The above gallery, in order: Kim Richards, Richard Chamberlain, Kristy McNichol, June Lockhart, Mackenzie Phillips, Glenn Scarpelli, Pat Harrington, Anne Jeffreys, Larry Wilcox, Susan Blacklinie, Tommy Kirk, Sharon Farrell, Don Murray, Drea de Matteo, Lawrence Monoson & Dick Gautier.
For the first time in years, I'd decided to skip The Hollywood Show in L.A., held at the painfully glamorous Westin LAX (a poignant backdrop for a room filled with celebs whose careers have had more take-offs and landings than Jet Blue)—I didn't want to spend the cash and didn't think I'd miss the guest list this time. At the last minute, I splurged and went, which meant I had only a couple of original photos for the stars to ooh and ahh over before signing.
When I first walked in, there was an immediate difference between this and previous shows...a huge crowd! A long line was queued up for the cast of Sons of Anarchy, including star attraction Katey Sagal. With that show, Married...With Children and Futurama, she had probably a third of the attendees drooling over her. I skipped her.
The room was hot as hell (flop sweat is a great look for picture day) and crowded, thanks in part to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kim Richards, who had a large crew documenting her every move.
But I survived, as all of the stars there had.
The first star I grabbed was Larry Wilcox, the other hot cop from CHiPs. He was perfectly nice, laughing at/with my flamboyant pal, who was talking about the sex appeal of the LAPD uniform, but he did leave a sour taste in my mouth when I asked him about his Love Boat gig. He recalled that his co-star was Catherine Bach (now 59) and said he'd seen her recently, trailing off with, "You know, it's tough for girls."
Right next to Larry was Richard Chamberlain. As it turns out, he was one of no fewer than five out celebrities at this event. (Fellow star Pat Boone must've hated that. He was surly as anything from my observation and he left superearly, like maybe even around noon or 1PM.) When I handed him the sexy, shirtless photo I had for him to sign, he gamely exclaimed, "What a cute picture. What a cute guy!" and pointed out he almost looked naked. There was no chance he was gonna Barbara Stanwyck me, though—old-school, he was a "0" on the 10-scale of flirting.
He was very nice, though. When I thanked him for coming out and asked if he ever regretted it, he said, "Oh, no! Oh, no way!"
He sure does look handsome still, don't you think? It'd still be fun to play a game of Truth or Dr. Kildare with him.
In person, June Lockhart is alarmingly smooth (and still has that pretty smile), but she sure looks great for 88 in pictures, no? The night before, my pal Brian had exclaimed to a table filled with actresses over 65, "If June Lockhart wears a damn hat tomorrow, I'll kill her!" I chimed in, "I'll be sure to call her and let her know that if she decides to cover her head it'll be the last decision she ever makes."
He was bluffing, but she did show up in a Lost in Space baseball cap. She also had the most intensely organized suitcase next to her, with scores of stills organized meticulously and with every other item she might want during a signing, from Purell to paper towels to snacks.
When I presented her with the photo I'd found, taken in 1964, she immediately recognized the shoot (for Lassie) and recalled the female photographer from CBS fondly. She knew where it was taken, too.
As I knelt for our photo, I mentioned my partner's obsession with pageants. "Yes, I did the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants as well as of course the parades." She was professional about everything, but not ruthlessly so. Perhaps I could have teased more out of her, but she seemed firm on what she'd offered by way of a waltz down memory lane.
Sopranos and Desperate Housewives bombshell Drea de Matteo was seated in the outside hall along with her Sons of Anarchy co-stars. She was completely game to camp it up with us, saying, "I love the gays—I'm nothing but a big drag queen myself."
When I selected a titty shot for her to sign, she drew an arrow to her breast while signing it.
Like some stars who do these shows, Drea radiated second thoughts, but she also managed to show off how much fun she'd be to go drinking with...even though I don't drink.
Handsome devil Dick Gautier doesn't look anywhere near his age; the only giveaway is his wheelchair. I told him—after telling him it had been a long time since I'd had to stand in line for Dick—that I felt like he'd been in everything. He agreed, but self-deprecatingly implied it was because he couldn't hold a job.
Hardly! Funny and sexy in that '70s way, he was suitable for just about everything, most memorably, perhaps, in Get Smart.
Gautier was buzzing around in his chair, telling ladies he'd be glad to offer them free lap rides.
But my two favorite things about Dick were that he was seated next to Kim Richards, of all people, and that when I handed him a scorching-hot swimsuit pose of himself to sign, he exclaimed, "Oh, what a body!" and kissed and licked it.
