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Newt Gingrich

Time to play catch up. On June 13, I made another successful trip to Bookends to see former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Any time Newt visits Bookends, I try to make it down there. Political differences aside, Newt’s a good man, and makes every one of the attendees feel like an old friend. You can strike up a conversation with him in regards to almost anything, and he speaks in a smooth, comforting tone.

The last time I saw Newt, there were maybe two dozen people in line. This time around, thanks to a plug from Sean Hannity, there were around 100. Not good for me as I was feeling ill, and desperately needing to go to the emergency room. I was hoping this would be a quick event, I was there for over an hour. But as always, Newt was great, and I got a great photo op out of it.

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As always, a huge thank you to Walter, Dave, and everyone at Bookends for a great night. I look forward to the day when they welcome Newt back, which I am sure will be real soon!!!

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William Daniels

When the Strand Book Store announced the March 2nd event featuring Emmy-winning actor William Daniels, the East Coast autograph collectors went gaga. Daniels, star of Boy Meets World, 1776, St. Elsewhere, and Knight Rider, would be signing copies of his new book, There I Go Again, as well as posing for photos and signing extra items. Daniels is an extremely tough meet on the east coast, so this was a huge deal for many of his fans. 200 of them to be exact.

While in line, I spotted Danny McNulty a little further up. He played Harley Keiner, the school bully on Boy Meets World and school janitor on Girl Meets World. He had tweeted earlier in the week he would be attending, so I went ahead a printed up an 8×10 for signing just in case I was able to spot him in the crowd. He graciously signed and posed for a photo, as well as taking a selfie of us on his own phone.

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Mr. Daniels seemed to be genuinely excited to be doing a meet & greet. His social media posts, whether actually written by him or dictated by him, indicated so. However, either he, his management, the book store, or a combination of the three greatly underestimated his popularity. Originally, the store limited the signing to 100 books sold. However, once that sold out, they released another 100 tickets. This concerned me, but I thought maybe a number of these 200 people wouldn’t show, or that several people would come touting multiple copies. All 200 showed and it proved to be too much for the 89-year old Daniels.

I’m not even sure the line had begun to move when the rules changed dramatically. First, the staff came out to announce he had seized doing posed photos, just candids while he was signing. Then prior to entering, they quietly added he would not be signing extras either.

When I got up to Daniels, the rules didn’t seem to be strictly enforced. His handler, actor Loren Lester, was soothing his qualms with each and every signature he begrudgingly signed. If you were lucky, he glanced up for the camera. He didn’t for my photos, but I’m happy with the one I got. Very similar to my Robert Wagner photo op from November.

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Once finished with Daniels, I noticed Bonnie Bartlett, who was off to the side, just wrapping up a conversation with McNulty. Bartlett has had her own storied career appearing alongside Daniels in both St. Elsewhere as Ellen Craig, and Boy Meets World as Dean Lila Bolander-Feeny. As McNulty stepped away, I swiftly stepped in with an 8×10 head shot and Sharpie in hand. I don’t think she said anything as she too begrudgingly signed, and she didn’t say anything when posing either, she just quickly flashed a smile for the camera. She is 87, and the evening was clearly taking a lot out of her as well. For attendees who couldn’t get Daniels, they were aiming to get the next best thing – his Emmy-winning wife.

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Daniels later said on social media, “Was truly overwhelmed with the amount of people who came to see me last night. Thank you for reading my stories. Thank you for coming.” The general consensus online seems to be blaming the Strand for what ended up being a poorly run signing. Daniels and Bartlett were clearly run down, unprepared, and misinformed about the number of tickets sold. Poor move on the Strand’s part to be taking advantage of an 89 and 87 year old. If they were my grandparents, I would have been appalled with their mistreatment. It was great meeting Daniels, Bartlett, and McNulty, but I cannot say I will be returning to or trusting the Strand in the future.

Eric Braeden

The soap opera fan in me was very happy when NJ staple Bookends announced the February 7th appearance of Eric Braeden – the iconic actor who portrays Victor Newman on The Young & the Restless. While I’m far from a regular Y&R viewer, everyone who watches a soap knows Victor Newman. And Braeden has made numerous blockbuster film appearances. He was Dr. Otto Hasslein in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and John Jacob Astor IV in Titanic (1997).

I obtained a signed 8×10 from Braeden through the mail a few years ago, so this night I was only looking for a photo op, which he graciously did for each member of the crowd. He was seated for most of the night, but just before I got to him, he stood up, which I believe made for a better photo.

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Eric meets Eric!!!

As always, a huge thank you to Walter and the staff of Bookends for bringing in their first of what I am sure will be dozens of icons for 2017.

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!!!