In my travels I’ve had a brush or two with famous people. Some really famous, some not so much. I remember standing in line at the airport in London with my parents. My mom turned around, eyes popping, pointing and gesturing to the man in front of her. She mouthed silently: “That’s Cary Grant!” The film legend was standing in line just like normal people, dressed much like my dad in a businessman’s uniform: gray slacks, white shirt, navy blazer. I bet he put his pants on one leg at a time, too.
We were staying in a hotel in Baton Rouge on home leave one year, and Michael Jackson’s entourage occupied the entire floor beneath us. There was a knock on our door, while my mother was changing into her nightgown. My dad opened up and found a very large security man who was investigating the floor, making sure that we were not threat to the King of Pop. One look at my mom in her granny nightdress assured him we were safe. We never saw Michael himself, but just knowing he was there was quite a thrill.
My sister once got on an elevator in Tokyo with The Lettermen. Yes, I see your blank stare: they were a pretty big pop group in the 1960s, enough to make a teenage girl riding in an elevator with them pretty darn excited. They performed great hits like “Sweet September” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.” I know, sounds like one of those cheesy Time-Life collections sold in the middle of the night on QVC. But I know there are people out there who have heard of them. Okay … moving on …
In Manila, we had a driver who was lucky enough to chauffeur around in our 1972 Buick LeSabre, the land yacht of the 70s. Most of the cars in Manila were tiny little Toyotas or Datsuns (yes, that is what they were called before Nissan), so that tank really stood out. On the way to pick me up from school one day, our poor driver got into a fender bender with the driver of BongBong Marcos. BongBong was the son of President Ferdinand Marcos. BongBong is now a Senator in the Filipino legislature.
One of my favorite movies is called “Bridge to the Sun”. The film was based on a book by Gwen Harold Terasaki. Gwen, a southern belle from Tennessee, met and in 1931 married a Japanese diplomat named Hidenari “Terry” Terasaki. When World War II broke out, Terri, Gwen and their daughter Mariko were sent to Japan. The story of the beautiful blonde American living in wartime Japan was gripping, and I have read it over and over. The movie starred Carroll Baker, and the little girl who played their daughter was a friend of my sister’s at the American School in Japan. (She is the one who tricked my sister into ordering “two hot breasts” from room service!)
My other sister, Lisa, had a friend at ASIJ named Linda Purl. Some of you may recognize her as the TV star who played Andy Griffith’s daughter on “Matlock”. I’ve spotted her in several made-for-TV movies, and I believe she was on “Happy Days,” playing the Fonz’s girlfriend. Her parents were very involved with the arts in Tokyo. The cast of the movie “Oliver” arrived for a publicity tour in Japan, and Linda Purl invited Lisa to come to a party to meet the teen heartthrob star, Mark Lester. I was furiously jealous and was dying to tag along, but as usual, I was the little sister left behind.
I’m sure none of these experiences is particularly earth shattering, but they are my experiences. How about you? Any brushes with fame in your globe-trotting lives?