Imagine all the people

Howard Cosell, Jerry Lee Lewis, David Crosby, Kate Millett, Timothy Leary, Geraldo Rivera and others recall their encounters with John Lennon, who died 25 years ago today.

Published December 8, 2005 12:00PM (EST)

Cynthia Powell Lennon, wife of J.L.
Wicked, disrespectful wit

As far as I can remember Lettering [at Liverpool Art College] took place twice a week and about a dozen of us had opted for it through choice, but there was one amongst us who didn't seem to fit into our neat little band of letterers, his name was John Winston Lennon.

The reason he didn't seem to fit was that he had had no choice to which course he took ...nobody wanted him. John's particular talents hadn't gone unnoticed but they weren't his artistic talents. They were his talents for having fellow students fall about with shocked, uncontrollable laughter at his wicked, disrespectful wit. His ability to disrupt a lecture had to be seen to be believed and John's appearance was even worse than his humour. I think he was the last stronghold of the Teddy Boys -- totally aggressive and anti-establishment. My first impression of John, as he slouched reluctantly into the lettering class for the first time, was one of apprehension. I felt that I had nothing in common with this individual and as far as I was concerned I never would. In fact he frightened me to death. The only thing that John and I had in common was that we were both blind as bats without our glasses...

The John Lennon I had so readily avoided on first meeting was beginning to get under my skin, he was becoming a source of fascination to me. A larger than life character, a rebel. Hilariously funny in a dry, sick way, but totally fascinating. John's drawings and cartoons were repulsively funny. I found myself more and more wanting to find out what made him tick. This of course was all against my better judgement, but I was unable to do anything about it. (1957)

From "A Twist of Lennon," by Cynthia Lennon (Star/W.H. Allen & Co., 1978)

Jerry Lee Lewis, rock musician
Smooth, brainy kid

It's true John Lennon fell down and kissed my feet at the Roxy. He was very big then. He said something like "I want to thank you for making it possible for me and the boys to be rock 'n' roll stars", which was the ultimate compliment. You couldn't beat that...

I knew John and the boys way back even before Ringo was their drummer ... John was such a smooth, brainy kid, always way ahead of people, and Ringo backed up those guys so perfect on drums. I told Cecil [Harrelson], "They're gonna be the biggest thing you ever seen." They knocked Elvis and Jerry Lee right outta the saddle. (London, 1963)

From "Killer!," by Jerry Lee Lewis with Charles White (Century, 1995)

Ronnie Spector, singer
Heavy brain person

our [the Ronettes'] first British tour in January of 1964...

to a party where we met the Beatles...

"You were great," John Lennon told me. "Just fuckin' great."...

Then somebody put on some records, and the Beatles asked us to teach them all the latest American dances. So we showed them the Pony, the Jerk, and the Nitty-Gritty. Every time we'd start to dance, John would come over and say, "I don't know if I've got this one yet, Ronnie. I may need some extra instruction." It didn't take me long to figure out that he liked me...

John grabbed my arm and said, "C'mon! Let's go explorin'!" Before I knew what was happening, John dragged me upstairs to this long hallway where the bedrooms were. Then he started walking down the hall, jiggling all the door handles, hoping to find an extra room.

I felt pretty close to John right then, like he understood all the things I wanted to know. I knew he was one of those heavy brain people, just like Phil [record producer and boyfriend Spector]. And I could also tell John liked me for more than just my voice. When he leaned over and started kissing me, I have to admit he made me forget about Phil for a few seconds. But just a few.

We kissed for a couple of minutes on that window seat. And for me, that was a pretty big deal. I know it might seem hard to believe now, but I hadn't done much more than kiss a guy on the lips up until then, and that included Phil. Romance was everything, and sex was still a mystery. (London)

From "Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts and Madness or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette," by Ronnie Spector with Vince Waldron (Harmony Books, 1990)

Pamela Des Barres, groupie
The look on his face

We had to get past the Beatle Barricade and onto someone's personal property so we could prowl the Bel Air [Calif.] hills and FIND THE BEATLES!!!...

On the way down the hill, a limousine passed by, and I saw John Lennon for an instant. He was wearing his John Lennon cap and he looked right at me. If I close my eyes this minute, I can still see the look he had on his face; it was full of sorrow and contempt. The other girls were pooling tears in their eyes and didn't notice, but that look on John Lennon's face stopped my heart and I never said a word...

