Famous people I have known

I was thinking about famous people I have known and I’ve concluded that the answer is . . . I don’t know any famous people.  I know intelligent people, hard working people, kind people, loving people, high class and low class people, blue collar and white collar people, gay and straight people, people of varying colors and faiths, even a few rotten people, I don’t know any famous people.  I can’t drop a single name.

How about you?  Do you know anyone famous?  And by “know” I mean that the famous person has to know your name.  I once shook hands with George Bush, Sr., when he was VP, but that doesn’t count, because I was simply part of a massive receiving line after he gave a speech.

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  • Oldflyer

    Well, I once tried to have Carlos Santana and his band members arrested.  Does that count?  Some of his “boys” were acting up on a flight I was piloting, and I called security to meet us at the gate.  As it turned out, the bad boys made a run for it before the Cops got there.  After conferring with Santana for a few moments, it was over.  (I confess I had no idea who he was, but I had a few moments of fame among the younger folks in the crew room.)  Doesn’t really meet your criterion, but we did have a fairly intense relationship for a few moments.
     
    I have shaken the hand of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.  Also, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia.  Flew Jimmy Buffett on a charter flight one night. (He was quite pleasant).  But none of those folks would know me from a fence post.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Oldflyer:

    True, they don’t know you by name, but that’s a pretty good track record for actually seeing famous people.  I was once on a flight with Gerald Ford, some years after he left office, but I never actually got to see him.  And I did of course get to meet the Blues, who may not be individually famous, but they do have the virtue of being collectively famous.  I guess that’s something.

  • oceanguy

    I’m not trying to be difficult but the post started me wondering, “What is “Famous?”  Carlos Santana… Oldflyer didn’t know who he was dealing with..  Is fame defined by pop culture?  by achievement in Sports?  by participation in politics?  Are astronauts famous?  Are the famous important? Are the important people famous?  Is there a geographic requirement for fame?  Does infamy count?
    To answer your original question though, I know a handful of “famous” baseball players… or should I say a handful of “famous” baseball players know me… and Prince Andrew knows me too, we served in the same helicopter squadron for 3 years.  But, by far the more interesting question for me is, “What is Fame?”
     

  • Oldflyer

    Oceanguy, I started to change the word fame to notoriety in the description of my status among younger colleagues.  With respect to your question, I believe that like so many terms, the meanings of these become blurred or distorted these days.
    Notoriety, fame, celebrity.  Do we differentiate?  Do it matter to the “pop” culture?
    Book, an example of the effect of  a non-entity being  at a particular place at a particular instant.  Should have stipulated that Juan Carlos was only Crown Prince, with a cloudy future, at the time. It was a long time ago.

  • Caped Crusader

    Does Elvis Presley count? If so, I knew him and he knew my name since a member of his entourage was treated by me in 1967 when Governor Ellington proclaimed “Elvis Presley Day” and while celebrating a Roman candle went off backwards in the face of his body double and friend. The doctors who has treated  the entourage that year were invited to his private New Years Eve party. Pricscilla was pregnant with Lisa Marie at the time and my wife and I shared a table with her obstetrician. The music was so loud in this confined space that escaping with my hearing intact was a miracle.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Good question, oceanguy.  In a way, when I think of “famous,” I’m thinking of a situation in which you tell your friends whom you know, and they all say something along the lines of “Wow” or “that’s really cool.”  For example, I once went to a small dinner party, and spent the evening with Yitzhak Perlman, but that doesn’t fall into the cool category at all, because nobody I know has ever heard of him.  Even modern musicians are unimpressed, since he falls into old fogey category now.

    What brought me around to this question was the fact that my hairdresser was telling me about a well-known sports commentator who is a personal friend of his.  I’ve actually heard of the guy, so I could say, “Oh, wow!”  Good hairdressers do seem to run in those crowds.  One of my closest friends grew up with a guy who went on to become a celebrity hairdresser, and he could name-drop with the best of them.

  • SADIE

    Yes and a relative, too. No name dropping. The famous and the accomplished live in a world of their own making and generally at the expense of family and relationships pretty much like the world of politicians.
    Once upon a time as a 15 year old I was visiting the relative, the butler is his terribly British accent announced that the bath was drawn. I immediately got the giggles while sitting on the sofa thinking this has got to be the worst Masterpiece Theater – ever.  I turned to the relative and said, “you know, in our house if you want a bath drawn – you would need a paper and pencil to sketch it”.

