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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Brief Brushes With Fame

          By request, I am going to elaborate on something mentioned in passing on my blog about my Honest Scrap Award answers.   As a recipient of this award I was supposed reveal ten honest things about myself.  I don't know that the things I revealed particularly revealed much about my character, but some of you requested more details about some of the things I did reveal and in doing so I guess I will be revealing something more about who I am and who I have been.

          One of the things that I revealed in that post was the following:

        5. In 1978 in Huntington, WV, I ate dinner with Rudy Vallee 
      Today's post will look at the incident to which I referred.

          In 1978, my wife at that time and I had joined up with a touring theater production.  We were traveling with our young son who had been born the year before.  It was a busy schedule playing one night engagements with shows scheduled almost daily.  We were young and a bit crazy on tour with others of similar age and craziness.  We all took our job on the show seriously, but always looked forward to some partying back at the hotel after the work was done.  Most days had a similar schedule:  travel in the morning, some down time in the afternoon, start setting up the show around four o'clock with the show at about seven, and afterwards it was party time.

          After the first couple of months on the road, the tour was set up so that we were scheduled to meet up with the show's owner, a well known entertainer and businessman, at Huntington, WV, where he was producing a show at an old vaudeville era theatre that had been restored.  He had assembled some top notch variety acts and had booked Rudy Vallee as the headliner.  The cast members of our show where to assist in the production in various ways.

         This break in our touring schedule was not particularly welcome to me as I enjoyed the routine of our show, but we were obligated to be there since it was our boss that ordered us to be there.  The man who owned the show had known me from an earlier time when I had worked in my family's juggling act and usually invited me to accompany him on special occasions since he considered me to be part of his "inner circle".  After the show in Huntington,  he invited my wife and I, along with our tour managers, to accompany him to dinner with Rudy Vallee.  Once again, I did not feel like his invitation was one that I could turn down--I felt like it was part of my job and I had to go.  Reluctantly we joined them while our friends from the show were back at the room partying and we could hardly wait to get back there with them.

         I had certainly known who Rudy Vallee was because I had grown up hearing his name. He was a iconic figure who was often imitated on TV and in cartoons.  I had seen him on television shows and in old movies.  But at this time I could have cared less because he didn't mean that much to me.  I was not a fan and he just seemed like some old man who was essentially a has been.  Now, after the fact, I regret my attitude at that time.  Rudy Vallee is a legendary figure of twentieth century entertainment.

Rudy Vallee was a multitalented bandleader, singer, musician and actor.
         Having grown up in the entertainment business I often was around many people who had varying degrees of fame.  I really didn't think about them because I was preoccupied with being a kid and wasn't that interested in older people I didn't know.  The concept of famous people really didn't impress me because I guess I felt like I was famous in my own endeavors or at least on the road to fame.  Legend, schmegend is the way I looked at things in the self-centeredness of my youth.

          Now I wish I had been more attentive to Mr. Vallee. The man had once been a huge star and an idol of millions.   He actually seemed like a very nice man and probably had a wealth of wonderful stories to tell.  I know now my boss was treating us to a unique situation of which we did not recognize the value at the time.  I wish I would asked Rudy Vallee questions about some of his experiences in show business and about some of the famous people he had known, and listened to some his anecdotes.

        Sometimes when we are younger, we are so wrapped up in the here and now that we don't take advantage of the circumstances that can be treasures in our future.  A smug know-it-all attitude is a hindrance to learning.  I have learned this over the years, but unfortunately too late in regard to some of the rich opportunities that I have had.  As is often said, "If only I knew then what I know now".  This is such a true aphorism that is invariably spoken with wistfulness.

          Next Wednesday I'll talk about some similar situations that I have had, so I hope you'll check back for that.   Have you had a brush with fame that you wished you had taken more advantage of?   Are you impressed by meeting famous people?    Who is somebody that you wish you could have dinner with?

          Here's an addendum to my post:  On her blog, Corra McFeydon is addressing a question to the women (although I guess men could answer as well).  This is in response to my earlier protest to her review of BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY--      you might want to go over and add your opinion.


  1. What an awesome post. You certainly did have a brush with fame.
    My brush with fame came 8 yrs ago,
    I was visiting a friend in N. Ireland before both of us were going to The Donegal Shore Festuval. My friend had bought some concert tickets for the local theatre at Enniskillen to see the C/W Irish singer Mick Flavin. I had never met him before and as he was in the foyer of the theatre before the concert I took advantage to speak with him. He knew my friend and for a laugh I asked him if he needed anyone to play the tambourine in his band.
    As the next night he was recording a DVD to celebrate 15 yrs in show business he asked if we had tickets. We did, so he said bring your tambourines along,
    Next night found ourselves in the front row and Mick came on to "Warm up" after a while he said I have 2 ladies who want to play their tambourines, we duly got up on the stage, one stood each side of him then he started to play,
    The song was "Home To Donegal" which is not a very quick song and certainly not one to play a tambourine to, for 3 minutes I wished there were a trap door under my feet, we played rather badly but at the end I suppose it was all for fun as it certainly warmed the audience up for the recording of his DVD,
    I have met Daniel O Donnell countless time but one person I would love to have dinner with is Paul McKenna PHD. He has written countless self help books which I have read with good results.

    Enjoyed your write.
    Have a good day.

  2. Hi again, As here in the UK we are approaching Mother's Day, I wrote a poem many years about my mother and wondered whether you could read it and give your opinion.


