Just got back from one of my favorite autograph shows, the semi-annual Chiller Theatre Expo held over at the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel. While last year was a hot mess, this year’s Chiller ran smoothly with no bumps in the road, at least none that effected this attendee. As usual, I had a pre-show ticket, got in at 5, and was out by 9. Most of my time was not spent on lines, but rather chatting with friends, some of whom I only get to see a handful of times a year.
Going in, I didn’t really have a game plan. I had a budget and some must-haves, but other than that, there were a lot of good guests at this show. The biggest draws were Academy Award winning actress Tatum O’Neal, WWE Legend Hulk Hogan, the cast of “Happy Days”, and Teri Garr in her very first convention appearance. Prices were pretty steep, and some of the guests thought way too highly of themselves and charged flat-out outrageous prices, but all-in-all, they provided a positive experience and lifelong memories.
I started out in the Troy Hills Room, which for me housed most of the guests I really wanted to see. Following my time in there, I made it around to the other rooms and gathered the remaining handful of signatures and/or pictures that I needed.
Cindy Williams ~ Known for her roles in American Graffiti and on “Laverne & Shirley,” I had Cindy finish up an 8×10 that Penny Marshall had previously signed. When I showed this picture to Cindy for her to review, she quipped, “There are so many bad pictures of me on the internet, I don’t care how I look.” As the night went on, Cindy was not the only one with this motto.
Marion Ross ~ The always endearing Mrs. C on “Happy Days,” Marion came across country to do this show on the weekend of her 87th birthday. Looking decades younger, she was exactly how you would expect Mrs. C to be.
Lesley Ann Warren ~ Having already met Lesley, I went in needing just a photo with her. That all changed though when I saw a lovely 8×10 of her as Cinderella with every GH fan’s favorite Prince Charming, Stuart Damon. Oh and about the camera adding 10 lbs, it’s true. Lesley’s waist is about the size of my ankle.
Teri Garr ~ This blonde bombshell, battling multiple sclerosis for over a decade now, made her first convention appearance thanks to the always amazing Karen Cadle. I already obtained an autograph from Teri, so I just had my photo taken, providing her hand with a much needed rest.
Jimmy McNichol ~ Jimmy attended the show with his sister, “Empty Nest” star Kristy McNichol. Honestly, Jimmy’s work was before my time, but he appeared as Josh Clayton on my favorite show, “General Hospital,” so I just had to get an 8×10 for my GH collection.
Tony Orlando ~ What can be said about this legend? He was just terrific. A guy that thanked his fans for coming out and acknowledging the fact that without us, he wouldn’t be here. We fondly recalled the time I saw him in Long Island with Don Rickles. As he said at the time, “It used to be Tony Orlando and Dawn, now it’s Tony Orlando and Don.”
Tatum O’Neal ~ The youngest person to win an Academy Award, Tatum signed me an 8×10 of her in The Bad News Bears with one of my favorite stars of all-time, Walter Matthau. Unlike the other female stars, Tatum was very picky about the way she was photographed, and in the end, she looks damn good for 50.
Dawn Wells ~ Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…Alrighty, so I met Dawn at my first Chiller, but I was a huge “Gilligan’s Island” fan when I was a kid, so I didn’t mind dropping some money on her again. We had a lovely conversation and caught up just as old friends would. Oh, and when it comes to the biggest dilemma, Ginger or Mary Ann, the latter has my vote.
Sally Kellerman ~ Just before leaving, I caved and got one last person, and I guess you could say I saved the best for last. While I only know a few key components of Sally’s work, he had a great time joking around with each other. When I showed her this picture for approval, she said, “I don’t look at pictures of myself. Why ruin a perfectly good day?” I had to disagree with her. She looks terrific.
Throughout the course of the night, I also obtained autographs of “Soap” star Diana Canova, making her first convention appearance; Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, the dumbwaiter victim of Michael Myers in Halloween: H20; and for my good friend Wayne, “Good Times” star Ralph Carter, and “The Waltons” eldest daughter, Judy Norton.
A special thanks to Kevin Clement and the rest of his staff. As crazy as Chiller is, it never stresses me out. Already looking forward to the next one!!!