Celebrities I Have Met

by novascoty | created - 10 Oct 2011 | updated - 15 Oct 2011 | Public

1. John Wayne

Actor | True Grit

John Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison in Iowa, to Mary Alberta (Brown) and Clyde Leonard Morrison, a pharmacist. He was of English, Ulster-Scots, and Irish ancestry.

Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, ...

I met him at his residence in Newport Beach, CA in 1972. I was about to go over to Viet Nam and wanted to meet him. He had just returned from filming The Train Robbers in New Mexico. He was very gracious and we talked for 20+ minutes. As I was about to leave, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a stack of his autographed business cards and handed the stack to me. I said, "You really come prepared, don't you?" He replied, "Yeah, if I don't have these when I'm at the market, I'm really lost!" To this day it is still difficult for me to imagine him pushing a shopping cart down a grocery aisle.

2. Joe Louis

Actor | This Is the Army

Joe Louis is considered by many fistic experts and fans as the greatest Heavyweight Boxing Champion in the sport's history. Born into a poor family, Joe Louis's mother felt the only way her son could escape poverty was through music. She bought him a violin and sent him off daily to lessons. On his...

I met him after he spoke at a Joliet West High School assembly in 1970(?). He was a positive, upbeat speaker and happy to speak to high schoolers. Nice guy.

3. Jesse Owens

Self | XIV Olympiad: The Glory of Sport

Jesse Owens, arguably the most popular American track and field star in history, was -- along with his contemporary, world's heavyweight champion Joe Louis -- one of the first African Americans to change white society's perception of both black athletes and, more importantly, people of color. The ...

He was at a Boy Scout Exposition at the Joliet Armory on Jefferson St. The year was probably 1964. He grabbed my hand and shook it vigorously. I later thought that I had just shaken the hand of someone who had shaken Adolf Hitler's hand after the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Weird.

4. Ernie Banks

Music_department | Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Extremely likable and popular, Ernie Banks is probably the most popular baseball player to ever put on a Chicago Cubs uniform. He started playing for the Cubs in 1953 and from the moment he hit his first home run, the city of Chicago fell in love with him. Banks started his career as a shortstop ...

Ernie was at another Boy Scout Exposition I attended. He did a lot of glad-handing. He shook my hand and said, said, "Hiya tiger!" He seemed dignified. Affable.

5. Cyril Ritchard

Actor | Producers' Showcase

Legendary for his preening, prancing, delightfully playful villain Captain Hook on the award-winning stage (as well as TV) opposite America's musical treasure Mary Martin, beloved musical star Cyril Ritchard had a vast career that would last six decades, but "Peter Pan" would become his prime ...

He played Captain Hook in the Mary Martin, 1960 Peter Pan. I saw him on stage at the Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. in 1970 on my senior class trip. He was playing General Burgoyne in a production of "The Devil's Disciple". A couple of us went backstage to get his autograph. I knocked on the dressing room door and a loud bark from a dog came from the other side of the door. When Ritchard opened the door, the was a standard poodle standing at the opening growling at us. Mr. Ritchard gave us autographs even though his dog didn't seem to approve.

6. Bill Kurtis

Actor | Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Bill Kurtis was born on September 21, 1940 in Pensacola, Florida, USA as William Horton Kuretich. He is a producer and actor, known for Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Investigative Reports (1991) and Nova (1974). He was previously married to Helen Kurtis.

In 1976 he interviewed me for a WBBM-TV report he was doing on the capture of the SS Mayaguez one year after the incident. I never did get a copy of that interview. He was a very good interviewer, business-like and professional. Got right to the facts. Keen mind.

7. Merlin Olsen

Actor | Mitchell

Merlin Olsen was born on September 15, 1940 in Logan, Utah, USA. He was an actor, known for Mitchell (1975), Fathers and Sons (1986) and Little House on the Prairie (1974). He was married to Susan Wakely. He died on March 11, 2010 in Duarte, California, USA.

He was at a pancake breakfast sponsored by a Santa Ana, California YMCA in 1972 that I was fortunate to attend. Very soft spoken and friendly.

8. John Zaremba

Actor | 20 Million Miles to Earth

John Zaremba was born on October 22, 1908 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He was an actor, known for 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The Time Tunnel (1966) and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956). He was married to Eleanor. He died on December 15, 1986 in Newport Beach, California, USA.

Mr. Zaremba was at the same 1972 pancake breakfast as Merlin Olsen. When talking to "Jack" as he preferred to be called, you felt like you were talking to your family doctor. He played Dr. Swain, the head scientist on "Time Tunnel".

9. Robert Ryan

Actor | The Wild Bunch

Distinguished U.S. actor and longtime civil rights campaigner Robert Bushnell Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Mable Arbutus (Bushnell), a secretary, and Timothy Aloysius Ryan, whose wealthy family owned a real estate firm. His father was of Irish ancestry, and his mother was of English and ...

I met Mr. Ryan in 1972, the year before he passed away. He was walking down a street in Bel-Aire and I ran a half block to get his autograph. He had a 3-day growth of beard and hair down to his shoulders and wore sunglasses. I don't know how I recognized him.

10. Pat Carroll

Actress | The Little Mermaid

She has played everything from chatterbox wives to wicked stepsisters on TV, and from Gertrude Stein to Shakespeare's Falstaff on stage. At age 80 plus, the plucky comedienne shows no signs of stopping any time soon. The riotous Pat Carroll was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1927, the daughter of...

She was doing a play in Joliet around 1963. I noticed her sitting in her car at a laundromat a block from where I lived at the time. I was 11. I got her autograph. She had the biggest smile. Cool lady.

11. Joan Rivers

Actress | Spaceballs

Joan Rivers was born on June 8, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Joan Alexandra Molinsky. She was a writer and actress, known for Spaceballs (1987), Iron Man Three (2013) and Rabbit Test (1978). She was married to Edgar Rosenberg and James Bennat Sanger. She died on September 4, ...

My sister and I got to spend some quality time together when she visited California while I was stationed in Long Beach. Joan and her daughter Melissa were sitting on a bench inside the entrance to Disneyland. It was 1973(?) Melissa would have been 5 or so. My sister asked Joan how she was doing. Joan said fine. It was a nice thing to do instead of begging for an autograph. It really surprised Joan. Hah!

12. Dan Aykroyd

Writer | The Blues Brothers

Daniel Edward Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to Lorraine Hélène (Gougeon), a secretary from a French-Canadian family, and Samuel Cuthbert Peter Hugh Aykroyd, a civil engineer who advised prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Aykroyd attended Carleton University in 1969, where...

I was fortunate to be an extra in The Blues Brothers as a National Guardsman in a cast of dozens running across Daley Plaza. In between shooting scenes, Ackroyd talked with a group of us extras. He signed autographs (and drew a little Conehead next to his signature) and generally was being a real friendly guy. He's a class act.

13. John Landis

Director | The Blues Brothers

John Landis began his career in the mail room of 20th Century-Fox. A high-school dropout, 18-year-old Landis made his way to Yugoslavia to work as a production assistant on Kelly's Heroes (1970). Remaining in Europe, Landis found work as an actor, extra and stuntman in many of the Spanish/Italian "...

During the filming of The Blues Brothers, we National Guardsmen extras were shuffled down an escalator to a concourse below the Dirksen Building to wait for the next shot to be staged. I was the last one in line one time down the escalator and there was this bearded guy coming up the up escalator. He had a Blues Brothers button on his jacket lapel. I bravely said, "Where can a guy get one of those?" He shrugged his shoulders, took the button off his lapel and tossed it to me. I later found out it was the director John Landis. Nice guy.