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claim to fame

January 13, 2010

We had a lively small group dinner conversation about meeting famous people or knowing someone who knows someone note-worthy.

Have you had any brushes with fame? Please tell your stories, however remote the connection or obscure the individual! If you’re in my small group, please repeat what you said last night.

Here are a few of mine:

  • Went to many camps, youth retreats, and youth group meeting with Skip, a real dummy, who was rolled over by a horse while standing in for Tom Cruises in the movie Far and Away.
  • Saw George H.W. Bush twice when he was running for president.
  • Met Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam memorial in Washington, DC.
  • Had my makeup done by a girl at Merle Norman who had once done makeup for Newman from Seinfeld.
  • Talked to Yoko Ono’s second husband (pre-John Lennon), who called Bethlehem while I was working. He told me the connection; I wouldn’t have known.
  • I should have started a list five years ago, but at work I’ve transferred calls, made copies for, talked to, or at least observed various Christian leaders or authors standing in my office: D.A. Carson, Bruce Ware, William Mounce, Vishal Mangalwadi, Maureen (RC Sproul’s secretary), the archbishop of somewhere, and others that I can’t think of right now.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2010 1:33 pm

    My sister met Will Smith and her boyfriend lived in a building managed by Rhianna’s hairdresser. My sister’s boyfriend has met a lot of famous people, since he works in movie promotion.

    For myself, I know Bryan Dewire personally and Nick Laparra’s brother is one of my roommates.

    Jars of Clay gave me a tour of their bus, I met Shane & Shane after one of their shows, Elizabeth Hunnicutt led worship at a camp I went to and I kept seeing her around, Caitlyn Smith is a friend of a friend, I know the brother of a guy in Mainstay, I knew the singer for Roster McCabe in highschool, and Jason Mraz was really chill after a show at the U of MN.

    And I’ve talked with John Piper like 4 times. That’s pretty good, right?

  2. Tony C permalink
    January 13, 2010 2:23 pm

    Said “hi” to Rebecca St. James and her band as they were walking down a hall at the Mall of America.

    I saw Arnold at the MOA while filming Jingle all the Way.

    I saw a Viking player at the MOA…it was a few years ago, and I don’t remember who it was.

    I saw the actress Andie MacDowell at O’Hare.

    I sat in Newt’s office chair when he was speaker (he wasn’t in his chair, nor the office at the time).

    I said hi to Douglas Wilson and his wife on the streets of Mpls.

    I met John Schlitt and Louis Weaver of Petra. Met the band members of Bleach.

    Sat at a table next to the table Kalen Delany was sitting at during a lunch break while attending a Microsoft SQL server conference (Kalen is a SQL server rock star).

  3. January 13, 2010 2:41 pm

    here we go…

    my ex-brother in law is nick bollettieri who runs the tennis academy (of his same name) where venus and andre agassi and the likes have trained. (actually saw him in a people magazine once, which was weird. he’s old.)

    one of my best friends, Joy (our last baby’s middle name’s sake) is the sister-in-law of Scott Adsit who is on 30 Rock. but i haven’t met him…

    i met and shook hands w/ gwen stefani in 1995 when she opened for 311

    i was in college shows w/ Deborah Lew who performs on broadway, and was in the small cast of The Threepenny Opera w/ Alan Cumming and Cindy Lauper

    my favorite was running into fred willard at a cardinals baseball game. he’s all over the place. google him. you’ll recognize his face if you watch any t.v. or christopher guest movies.

    oh…went to a filming of late, late night w/ Craig Kilborn and saw Burt Bacharach, Al Sharpton, Donny Osmond, Anthony Lapaglia, and some others. Was like in the fourth row.

    i think there’s more, but i just can remember.

    oh, duh. had pizza w/ sandra mccracken and derek webb last time they were in town. but, i always catch up w/ sandra when she’s in town. we’re childhood friends.

    and when molly and i went to that last performance, we had a mini-conversation w/ sara groves. she’s so little.

  4. January 13, 2010 2:43 pm

    About a year ago, James Carville and Mary Matalin were seated at a table adjacent to ours at our favorite restaurant in New Orleans.

  5. carpoolqueen permalink
    January 13, 2010 3:51 pm

    I had a fun job once where I got to be in the same room with Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson. It was made all the more fun by the fact that this was during the impeachment scandal, and Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott were there too.

