Above, see then-and-now shots of most of the following stars!
All good things must come to an end, and I'm not only referring to the lives of some of The Hollywood Show's older participants—I'm talking about the show's longtime association with the Burbank Marriott Airport, the hotel that's hosted the festivities for a number of years. After the show this past weekend, it moves closer to LAX, which had plenty of fans, vendors and stars bitching and moaning.
I'm also referring to my companionship with my previously inexhaustible Chexy, my right-hand man. He announced he was finally fed up with these events, so while I was able to crash with him a few nights I couldn't rely on him to play personal photographer for me.
Luckily, I nabbed my autograph-seeking cohorts Bran and Rich and we made a day of it.
We started out in line for the biggest star there, comedy genius Jonathan Winters, 86. While I held our place in line, the guys used the bathroom and chatted up the Landers Sisters, who I wanted to get, too. I texted them to get their asses back over to me.
After suffering a fall earlier in the year, he'd canceled a previous Hollywood Show. I had a photo of him with Phyllis Diller that she signed for me shortly before her death, so I presented that to Jonathan for his autograph. He was touched when I told him Phyllis had inquired about his health during our last visit, then he launched into a (non-serious) tirade about how Bob Hope wasn't funny and couldn't tell a joke to save his life. Winters is in a wheelchair now and very soft-spoken, but managed a big smile for our photo.
This was my biggest show for having unusual photos that the stars went ape over; I had to pause while no fewer than four of them had the photos scanned for their archives.
Next up was a trip to the Landers Sisters' table. I started with Audrey, 56, asking her what it had been like to compete on The $25,000 Pyramid, an obsession of mine. She told me, "I was pretty smart—back then!" and said it was the most stressful thing she's ever done because she always felt the pressure to win for the contestants. She said she was glad she did it but that she wouldn't want to do the new version.
Did a photo with her in her funky, green-sequined party dress, then got Judy, 53, to join us in making a Matthew sandwich on Landers.
Both were bubbly and sweet but did seem to have a slight reserve about them, like they understood the oddball nature of the event. Judy had her bombshell daughter Kristy, 20, with her, a gorgeous girl who attracted the attention of Nickelodeon TV star Drake Bell, 26.
I reminded Drake that he knows me from my stint as a teen-mag editor and he was superfriendly and did a nice shot with Brian, who likes these kiddie shows more than kiddies do. I warned Drake to double-check Kristy's age and he immediately said, "Already thought of that. She's 20."
Right across the way was True Blood's Sam Trammell, 43, and while I have never watched the show, he was too cute to pass up. I had a pretty unflattering but pretty shirtless photo of him with a surfboard that my friends insisted was too horrible to show. I made Brian promise not to call attention to it, but I of course was later referred to as "my friend who brought you that horrible picture of you."
Sam cringed as he looked at his imperfect (but still, to me, unattainable!) bod. But a classy pro, he gamely signed it and couldn't have been nicer.
For me, he'll always be the cultist boss of "George Costanza" on Seinfeld, but he's known for many other things, especially sci fi.
One of the highlights was meeting Michele Lee, 70, who couldn't have been friendlier. She flipped for a photo I brought of her directing and we did our photos while waiting for it to be scanned. She was leery of posing solo, self-consciously trying to cover her face with her hair. Gotta say that she was worried for no good reason—whatever she's doin', she oughtta keep on doin'. She looks fantastic.
Dobson is still sexy and was very happy to provide the backstory on the hunky photo I'd brought along. He gave us a card promoting a play he's working on getting off the ground and thanked us for our support.
When we were talking about how crazy we all are, she blurted out, "Let's do it! Let's be crazy!" and we ran through the photos. Not that she wasn't nice.
Catherine Hicks, 61, was pretty nice, but with a definite edge. I presented her with a vintage shot of her playing Marilyn Monroe in 1980's Marilyn: The Untold Story and she loved the photo, but confessed to not loving the performances of the many other actresses who’ve played the icon. I asked what she thought of some of the others and she said, “Unfortunately, I have to tell you I don’t think much of them. I always wished ours had been more known because I still think we treated Marilyn the right way.”
Beth Broderick, 53, from Sabrina the Teenage Witch had some cute gay pals with her but in spite of that and in spite of the TV show that has earned her the most recognition in the industry, I found her to be reserved and not really going along with the event’s silliness.
She looks beautiful and was personable enough.
Paul Dooley, 84, was another recipient of a vintage photo, this time a shot from his stand-up act. “I was 24 in this picture,” he said when I handed it to him. So great in Breaking Away and in a seemingly large percentage of every movie ever made.
John Amos, 72, is one of those actors people forget are still alive—his role on Good Times was 40 years ago and Esther Rolle (who was nearly 20 years his senior) is long gone, but he’s not only alive, he’s in great shape and looks young and vital. Brian was gaying it up for him and he played along with a hearty laugh. Great guy! He signed for me a revealing Beastmaster still; that is a terrible movie that I love terribly.