Look, I'm no Real Housewives junkie—I was obsessed with Kim Richards when it wasn't cool (wait, it still isn't cool?), strictly for her amazing performances in the Witch Mountain movies, Nanny and the Professor and even Hello Larry. She had that dazzling '70s look that every girl wanted and every little gay boy was in awe of. It was devastating when the superbomb Tuff Turf (1985) all but killed off her career.
Kim has apparently done these shows before, but now that she's a big TV star, she came with a crew looking like a million bucks in borderline-neon orange. The woman in front of me brought a baby who'd been named, I think, "Tina," after Kim's Witch Mountain character. Lots of mugging for the cameras. Then a woman cut the line and had her pose with a cute dog. When it was my turn, having signed my waiver to be filmed for RHOBH, I told Kim, "I don't have a baby or a dog, I just have love for you in Witch Mountain and everything else you've ever done." She smiled and hugged me, saying, 'That's all I need."
Kim was incredibly nice. Every star should have a TV crew on them! Rudeness would disappear. She fondly remembered McLean Stevenson as a wonderful man and piped up Diff'rent Strokes was spun off from Hello Larry (I think this assertion is sketchy).
Can't say enough nice things about her—she was definitely available for the rather long lines of fans she was entertaining. She was also hilarious when she described the process of recasting her Hello Larry sister because Kim's boobs were outpacing those of the actress meant to be her older sibling.
From one female child star to another! Kristy McNichol is someone I've long admired. It's mind-boggling to realize she's only a few years older than me when it seems like she's been on TV and in the movies forever. I told her that unlike some actors, she doesn't have just one big thing she's known for, but at least three (Family, Little Darlings and Empty Nest), then asked if there is any project of hers that she's shocked to have people ask her about all the time. The answer, without much hesitation, was White Dog, a movie we agreed was...strange.
Kristy examined closely the interesting photo I brought for her to sign, a shot showing her in front of what is probably supposed to be her personal, teen-mag-decorated door. It's covered in guys like Andy Gibb. I asked if it was hers and she said she didn't know, but studied it to be sure.
She strikes me as someone not at all into the concept of fandom, but who's trying to be nice about it since her presence clearly makes others happy.
When I posed for a pic with her (she was very huggy!), I turned to her and, as I'd done with Richard Chamberlain, thanked her for coming out. She smiled and said right away, "It was about time!" I thought that was pretty cool, and reassured her that it was fine and still very moving for a lot of people.
The dapper Don Murray, who was a full-blown hunk in Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe back in the day, looked marvelous. He was quiet, but had friendly eyes.
We didn't have much to say to each other, but he did judge the smoldering beefcake pic I had for him as, "Fun!" and signed it "For Matt!"
You might not recognize this former stuntwoman, known for her amazing swimming on film. You might still not recognize her when I tell you she was the babe gobbled up by Jaws in the opening of that film, one of the most terrifying and memorable scenes in movie history! An outdoorsy broad she's soaked up her share of the sun.
Susan was supernice. When I got down on one knee, she said, "The least you could do is offer me a big diamond." I guess Jaws had a sweet tooth.
It's probably a little gauche to say that incest and drugs agree with Mackenzie Phillips by way of pointing out how ravishing she looks at 53, but she has such a wicked sense of humor I can only hope she'd snicker and take solace in the fact that she seems to have her shit firmly together now. She was so hilarious and nice, jumping up to pose with us as if we were all in a gay bar.
When I chose an American Graffiti pic for her to sign, she asked, "Could I be any younger in this picture?" to which I replied that it looked like she'd just had her umbilical removed.
I assumed she was sick of receiving Bonnie Franklin grief-tourist condolences, so I asked her about So Weird, a kiddie show she did with smokin'-hot teen idol Erik von Detten. She raved about it and him.
The highlight of the show, for me, was Glenn Scarpelli of One Day at a Time. Openly gay, he was a flirtacious, open-like-a-book, witty riot.
I walked up and said, "I hate that I didn't bring a slutty teen-magazine pinup for you to sign; I had such a crush on you."
He immediately replied, "You mean shirtless?" and laughed into a story about how he always had to shave his hairy Italian chest because he was told it would threaten little girls.
Now living in Sedona, Arizona, he's a bona fide gay activist, telling me he is trying to flip Arizona from red to blue from within his blue island. He's been out since a 2005 VH1 special, but it was a long journey.
Scarpelli said he knew he was gay as a teen, but Hollywood was not the place to express that. "I had to move back to New York because I wanted to suck some dick!"
Back in NYC, he lost his first love to AIDS in 1992, something that seems like galvanized his desire to live a more authentic, as he called it, existence.
My favorite stories he told were the ones where he was squished between Michael Lembeck and Boyd Gaines in a phone booth for One Day at a Time, then had to exit while hiding his poor boner; and his assertion that he could have pulled down the pants of a certain '80s soap actor one night when both were drinking but decided he wasn't ready for it.