    I’ve met Nancy Sinatra, too. She’s a riot.

  6. January 13, 2010 4:01 pm

    I used to work at a company started by Gale Sayers (he of “Brian’s Song” fame) and met him at a company event once.

  7. January 13, 2010 4:14 pm

    Saw Cindy Crawford in the grocery store in Malibu. She is REALLY pretty in real life, without airbrushing. And my high school softball coach played softball against her.

    Competed in gymnastics with Dominique Moceanu, when we were in elementary school.

    Knew Shane & Shane before they where, “Shane & Shane” … they did our Disciple Now when I was in high school.

    Mercy Me did some of our youth stuff when I was in high school, too.

    Matt Chandler lead our college group. Also did a few speaking events at our camps when I was in high school.

    Saw Janet Jackson in her silver VW Bug in Malibu.

    Talk to Mark Driscoll at the DG Conference.

    Went to college and was friends with the lead singer of Meese.

    My brother was in a LifeHouse video and is friends with the members of that group.

    Chased down a black Hummer (thought it was the Governator) but turned out not to be Arnold.

    My college roommate is now in Hollywood and was on MTV True Life.

    I know there is more, but I’ve forgotten some….

  8. January 13, 2010 4:29 pm


    I totally know Yoko’s ex-husband that you talked to. He is quite…eccentric. He always says he never tells anyone he is her ex-husband, but then everyone he meets seems to know. 🙂

    The only one I feel is worth mentioning here at your lovely establishment is that I saw Joe Isuzu in a mall. I was quite excited and freaked out just enough that he realized I was freaking out and very politely waved to me…as did his wife and child. I should have gotten his autograph – oh well.

  9. January 13, 2010 4:39 pm

    Although there were no people there, I stood (three years later) on the spot where Nicole Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were murdered.

    While at Universal Studios Orlando, I was within inches of Michael Jackson and his two older children as they exited the Spiderman ride. I am such a nerd that I scrapbooked the blurry pictures.

    That’s all I got.

  10. Ellen permalink
    January 13, 2010 7:20 pm

    Having lived in NYC, had lots of sightings, but one that jumps out is seeing Ethan Hawke in his early years walking across Washington Square. I thought he looked familiar and was trying to wrack my brain to remember from where. We said ‘hi’ as we passed. It was only 5 steps after I realized it was Ethan Hawke!

    My best friend from Jr. High school hangs out with Uma Thurman. Their sons are best friends from pre-school.

    My friend was a teacher for Hugh Jackman’s child and had him as a chaperon for their field trip which ended up being more trouble than help due to the gawkers.

    Ricky Lauren (Ralph Lauren’s wife) was in my group in one of my counseling classes. She was still beautiful in her 60th. What she was doing getting a counseling degree – no clue.

    Bill Cosby’s son was supposed to graduate from graduate school with me a few days after his tragic death. Bill Cosby who was scheduled to speak at our commencement obviously decided not to come.

    I sat two seats away from Andrew MacCarthy (think “Pretty in Pink”) on Spirit Air.

    I saw Sharon Osbourne in Detroit airport waiting for our luggage.

    In Michigan, I used to work with the grandson of the guy who wrote “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. His grandson was a Christian Counselor.

    One of my guy friends grew up playing golf with Tiger Woods and are still friends.

    My sister-in-law’s friend is married to Wesley Snipes.

  11. Ellen permalink
    January 13, 2010 7:26 pm

    Oh, I forgot my favorite. I had the privilege of helping Michael Card set up for a concert at my old church, having lunch and hanging out with him the whole day. He was a such a gentle, godly man. He tried to serve us and set the table during lunch time!

  12. Frank Martens permalink
    January 13, 2010 7:59 pm

    My sister has met a number of famous stars.

    She works in burbank and has been on WB & Disney & Paramount & some other studio sets.

    There’s too many for me to remember who she’s met, but just to list at least one: Brad Pitt … but he’s really not worth mentioning.

  13. Juliet permalink
    January 13, 2010 8:08 pm

    Mine’s pretty nerdy:

    Had dinner with Lee Hartwell, the nobel prize winner in 2001 for discovering the genes that control cell division, which had major implications for cancer biology. I was in high school and my biology teacher had won a teaching award and was allowed to bring two students to the ceremony dinner.

