Brushes With Fame

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Wherever I could, I struck up a conversation with these people, but tried to be respectful by not asking for an autograph or picture.

              Click thumbnail pictures below to enlarge to full size....

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1960's        Port Washington, NY      Perry Como

One day while at St. Peter's Church, at the age of 5 or 6, I began tugging on my father's coat, to ask him something.  Being conscious of respectful silence during the mass, my father tried his best to quiet me, but I insisted. He finally relented and asked what I wanted. I said "Isn't that Perry Como?" To his astonishment, there he was, singing along with the congregation.  We were not yet aware that he lived in nearby Sands Point.  Not too long after that, on a Sunday after church, my father stopped at Jack's Stationery on Main Street to get the Sunday Paper.  We saw a big black Cadillac limo nearby, and there was Perry Como about to get in. My father, probably wanting to do it himself, prompted me to call out to him.  I still recall shouting "Hi Mr. Como!", to which he turned, smiled and waved.   That is my earliest recollection of meeting someone famous. 

 

1973            Photo shop on Main Street near the LIRR - circa 1973 -            Julius "Dr. J" Erving   

Julius 'Dr. J' Erving - Autograph from Photo shop on Main St - circa 1973.jpg (2388734 bytes)

I had heard that Dr. J was signing photo's at a local promotion on Main Street.  I can still recall waiting on a line of kids like me, who wanted nothing more than to meet a sports figure.  Back then, an autograph was something that you'd treasure as a keepsake and to show off to your friends.  No one ever even thought of what monetary value it was or could become.  

I recall when my turn came - Dr. J. smiled, and asked my name as I sat next to him on a stool.  I told him my name was Glenn, and he repeated it back - while pausing to take the time to look at me with a sincere desire to get my name on the photo right.   Unforgettable.

 
1979            183 Madison Avenue, NY, NY            Robin Williams       

I worked for a few summers during college running the freight (and occasionally the passenger) elevator in an office building on the corner of 34th Street and Madison Avenue, @ 40 East 34th Street.  The freight entrance and elevator was @ 31 East 33rd Street.  It was great job for me - it paid well, and I would explore Manhattan on my lunch hour and breaks.  My job was to fill in for the men that were taking vacations.  The freight elevator and the one passenger elevator in front were the old-fashioned handle and gate type.  I got to be pretty good at it, watching the bricks fly by through the gate as it was heading down full speed, able to time when to release the handle or open the gate for a perfect, level  stop.   

One day I was working the front passenger elevator, which was reserved for special tenants and guests to provide personalized service with an "operator".  One of the upper floors buzzed in on the mechanical board that showed the floor numbers.  I headed up and opened the gate and door, and a group of about 5 people entered.  I noticed the man who ended up standing next to me had a crew cut of reddish hair, and very weird red shoes.  The ride down was quiet, and  I opened the gate and door at the lobby level, where they all exited and said thank you.  As they headed toward the front door, one person in the group called out to the guy "Hey Robin.....".  He turned around, and that is when I recognized that it was Robin Williams.  I read in the newspaper the next day that he was in the process of filming Popeye, so that explained the short red hair.  

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1982            Paul D. Schreiber High School Graduation, Port Washington NY.            Rocky Graziano       

I was at the graduation ceremony, when someone noticed Rocky Graziano standing in the crowd. He was very unassuming, standing alone blending in with the crowd.  I had heard that he had a niece that was in the graduating class.  I went over and quietly stood next to him, and asked him politely if he wouldn't mind signing a Graduation Program for a friend.  He smiled while quietly signing it, and I said "you have a lot of fans up there", meaning in the bleachers.  He looked at me with a smile and part "tough guy" look,  shook my hand, patted me on the shoulder and said "Alright kid" or something like that.  He was very sincere and gracious, and it was a thrill to meet a true legend.

1982 - Rocky Graziano @ Schreiber Graduation - has pgm under arm.jpg (222885 bytes) 1982 - Rocky Graziano @ Schreiber Graduation.jpg (8093320 bytes)  1982 - Rocky Graziano @ Schroeber Graduation - cropped.jpg (205909 bytes)   You can see how Rocky blends in with the crowd, but some people clearly recognize him....

 1982 - Rocky Graziano @ Schreiber Graduation - Glenn McDonald in blue t-shirt.jpg (6751148 bytes)   1982 - Rocky Graziano @ Schreiber Graduation - Glenn McDonald gets autograph.jpg (97502 bytes)  I make my move, asking him if he wouldn't mind signing a program. He smiled and readily agreed. 

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1988            London - New York (Pan Am)            Andy Rooney, Salt-N-Pepa                

I was sitting in coach, towards the back, when I noticed people talking to a few folks traveling in a group.  I finally asked one of the girls “Who are you?”  She asked me if I ever heard of the group Salt-N-Pepa, which of course I did.  They were very nice, and seemed to enjoy talking with everyone.

During the flight back from London, I noticed a guy who looked like Andy Rooney standing towards the front of coach, chatting with people.  After we landed and were on the way to pick up luggage, I stopped and asked him “Are you Andy Rooney?”  He chuckled and said “no”, obviously not wanting to get involved in a conversation while retrieving his luggage.  I said “ok”, and turned away.  Smooth!

