My favorite show of the year came and went in just two jam-packed hours. Twice a year, I make the 30 minute drive over to the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel for the bi-annual Chiller Theatre Expo. I believe this was the 25th Chiller show, and had quite the enviable guest list. First appearances, old favorites, and of course the usual lineup of convention circuit regulars. Award-winning actress Ann-Margret and Mike Nesmith of The Monkees headlined the show, with second billing going to film & television stars to span the decades, as well as enough professional wrestlers to hold a battle royal.
As usual, I purchased a preshow ticket and got in at 5 o’clock. Almost all of the stars were already stationed at their tables, price lists up, and Sharpies in hand. The crowds were light, allowing traffic and air to flow smoothly. I came in, got pictures & signatures from everyone I needed, did plenty of socializing, had a hot dog, and still made it out in two hours.
Gavin MacLeod ~ Star of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Love Boat,” Gavin clearly came dressed for the occasion. A dear man with time and story to tell for every fan who came to his table. He highly recommends his book, This Is Your Captain Speaking.
Richard Karn ~ Longtime host of “Family Feud,” and Tim Allen’s sidekick Al on “Home Improvement,” Richard had a slew of great photos from the latter series. You can see a bit of a photobomb from Gilbert Gottfried, who when Richard introduced himself as Gilbert’s neighbor, the comedian asked if he needed a fence up to his nose, a reference to “Home Improvement” neighbor Wilson.
John Schneider ~ Yet another notch in my belt when it comes down to collecting the cast of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” When I remarked at John’s height and that he wasn’t a little old man like most of the stars I meet, he said, “No, I’m just a tall old man.”
Vanessa Marcil ~ One of the prettiest leading ladies “General Hospital” ever had, I met Vanessa only once a number of years ago, and I’ve stockpiled quite a bit of memorabilia in the meantime. I narrowed it down and had her sign a few key pieces. And considering I weighed over 200 lbs. and she was pregnant for our last encounter, I figured it was time for an updated photo. Such a sweetheart, and just absolutely gorgeous.
Miss Michael Learned ~ The beloved mother Olivia Walton on “The Waltons,” this Emmy winner was gracious, and so sweet. One of those stars that I naturally just felt comfortable chatting with. She happily recalled her time working on “General Hospital.”
Don Most & Anson Williams ~ The “Happy Days” duo of Ralph & Potsie was great when it came to photo ops. They did individual photos for everyone and then a group photo. Great guys with great stories, and you can hear all about their days on the legendary ABC sitcom in Anson’s book, Singing to a Bulldog.
Robert Colbert ~ Appearing alongside his costars from “The Time Tunnel,” I got Robert for his role of Stuart Brooks on “The Young and the Restless.” An original cast member on the long-running soap opera, if it weren’t for Robert’s ten-year contribution to the series, who knows if it would have made it to where it is today.
Rip Torn ~ “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball,” the words immortalized by Torn’s character Patches O’Houlihan in Dodgeball. Sadly, the 84 year old appeared to be quite ill, but in good spirits. Kudos to him for coming out to meet the legions of fans who lined up this weekend.
Mindy Sterling ~ Known to my generation as Frau Farbissina, Dr. Evil’s lesbian henchwoman in the Austin Powers series, Mindy has done a number of series and brought to life over 100 characters, several of which she imitated for me tonight.
Michael Cole ~ Star of “The Mod Squad,” and also a “General Hospital” alum, regular readers will know I became acquainted with Michael and his wife, Shelley, through my good friend Wayne. It was great to see them both again and they were ever so gracious. Cannot stress enough how good of people they both are.
Brian Knobbs ~ Part of the professional wrestling tagteam, the Nasty Boys, many will remember Knobbs as Hulk Hogan’s fun-loving sidekick on “Hogan Knows Best” and its followup series “Brooke Knows Best.” Knobbs had fun with the photo ops, going as far as providing a costume.
Wesley Eure ~ Didn’t originally plan on getting Wesley, star of “Land of the Lost,” but he was happy to comply when I said I wanted to send a picture to his “Days of our Lives” relations Bill & Susan Hayes who are vacationing in Virginia Beach.
Overall, it was a great show as always. Couldn’t believe how fast I finished up in there. Again, a special thanks to Kevin Clement, his Chiller staff, and to all of the stars who travel from literally all corners of the world to spend the weekend with their fans.