  • jj

    The answer to the question of whether I know anybody “famous” and whether they know me is yes.  I’ll avoid name dropping.
     
    But a lot of it’s just a matter of milieu.  If you work in and around showbiz, you’ll end up knowing a whole lot of household names.  Because you work with  (and occasionally against) them, they know you, too.  But it’s a function of where you are and what you’re doing, not any original virtue on your (or their) part.  Some become friends in the “work friends” sense, some become pals, some become very good, very genuine friends in the purest sense of friendship.
     
    Here’s a story – Bookworm seems to enjoy some of these stories – and I will drop a name.  We spent most of December and the holidays in LA this past year.  We were sort of “just being” with the Barrys, making sure they did Christmas – and attending a funny, tearful, sad, and joyous memorial for Gene, who died December 9th.  I knew Gene for thirty years.  Lovely man, kind man, very funny, good friend.  When my mother was dying of malignant melanoma in Miami in 1994, she was staying with my brother in Miami Beach so she could commute across the causeway to Jackson Memorial for treatments three times a week.   My brother and wife reached a point of exhaustion, so I spelled them in late July.  They took off, I took over with Mom.  I was trying to figure out what she might be interested in eating one afternoon when the phone rang.  It was Gene, from out of the blue, and he wanted to “speak with Sherry – now!”  He didn’t know her at all, but she was my Mom, and she was a fan.  Somehow or other, probably through his son, (also a very good friend), he found out she was a fan,  found out what I was doing, what was going on – and he got on the phone.  (My wife, who was back in NY working, later told me that he’d hit there first, and she gave him my brother’s number.)  We talked a minute, I gave the phone to Mom, they talked for nearly three hours, killing the batteries in two handsets, until she was too exhausted to talk more.
     
    Was Gene Barry a famous guy?  Yeah.  It has very little to do with why I carry him with me.
     
    Then there’s the really weird stuff.  I was at a party a few years ago, and overheard a producer talking to a couple of household names and a TV guy.  The subject was these these two guys he was trying to get hold of to do some script doctoring.  These two were very hard to find,  inclined to be hermits, definitely “off” Hollywood, hard to work with, an uphill slog altogether – but worth it if you could get to them because they were really good.  One of the actors had worked with them in the past, and verified all of it.  It was only when a guy who is currently a power at one of the three networks joined them, and began to really pump up the “weirdness” aspect of these guys while simultaneously making faces at me, that I realized these cranky bastard hermit geniuses under discussion were me and my partner.
     
    I don’t know.  Am I, if not a household name, at least within a small professional group (that included some household names) occasionally famous?  Or do I only exist when actively being talked about – or looked at?  Hard to say.

  • Gringo

    Here are two second-hand stories.  An elementary school classmate of my brother wrote a letter to Lady Bird Johnson when she was doing her national  beautification  gig as First Lady. Lady Bird called the elementary school to speak with my brother’s classmate. Lady Bird was a busy person; she was not obligated to speak with an elementary school kid. IMHO, that spoke highly of her that she would take the time to do that.
    When I was working at a oil drilling rig in the Guatemalan jungle, I drove the madame of a house of ill repute- built from my company’s discarded crates- to town to get supplies. (Not a company car.) Which was also the hometown of  the then current President General of Guatemala. The madame introduced me to relatives of  the President. Straight out of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: truth is stranger than fiction, especially in Latin America.
     

  • caribman

    This is interesting and I wonder how this counts. In terms of people I know (who also know me !): Two billionaires 8 Prime Ministers (of various countries) of which one is related to me. Countless Members of Parliament One American Congressman George Foreman I have met but only in an official capacity or fleetingly: Nelson Mandela Bill Clinton Bill Cosby Chinese Premier Actually when you think about it this is quite irrelevant unless you yourself add up to something it terms of your own criteria. 