The look on John's face made me grow up a little, and I worked hard in school and decided to get a part-time job. (1964)

From "I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie," by Pamela Des Barres (Beech Tree Books/William Morrow, 1987)

David Crosby, rock musician
Wonderful cynic

By the time "Abbey Road" went down, I was friends with them [the Beatles]. On the first British tour [of the Byrds] they just came around and were very kind to us. At one point we were playing in some shitty little club that was packed; I looked out and there was John Lennon...

I had an enormous amount of respect for John Lennon and I think he liked me -- at least he told other people that he was my friend. I loved him and thought he was a totally fantastic man. He had the quickest mind that you could ever ask for, fast and funny and blessed with such a dry wit it was acerbic. Lennon's approach was dry, cutting, even bittersweet and he saw stuff in a way I just loved. He was a wonderful cynic and skeptic in the best sense of those words... (London, mid-1960s)

From "Long Time Gone: The Autobiography of David Crosby," by David Crosby with Carl Gottlieb (Doubleday, 1988)

Eric Burdon, rock musician

Sex orgies were plentiful and if for no more than childish curiosity, I wanted to find out, I wanted to know...

Within the Mayfair flat, the light from the grainy 16mm projector grinding away gave the room a strobic light effect. The film was a total bore, it looked like it had been shot in the thirties. The women were ugly and everyone was masked ... The blonde next to me on the armchair had beautiful legs. My hand went out and grabbed her round the ankle. I pulled myself across the floor and slid my hand up her legs. She looked down at me, smiled and moaned, then she pushed my hands away and cracked up laughing. "Oh no," she said, pushing me away, "I've got the biggest one in the room." In her hands was a large rubber object. She got up and walked away. I lay back down on the floor. Another head crossed the projector, casting a giant shadow on the wall. A familiar face. Click. I knew him. "Hey, how ya doing, Johnny boy?" The bright white illuminated face of an unshaven John Lennon in a pin-striped suit ducked underneath the beam of light, across the room, out of the door behind the blonde. (London, mid-1960s)

From "I Used To Be An Animal but I'm All Right Now," by Eric Burdon (Faber and Faber, 1986)

John Phillips, rock musician
Writing on Eskatrol Dolly's, the original private London disco for rock stars. Mick [Jagger] and Chrissie [Shrimpton] introduced us around. We ended up sitting at a table with John Lennon. It was late and we had just arrived. We told him we wanted to get high and asked him if he could help us score some grass. He said he'd have to make a call to a friend who was in a recording studio and planning to come by anyway. He made the call. Twenty minutes later, Paul McCartney walked in with a small bag of grass.

Lennon asked Denny [Doherty], "Hey, man, have you boys ever heard of a drug called Eskatrol? You can't get it 'ere. It's like speed."

"How many do you need?" he answered.

Lennon's face lit up. "Well, all right," he said. "An American friend turned us on to it a couple of years ago. We been writin' all our songs on it for years." (London, 1966)

From "Papa John: A Music Legend's Shattering Journey Through Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll," by John Phillips (Dolphin Books/Doubleday, 1986)

Mia Farrow, actor
Mystical plane

...the Beatles too came to Maharishi's bungalow in the afternoons.

"Whenever I meditate," John said, in his irresistible Liverpool accent, "there's a big brass band in me head."

"Write it down, write it down," recommended Maharishi.

I think of John, so off-center and quick, peering out from behind his glasses; he made me laugh, which I hadn't done in a while. And at evening assembly he used to turn his chair completely around, and look at everyone. John seemed to see everything on a mystical plane, and he thought of Maharishi as a kind of wizard. (New Delhi, 1968)

From "What Falls Away: A Memoir," by Mia Farrow (Doubleday, 1997)

Mick Fleetwood, rock musician
Mutual misery the Maharishi's ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas.

...I was meditating almost all the time, and getting quite hot, like I had a fever. It turned out to be dysentery, but the local doctor diagnosed tonsillitis. I sat with John Lennon a lot, since he didn't feel well either from terrible jet lag and insomnia. He would stay up late, unable to sleep, and write the songs that appeared later on the Beatles' "White Album." When I was at my lowest, he made a drawing of a turbaned Sikh genie holding a big snake and intoning, "By the power within, and the power without, I cast your tonsil lighthouse out!"...