August, 1992        Los Angeles - NY LaGuardia

Gary Dell'Abate (Boy Gary), Stuttering John, Jackie the Joke Man & Fred Norris (the Howard Stern Show)        

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I was in LA to see a client, and I heard on the radio that Howard Stern and gang were in town for their “Funeral for Mark and Brian”, or their way of saying that their syndicated radio show was #1.  I was able to see part of the rally next door to Columbia Records in Hollywood.  That afternoon, I was getting ready to board my flight back to NY and I noticed the Howard Stern crew arriving at the gate at the last minute.  I spoke with all of them, and they were all tremendously friendly.

February 1993        Baltimore BWI - NY LaGuardia      Frank Perdue

I was sitting in coach, in the second to last row of an MD-80, a fairly uncomfortable plane. Sitting behind me (in the last row) was Perdue.  He got off the plane and got on line for a cab at LaGuardia.  I admired that he flew coach and had no limo waiting for him.  I had to say something so I said “You have some really great products!”.  He smiled and said a polite "thank you".  

June 14, 1993            NY LaGuardia - Atlanta        Rusty Staub

 

1993            NY LaGuardia - Dallas, TX        Beaver Cleaver (Jerry Mathers)  

                I didn’t speak to him, but he was sitting behind me in First Class on the flight. No mistaking that face!

1993            Houston TX        Julia Roberts   

As I was deplaning in Houston, I saw a double seat behind the check-in gate facing the jetway.  I noticed 2 young women sitting there, and one looked very familiar.  I stopped and walked back towards the jetway, pretending to be looking for someone - to turn and get another look at her. Sure enough, I saw it was Julia Roberts.  She caught on to what I was doing, and she broke into a smile and laughed. I said “Sorry – I had to do that” and she laughed again and said that's o.k.  This was about the time she started dating Lyle Lovett who lived near Houston.

1993            Washington D.C.        C. Everett Koop (US Surgeon General)

 

1993            NY LaGuardia - LA          Brian Dennehy

 

1993            Albany - NY LaGuardia       NYC Mayor David Dinkins

I’m coming back from Albany one snowy, windy night, and I notice a group of politicians and police gathering near my gate. After I board the flight back to LaGuardia (on a commuter plane, with about 24 seats) I hear the distinct voice of Mayor David Dinkins.  I was the only “non-politician” on the flight, and everyone was  joking about the bad weather, and that they hoped the de-icing was sufficient.   I knew if the plane went down, my name would be in very small print.

1993        Hartford , CT     Alexander Haig (former Secretary of State)

Haig was just walking through Bradley International Airport with his bag, looking a little befuddled, but o.k..

September 1993        NY LaGuardia (Delta Shuttle)     Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice) & Antonio Fargos (Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch)

As they arrived at the taxi line at the Marine Air terminal for the Delta Shuttle, the cab dispatcher did a double-take when he recognized them.  He saw that the next cab in line was old and beat up, so he waved that cab on and promptly got the next one, which looked new.  Fame has its benefits.

November 1993            Boston Logan Airport        Jean Harris (Murdered Dr. Herman Tarnower, who developed the Scarsdale Diet)

Though a tragedy, I still recall a woman's funny comment when she was interviewed at a gym shortly after his death. She said "I tried that diet - she should  have shot him".

November 1993            Washington National Airport        Steve Dunleavy (reporter)

I rode the Hertz Shuttle bus from the airport, and we chatted briefly about a few things.  Nice guy.

January 1994            Fort Lee , NJ     Carol Martin (CBS News)

Carol was getting lunch at Boston Chicken (before it became Boston Market).

February 1994            Cleveland - NY LaGuardia        The O'Jay's  

May 1994            NY LaGuardia        Marla Maples & Tiffany Trump

 

June 1994            Providence, RI -      Tiny Tim

I was on a 14 seat commuter plane from Providence , Tiny Tim was sitting ahead of me, with his ukulele case on his lap.  He waited until others deplaned before he left the plane.  I just said to him that I enjoyed his work, and he said “Oh, thank you” in that high-pitched voice.   He looked about as you would imagine in person.

August 1994            NY LaGuardia        Bruce Cutler (John Gotti's former attorney)  

December 1994        NY LaGuardia        Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

 

July 1996            Detroit -      George Wendt ("Norm" on Cheers)

George was sitting around the corner from the gate in Detroit Metro Airport, with a baseball cap on, reading a newspaper.  I asked him if anyone recognized him, and he sheepishly shook his head no, and continued to look at his paper.  I could tell he didn’t want to have a conversation, so I left it at that.  When we were called to board our flight, I simply said “Thanks for some great shows”, as I walked by him.  He looked up, smiled, and looked appreciative of the compliment - and probably glad I wasn’t hounding him for an autograph.

