Living in Los Angeles can certainly provide entertaining events in what would be a normal and mundane day. I lived there for 23 years and worked for Warner Bros., Disneys and Universal along with freelancing illustration and writing projects. Working for those studios, it was not unusual to see “celebrities” of course quite frequently, especially at the commissaries…where they would be standing in line with you, holding their trays of food.
They are real people after all.
Then again, you might bump into them in some odd places – the bathroom at your favorite restaurant, sitting next to you at the red light or the waiting room at your doctor’s office.
Gelson’s is a large chain of grocery stores on the west coast where I usually did all of my shopping and that was a fun place to run into them. Andy Garcia was in line behind me one day, buying a bottle of wine…and, I think some bread? I can’t recall exactly, but was amazed by this gorgeous yellow sweater he was wearing. The guy looked like he was just heading home from a GQ shoot.
Oh yes, Mr. Chekov! (Walter Koenig) from the first Star Trek series, came flying into the store and sort of dashed about, rather quickly. It was hard to figure out what he was looking for because he was popping all over the place. I’ll never forget the suit he was wearing. It was an extremely heavy wool, dark gray affair that looked like an undertaker from 1930’s Eastern Europe might have worn it.
I lost sight of him, and, was in the 10 items or less checkout, and, when it was my turn, I plopped the few things onto the conveyor and saw with a start that Mr. Chekov was standing right next to me, holding a small bottle of water. I guess he found what he was looking for, or, decided to just grab at least one thing to buy in there since he had been dashing all over the place.
Steve Carell, that wacky, very talented actor from The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Office and Despicable Me was a regular at Gelson’s. He’s be pushing his cart all over the store, oblivious to everyone else there. He would be casually dressed and usually had a red cap on and yakked with his wife via cellphone the entire time he was there. You could hear him describing boxes and labels and the appearance of produce to her so together they would decide if he should buy whatever he was looking at. I was so glad he ignored all of us, because, it was fun to watch him go through this routine.
Coming out of Gelson’s one day, heading back to my car, I saw that the lead singer from the rock band Journey had parked near me. He was sitting in a brand new, bright and shiny, black Volkswagen beetle rocking out to some song he had cranked up to full volume. He was popping his head up and down so violently, in time to the music, that his little car looked like it was going to bounce away like a beach ball.
Rock on Steve!
Too bad this was before the days cell phones could record video. That would have been a hugely fun Facebook post.
You could bump into them all over the place, not just at Gelson’s - Kathy Ireland, Kevin Costner, Elle Macpherson, Robert Guillaume, Dan Akroyd, Colm Meaney, Tim Allen, Lou Diamond Phillips, William Daniels, Jeffrey Jones, Jon Lovitz, Gary Sinise, Kiefer Sutherland, Tony Todd, Joe Walsh, Quentin Tarantino and many more. All part and parcel of living in the Big Avocado. For those of us who made Los Angeles our home, it was sort of an unwritten law, to just leave them alone. I liked that, and, honored it.
By far though, the most fun I ever had spotting a celeb was on a bright, sunny, afternoon in Burbank. I had been at a video studio with two friends of mine, reviewing footage from a project I had been working on about Aerosmith.
This studio was on this main drag street called Ventura Blvd. that ran the entire length of the valley. We were in a section just around the corner from Warner Bros. studio. After we were finished reviewing the material I had, we headed for our cars. Like most of the shops on Ventura Blvd., the front of the business faced the sidewalk and street, while a smaller alley in back had parking for cars.
The alleys weren’t terribly big, but, you could drive through them, and, behind each shop there was room enough for 5-6 cars thereabouts. Across the alley, were just the backs of other business built on the sidestreets. They were kind of desolate, very unglamorous, usually dirty, typical alleys.
So, the three of us were talking quietly amongst ourselves as we fished out car keys and navigated towards our vehicles. One of the people I was with suddenly stopped so abruptly, the remaining two of us came to a sudden standstill and looked at her, wondering what was going on. We turned to look in the direction where she was staring.
Yes, indeed, it was easy to see why she had put the breaks on so abruptly. A man was standing in the alley with us, maybe 50 – 60 feet away, and he was holding a shotgun. Dumbfounded, we stood, there, trying to assess how much danger we were in, what was going on, were we about to be shot and so on?
Suddenly though, we all recognized who it was. It was Clint Eastwood. In this small, dreary, dirty little alley was just Clint and the three of us, and, we were trying to figure out what the heck he was doing.
It was unlikely that he was getting ready to knock off the collectible comics store, so we just watched and waited. Even though he was fairly close to us, he didn’t acknowledge us in any way, and then, we heard someone in the distance, calling for him.
He turned on his heel and walked away from us in the most intense Clint Eastwood way of walking ever. It was awesome. He disappeared with his shotgun, through a narrow passage between two buildings, and was headed for the boulevard.
Before too long we heard shouting, and the high pitched popping sound of a gun being fired. The gunfire sound was created by special effects people so that everyone in the scene being shot for a movie could hear it and react the way they were supposed to. Sadly, his gun was not loaded with the real thing.
Now THAT could have made for a helluva good story.
Later on we found out he had been shooting a scene from his movie, “Blood Work”.
Clint…you are seriously Bad Ass!! We love you!!