Sometimes, late at night, I can still hear John singing those sad songs he wrote during those evenings, like "I'm So Tired..." (Nepal, 1968)

From "Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac," by Mick Fleetwood with Stephen Davis (William Morrow, 1990)

Michael Caine, actor
Natural loner

...a reception given by the British Consul in the ballroom at the Carlton. All the stars had to line up and shake hands with the people that the Consul had invited. I was positioned next to John Lennon. It very quickly became obvious to us that the guests were mainly old British expats who knew the Consul or somebody and had just come for the afternoon out. A lot of them knew nothing about films, the [Cannes] Festival and even less about England, where they had not lived for years, so John and I changed our names to see if anybody would react. He introduced himself as Joe Lennon and I used my real name of Maurice Micklewhite...

I met up with John again at one of the big parties that were thrown every night of the Festival. This one took place in a great mansion overlooking the sea. Of all the Beatles, John seemed to me to be the most natural loner. An early example of this was his book "In His Own Write." Even then, in the mid-sixties, it struck me as his first attempt at going alone. At that time he was very tough and abrasive, such a contrast to his later spirituality. At one point in the party I wanted to go to the lavatory and was trying each door-handle in turn, only to find them all occupied. I was getting desperate when John came rushing up, also dying to go. I warned him that all the loos were engaged. "Let's find one upstairs," he said, and we both went charging around the bedroom of the hostess trying to locate the right door. We opened every cupboard on the landing before I finally found the bathroom door behind the hostess's bed. I rushed in, relieved myself and came quickly out to let John have his turn, only to find him peeing out of the bedroom window.

"I couldn't wait," he explained, busy directing his stream through a narrow opening. (late 1960s)

From "What's It All About? An Autobiography," by Michael Caine (Turtle Bay Books/Random House, 1992)

Timothy Leary, psychologist and LSD guru
Give peace a chance

...a phone call came from John Lennon and Yoko Ono ... John and Yoko wanted us to join them in Montreal, where they were conducting a Bed-In. They sent acorns to presidents and dictators around the world as a symbol of the movement for peace. John wanted us to help them cut a record called "Give Peace a Chance."

Platoons of guards patrolled the Lennon corridor of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. John and Yoko, sprawled on a king-size bed, waved happily and blew us kisses as we came into the room. Flanked by bald-headed orange-garbed monks they were being interviewed by a Montreal reporter.

"Where do you get your strength?" asked the journalist.

"From Hare Krishna," said John.

"That's where we get it from, you know," said Yoko earnestly. "We're not denying it." (1969)

From "Flashbacks: An Autobiography," by Timothy Leary (J.P. Tarcher, 1983)

Richie Havens, folk-rock singer
Whimsy in his eyes

...the Salvation Club on 4th Street had Jimi Hendrix and the Chambers Brothers playing...

I was just sitting there when three men came out of the dark around the glass toward me. I couldn't believe my eyes when I recognized two of them. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were heading right toward my table. They sat down right across from me...

I was totally speechless...

So here I was, sitting on one side of this table with John Lennon and Paul McCartney facing me, telling me over and over how much they loved what I did with "Eleanor Rigby" while my tongue was completely tied to my tonsils...

All I could do was sit there silently, taking in the experience as a tongue-tied fan, yet, I did see their warmth and intelligence and even the whimsy in John Lennon's eyes. We saw each other many times in his final months. I believe he had a strong premonition that something was going to happen to him. I know I did. (New York, 1969)

From "they can't hide us anymore," by Richie Havens with Steve Davidowitz (Avon Books, 1999)

Kate Millett, feminist and author
No chicken

Royalty, legend has entered the room [at the New York party] and taken a seat on the davenport. All eyes inspected them. I sit next to John Lennon dying to whisper wow I'm glad to meet you I think your music is great it's wonderful how you care about peace. Instead I offer him some chicken trying to be cool and nonchalant, to defend him from the eyes that devour them. In my smaller way I know how it feels. He doesn't want chicken. Neither does she. We are pinned to the couch under a roomful of eyes. It is impossible to talk to each other, so I make pathetic little jokes in Japanese. Yoko explains them to John, her voice shaky like a child reciting a lesson. (late 1960s)

From "Flying," by Kate Millett (Simon & Schuster, 1990)

Joan Collins, actor
Lugubrious face

I started a budding relationship with Ronald Kass. Ron was head of Apple Records and the music side of the Beatles' company, Apple Corp...