August 1996            NY LaGuardia      Sen. Al D'Amato, Rep. Gary Ackerman, Congressman Barney Frank

On board the Delta shuttle to Washington D.C. , I was sitting right behind Gary Ackerman.  I complimented him on his work in congress, and mentioned an article that I had read about his unpretentious, old beat-up Plymouth Valiant he drove around Washington.  While we were chatting, Al D’Amato came walking down the aisle, and, pretending he didn’t see Ackerman, playfully hit him with his bag and said “Oh, excuse me”.   Ackerman shot back with a great zinger: “Can’t you ever walk a straight line Al?” 

September 1996            Washington D.C.        Helen Thomas (White House Press correspondent)

 

April 8, 1997            NY LaGuardia        Jackie Mason

 

August 13, 1997            NY LaGuardia        Curly from the Harlem Globetrotters

 

October 6, 1997            NY LaGuardia -Washington D.C. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Rep. Charles Rangel,  Roger Mudd

I spoke briefly with Carolyn McCarthy as we boarded a flight to D.C.  to convey my admiration of her work.  She was very congenial and personable. 

 

March 18, 1998            NY LaGuardia - Cincinnati, OH        Morley Safer (60 minutes correspondent)

 

May 12, 1998            Washington D.C.        Former Senator Pat Schroeder

 

September 11, 1998            Boise ID - NY LaGuardia      Detective Mark Fuhrman (OJ Simpson and Martha Moxley trials)

He was very quiet, and seemed deep in thought on the flight. He had just written his book on the Martha Moxley murder, which in turn helped lead to the conviction of Michael Skakel

March 29, 1999            CA Headquarters - Islandia, NY        Senator Bill Bradley

 

August 31, 1999            Baltimore -      Baseball star Tom McMillon, Clinton attorney Charles Ruff

 

November 10, 1999            Adelphi University, Garden City NY        Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

After hearing his speech on the safety and preservation of our water supply (and stories of his hobby, falconing), I stood in line to meet him.  I was in awe of standing right in front of the son and nephew of 2 of my childhood idols.  I managed just to say "thank you", and we shook hands.  

May 26, 2001      NY LaGuardia -Tampa, FL        Ice T (Tracy Murrow)

           

June 21, 2001            Boston      Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo was walking through the terminal, speaking with someone that I did not recognize. He was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development at the time.

August 14, 2002            Islip NY - Albany, NY        Bernadette Castro

We were on a small commuter flight from Islip-MacArthur, and I chatted with her briefly as we walked from the plane to the gate in Albany.  She reminded me of the great parks we have on Long Island (she was the State Parks Commissioner at the time).

 

August, 2004            Dulles Airport, VA        Paul Teutel Jr.

Paul is the one of the sons of Paul Teutel Sr. on the show "American Chopper".  He was walking through the airport with his trademark shades on.  I just reached out and shook his hand, and said I enjoyed the show.

 

July 2005            Syracuse, NY - NY LaGuardia        NY State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer

While traveling with a colleague, I noticed that Spitzer was standing behind us near the gate at Syracuse Airport.  I told him that we were 2 of his fans, and we supported his run for the Governor of New York (at the time, still unannounced).  He broke into that wide smile and shook our hands.  After some brief conversation, he excused himself and went to get an orange juice from the stand.  After we landed, he was met by his driver, and took the time to thank us for his support before he got into the front seat of his black Crown Vic and rode off towards NYC.  I was extremely impressed with him just by that brief encounter.   

June 24, 2005            Washington D.C. - NY LaGuardia      Rep Peter King, Congressman Gary Ackerman

Representative King was sitting in the row in front of me on the flight to N.Y.  He was very focused on a book during the flight. When we were ready to deplane, I told him it was good to see him, and thanks for the work he does. He responded with a sincere "Thanks very much".

 

August  7, 2007         Portsmouth, NH - Marriott Courtyard - Presidential candidate Governor Bill Richardson

I left the room to go to the gym around 6 A.M., and noticed down the hall an employee knocking on a door with no response. He got onto the elevator, and was requesting guidance on his walkie-talkie as to what to do - as the guest was not answering the door.  As we got to the lobby, he said to a man in a suit entering "are you with the Governor?" He replied yes, and he then requested to ride back up with the agent to deliver the newspaper's.  It turned out to be New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who I saw leave with his entourage as I was eating breakfast.  Impressive looking bunch.

 

July 17, 2006         Portsmouth Airport, NH -  Kiefer Sutherland

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February 2007         Queens, NY - LaGuardia Airport - Jefferson Starship

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February 2012         Manhattan NY - Funeral for former NYC Mayor Edward I. Koch

There were many who came to pay their respects to Ed Koch, no matter their political affiliation.  My family knew him to be caring and concerned, and a strong advocate who spoke up when needed, as only he could.   As former NY Governor Mario Cuomo was walking out beside his son, the current Governor Andrew Cuomo, he looked my way.  I couldn't resist a chance to speak to him, so I said "You must be very proud of your son".    He replied with a slight chuckle and without missing a beat "I gotta keep my eye on him!". I laughed and patted him on the back, only to realize later I probably had a few Secret Service folks in the balcony watching that move.   The service was attended by about a thousand people, including NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani,  Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, Joe Lhota, John  Catsimatidiss, and former President Bill Clinton.

 

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