Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Autographs are in themselves fairly worthless I've always thought. The folks who hound people for their signature don't seem to be interested in some sort of exchange with the celeb. They seem to just want to have bragging rights.

Over the years I've interviewed quite a number of famous or accomplished people and have met many others. Sometimes an autographed photo has been offered and sometimes I've bought an autograph at a fan show of someone whose work I've really liked.

The horror star from Brazil, Jose Mojica Marins, made the round of the horror conventions in the 1990s. At one Chiller Con, I had the good fortune of being invited to a dinner with Marins, known to his American audiences as "Coffin Joe." Yes, that his his real thumbnail. In fact, nearly all of his nails were at absurd lengths. That was his trademark. I really couldn't watch him eat as I didn't want to stare at how he was able to hold a fork! Despite a language barrier, he was a nice guy and my buddy Steve Bissette later gave me this great photo.

This is one of the handful of autographs I've purchased. I couldn't resist speaking for a few moments with something I've had a crush on since I was capable of crushes...Stella Stevens. I told her that and she laughed and seemed pleased.

Film historian Scott MacQueen surprised me with this photo signed by the female lead of Lon Chaney's "The Phantom of the Opera." Scott was assembling a book – some of which saw print in several articles in "American Cinematographer" – on the various film versions of the French horror novel and he managed to track down in the 1980s the long retired Philbin.

I've been a fan of The Ventures – who were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – since I was a kid and I interviewed drummer Mel Taylor on my radio show in the 1980s. I also eventually saw them perform live and it was great....a very fond memory.

Growing up I always thought Tony Curtis was one of the coolest guys on the planet and today I think he was a truly under-appreciated actor who could perform both dramatic and comic roles with equal ease. In 1994, I covered the Video Software Distributors Association show – the trade show for the home video industry – in Las Vegas. The show was designed to sell the mom and pop video stores – remember neighborhood video stores?– the new releases by giving them an amazing amount of souvenirs and freebies as well as having literally dozens of stars there to schmooze them. Curtis was one of them and he was about five minutes late for a signing at the booth of a distributor hawking a cheesy Hollywood scandal video. Curtis went up to the first few people in line and apologized for being late (!) When it was my turn to say hello, he looked at my name badge and then in my eyes and said, "Michael. I'm Tony Curtis. What can I do for you?"

I wanted to say, "A hug!" I settled for a photo.

Later that day I was in an upscale gentlemen's club and I heard a lot of laughter from the VIP area. As I was leaving the club, I looked in. There was Curtis surrounded by dancers, obviously having a good time. Somehow that just seemed right!

© 2008 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


Marty said...

I've never been an autograph guy, which helped me enjoy this past weekend's Chiller show. Had I been, I would have spent HOURS in line to meet Ernest Borgnine, Jason Mewes (who I did enjoy a cigarette with), Bridget Nielson, Avery Brooks and more.

Though, I DO treasure my Sam Raimi autograph ("Looking forward to reading your screenplay for Evil Dead III. Your pal, Sam Raimi") and former Red Sox center fielder Fred Lynn ("Happy Birthday, Martin. Fred Lynn").

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