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Hmmmmm….someone whose name would elicit an “Oh Cool” from the hearers….
    .
    That’s an interesting criterion, actually – if I dropped “Willie Mays” among my daughter’s late 20-something friends, I don’t think most of them would know who I was talking about.  But, he was a HUGE deal to my generation, at least if you were into baseball at all.  (No, I don’t know Willie – sigh)
    .
    I actually DO know some very famous people…famous in a relatively small group, though.  David Ivey is one – I know him, and he knows me, and by name.  I also know Rodney (his brother) and Coy (Dad) Ivey, and they would definitely recognize me, although they might not call me by name.  Additionally, I know Richard DeLong, and Terry Wooten, and Hugh McGraw…..
    .
    Now, I’m guessing that no one reading this blog has any clue who these fellows are, but if I were to attend a Sacred Harp singing in San Francisco, or Portland, or Berkeley, or ‘most anywhere, and tell the people that I knew these guys, I’d be immediately surrounded and people would be looking for the slot to put their quarter in, so they could touch me!  :-)
    .
    Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but they would be VERY impressed!  These guys are the “big leaguers” of Sacred Harp singing – some of them are on the title page of the book we sing out of – the 1991 (fourth) revision of the original 1844 songbook.  A few of them have songs they wrote *in* the book.  Richard and Hugh toured the U.S. in the ’70s, spreading the “gospel of Sacred Harp” and they started the Berkeley group that’s still going.  David flies all over the U.S. and to Europe to attend singings as the guest of the singers there.  These are genuine celebrities.  Gail and I know them because of our five years in Tennessee, and thanks to a friend (Frank Clayton) who introduced us to Sacred Harp singing, the best musical experience of my entire life.
    .
    You can get acquainted with Sacred Harp at http://awakemysoul.com/ – give it a chance!  Watch the trailer – we sang with all those people, including the 90+ year old watchmaker who wrote my favorite song in the whole book!  Netflix has the documentary, so you don’t even have to buy it.  Then give Sacred Harp a try, yourself….find the nearest singing here: http://fasola.org/ …just click on “Singings” to the left and (first) scroll down and look in your state, then scroll back up and click on “Annual Sacred Harp Singings – Denson book (our favorite)” and search by date.

  • SADIE

    Earl … I don’t know their individual names, but this was my introduction into Sacred Harp music.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKbH6Dga3zo

  • Charles Martel

    Earl and Sadie, it’s people like you that make me love this site so.

    Sadie, I went to your Youtube link and was instantly taken away. What gorgeous, soulful music! Earl, I’m going to explore your links, too. I’ve got the feeling I’m on the verge of spending some very happy hours in a beautiful, unknown land.

    Thank you both.

  • Susan

    It really boils down to definition, I guess. I mean, I’m an MIT student, so I know people who are very well-regarded or well-known within their field, but if you aren’t interested in science you’ll likely not hear of them. I’ve taken classes with Joe Haldeman and corresponded with Dr. Jerry Pournelle, but are they “famous” in the way you mean? They’re both good people.  I’ve sung songs with people in filk music who are well-known (within the community) in several states, but does that make them “famous?”
    Probably not. It’s a neat semantic issue to chew on, though.

  • Gringo

    Earl, I blew off your posting on sacred harp music, until I saw the endorsements you got.  I went to a link you gave, and I liked it so much I am bookmarking it. As my bias is towards choral singing, I am not surprised I liked it so much.
     
    “Famous people:”  the brightest person in my high school class is working in the NObama White House. He at least fits the self-image the Demos have of all the bright,well-educated people being on their side. Which does not fit the other self-image the Demos have of being the party of the People. Not unless you are from Lake Wobegon.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Gringo’s post reminds me that I went to school for years with Naomi Wolf.  I never think of her as a famous person, even tho’ she is, simply because I find her so embarrassing.  If you were to mention my name to her, I’m sure she would say she doesn’t remember me, either because she truly doesn’t or because I’m not important enough — all of which boils down to the same thing.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Ha!  My Dad went to school in S.F. with Lana Turner!  Before she was “Lana Turner”, of course.  He remembered her as another blond in a sweater – at least that’s what he always SAID!   I’ve just checked her on Wikipedia, and it says she left SF for LA at 10 years old — now I don’t know what to make of Dad’s stories!!  Ah well.  :-)
     
    Back to Sacred Harp – I loved your You-Tube link, Sadie.   That song is in the Denson book, and we’ve sung it a lot….but “our” version doesn’t  sound the same as that.  Traditional Sacred Harp is a very different sound, especially when you’re singing something “familiar”, like Amazing Grace.  The harmonies are not the same as with “modern” music…Raymond Hamrick, the 90-year old Georgia watch repairman interviewed for the documentary Awake My Soul, says that the “better music boys” came over from Europe in the 1830s or so and introduced gospel music to the U.S. – THAT is what today’s religious music is based on.  Sacred Harp sounds more like a combination of medieval and Renaissance.  To some degree I’m just blowing smoke here – repeating what I’ve read, because I’m emphatically not a musician – but I know enough to be certain that Sacred Harp is another creature entirely from the music we sing in church.
     
