At the time I spotted Dionne Warwicke at Los Angeles International, she was busy with her singing career, but she did go on to be a spokeswoman for the Psychic Friends Network in the 1990’s. You can tell by her smile that she “knew” I was going to take her picture. Another pleasant, albeit brief passing of a celebrity and a fan.
This was a real treat for me to meet Denver Pyle, the Dukes of Hazzard’s Uncle Jesse. Again, at the airport in Los Angeles, when I saw Mr. Pyle late one night, I had to get a picture. When I saw him on TV, he didn’t ever look as large as he did in person. I don’t mean overweight…yes he was, but over all he was a lot taller of a person than I thought he would be. We didn’t talk much, because all he had time for was a quick hello and a picture. But I couldn’t have been more pleased with such a nice encounter.
This was one of the most memorable celebrity encounters of my life. Perhaps because it was so innocently discovered.
I was on duty early in the morning. The last flight in every morning was the red eye from Hilo, HI. After that flight came in and the passengers all taken care of, it was my time to go.
So here I am one morning and a really old guy comes in smoking a cigar and starts staring at the video display of flight arrivals. I asked him if he was waiting for someone from the Hawaii flight and we began some small talk. After several minutes, there was something very familiar about his voice that I recalled and told him so. He mentioned doing Vaudeville, and laughed saying I would be too young to remember that. That triggered the memory of the Great Ballantine, a character he portrayed while being Lester Gruber on McHale’s Navy and in a David Copperfield Magic special. He talked about his granddaughter and how he spent a lot of time at Hollywood Park “playing the ponies”. I talked about my mom and the reason I was getting all of the celebrity pictures. He agreed that I could take one picture of him if I also took one of him and his granddaughter. The one that I took of him came out all washed out, but I do have it.
I also mentioned to him that the fans of Car 54 Where Are You and McHales Navy deserve to continue to see him and he should keep introducing himself to newer generations of TV viewers. When you look at all that he’s done over the course of his lifetime, he certainly has done just that. While I have appreciated an occaisional cigar myself, I never did find out what kind he was smoking.
I met the Captain (Daryl Dragon) and Toni Tennille at the airport in Los Angeles as well. In this case, I did get them all the way down to the hall just outside of the baggage area before taking the picture. It was a matter of respect for their privacy while still being kind to their fans.
On the way down to the baggage area I did mention to Toni and Daryl that my high school senior class used their song, “Love Will Keep Us Together” as song of the senior class. I told them even though I know they didn’t write it, it turned out much better than if Neil Sedaka released it originally (Neil wrote the song). I’m sure that’s what brought such a big smile to her face. They may remember the incident, they may not. But I did capture it quickly back then.
Sadly, this has to go in my list of celebrities as one of the more horrible experiences ever. However, after looking on the Internet for a photo, I did find an explanation of why it was so, and I’ll explain later.
Brian Keith came through the airport ticketing area and was late for a flight. They weren’t holding the plane for him. I’ve seen the airline do that for others. I know it’s bad to speak ill of the dead, but I have to say what I saw, no disrespect intended. He was so bad, that had I had a weapon, based on his behavior, I probably would have shot him.
He was to say the least, irate. Angry, furious, basically out of control, because he was late. When I offered my assistance to get him through the crowded airport, he not only declined, he shoved me away. After composing myself, I got on the radio and called ahead to the gate to let them know what happened and where he was headed. I guess he made it there ok, because I never heard back.
As for the explanation of his behavior, it seems as though he was bon in a very tough part of New Jersey in Byonne. I don’t mean to give Bayonne a bad reputation, because I was raised in NJ myself. I just know that if the same streets that raised the likes of the Bayonne Bleeder Chuck Wepner, they certainly can turn Brian Keith into an angry old cuss. To add to that, I did remember seeing him on a TV interview saying that he had just been on the set of a made for TV movie (which may have turned out to be an episode of Hardcastle and McCormick)that featured him playing the character of a man enraged and dealing with alcholism after the death of his daughter. My guess after hearing that is Brian Keith was simply method acting, simply becoming the character in his real life in preperation for the role. The only bad part about that part of the explanation is that I never did see the episode of the TV movie, or see that episode of the show to see if it were true. Then again, he could have just been an angry old cuss.