Rubbing off a little stardust

What's your celebrity encounter story? Members of Salon's Table Talk community share theirs.

Published April 17, 2009 3:18PM (EDT)


Celebrity Encounters 

Monsieur Chariot - 12:58 pm Pacific Time - Apr 12, 2009 - #432 of 461

Saw Faye Dunaway at my dry cleaner's recently. She, like all movie stars, is much tinier than you would imagine from watching her films. Tiny, very slender, expertly applied maquillage, very well-dressed, artificial, like a Beverly Hills matron, all in whites and creams, with a kind of cloche on her head, an expensive caramel bag and some tasteful gold jewelry. She seemed impatient, cold, unfriendly to the staff. A constricted quality. Took her plastic-bagged clothes and whisked out, looking like she'd just as soon firebomb the place. I've heard absolutely terrible things about her here in LA, but this was the first time I actually saw her in person. Did not get a good vibe, I can tell you that.

Seeing film stars in real life is very illuminating. I'm not talking about when they're on some kind of publicity tour, or signing books or in some professional situation, gladhanding the fans and smiling warmly at the camera. I just mean in the supermarket or dry cleaner, the parking lot or nail salon. On film, they are very open and vulnerable and 'giving' to the audience via the camera. When you see them going about their business in the real world, they seem, probably by contrast, very closed, guarded, opaque, uninterested, dismissive of the gawping public. It's disconcerting, akin to running into an old friend who has mysteriously decided to ignore you.

It leaves me impressed with stars who are forever granting autographs and acknowledging their fans while dining in restaurants and the like. It can't be easy. The so-called 'adoring' public has got to be like making one's way through a snake pit at an insane asylum. You never know what's coming at you. In a crush of strangers, who is going to thank you for your performance in Network and who is going to try to poke out your eyeballs with their keys? Must make the public sphere seem very dicey.

Elmo Beachwin - 02:23 pm Pacific Time - Apr 13, 2009 - #436 of 461

A now-mostly-forgotten member of Mlle. Dunaway's cohort, Sally Kellerman, spent several minutes playing "peek-a-boo" with a friend's baby while said friend was visiting the Met.

Li - 04:18 pm Pacific Time - Apr 13, 2009 - #437 of 461

In contrast, I once walked into a coffee shop in New York and came eye-to-glaring-eye with John McEnroe. I was embarrassed because I try very hard not to gawk at celebrities, so I ducked my head and found a table. I then watched as McEnroe continued to sit right next to the door and glare at everyone who walked in. It was so bizarre--simultaneously begging for attention while displaying utter contempt to anyone who gave it to him.

Kalinakka - 11:10 am Pacific Time - Apr 14, 2009 - #442 of 461

I have friends who live in the same neighborhood in Paris as Catherine Deneuve. They are used to seeing her around the quartier. They tell me she's always very elegantly but simply dressed, skirts and sweater sets (but very GOOD sweaters) -- also flat shoes -- and GLASSES! -- but almost certainly Dior flats -- and if you didn't know who she was she would look like any other bon chic bon genre upper class matron. People in the neighborhood, of course, know who she is but are used to her and don't stare. My friends have seen her in line for movies and for fresh bread with the rest of the customers at the one bakery that stays open on weekends, and various ordinary errands.

Monsieur Chariot - 01:29 pm Pacific Time - Apr 15, 2009 - #446 of 461

Several years ago, a friend was visiting Los Angeles from London, and was anxious to see some celebrities. We were sitting outside one of my favorite cafes when a car pulls up in front and I can see Jodie Foster gathering her purse and preparing to emerge. My friend doesn't notice, so I say, under my breath, "that's Jodi Foster!!!" He glances at her and insists it's not her. I insist it is. This argument continues for a few moments.

Piqued by his arrogant refusal to recognize my expertise in the matter, when Ms Foster finally locked her car and arrived at the door to the cafe, I called out, breezily, "Hi Jodie!"She looked quizzically at me and replied, "hi..."?

My bold greeting proved two things at once: I managed to prove to my friend that I knew a celebrity when I saw one, and at the same time proved to Jodie Foster that I was an insufferable boor.

Robert Rubin - 09:17 pm Pacific Time - Apr 16, 2009 - #456 of 461

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a cab halted by traffic in NY's Greenwich Village. A good looking woman walked down the street, who looked like Gwyneth Paltrow. I wasn't quite sure, so I stared. She noticed, and rather than being annoyed, floated along with a Mona Lisa smile of satisfaction at being recognized. It was that which assured me she was the Genuine Gwyneth. Admiration may have been a curse for her, but I suppose we'd all like that sort of admiration.

About ten years ago, I was having dinner at Triplet's, then a popular NY restaurant. Richard Dreyfuss arrived and stood at the bar. It was rather sad, because he came alone, and seemed to expect to be mobbed by admirers. Not a single person approached for almost an hour. He paced up and down with an eager friendly face, inviting contact, with no luck. How short is the life of celebrity.

Once I was having dinner at The Carnegie Deli, a New York theater institution (and the best deli in the world, in case you visit NY), when a waiter called out in a loud voice "Look everyone! It's Henny Youngman, the legendary star of stage and screen!" Youngman himself then handed the waiter a folded bill(!) and sat down with his wife and another couple. Youngman was in his eighties then, and still a practitioner of old school show biz.

I once boarded a small elevator in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, when I was joined by Sigourney Weaver, who stood face to face with me in the confined space for about a minute. You men who know the power of a beautiful woman's face will understand me when I say I was devastated. Not because of celebrity, but because of her extraordinary beauty. Even some 20 years later, the memory is vivid.

In 1963, when I was 13, my mother let me go to the World's Fair in NY by myself (something which few parents would allow today). I was standing in an open area behind an exhibit and next to a stretch limo. The rear window of the limo rolled down, and former President Dwight Eisenhower leaned out, beamed at me, and waved. I suppose he expected me to become excited, wave back, shout ... something. Instead, I just stood there and gawked at him nervously. As the limo pulled away, he continued looking at me with a troubled expression, as if wondering about America's future. Little did he know. 

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