The headquarters of the Beatles' empire at Number 3 Savile Row was in the heart of the conservative part of the West End...

I visited Ron one day in his elegant ground-floor office, with its finely carved paneling and ceilings, expensive paintings and extravagant all-white furniture. We had tea out of Limogues cups, accompanied by cucumber sandwiches...

A cheery head popped around the door in a black-leather flat cap. "Hi, folks. Time for tea?" He beamed. "I smell cucumber sarnies."

"Oh, hi, John. Have you met Joan?"

"Miss Collins." John Lennon kissed my hand, eyes sparkling mischievously. "What an honour."

I shook hands with the most famous and most brilliant of the quartet. Tall and pale, he had a lugubrious face that looked either miserable or about to burst into giggles. He wore tight black pants, a flowing white shirt, and from around his neck a few peace symbols and ankhs caught the light.

"I used to love seeing your films when I was a little boy," he said teasingly.

"Thanks." I laughed. "I guess your mama let you see X-rated films."

"Ooh, those pin-up pics of yours used to make me go all funny when I saw them in Picturegoer. Very nice."

He plonked himself on the sofa and spread half the jar of caviar on to a digestive biscuit. I poured him some tea. "Three sugars, please." He stuck out his long legs and put his feet on the glass coffee table. (London, late 1960s)

From "Second Act," by Joan Collins (St. Martin's Press, 1996)

William Kunstler, lawyer
Pot problems

I had a fleeting relationship with John Lennon and Yoko Ono when they lived near me on Bank Street in Greenwich Village. I occasionally went to their apartment, shared a pizza, and talked about John's legal problems -- he had been convicted of marijuana possession in England and so was threatened with deportation by the United States -- the civil rights movement, and politics in general. (New York, early 1970s)

From "My Life as a Radical Lawyer," by William M. Kunstler with Sheila Isenberg (Birch Lane Press/Carol Publishing, 1994)

Chuck Berry, rock musician
Sixteen years, sixteen inches

In 1971, the great John Lennon mentioned once that I was his hero. This was one of the most stimulating statements that has ever been bestowed upon me. On my forty-fifth birthday, the only time we stood side by side performing together the music we both loved so well, though sixteen years apart in age, we stood sixteen inches apart sharing the lyrics of Johnny B. Goode." I believe somehow in heaven, he now reviews those moments with Yoko and Chuck in Philadelphia doing the Mike Douglas show. Of yes! He was the hero of the whole show in Toronto with Yoko at Varsity Stadium when he raised his hand, holding it up more than sixty seconds under the cry of well over sixty thousand fans in plea for cessation of applause so he could begin his performance.

From "The Autobiography," by Chuck Berry (Harmony Books, 1987)

Geraldo Rivera, broadcast journalist

They summoned me to their basement apartment on Bank Street in the Village. It was smack in the middle of their give-peace-a-chance phase. The apartment was a duplex occupying the ground floor and basement of a nice old brownstone. They were both in bed the first time we met. I remember being surprised by this, though I might have expected it.

I rang their doorbell at the agreed-upon time and was met by a big, burly guy who led me into another room where I was met by a less-big burly guy, who led me into another room where I was met by a woman, who wasn't big or burly at all ... I had to go through three or four layers of people, and through three or four rooms, before I was led into the master bedroom.

And there he was. John Lennon. The only bigger kick would have been meeting Elvis Presley on such intimate terms, although by that time Elvis was gaining weight and selling out in Las Vegas. John Lennon was it for me. He was rebel, poet, artist, feminist, working-class hero, and antiwar advocate. He wore fairly thick, rimless glasses, and pajamas. His hair was cut short, and he was clean-shaven; the long, flowing hair and bushy beard of the year before was gone, casualties of the mounting immigration problems John would face over the next few years. (New York, 1971)

From "Exposing Myself," by Geraldo Rivera with Daniel Paisner (Bantam, 1991)

Jerry Rubin, Yippie and counterculture impresario
Politically aware

In 1971, I saw a photograph in the New York Daily News of John Lennon and Yoko Ono arriving in New York. I called them, we met one afternoon in Washington Square Park and then began hanging out together during the next few months.

I felt that Yippie was Beatles' music put to politics, and John was the most politically aware of the Beatles. In his "Working Class Hero" album, John was singing to my soul. I found him to be a good friend, honest, loving and brilliant...

