As I teased in my last post, the end of April posed to be a great weekend for me, and it was. The weekend kicked off with my semi-annual visit to New Jersey’s flagship autograph show, the Chiller Theatre Expo. I had 14 names on my want list this year, and I headed up for preshow entry as soon as I left work. I got there around five after 5, and it worked great because the preshow line had dwindled down and was moving steadily.
I found my mother already on line for Meat Loaf. She was maybe twentieth in line at most and he was in the room roaring and ready to go. However, as we soon learned, Meat was having full fledged conversations with everyone and it took an hour of waiting in line to finally see him. He wasn’t doing table photos, and I had prepurchased a ticket for his professional photo op later that evening.
After I scored Meat Loaf’s autograph on a Rocky Horror Picture Show 8×10, I ventured into the Living Room where I would score the bulk of my combos for the night.
Tara Reid ~ First up was this lovely Wyckoff native and star of The Big Lewbowski and the American Pie and Sharknado film series. Tara had a very short line, however I was stuck behind some perverted old man who needed to take a half a dozen different photos with his hands all over her. I got a combo and her signature on a nice bikini shot.
Nicholas Turturro ~ Nicholas was right next to Tara and had no line, partly because he was in the corner of the room and had little to no visibility. He had very few photos on his table, and I naturally chose the one from Blue Bloods, a favorite of mine.
Demond Wilson ~ Moving down the line, I got Demond, Lamont from Sanford and Son, a series which still airs daily nearly 40 years after its finale. This was his first convention appearance, and while he was not overly friendly, he was very appreciative of all the fans who came out to see him.
Robert Pine ~ Appearing alongside his CHiPs costars, Larry Wilcox & Erik Estrada, both of whom I have already met, Robert had the shortest line of the three. To be completely honest, CHiPs means absolutely nothing to me, so I surprised Robert with an 8×10 screen grab from one of his earliest films, Munster, Go Home. He fondly recalled the film, and working with my favorite Marilyn, Debbie Watson.
Max Baer, Jr. ~ Making a rare east coast appearance was the last surviving cast member from TV’s classic, The Beverly Hillbillies. I have two autographed 8x10s that a friend got me when Max did another show a few years back, so I just got a photo with him. We spoke briefly of his venture into the casino industry and online gaming.
Ted McGinley ~ Another star making a rare appearance, perhaps even his first, Ted was a fan favorite among the friends I had attend the show this weekend. He took the time to have a conversation with everyone, and we spoke mainly of all the great trips he got to take during his time on The Love Boat. I had a Married with Children cast photo that I started many years ago, which I had abandoned, but I brought it along for Ted to sign, as well as getting a standard 8×10 headshot, a shot Ted can’t remember came from Happy Days or Dynasty.
At this point, the other two names I needed in the Living Room, Judge Reinhold and Rob Schneider, had super long lines, so I went into the Skyland Suite to bang out all of the remaining names on my list, all of whom were in there.
Piper Laurie ~ I found the Twin Peaks leading lady stationed right inside the room with no line. Piper had many Carrie photos, and even a couple from The Hustler, but only one from Twin Peaks, which is what I went for. Sadly, Piper’s mind seemed to be a bit distant at times, but she was overall very gracious and interested in her fans, asking me what I do for a living and keeping one of my business cards.
Lynne Moody ~ I got a nice glamour shot from Lynne, who starred in Roots, Knots Landing, General Hospital, and originated the role of Lionel Jefferson’s fiance, Jenny Willis, on All in the Family. She fondly recalled her time on GH and attending GHFCW. And then to my surprise, she grabbed hold of me for this great photo op.
Dennis Haskins ~ An icon for my generation, Dennis played Principal Richard Belding on all incarnations of Saved by the Bell. Dennis was super cool and friendly, just as one would imagine Mr. Belding to be.
I then realized that aside from Judge and Rob, I still needed Bernie Kopell, who was nowhere to be found. He was supposed to be in the Living Room, but alas, had moved into the Morris Room.
Bernie Kopell ~ A television icon, Bernie of course starred on both Get Smart and The Love Boat. I was a little taken aback at his frail appearance, but he was still sharp as a tack. He elaborated on a story Ted McGinley told, the time Fred Grandy was severely injured in a taxi cab explosion in Turkey. At the time, Bernie was nearby and recalled the panic that ensued as it was believed it to be a terrorist attack.
Butch Patrick ~ The Munsters star was a few tables away from Bernie, and I figured it was time for an updated photo op. Butch attends the show usually once a year and it’s always nice to chat with him.
At this point, I went up to the Mezzanine level for the professional Meat Loaf photo ops. Mass hysteria was bound to ensue, so I got up there fairly early to stake a spot on the line. Meat came up about 25 minutes late, and once again, held a friendly chat with everyone who came in for a photo.
Meat Loaf ~ I have to admit, I was really apprehensive about meeting Meat. I recently read an interview he did where he spoke in disdain of meet & greets, but he was such a pleasant man. He loved to chat with the fans on a variety of topics, and came across to me as a pretty normal guy.
With my photo op out of the way, I jumped on line for Rob Schneider, where my mother was holding a place. Luckily, she had gotten pretty close to the front while I was upstairs, so I didn’t wait very long. I then finished up with Judge Reinhold.
Rob Schneider ~ Rob has been a defining comedic actor all throughout my life and appeared in so many films during the last 20-some-odd years, so it was a big deal for me to meet him during his first convention appearance. We discussed two of my favorites, Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York, and the 90s film version of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Judge Reinhold ~ Another pleasant surprise of the evening, I heard stories that Judge did not like having his photo taken, but on this particular evening, I don’t know a fan who didn’t get the photo op. Judge and his wife Amy were awesome. He was so genuinely interested in the fans, and when I told him I grew up watching a VHS copy of The Santa Clause with my grandma almost daily, Amy pulled out an 8×10 screen grab of the weenie whistle scene. The quality of it wasn’t great, so they weren’t offering it on the table for sale, but Judge signed it for free, in addition to a shot of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
And then it was all over. Another great Chiller in the history books. Personally, this was one of the best ones I attended. The stars were great and with the exception of a few chatty ones with long lines, it was smooth sailing. But if you think that’s the end of fun for me, you’re wrong…