Later, when I got down on one knee to shoot a pic-with for my friends, Glenn pointed out the position suggestively. I had no choice but to say, "That's your job."
It was so much fun I barely asked him anything about Jennifer Slept Here. Perhaps if I can get to him online, we can get to the bottom of Ann Jillian.
Having seen all the commotion with Glenn, Pat Harrington—aka "Schneider"—was more than ready for us. He was such a good sport and shocked as shit when I selected the oldest, least One Day photo on his table to be signed.
I like to be different!
I asked about his trademark moustache, and was told it was fake early on and then was grown only during shooting and shaved off during his off-time.
When posing for our pic, I asked Pat how he liked these autograph shows. Without any hint of cynicism, he said it was wonderful to receive a steady stream of joy all day long. The right attitude.
The oldest star we encountered is one I've met twice before, ageless Anne Jeffreys, the "ghostess with the mostest." It was an easy way to earn 60 bucks from us, having to sit there absorbing compliments about her fabulous legs, how yellow is her color, how she refuses to age. She had a ball with us, and then very sweetly told us, "Don't get into trouble." I felt like she was Zelda Rubinsteining us. It was 30 years later, but still appreciated.
I'd already received several autographs from Anne in the mail when I sent her birthday wishes last year, then met her at Cinecon and also came to own a Hotel script cover with her autograph as well as those of Jon-Erik Hexum and Timothy Patrick Murphy, so I think I've got Anne covered now.
I wasn't going to "get" Last American Virgin star Lawrence Monoson until I was told he was an out gay man, and then saw how fucking sexy he turned out to be. I told him (you should pardon the expression) straight off that he won the award for most improved, which he found flattering. Then I handed him a shirtless photo to sign, saying, "I'm not even going to beat around the bush on this."
He then started talking about how he was repressed by Hollywood and was furious that the town is so anti-gay (I joked that I wasn't gay, which I think did throw him for a second...if only a second!) and confirmed that gay people in Hollywood are just as likely to tell actors to stay closeted as straight people are.
Lawrence described himself as being "militantly pro-gay," a rarity in that zip code and in his profession.
He was generous enough to stand around all day with his CK undies showing, so I later made sure to take a nice pic of him with Kim Richards, with whom he'd worked on his first-ever job: Hello Larry.
And well hellooo, Lawrence. How you doin'?
I've met out Disney star Tommy Kirk a coupla times before, so this time just sprang for a new pic-with. We hardly interacted, but I did find it pretty memorable when—just before the camera clicked, when most of us are saying or at least thinking, "Cheeeese!"—Tommy blurted out, "God, I'm tired."
I was sent to see Sharon by my friend Christopher Riordan. He told me she was a wonderful person and loads of fun, but he undersold her! No sooner had my friend Jeff and I approached her, Sharon took her own picture of us for Facebook. Next up, she pointed to a leggy, bosomy still of herself and told me she'd had to pay $35 for it on eBay. "Know what it was titled?" she asked. "Tits, ass and boobs." Well, that certainly covers it!
The craziest thing Sharon did was recreate a pose of hers on a burro-shaped piece of furniture, this time using Jeff as the furniture. It's nuts to think this was the mom in the scary-as-hell horror classic It's Alive! (She told me the killer baby looked so fake she couldn't believe it when producers told her they would, in fact, show the baby in the movie. She was shocked when the film wound up a big hit.
My only negative experience this time was with Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols. She was all alone when I approached after she'd had a long line in the morning. As I walked up, her handler was saying they'd be taking her out into the photo gallery area for pro photo ops. I said, puppy doggishly, "Would you mind doing me before you go?"
She looked at me, cross, and snapped, "Do what? You can't take a picture. You have to do that outside [in the gallery] if you want that."
I'd just handed over my $40, and instantly regretted it. I just asked her to sign for me, which she did, with a big, obnoxious "BLESS YOU." I thanked her and she left to go make more money.
The show wound down with a sexy silver fox panhandling us for signatures begging to get Arlene Martel a guest spot on Big Bang Theory. I signed in exchange for the above pic. Not bad, eh? Seeing guys like him running around in a frickin' hotel gives new meaning to the phrase, "Get a room!"
Brian, Rich, Michael (the world's #1 Lucy fan and author of this smashing tome) all chatted at the table of my friend Roy's Baby Jane Collectibles (you can buy the HOTTEST beefcake stuff there), ultimately retiring to our corners far earlier than usual.
It was a fun show this year, not diminished by my diminshed preparedness. I don't know who's left alive that I need to meet when the show comes in October, but so far they've only announced Joan Collins, Cathy Rigby, Dan Haggery and Eddie Deezen, which sounds like a corner of IMDb fell off.