Immediately, the three of us began fantasizing. We would launch a musical-political caravan, tour the United States, raise money to feed the poor and free prisoners from jail. The shows would combine music and fun with political education and consciousness-raising, and all the money would go to the people!

I came often to visit them at their bed. In those days John and Yoko slept, ate, wrote, and conducted business from an enormous king-size bed in their apartment in the West Village.

From "Growing (Up) at 37," by Jerry Rubin (M. Evans and Company, 1976)

Wolfman Jack, disc jockey
Complicated circuits

Another frequent visitor [to radio station KDAY] was this weird English guy named John Lennon.

He's been gone for years now, but Lennon remains one of the most intense, amazing cats I've ever met. I thought I had pressure from the banks and all -- man, he had the whole Federal Bureau of Investigation breathing down his neck.

John liked to have fun, but he also was the kind of guy who lived a whole lot of the time entirely inside the complicated circuits of his own mind. Or, as he once expressed it to me, To boogie or not to boogie, that is the Christian."

He actually talked like that.

We had a natural rapport because John wanted to get close to everything basic and elemental in black American music, to blend it with his own rock 'n' roll vision. (Los Angeles, early 1970s)

From "Have Mercy! : Confessions of the Original Rock 'n' Roll Animal," by Wolfman Jack with Byron Laursen (Warner Books, 1995)

Meat Loaf, musician and actor

One time I had a meeting in Manhattan and I was early. There was a little coffee shop attached to the building, so I went in and I sat down at the counter. There was an empty stool next to me and someone sitting on the next stool. I order a coffee. There's a little sugar thing right in front of me, but I want Sweet'n Low. I glance over and see Sweet'n Low packets in front of the guy on the other stool. I didn't even look at him, I just said, "Excuse me, can you hand me the Sweet'n Low?" He answers, "Yeah, sure, mate," and he's got an English accent. Sounds familiar. I open the packet and I take a quick look and it's John Lennon. Thousands and thousands of questions are in my head. We're both Libras, close to the same birthday -- I even used to dream about John Lennon.

I used to have dreams of going to Lennon's office, and of being signed to Apple Records by him. We would sit and talk about music. He would be behind a desk wearing a white suit. After he died I kept having the same dream, only I could never see his face.

Anyway, I sat next to Lennon in that coffee shop for fifteen minutes and never got up the nerve to speak. I wanted to tell him I'd had the dream; I wanted to say, "I've always dreamed about coming to your office, and you were wearing white"...

I get starstruck around people, what can I tell you? (early 1970s)

from "To Hell and Back: An Autobiography," by Meat Loaf with David Dalton (Regan Books, 1999)

Paul Krassner, satirist and publisher
No saints

Yoko Ono and John Lennon spent a weekend at my house in Watsonville [Ca.]. They loved being so close to the ocean. In the afternoon I asked them to smoke their cigarettes outside, but in the evening we smoked a combination of marijuana and opium, sitting in front of the fireplace, sipping tea and munching cookies. We talked about Mae Brussell's theory that the deaths of musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison had actually been political assassinations because they were role models on the crest of the youth rebellion. "No, no," Lennon argued, "they were already headed in a self-destructive direction." A few months later, he would remind me of that conversation and add, "Listen, if anything happens to Yoko and me, it was not an accident." For now, though, we were simply stoned in Watsonville, discussing conspiracy, safe at my oasis in a desert of paranoia. At one point, I referred to Mae Brussell as a saint. "She's not a saint," Lennon said. "You're not a saint. I'm not a saint. Yoko's not a saint. Nobody's a saint." (early 1970s)

From "Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counter-culture," by Paul Krassner (Simon & Schuster, 1993)

Bebe Buell, model, groupie and rock musician
Birthday surprise twenty-first birthday...

After dinner, I was happy on sake, and Mick [Jagger] told me we were going to visit a friend. We hopped a cab to an apartment building on Sutton Place, an exclusive neighbourhood in the East Fifties, famous for housing, among other, Greta Garbo. When we got inside the building, the River House, which overlooks the East River, there was a man standing at the foot of the stairs, and he snapped a Polaroid of us. It wasn't until he took the camera away from his face and said in an unmistakable Liverpudlian accent, "How are you mate? This must be the birthday girl" that I knew I was meeting John Lennon. Mick is always portrayed as the flamboyant, selfish womanizer, the perpetual devil, but he really is a sweet, caring man. As I followed him into the apartment John was sharing with Mai Pang, I was so moved, I was concentrating on not bursting into tears.

