2016 In Memoriam

As 2016 draws to a close, the world mourns the dozens of celebrities taken from us this year. While I only met a handful of those we lost, those I did have the privilege of meeting were quite the formidable group – identical cousins, a cool ghoul, a lovely lady, a masked crime-fighter, and a princess.

We lost Patty Duke on March 29 at the age of 69. At the time, I said of meeting Patty, ” It was like seeing an old friend. She loved to hug her friends, and damn, did she give great hugs.” I’ll always miss seeing her at autograph shows and lining up for her each and every time.

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On October 27, the eve of the annual Chiller Theatre Expo Halloween Spooktacular, the show’s longtime host John Zacherle, aka Zacherley the Cool Ghoul, passed away peacefully in his sleep at 98.

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Death took no holiday when Florence Henderson, America’s mom, passed away suddenly on Thanksgiving, November 24. Henderson last appeared on live TV just four days before she passed away of heart failure. She was 82.

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While he may have been a masked crime-fighter on TV, “The Green Hornet” Van Williams was a real-life hero as well. He passed away on November 28, after years of ill health that culminated from his time spent as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff and volunteer Search and Rescue Captain for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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And the world mourned together again when Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia in Star Wars, passed away on December 27, after going into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles several days earlier. She was only 60.

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There will be a lot less “character” in the world without these fine human beings…

 

Robert Wagner

The third Bookends signing of the week on November 17, and my last for the year 2016, was screen legend Robert Wagner. His film credits include, but are certainly in no way limited to A Kiss Before Dying, The Pink Panther, Harper, The Towering Inferno, Austin Powers, and television series It Takes a Thief, Switch, Hart to Hart, and currently, a recurring role on NCIS.

I Loved Her in the Movies is Wagner’s third book, and therefore, this was his third appearance at Bookends. His book signing rules are usually strictly enforced – no memorabilia and no posed photos, however, I brought Mom along to see if having an extra person to man the camera would help. It did.

The average age of the crowd was probably 75, and even Wagner himself remained upstairs to do the signing, as opposed to the usual downstairs signing area. Many Bookends regulars and local collectors skipped the event as it was being advertised  as strictly no photos. However, RJ surprised everyone. He did sign memorabilia, and despite his handlers trying to say otherwise, if you asked him for a photo, he posed.

Being a regular, I didn’t want to undermine or annoy the staff by asking for a photo, so instead, I just had Mom snap a few candids while I talked to RJ, and they turned out great. Neither of us may be looking at the camera, but it’s still a favorite celebrity photo op of mine.

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As always, a huge thank you to Walter and the staff of Bookends for once again bringing in this Hollywood legend. It was a great way for me to wrap up collecting in 2016.

Willie Robertson

On November 16th, I made my second trip of the week to Bookends, for yet another great signing. This time around was Willie Robertson, CEO of Duck Commander and star of the hit A&E series, Duck Dynasty.

I brought my dad along for his first ever signing, and it figures that my impatient dad would be present for a signing that started an hour late – Willie’s car was stuck in the tunnel coming from the City.

The crowd was small – a far cry from the mass that would have been there had Willie done the signing earlier on in the series’ run. The next day, Duck Dynasty‘s cancellation was announced, perhaps the explanation for Willie’s quiet and reserved demeanor that evening.

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It was nice to finally get my dad out to a signing, and I thank Walter and the staff of Bookends for making it possible as always!!!

Anna Kendrick

The week of November 14th was definitely one of those weeks where the staff of Bookends joked about locking me in the store for the week. I had three signings that week, all hosted by the flagship NJ bookstore. First up was Anna Kendrick, star of Pitch Perfect, The Accountant, Into the Woods, Up in the Air, and the Twilight saga.

I anticipated this would be a big one, so I wisely pre-ordered a copy for pickup the day of the signing. Since it’s been two and a half months since this signing, my memory is a bit foggy, but I believe they sold out of books with people still piling in the door. As President Trump would say, it was huge.

All of the books were pre-signed, and Anna focused on solely doing photo ops for the crowd. I hope everyone walked away happy and pleased, because I know I did.

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As always, a big thank you to Walter and the staff of Bookends. This was a mighty feat to pull off, and as always, they were more than capable of doing so!!!

Rhode Island Comic Con 2016

Having attended RICC’s first three shows, missing just the fourth one, I thought I was due for a reappearance in 2016. This show is crazy, attendees run around like chickens with their heads cut off, but I f***ing love it. They always book that odd ensemble of guests that makes it great for autograph collectors. It’s a little pricier, but if you stay away from the stars in the main room, you can leave the show with a nice haul and a ton of table photo ops.

Having purchased my ticket just a few days earlier, I was able to bypass the line wrapped around the convention center and go right inside to the box office. Instead of then having to go back outside with ticket in hand and waiting in line, DDC staffers allowed us to go right inside the show. It was a nice little blip in the system.

After learning all of the big names were in the Dunkin Donuts Center, and everyone else was in the convention center, I headed into there. Mostly everyone was at their tables, and if they weren’t, they were trickling in at a steady pace.

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Mena Suvari ~ Mena was part of a nice little American Pie reunion lineup along with Shannon Elizabeth, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Tara Reid. Having already seen Shannon and Tara, I just needed her and Thomas. Mena was a sweetheart, and I believe this was one of her first convention appearances.

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Gil Gerard ~ The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century star is no stranger to the convention circuit, and I’ve seen him around before, but I recently discovered an old TV movie of his – International Airport – that I wanted to discuss with him. Gil had forgotten about it at first, but was glad I brought it up. He fondly recalled it.

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Thomas Ian Nicholas ~ Keeping up with the consistency of meeting his American Pie costars, I naturally got a signed 8×10 of him as Kevin. However, he was also in Halloween: Resurrection, so I brought along a screen grab of him as Bill Woodlake to sign as well.

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Brent Spiner ~ Hard to believe it’s taken me so many years to finally meet this convention regular. As many of my wants for this show had canceled, I splurged a bit and got Brent on 8x10s from both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Independence Day. He also fondly recalled his time filming Out to Sea.

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Nolan North ~ I’ll be the first to admit I doubted Nolan’s popularity greatly. To me, he’s Dr. Chris Ramsey from Port Charles and General Hospital, but to convention goers, he’s a huge video game voicover artist. He wasn’t even at his table yet when I got in his line, but when I realized how long it already was, I jumped right on it. I’d say the wait was for nearly an hour long. Never saw that coming. In the end, Nolan was great and loved that I had a Port Charles photo for him to sign.

In addition to the above, I also scored some signatures, but no photo ops from William Zabka and Michael Bell. For Zabka, I printed up a still from 1985’s European Vacation. He was floored that I had this photo. A convention regular, he has never signed one before. For Bell, I brought along a DVD from a movie in which he had a small role, 1977’s Rollercoaster. While he didn’t have a big part in the movie, his signature looks beautiful on my DVD cover.

Overall, it was a great show and it was nice to return to my former residence of Providence, Rhode Island. I wish there had been a few more guests that I needed to see, but fingers crossed, next year’s lineup will be even better and I’ll once again make the trek up there.