It used to be, meeting a celebrity was a big deal. It didn’t happen often and when it happened it was something special. Back in the 1970s, at the first of the Star Trek conventions, it was such a thrill to get to meet the likes of George Takei and Jimmy Doohan. While I didn’t get to meet him, I certainly was willing to risk my life to stand between the stage and the hordes when Leonard Nimoy made a surprise appearance. Later, Nimoy did an appearance at Gertz, a Long Island department store, promoting one of his albums. My best friend Jeff and I stood on line to get an autographed picture and after what felt like forever, a store employee handed everyone a 5”x7” picture with the autograph printed on it and then Nimoy followed, grasping hands and working the line so he had maybe 1-2 seconds contact with everyone. And then he was gone. What a gyp.
I got to interview several celebrities for school newspapers, starting with Harry Chapin when he did a benefit at the high school. In college I managed Doohan, William Windom, Mel Blanc and others. And it was very, very cool to meet people whose work I admired.
As a comics fan, the “celebrities” of the day worked the aisles looking for back issues and were very accessible. I was pleased to get to meet and know a lot of the New York-based writers and artists over the years and that was a separate kind of thrill. Especially the first time I met the people at the top of the business, guys like Jack Kirby, Steranko and Neal Adams.
When I got to work at Starlog Press, I did a ton of interviews for them, so meeting celebrities was becoming a commonplace occurrence. As a result, I was able to tuck away the gosh-wow fanboy into a corner of my brain and not get overly excited during the interview itself. Deb can tell you, though, when someone made an impression on me such as the time I floated home after interviewing Carrie Fisher, since she gave me a kiss on the way out.
And today, I still get a charge seeing some of these folk at conventions, getting a chance to say hello and express my appreciation for their work, as I did this past weekend at Shore Leave. At the office, I also think it’s really cool I can call up someone like Brian Bolland and commission a cover. You don’t want to totally lose that admiration for the person and their value to the work.
My kids, though, they’re another story.
Having grown up at my side, they have been exposed to stars and celebrities almost from birth. At Kate’s first Shore Leave, when she was a mere four months old, Robin Curtis practically adopted her. When they run across each other at cons these days, Robin is amazed by how she’s grown and Kate is amused. Every so often, they meet someone from the pop culture zeitgeist that really excites them such as Kate meeting James Marsters a few summers back.
This week, she had a nice dinner with Danny Strong in Washington. After Shore Leave, he headed down for some sight seeing and took Kate and Rachel to dinner which was sweet of him. And she was very comfortable with this.
The same night, Robbie had his own encounter of a special nature. Fairfield’s Community Theatre hosted a special premiere of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a private fund raising showing. Robbie, as a veteran volunteer, was asked to work the event and got to show people to their seats. Along the way, he met Paul Newman, who lives one town over. Rob knew him from The Sting so that was cool. But after the screening, he got to meet Johnny Depp and had enough of an opportunity to proudly discuss his participation in Depp Charge, the award-winning Masquerade entry just days earlier. Depp seemed amused by this. And he was very comfortable with this.
My, how times change.