John was in his "lost eighteen months" period, and he seemed to be in great shape. He sang "Happy Birthday" to me on an acoustic guitar, followed by a bunch of other songs. It seemed to be that John was trying to escape from reality. I thought he was trying to have as much fun as he possibly could. (New York, 1974)

From "Rebel Heart: An American Rock 'n' Roll Journey," by Bebe Buell with Victor Bockris (St. Martin's Press, 2001)

Patricia Seaton Lawford, wife of actor Peter Lawford
Rude behavior

John Lennon and Peter were quite friendly with each other ... Peter was enamored of the Beatles, who were still together, and he often hung around with Ringo Starr.

Lennon, the truly talented Beatle, was also rather immature. At one point, when he had temporarily broken up with Yoko Ono, whom he eventually married, he, his date, Peter, Tom Smothers of the Smothers Brothers comedy act, and a few others went to the Troubador. It was a club where Tom and Dick Smothers were having a reunion show. The brothers were frequently breaking up, then getting their act back together, and that night they were having a big show.

John was very drunk and very stoned that night after Tom left the group to go onstage. He looked at the waitress, who was wearing a uniform that included a Dixie cup-type of hat and short skirt, and said, "What's that you've got on your head, a Tampax?" There were other comments as well, all made in a loud voice while Tom and Dick were trying to perform. His actions were rude and disruptive, something that Peter could not tolerate. Peter was a gentleman when it came to other performers, a man they considered a good audience. He would delight in their success during an act, laugh at their jokes, and show them respect even when they were bad. The idea that Lennon would act so rudely appalled him. (Los Angeles, 1974)

From "The Peter Lawford Story: Life With the Kennedys, Monroe and the Rat Pack," by Patricia Seaton Lawford with Ted Schwarz (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1988)

Howard Cosell, sportscaster
Let them have memories

I eventually decided ... I'd try to reunite the Beatles!

[WABC program director Rick] Sklar and I joined producer Rupert Hitzig at the "21" Club, and we waited for Lennon. He showed up wearing a black velvet jacket with a large diamond-studded pin that spelled "Elvis."

Sklar handled the introductions, and we ordered drinks. Lennon had no idea what I was really up to. He thought I simply wanted to meet him ... First we talked about 'Monday Night Football.' Then I brought up my variety show and said, "John, I want you guys on my show."

"What do you mean 'you guys'?" Lennon said.

You, George, Paul, and Ringo."

After a long pause, Lennon said, "I don't know." He shook his head. "After what's gone down, I don't know. I thought you wanted me"...

Lennon mulled it over. He was doubtful. "Sure, we've thought about getting together again," he said. "But we'll probably never do it. What would the people expect? We might leave them disappointed. It's better to let them have their memories, have them remember us as we were"...

When Lennon got up to leave, he shook my hand and said he'd love to visit with me in the booth at half time of a "Monday Night Football" telecast. As for the variety show and reuniting the Beatles, that was out of the question. (New York, 1975)

From "I Never Played the Game," by Howard Cosell with Peter Bonventre (William Morrow, 1985)

Frank Gifford, football player and commentator
With Ronald Reagan!

"MNF" ["Monday Night Football"] could ... bring together the most unlikely people. The weirdest scene I ever witnessed in the booth happened in 1976. The night before a game in Los Angeles, I ran into John Lennon at a cocktail party promoting the release of a Beatles collection. On impulse, I invited him on the show. He liked the idea but warned me he knew nothing about football. Meanwhile, I'd forgotten we had arranged for Ronald Reagan to come on the same show. Now it was just before halftime. I turned around, and there was Ronald Reagan with his arm around Lennon, explaining what was going on down on the field. And John looked absolutely enthralled. Here were two of the most political, ideological, and cultural opposites on the entire planet in the Monday-night booth -- acting exactly like father and son!

From "The Whole Ten Yards," by Frank Gifford with Harry Waters (Random House, 1993)

By Dana Cook

Dana Cook is a Toronto freelance editor and literary ambulance chaser. His collage portraits of Marlon Brando, Johnny Carson, Saul Bellow and Hunter S. Thompson have appeared previously in Salon.


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