    In the first lab I worked in as an undergrad, another nobel laureate by the name of Dr. Kreb would drop by the lab to visit my boss. Every time I saw him I was practically speachless. 🙂

  14. Jamie permalink
    January 13, 2010 8:43 pm

    I forgot this most obvious one last night.. I job-shadowed Steve Sviggum for two days when he was the MN speaker of the house. I met quite a few other “important” people…but unfortunately can’t remember them all because I probably didn’t know who they were at the time.

  15. Ordinary Radical permalink
    January 13, 2010 8:51 pm

    My wife rode in an elevator with Timothy Dalton and met Bobcat Goldthwait. She worked in the same building as a radio station.

    My sister performed physical therapy on Ted Lindsay, which is quite a big deal with her being a Red Wings hockey fan.

    As for myself… I know people, who know people, who know people…

  16. Claire permalink
    January 13, 2010 9:03 pm

    Mine is pathetic compared to everyone else’s but I saw Carrot Top in the Memphis airport.

    Also, I’m somehow related to Drew Barrymore like 3rd cousins I think. (Her grandfather was my grandfather’s cousin.)

    I’ve also met several “famous” Pipers but I don’t think that counts.

  17. January 13, 2010 9:05 pm

    One time I flew from Duluth to Minneapolis in first class with Brett Hull–a professional hockey player. I got an autographed picture…but I didn’t know why he was famous until after the flight. 🙂

    One time I wrote a letter to Billy Graham that had a friendship bracelet in it and I got back a letter from Billy Graham’s secretary thanking me for the gift.

    I also wrote a letter to Don Rupp the then manager of KTIS radio thanking him for doing a good job. He sent me back a note and what was then a really cool KTIS water bottle (cup/cover/bendy straw type).

    I saw George H. W. Bush during his first campaign and at that campaign he kissed the baby of my then Sunday school teacher.

    My old flute teacher is Michele Frisch the principal flautist for the MN Opera.

    My high school biology teacher was on Animal Planets “Eaten Alive” documentary.

    🙂 Fun stuff…

  18. Kristina Michael permalink
    January 13, 2010 9:32 pm

    *Saw Cory Koske in my ankle surgeon’s office (my ankle surgeon works with the Twins players)

    *Met Bruce Ware, Paul Tripp, CJ Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, and others I can’t remember–through my parents mostly. Had dinner a couple of times with Ken Sande (Peacemakers). And my brother in law stayed at Ian Murray’s house when they traveled to Europe. But I don’t personally know the Murrays.

    *Had dinner with Norma McCorvey, who is Roe of Roe v. Wade

    *Threw up in Pastor John’s car when I was in 1st grade : )

    *Mostly though I hang out with “regular” people (who aren’t really that regular, when you think about it)….I see and talk to some pretty spectacular people every day. : )

  19. Kristina Michael permalink
    January 13, 2010 9:35 pm

    And Juliet, I think yours is pretty cool….Nobel prize winner for genetics research? that’s pretty amazing!! Must have been a fun dinner! (maybe that means I’m kinda nerdy, too…oh, well!) : )

  20. January 14, 2010 12:09 am

    I peed next to Ethan Coen at the Lagoon cinema Uptown MN as well as running into his brother and Richard Kind (Spin City anyone?).

    Saw Michael Johnson, “Worlds Fastest Man” in Florence Italy at a cafe.

    Saw Hilary Clinton’s backside in Washington D.C. when she was the first lady. She had a bright yellow power suit on. Very striking.

    Had a class lecture with Scott Z. Burns, the screenwriter for some of the Bourne movies and The Informant among others.

    Met the director for The Kite Runner.

    Met the “Mariner Moose”, the mascot for the Seattle Mariners at a fan appreciation banquet. He goes to Mars Hill Church now! Holla.

    Spent time with the spiritual adviser to the President of the Philippines.

    I guess some kid in one my film classes directed a Dorito’s commercial.

    And I see another star pretty frequently. The Sun.