    A warning….I do not like listening to MOST Sacred Harp recordings.  In fact, had my buddy Frank played some of the stuff I’ve seen on You-Tube, or heard at Sacred Harp sites on the Web, I doubt I would ever have gone to a singing.  The power in Sacred Harp is to sit there in the square and SING.  There is no “performance” involved, folks — never an “audience”, because everyone who comes sits in one of the four sections (tenor facing alto, with basses to the left facing the trebles on the right)  and SINGS.  Full-voice, too…there is no modulation, everyone makes a joyful noise to the Lord, including people who are much less a musician than I am.  I have sat next to a brother or sister who joyfully sang all morning in a monotone, and no one minds.  I suspect this may be why I don’t listen to recordings of Sacred Harp – although I listen to very little music, so that may be part of the explanation, as well.
     
    Don’t let this put you off, please….go and try it, at least once at a real “singing” where a lot of good singers get together for a couple of days.  Small groups are OK – once you’re hooked, it won’t matter the size of the group, but for a “newbie” they don’t offer the genuine experience.  But, in any case it’s not for everyone, and we have good friends who love music who have come with us and never gone again.  That’s OK, but Gail and I were both hooked the very first time we tried it.  There is tremendous power in this music – sometimes it’s John Newton’s words that choke me up and cause the tears to run, and other times it’s the harmony that stabs me to the heart (Raymond Hamrick’s song #503 is an example).  Give yourself the opportunity…..find an all-day singing somewhere, and go.  ESPECIALLY if you are in the TN/GA/AL area – look up Liberty Church in Henagar, or go to Pine Grove Baptist Church in Collinsville in August, or sing in the New Year with the Wooten’s in Ider.  You may fall in love!

  • suek

    >>I’ve just checked her on Wikipedia, and it says she left SF for LA at 10 years old — now I don’t know what to make of Dad’s stories!!>>
     
    Two thoughts:  First, Hollywood and the vanity of women of that period.  If she didn’t want to ‘fess up to her actual age, she might have dropped some years.  (So that, if she was 20 when she left, but had told people she was born in year xx + 10), there might have been some identifiable year that she had to manipulate.  Never underestimate the tendency of famous people to manipulate the facts when convenient.
    My father remarried after my mother died.  The woman he married was supposedly 4 years younger than he was – they’d known each other socially for some 20 years.  By the time they actually married, somehow she was the same age he was.  By the time she died, it seemed that she was actually 4 years older than he was.  They went back to the northeast to get married, so that my Dad could make it a family event (he still had 4 living siblings).  They stopped in Philadelphia to get a copy of her birth certificate, but it couldn’t be found.  I suspect that she gave them the wrong birth year…that _will_ make old documents hard to find!  Apparently, that wasn’t a really big bridge to cross, as they were married anyway.
     
    Secondly, our memories tend to blur a bit as we get older.  Your Dad could have remembered her as someone he knew in his youth, identified her as same when she became a star, and blurred the two physical images as he got older.  One image superceded the other, so to speak.

  • SADIE

    Charles Martel, so glad you enjoyed the link.  Book’s salon opens the door to the most interesting gathering of people with such varied insights, stories and tastes. A buffet for the brain!
    Earl, your enthusiasm is catchy. I can’t sing a lick – it’s awful… even in the shower. I am reduced to being listener.
     

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    @Sadie:  You don’t HAVE to be able to sing…that’s what I wanted to get across to everyone.  It’s this that I think turns off some of the “real musicians” I’ve taken to Sacred Harp.  ANYone can participate, because the point of it all is praising the Lord with our voices, and we can all do that.  But there isn’t much similarity with a typical church (or other) choir – it’s “primitive” music, and some folks can’t handle that.
     
    Also, don’t get the idea that you must be religious to enjoy it — it’s also a cultural experience, and I’ve got atheist friends who will hardly miss any gathering within a hundred miles.  If you feel embarrassed at your voice, just sit in the tenor section (we generally sing the melody, there) and let the music do its work.  If you’re not at least humming along by the third or fourth song, I’ll be surprised.
     
    Even if you’re not truly “hooked” by the music, you may choose to go back for the potluck lunch!  Yum. This is another reason to introduce yourself at an all-day singing – first, the music is better, and second is the potluck.  I’ve never been to one outside the south, so you’re on your own anywhere but there – but in GA, TN, and AL, I can highly recommend sticking around for lunch!