We’re talking about famous people we have met, or seen, in person…in the interest of a good story, I will tell my most embarrassing celeb encounter.
Without going into too much detail, the year 2000 was not good for us, mostly monetarily but there was a lot of stress in many ways. My sons were thankfully involved with Boy Scouts, which has really been good for them and all of us;(I am sorry that rules were not followed and it has been anything but wonderful for some others, but I digress.) My 16 year old son was also in Scout Junior Leader Training, and was going to fly from here to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, THE Granddaddy-of-All-Scout reservations, with the leaders of JLT and the other Jr. Leaders.(Frequent Flyer miles had been donated and instead of dividing them up between the Scouts, they gave them all to my son , so that he could attend; we could not have afforded the airfare otherwise).
That son was also the Head Scout of his troop, and up until the night before, his brother and the rest of the troop were going to our local Scout reservation for a week of summer camp. I begged him not to go, but no, he would not let his boys down(!). The evening it was over he and I stayed up almost all night washing all of his camping equipment, sleeping bag, Scout uniforms, underclothes, etc. because his plane left very early the next morning and the big airport is an hour away.
To top it off, I was working at a very demanding and thankless job, and I only had a couple of hours after his plane left to get back to town and off to work. We had to get to the airport an hour and a half before they took off, add an hour travel time and another of loading/unloading time and you can see where we were. My mind was in a fog.
So when we got to the airport and my son was not feeling well, it wasn’t a surprise. We left his father minding his gear with the Scouts while he and I headed to a restaurant, (more of a cafeteria), to see if he could handle anything to eat.
While we were in line and trying to decide what might appeal to his tender tummy, I looked back and caught the eye of a familiar-looking man. I quietly told my son to look behind me. He whispered, ” Is that who I think it is?” I said, “It certainly looks like him”. I looked back and he man looked at me again as he was checking out a cooler of orange juice and well, yep, had to be but …he was alone…and in Louisville? Our eyes met, but there was my son, not well, needing to eat, needing to get on a plane to go far away and I had all my other problems. My son sat on one side of a table and I was on the other; he looked over my shoulder and said, “Do you really think that’s him? What’s-his-name? He sure looks like him”. I turned around and looked. The man looked over his newspaper at me, right in the eye again. My husband came and said that the Scouts were getting nervous as time was coming close to get on the plane. I said, “Go; I’ll catch up. Look who’s here! He keeps catching me looking at him and I have to say something to him now that I have embarrassed myself”. And as if I hadn’t embarrassed myself enough, I walked over to the man’s table, bent over and asked, “Has anyone ever mistaken you for Tony Randall?” He looked up, surprised and said, “No, no they haven’t.” It WAS Tony Randall. We spoke for a few moments; mostly from my side. I had very little time but so much came out in a flood. I told him how much we always enjoyed The Odd Couple, how my mother would laugh until she cried because I was her” Felix” and my sister was her “Oscar”. I congratulated him on his family,(that he had had so late in life).I said how much I enjoyed opera with him but that I had to rush , as my son was ill and had to get on a plane.(My son spent most of the trip in Philmont’s infirmary with Scarlet Fever, but again, I digress.)
Tony Randall was a perfect gentleman to me. I will never forget the way he more than tolerated me; he was gracious. I have always wished that I had thought to tell him how much I enjoyed him in movies.
And I often wondered if he told the story about the strange woman in an airport who asked him if he had ever been mistaken for himself!