Who is the most disappointing famous person you've ever met? Why?
Andy Griffith and Danny Thomas. Way back in the ‘60s, I was in a singing group (more like the precedent to a show choir) consisting of kids aged 15–21. We were pretty darn famous at the time, appearing on big variety shows, like "Ed Sullivan", and met and hung out with a LOT, and I mean a LOT of stars in the TV, music and movie industry. Well, I'd always adored Andy Griffith because of his gentle, sweet character on "The Andy Griffith Show," and, in fact, had a big crush on him when I was 7, and wished for years that he could be my father. I'd also loved Danny Thomas because of a sit-com (can't remember the name of it) he'd been on, where he portrayed a funny, quirky, really nice father.
So one of the shows our singing group did was a variety show special at Sea World, where we sang with Danny Thomas, John Gary and Andy Griffith. We spent three full days filming.
Mr. Griffith was NOT sweet, friendly and gentle. He was sullen, angry, totally stand-offish, and, oh, the obscenities that frequently came out of his mouth.
Danny Thomas was foul-mouthed and lecherous. He was in, I believe, his 50s or 60s at the time (well, he seemed really old to us kids) and he came on to almost every girl in the group - median age of the girls was 16. He groped them. He made sexual comments to them and about them. Also, he was drunk a lot. We found him utterly disgusting.
I must say the majority of the famous people we met were very nice people, but Danny Thomas and Andy Griffith were not.
Meeting Don Imus was pretty strange. I met him at his office at WFAN (Astoria Studios) in the early 90s. He was a pretty huge star and a lot of famous people and politicians pandered to him as he became more topical and political through the 90s and less shock jock. Huge is maybe not the right adjective. He was very influential for a period of time.
So basically meeting him was setup like a royal audience. I waited in the hall outside his office door with another gentleman. Funny thing is that while we were waiting, another radio personality by the name of Russ Salzberg kept peeping around the corner at us. I think he wanted us to recognize him. He was both on the radio and local NY TV for sports news. Either that or he was trying to figure out who we were that we were famous or powerful enough to warrant an audience with the Royal Imus. I got the impression that Salzberg never got an audience!
After waiting quite a long time, a guy comes over and says that we can go in to meet Imus. We go in the office and it is like a cave. It is poorly lit and Imus is sitting behind this dingy office desk on an equally dingy office chair. The whole experience was more like meeting Colonel Kurtz than the Queen. He sort of grunted at us asking who we were, then dismissed us.
In a past life, I was a newspaper photographer for a suburban paper in the Dallas area. Hope was contracted to be part of a golf tournament and concert fundraiser sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Fujitsu Corporation in the early 90s.
He shot about three holes of golf and at each green the crowd would surge around his cart to hear him make jokes, sign autographs, etc.
I was watching an elderly man with a cane, a WWII veterans cap and a copy of Life magazine slowly, respectfully, shuffle his way through the crowd. The copy of Life had the world famous red flag/logo on it and a B/W photo on the front cover so I knew it was from the war years.
The elderly man finally worked his way to the front and asked Bob Hope to autograph the magazine for him. He said something to the effect of "I remember seeing you the first time in North Africa in '42 and the second time was..."
Hope cut the old man off with "Yeah, okay." and brushed past him without a second glance. Hope might have scribbled something on the magazine, but I'm not sure as the disappointed, hang dog look on the man's face took all my attention. I thought, here was someone of the generation that made Bob Hope a star and the star did not have time for him.
Later that night, Hope was on stage for the benefit concert for about 10 minutes. The rest of the 30 minute "entertainment" was his wife singing show tunes. During his ten minutes, however, Hope did manage to tell several off-color jokes, including the one about the Japanese man who went to the eye doctor and was told he had cataracts.
I don't think there was anyone in that 1000 seat auditorium who didn't see the punchline coming from a mile away. I don't think there was anyone else as shocked as the Fujitsu executives or as embarrassed as the Chamber of Commerce brass. You could have heard a pin drop after that joke.
I've only met Bruce Campbell (THE EVIL DEAD) and Haruo Nakajima (he wore the Godzilla suit from 1954–1972). Both were nice folks if you can really determine that in about 3 minutes or less. However, one reason I tend to avoid meeting celebrities that I admire is I don't want to find out they are jerks. One time I called the author of a book that I admired who was also a professor at a university a state away, to see about coming to meet him and he was short and rude with me so I abandoned the idea. I realize everyone is only human so we shouldn't expect people we admire to be friendly all the time, but it's also hard to change the sour taste you get in your mouth when they are rude the first time you talk to them and it's also hard to admire them again after that.
Bobby Unser. I was a teenaged passenger on a plane from Denver to Milwaukee 1972. I was going back to school in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Some guy two seats up and on the opposite side of aisle kept craning his neck to look at me, grinning. After the flight leveled out, he invited himself to sit next to me. He wanted to buy me a "drink." I said no. Then he talked about his "girlfriend in France." Then he gave me his business card. It had his name "Bobby Unser," a black and yellow checkered flag in a corner, and at the bottom "VIP." I asked him if he was, in fact, a Very Important Person." He looked at me blank. I didn't have a clue who he was. He promptly returned to his own seat on the plane. We met up again at baggage claim. He followed me to where my friends were waiting to pick me up. He introduced himself to them. They knew who he was and happily chatted with him. He left and my friends explained it all to me. There was not one moment I spent with Bobby Unser that I wasn't creeped out.
The first Farm Aid concert came to the local college for a benefit arranged by Willie Nelson. There were many very popular musicians there to perform and donate to the cause. My sister was one of the teenagers hired to help backstage. She applied for the sole purpose of meeting Tom Petty and walked on air when she got the job.
Petty was well named. He was demeaning to the teenagers, mean and cursed them for breathing the same air he did and refused to sign the t-shirts worn by employees as all the other musicians did. All of them. Except Tom Petty because he was too important to even smile at a fan. He yelled at my sister when she pointed out the entrance to the stage-as she was hired to do.
My sister was heartbroken. We refused to buy any more of his albums or listen to the ones we had. He became nothing in our household. A smile as he refused to sign her shirt was it it would have taken to keep a fan happy and buying his music.
I used to fly with lots of celebs. Most of them kept to themselves. None really stood out as being disappointing. I'll go the other direction. The most surprisingly great guy I ever met was the late Tony Curtis. I flew with him several times between LA and Honolulu. What a prince of a guy. Extremely personable, friendly, witty, funny and kind. We all loved the guy. I'll never forget him in the movie "Spartacus". His thick NY accent was unmistakable as he called to Kirk Douglas's character "Spartacus". He pronounced it "Spot-a-kiss".