  3. You are so right! When we are younger, we don't appreciate things of value. We're caught up in US. Maybe that's the definition of maturity - the point at which we lose our selfishness.

  4. The closest I have come is on a couple of occassions I was able to be with a friend who was a protege of Country Western singing star Freddie Hart and have dinner with Mr. Hart.

    I would like to meet one day my hero, George Jones. That would be a brush with fame for me. I was privileged to co-write a song in 1999 that was included on an album by UAR, Jerry Hanlon called Haggard and Jones as a commenoration.

  5. If I had that opportunity today, I would still be too self-conscious to ask questions or take advantage of the opportunity!

  6. Never been around famous people, but I'm sure Oprah is out there just dying to meet me! Ha! Loved your take on the matter. As with so much, age teaches us volumes! Thank you for the post!

  7. I guess that's why they say youth is wasted on the young. All the things we wish we had been more attentive to when exposed to them when we were younger *sigh* My husband loves to collect autographs from his various brushes with fame, which include Phil Rizzutto and Tammy Faye Bakker among others (I spotted her in a department store and he had to go and speak with her - she was extremely friendly)

    Thanks for visiting my site and commenting on my son's juggling. He is going to circus camp this summer so he will hopefully get some pointers to polish things a bit -- On youtube the kids love to post all their high number juggling :D

    Are you on youtube? I'd love to show him your juggling :-)

  8. Yeah, I know whatcha mean, rLEE-b. When I was a young man, I was so wrapped up in the "Here" and "Now" that I hadn't yet developed any appreciation for what had come "Before."

    I've had a number of experiences that, at the time, didn't mean much to me, but in looking back I say to myself, "Wow! That was actually something kind of special."

    >>[Who is somebody that you wish you could have dinner with?]<<

    Well, if Last Supper with Jesus is out, I would select dinner (and cocktails?) with Senator Joseph McCarthy. Man, the true stories that guy could have told!

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

  9. Yvonne -- going up on stage like you did can feel awkward and seem to last forever, but what a memory you have afterward. Hope you can have dinner with the doctor one day. And I would love to read your poem -- I enjoy reading all of your poems.

    Diane -- yes, I am disappointed by all the things I didn't recognize as having value when I was younger and the things that seemed important then I can barely remember.

    Greg -- George Jones is indeed a legend who would be cool to meet.

    Debbie -- I know what you're saying and sometimes I feel like I just don't want to bother someone.

    Jaime -- thanks for stopping by and you better get on Oprah quick before she goes off the air.

    Carma -- I've gotten very few autographs. A lot of people who are in the limelight are very nice in casual encounters -- they're just people after all.
    I put my link to my sorry video in your comments--it's embarrassing after seeing what your son can do.

    S. McC --Well I guess dinner with the Senator's not gonna happen in this world either. How about someone who's living? Michael Medved? Rush? Sarah Palin?

  10. >>[Well I guess dinner with the Senator's not gonna happen in this world either. How about someone who's living? Michael Medved? Rush? Sarah Palin?]<<

    Sure, why not?
    I'd eat 'em alive!

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

  11. What a great post! Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories with us.

  12. Thanks for your comment left on your blog. my poem I was on about is on my blog.


  13. Sounds like an interesting evening even if you didn’t appreciate it at the time. I don’t think I’ve met any really famous people but I’d love to have dinner with Stephen King.

  14. Very cool, Lee! You've certainly led an interesting life :)

  15. What a wonderful memory and opportunity. The only famous I've met was Adam West at a car show. I felt very sorry that (and didn’t understand why) his line wasn’t as long as the Playboy - bunny line. :) As I pried my young son's gaze from the bunny line I told him about the real BATMAN!!!! My children got his autograph as I stuttered my admiration and crush.


  17. Hi Lee:)

    Fantastic post with amazing instruction and wisdom.

    Most of us, when we are young, become so self centred and obsessed with our self importance that we ignore older people with comtempt. We forget that they have accumumultated immense wisdom and experience which is just available to us for the asking. We think no end of ourselves and believe we are the ultimate in knowledge and wisdom. If only we had to take the time and trouble to listen to elderly people, we would have become wiser and more successful. But we always wanted to learn the hard way. We wanted to make mistakes,burn our fingers and then learn our lessons. On the other hand it would have been easier to stand on the shoulders of our elders and look far and beyond.

    Youth has always been rebellious,full of self importance and vainglorious. After going through all the twists and turns, trials and tribulation,ups and down suddenly wisdom dawns upon us at a later stage to sit and regret all the things that we could have done and not done.

    But youth is always youth--reckless, daring,bold, courageous,dynamic, full of energy,willing to experimentand so on. I believe the world is in good hands with the youth. I only wish they could listen and learn a little from the old and experienced.

    Have a nice day Lee:)

  18. B Miller -- glad you could visit

    Jane -- a visit with Stephen King would be excellent.

    Jemi -- yeah, but it could have been so much more interesting.

    Teresa -- Adam West was definitely the most fun Batman. That show was such a hot fad back then.

    William -- hope you will come back again.

    Joseph - Your comment was so superb. My sentiments exactly, and what you said is sadly so true.
    Thank you.


    Some Playboy Bunny, more popular than Adam West, the REAL Batman? Pshaw! What a dirty, rotten shame!

    Now, if my choices were Adam West or Julie Newmar - the REAL Catwoman - dressed like a Playboy Bunny... Hmmm... (Sorry, Batman. But I know you, of all people, understand.)

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McBatboy


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