Friday, March 13, 2015

Count Basie and John F. Kennedy

The first celebrity encounter I can remember was when my father returned from California in the late '50's and said he had run into Count Basie at Disneyland and took this picture of the experience. I was probably ten then and had to go look up Count Basie to find out what he did.  My father also managed to get Guy Lombardo's autograph.  My older brother Frank came back from a trip to New York City and said he saw John F. Kennedy campaigning in 1960. He said Kennedy looked like a kid. I was 13 then.

Since those days I have always had an interest in encountering celebrities. Not so much for the sake of talking about it but more for the perceptual experience. These are people that you may "know" from their work and sometimes you have studied their work and have a comprehensive knowledge of it. But you don't actually know them and they certainly don't know you. In the case of film celebrities you have probably studied their faces when the faces are twenty feet high on a screen. You've read about them in books and magazines. They are your "favorites" or you really don't like them at all. You may have actually experienced being a celebrity yourself when someone approaches you with "aren't you so and so?"  Or maybe you have actually gotten to know someone famous. There are a few things I have learned about celebrities: They are smaller in person, they are older than you remember, and they usually do not want new friends.

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