Saturday, November 1, 2014

Brushes with Fame

I started something with an email last weekend that's had some interesting results. I began a discussion on Brushes with Fame, and it went like this:

Yesterday afternoon, I was driving home from Revelstoke and stopped at Moose Mulligans in Sicamous for late-lunch/early-supper. I was the only person there, and the TV visible from my table was playing a NASCAR race, so I watched it while I drank my coffee and waited for my meal. We know somebody who knows somebody who's a NASCAR racer - a middle of the pack sort of competitor, but still - and as I watched the race I thought about that thing, that knowing-someone-famous thing.

Why is it important that we know someone famous, or have had a brush with or (swoon) touched them/shook their hand. Reflected awe, perhaps? I really enjoy going to curling events like the Brier or the Continental Cup because I get to see players I admire playing live and not just on TV. I never get into line for autographs, though, or am interested in speaking to them. What would I say, that hasn't been said or asked before and that I haven't heard or read in an interview.

There are some absolutely beautiful and simply great stories within our group of friends about their brushes with fame. Gail's story about meeting Keith Richards while on vacation is a classic example, and it's all the better because she did not seek it out but was invited in, as it were. And the father of a former roommate I had in High Prairie yea these many years ago, spent a wonderful hour chatting with Sophia Loren while waiting for a flight. And Dad had a brief chat with Prince Philip during a Royal Tour to the Calgary Stampede while we were taking part in the 4H show and sale.

The someone-who-knows-someone story that really makes me laugh, though, involves my two brothers. I was living at the homestead north of Valleyview and was tutoring English as a Second Language to a woman from Bogota, Colombia who married a local man. Her sister had come for an extended visit, and I took them on a weekend trip to Airdrie so they could see something of southern Alberta. We stayed with Mom and Dad, and one evening Scott and Todd also came for supper (and Pam, too? I can't remember). 

During this time, there was a popular television commercial for Colombian coffee that featured a man called Juan Valdez, supposedly a coffee grower, complete with burro and serape. He was very handsome, with a big, black moustache. One of the boys, probably Scott, asked Helena, "Do you know Juan Valdez?" - more a joke than an actual question. Wasn't he surprised when she answered, "Yes. Well, sort of. My sister Lady knows him better than I do."

Turns out 'Juan Valdez' is a well known waiter at a well known eating establishment in the city, who also does acting jobs, and yes Lady did know him.

At which point, Scott said, "Now I can say I know someone who knows someone who knows the real Juan Valdez." I about died laughing, and I've never forgotten the line. And you know what? I can say the same thing!


Friend Fay wrote in reply about meeting an Edmonton television personality that she and her husband admired, and with whom they had a nice conversation.

Her big regret, however, was a missed opportunity to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he visited Alberta. The priest who performed my friends' marriage was the archbishop's "chauffeur" for that tour and had she known about it, she would have been welcomed to meet him.

Subsequent to the letter, I recalled other brushes with fame. Brother Scott of Juan Valdez fame met Clint Eastwood at a bar in southern Alberta in the company of mutual friends. Said he's a really nice guy.

Friend Vince's mother has been a camp cook much of her life, in later years at mule deer hunting camps in east-central Alberta. When the hunt was over one year, she was talking to us about some of the guests. Now, you have to know this woman does not watch television or movies, and has no interest in modern pop culture.

"There was this really nice fella," she said. "Apparently he's quite famous. Have you heard of a guy named Jack Nicholson?"

He happens to be one of our favourite actors.

"There was another guy, though. I know he's an actor cuz he told me so, and he was an asshole. Name was Steven Seagal."


George Clooney was in the North Okanagan last summer filming a movie called 'Tomorrowland' which is apparently in post-production. That created quite a flurry of George-sightings.

Things are about to get REALLY crazy in the neighbourhood, though, because Anthony Hopkins is expected in Vernon this month when parts of the movie 'Go With Me' are filmed here.

This is man I'd love to meet, and I have no idea what I would say to him.

What has been your brush with fame?


  1. I was in a movie with Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel; does that count? Many years ago when I lived in London's Chelsea, 'famous people' were thick on the ground... it would take me all day.