My (ailing) pal Christopher Riordan was beside himself when I told him he’d missed her, so I was able to go back to her to buy her latest CD for him.
James Darren is lookin’ good at 76. He had a steady flow of takers, too. He looked at the old photo I brought—a strange shot of him in the studio commissary inspecting desserts, and said, “I’ve never seen that. You’ve certainly found something unique.” Kinda reminds me of Farley Granger.
June Foray, 95, was a bit of a bummer. One of the most popular draws of the whole show, she was never idle. I walked up to her with a 60-year-old portrait of her from a TV show she’d done, one that was captioned “the woman of a thousand voices.” She liked that a lot, but when I attempted to engage her by reminding her that we’d met recently, she said, “Twenty dollars.” I said, “Oh, I know, but I also wanted to take a picture of you—“ “Twenty dollars.” “Okay, but—“ “Twenty dollars.” As we left, Brian asked, “Didn’t you want to get a picture with her?” I replied, “Not anymore.” Looks good, though, and is an inspiration for working well into her nineties.
Brian got the autograph of Noah Matthews, who's probably 16—18 years old, a teen-genre actor. But he didn’t just get it, he announced that he was one of those pedophiles the kid is going to have to deal with. I pretended not to know him, but everybody knows Brian so that didn’t work. I didn’t feel too bad about the kid hearing adult language; they’d placed him at a table next to Playboy Playmate Stacy Sanches, 39, whose full-on nude photos were spread out all over the table just out of reach.
One of the nicest people we met was Trent Ford, 33, who I knew all about thanks to his early role in a Mandy Moore movie. When I told him the magazine I’d worked for, he was unbelievably bubbly, hugging me and kissing me on the neck (I was reaching for my wallet in case it was extra). Very chatty, he was not shy to list all the divas he’s worked with—and Mandy made the cut. What a warm guy, and very attentive to his gay fans.
Trent gamely had his famous Mario Testino nudes for sale, so I had him sign his impossibly big, beautiful butt, yet I would have also liked a headshot he was pushing in which he is a dead ringer for the long-dead Johnny Weissmuller.
Maybe the most exciting part of the show and the nicest person I met would be Gilligan’s I-con Dawn Wells, who just turned 74 on the 18th. Man, does she still look both beautiful and the same, and her personality is earthy and kind.
She’s a little shit, too, selling T-shirts that help fans ID as “Mary Ann” fans over “Ginger” fans.
Dawn loved the 1950s Miss Nevada swimsuit shot I’d unearthed of her, demanding that she get to scan it because, “I’m doing a book and this has to go in the book! And guess what? I still have this swimsuit!” As the photo was being scanned, she posed for a photo with him and continued taking care of her stream of fans. A weird older man behind me blurted out, ‘You sure were a dish in your day.”
It was very, “Gee, what a looker you WERE.” I saw Dawn process it and then bounce back with, “I sure was, wasn’t I?” No hard feelings, or at least none on display. Not even when the doofus, who talked her ear off, left without buying anything.
I am not a huge fan of Andy Dick, 46, ever since his strange, druggy episodes, and yet he looked so handsome and like he was on best behavior, I had to give him a whirl. Glad I did! He was in a great mood and very flirty. He was just being a glutton as he was already there were two supersexy boys, who I said had to be in our photo. Andy hinted that he and they are in a music group that we would all be seeing and hearing about soon. I got the impression that it might be a Web thing and something comedic. They were all gung-ho to pose for photos, and Andy later said hi to me when I passed by. Really nice.
We were winding down and I still hadn’t grabbed Mariel Hemingway, 50, for whom I’d brought a fab Personal Best photo of the actress doing a split. She claimed she could still do it, and Brian volunteered he could, too, depending on whether the right man were underneath. She was quick to laugh and ultra-friendly, as striking as ever.
One of my last star encounters was with John Saxon, 77, one of the hottest men of the ‘50s. I already have his autograph at home, yet I brought no fewer than six scorching photos for him. I could not keep throwing money away (unemployed, hello!), so I chose two and he very kindly volunteered info about when they were taken. He reacted well to the one from 1956's Rock, Pretty Baby (Sal Mineo movie). I’d heard he could be a grouch, but he was absolutely fine. He seems not the most social kind of person, so this setting was probably a challenge.
Couldn’t leave without saying hi to my pal, Jane Withers, 86, and snapping great shots of her with Sam Trammell (he also went out of his way to get a photo with Dawn Wells) and with fellow child star Tommy Kirk, 70.
Jane is in her element interfacing with fans, not because she’s an egomaniac, but because she’s a fan herself.
That was it for my umpteenth Hollywood Show. Would you believe I have another Chiller Theatre in less than three weeks.
If in the future everyone is famous for 15 minutes, by my estimation the future began about 40 years ago, and I’ve been trying to catch up ever since.