known as ABC’s Television Center had me all over the lot.  I mentioned earlier, it was on about the third day on the job that I met John Travolta, who wanted me to watch his candy apple red Vette while he went out for a drive with Christine Lund in her brown 280Z.  That was the first of many times I met Christine Lund.  Again, it was in the parking lot and in the many newsroom related areas.  She was always very nice to me.  But since this was so long ago, I don’t know if she would remember the day she and John went off together in that 280Z.  Since originally posting this, I’ve had more views on this than any other post.  It seems like everyone wants to know the latest news on L.A.’s favoriite newswoman.  Replies to the post indicate she’s in our 49th state.  I never did hear how the drive with John went, but if I ever do hear from her, Alaska.  (sorry…it was just too easy)

Now, I have to say here that I also met Bill Van Amburg as well, and even though I don’t have a picture of him, I do have a channel 7 eyewitness news pin…a 7 in a circle that Bill gave me.

Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – Christine Lund

Christopher Lloyd

July 31, 2006


I’d like to stretch it a little bit here, because this can’t be confirmed.  I went to a broadcasting school in Hollywood, CA from 1977 to 1978.  While there, one of my fellow students often came dressed like Christopher Lloyd is shown in this picture from Taxi.  Not only did this person look just like him, he acted a lot like the “Reverend Jim Ignatowski” as well.  Now, since the set of the show was not that far away, and it does make sense that Christopher Lloyd might want to brush up on some of his vocal skills, I’d like to think that the person I knew as Chuck Coleman actually was Christopher Lloyd.

Like I said, it’s stretching things a bit here for this one, but if there was anyone who knew Chuck and/or Chris back then and could verify this, it would be great.  At the time I met his fellow Taxi cast member Marilu Henner, it was a different time and place, and Chris or Chuck never did come up in any conversations.  But based on my memory from then, now if you had to put them side by side, if they were differnt people, they could almost be twins. Therefore could very well be another celebrity I’ve met.

Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – Christopher Lloyd

Machine Gun (MG) Kelly

July 31, 2006


While working at the same condominium as Marilu Henner, I often saw MG Kelly.  This was close to 25 years ago and I remember them being together a lot.  I don’t think they actually lived together, but they lived close by each other, on the same floor if I recall.

Many of his fans where thrilled when MG stepped it up, jumping from his long career in radio into TV and movies.  The Internet Movie Data Base has him credited with being the announcer on Wheel Of Fortune in the late 80’s, and being on shows like CHiPs, Fantasy Island, WKRP, and Barnaby Jones.  His own website had him credited with also being on MASH. Lately you can find him on the radio dial doing one of his sydicated broadcasts.

I got to interact with him occassionally at his home…at the condo as opposed to a work environment.  If I’m not mistaken, the MG in MG Kelly really stands for Michael Gene, not Machine Gun.  After I got to know him, I always called him “Gunner”.  However, I can tell you since I attended broadcasting school and had a big interest in radio, it was great to be able to talk with him on any level.  However, most of the time it was about radio.

Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – MG (Machine Gun) Kelly

Marilu Henner

July 28, 2006


Marilu Henner, at the time I met her, was playing Elaine Nardo on “Taxi”.  I have to mention here that I never worked on that set where I met many of the other celebrities, however, every now and then I’d see Marilu from a distance when she met John Travolta on the Prospect Lot.  They were quite good friends back then.

The first time I met Marilu it was she was at her condo on the East side of Doheny Boulevard.  That side of the street in that area was in Los Angeles, not Beverly Hills.  A great address, lower price…smart on her part.  I was arriving at the location as a new post as a guard, and the guard I was relieving told me that she was out by the pool and he took me up to the second floor window and pointed her out.  I would have been able to pick her out of the crowd…at the very least.

I do remember that I got to see her quite often either coming or going from her condo.  Aside from being drop dead gorgeous, she was also very down to earth, easy to talk to, very pleasant, and upbeat.  I doubt if all these years later she would recognize me, but I’m pretty sure she’d remember me.

Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – Marilu Henner

Steve Landesberg

July 28, 2006


Steve Landesberg played Detective Arthur Dietrich on the Barney Miller show.  I’ll make this a short entry only becuase I saw him mostly on the set and we didn’t get to talk that much.  Bur, aside from on the set, there were a few times I met him on his way in or out of the parking lot.  Not a whole lot of interaction and I regret that mostly because I always admired his character on the show and the way he portrayed him.  What’s worse is I really didn’t remember having an opportunity to tell him so.  Non the less, he still qualifies as a celebrity I’ve met.

Celebrities I’ve Met Podcast – Steve Landesberg