  21. Jesse permalink
    January 14, 2010 12:57 am

    I laughed heartily over this last night and it fits the topic so I’ll share:

    I took some of the college students here to see Fantastic Mr. Fox two nights ago.
    Recall that George Clooney does the voice of Mr. Fox and does his little “trademark”–‘click click hoo hoo’ (cluck of the tongue + whistle + finger point). Anyway, a girl in our group works at a fancy NYC restaurant and just LAST night she waited upon and talked to Mr. Clooney and his girlfriend. She said it took everything in her NOT to greet Mr. Clooney with his foxy little trademark. (Though this story would be funnier if she actually did it.) That’s all.

  22. January 14, 2010 11:30 am

    Rumor has it that Nicholas Sparks (author of The Notebook, Dear John, A Walk to Remember [I think]) used to live about a mile from my house in SC.

    I have an autographed photo of the guy who discovered Pluto, Clyde W. Tombaugh.

    My parents used to support a Campus Outreach person who was a friend of Collective Soul.

    I saw George Bush Senior get off Air Force One when, while president of course, he flew into our local airport on his way to the annual Hendersonville Apple Festival.

  23. Kathy Sturm permalink
    January 14, 2010 11:41 am

    This fall my boys played on a flag football team. One of the other dads from the team used to be the PE teacher for Bill Gates. He used to try to make Bill Gates run laps, but evidently Bill was not too athletic…

  24. Lowell permalink
    January 14, 2010 7:54 pm

    I attended a Sunday School class in a Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. back in 1977
    while in the Air Force. Just as class was about to begin, in walked Jimmy Carter and
    Roselyn. He was POTUS at the time. They both took their turn reading verses and
    contributed to the class discussion. A number of Secret Service guys were in amongst
    the rest of us in the class, one just person over from me. The guy next to me told me that
    Carter often taught the class, and that just a few week prior had been scheduled to teach
    but had to cancel. He call a substitute from the White House and said he couldn’t make
    it on Sunday because Brezhnev was coming to town.

    Anyway, after class a few of us filed by to meet them personally. As I shook my
    commander-in-chief’s hand he said that he was very glad to meet me. I remember thinking
    that he was probably just saying that because how could he have known who I was.

  25. Lowell permalink
    January 14, 2010 8:15 pm

    Another old story from my A.F. days: my roommate was a collector of sports
    paraphernalia and had a complex covert strategy which he used to corner
    equipment managers of professional teams. His collection included practice
    jerseys, helmets and jock straps of dozens of household name players.

    One Saturday night he says to me, “Hey, you want to go meet the Dallas
    Cowboys?” I said, “Ya, right.” Make a long story short, after about a
    dozen phone calls he figured out where the Cowboys were staying in Seattle
    for their game against the Seahawks the next day. So we go downtown to
    this fancy hotel lobby. Nobody’s there. But he says, “Just wait.” And wouldn’t
    you know it, after about an hour these huge guys start coming out of the
    elevators. He know everyone of them by their pictures in his last years’
    Superbowl program. He gets an autograph from everyone still on the
    team, including Roger Staubach. I got just two; Coach Tom Landry and
    Preston Pierson.

  26. Davy permalink
    January 14, 2010 10:13 pm

    Last summer, Caleb and I were walking in Charlottesville, VA, with Mom and Dad. They were convinced that Wallace Shawn was eating at an outdoor restaurant we walked past. Wallace Shawn played Vizzini,the guy who tries to poison Wesley with wine, in The Princess Bride. I didn’t think it was really him, but it was. We verified it online by finding pictures of him and the lady he was with (Deborah Eisenberg, a writer and his “longtime companion” according to

    Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., bumped into me at a dinner at work. His brother, Rev. Jonathan Falwell, opened the door for me one day at Liberty University.

  27. January 15, 2010 7:54 am

    One time I made a funnel cake for Leann Rimes at the Red River Valley Fair in Fargo, ND. She wanted one before her concert. But she didn’t come get it, her people did.

    Other than that, I’ve met Bishop Kallistos Ware, Frankie Schaffer, Fredricka Matthews Green, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Matushka Juliana Schmemann and more bishops than I care to remember. Which is like the “A-list” of Orthodox celebrities. Which is only impressive if you’re Orthodox. Sigh.

  28. Delores permalink
    January 16, 2010 8:31 pm

    Jessica, you may not know this but: according to my geneaolgy database, you are the” fifth cousin twice removed” of Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons.

    • Delores permalink
      January 16, 2010 8:33 pm

      Oops, sorry. It’s spelled genealogy. I think.

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