Maurice Benard

On July 9, I braved the summer traffic and took a ride down to one of my favorite venues – Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Pt. Pleasant, for a special appearance by Maurice Benard, the General Hospital star not seen on the east coast in over five years. In the past, you could not have paid me to attend Maurice’s events, which then resembled cattle runs. However, I knew Dino & Linda would put on a great show as always, and it did not disappoint in the slightest.

I knew Maurice’s line would be impassable at General Hospital Fan Club Weekend, as it always is, so this was really the best chance for me to see him in a relaxed, non-rushed setting. He was really cool, posed for photos, and signed two items per person. And I am sure that if I had more, he would have signed them. This was the best I have seen Maurice at a fan event in years.

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As always, thank you to my friends Dino from Uncle Vinnie’s and Linda from Coastal Entertainment, and Maurice, Paula, and their family for making the trek to New Jersey. It was a great event, and we all look forward to Maurice returning to the east coast in the future.

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!!!

East Coast Comic Con

East Coast Comic Con is a show that has been around for a while, but despite being just 25 minutes from the house, was never really on my radar. That all changed when “Gilligan’s Island” star Dawn Wells was added to the lineup. Dawn could go a local show every weekend, and I’d line up for her each time. So, on Sunday, April 30, I headed down to the Meadowlands Expo Center for my first East Coast Comic Con.

Dawn had no line, so it did not take long for me to get her, which is when I moved on to the cast from “Lost in Space“. I’ve seen this ensemble at shows numerous times over the years, but other than Mark Goddard, never got any of them. They all had $30 combo prices, so I finally acted on it this time around.

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Dawn Wells ~ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’ll line up for the “Gilligan’s Island” star every time she does a show here. I’ll always get that updated photo op, and a new 8×10 off her table. I just think she’s terrific.

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Angela Cartwright ~ While I chose to stick with the theme and get a “Lost in Space” 8×10, it should be noted that Angela was Brigitta Vin Trapp in The Sound of Music, as well as Linda Williams on “The Danny Thomas Show.”

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Marta Kristen ~ What can I say about the actress who portrayed the eldest Robinson child? Everyone knows I’ve always had a weakness for blondes.

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Bill Mumy ~ He’s iconic for his role on “Lost in Space“, c’mon, who doesn’t know “Danger, Will Robinson!” and “The Twilight Zone“, but the role of his that makes me chuckle the most – Googie Miller in “The Munsters“, Episode 25 – “Come Back, Little Googie.”

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Mark Goddard ~ While he wasn’t posing for table photos, I didn’t want to leave Mark out of this post, so here’s a picture of us at another show in 2012. Despite having met him in the past and gotten the full combo back then, I did get a new 8×10 headshot for the collection.

Luckily, I was able to get the Lost in Space cast all in a matter of 15 minutes, before their 11:30 panel. I had literally just walked in the door, and still had plenty of cash – so I decided to get photos with two attendees that I had previously only obtained autographs from – Ernie Hudson and Kevin Nash.

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Ernie Hudson ~ Despite being a convention regular, and somewhat of a price gauger – Ernie always has a decent line. The amount of Ghostbusters merchandise that is being produced certainly helps keep his business at these shows lucrative.

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Kevin Nash ~ The WWE Hall of Famer has always been a favorite of mine since his days alongside Hogan and Hall in the NWO. He recognized my shirt as being from Tommy Bahama, a favorite clothier of his.

I was in and out of this show in an hour’s time. The vendor items were not of much interest to me, although I did spend time looking for a standout piece, but given its close proximity to the house, reasonable prices, and no lines – I would definitely consider returning to East Comic Con in 2018!!!

Chiller Theatre Spring Spooktacular 2017

My 15th Chiller Theatre Expo came and went fairly fast on Friday, April 21. Despite having purchased a pre-show ticket for Friday night, work held me up and I didn’t arrive at the Hilton until 7 PM, two hours after doors opened. With a somewhat lackluster lineup of guests, and a growing cancellation list, I would find myself finished by 9:30 PM, and quite a bit of time was spent socializing, touring the newly updated Hilton, and grabbing a couple of traditional convention hot dogs.

Upon arrival, I was frustrated with the layout, and hastily began getting to work in what was formerly the pit area at this property. The pit has since been filled in, and the stars were really out in the open. I heard other attendees remark about the lack of security, and several even bragged that they didn’t purchase admission, as wristbands were not being checked anywhere.

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Max Gail ~ Best known for his role of Detective Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz on “Barney Miller,” Gail also appeared alongside fellow Chiller attendee Dee Wallace in a short-lived ABC sitcom of my childhood – “Sons & Daughters.”

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Jon “Bowzer” Bauman ~ Sha Na Na’s Bowzer was an attendee at my first ever Chiller Expo back in 2009, however, I skipped him that time around. 8 years later, I couldn’t turn him down. We had a nice chat about his role in Grease and the residuals that still come in from it.

Both Max Gail and Bowzer charged $50 for combos, the norm for Chiller’s main room stars for the past few years. At this point, out of my other “pit area” wants, George Hamilton had taken a break and Tom Berenger’s line was long – much longer than I ever expected it would be. So, I decided to seek out some of the more budget friendly stars, and low and behold, there were actually plenty of them. I didn’t keep great track of the pricing this year, but I can tell you that none of the following names were more than $30 for a combo.

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Peter Riegert ~ A new face to the convention scene, Animal House‘s Boon Schoenstein came with plenty of photos from his career. He was very appreciative of all the fans who came to see him.

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Art LaFleur ~ I was really excited when LaFleur was announced as a guest. With one look at the dozens of photos on his table, my childhood movie memories just came flooding back. From his start in Rescue from Gilligan’s Island to The Sandlot, Field of Dreams, A Cinderella Story, and more recently as the Tooth Fairy aka the Molinator in the two sequels to The Santa Clause, he was a huge part of my childhood. I found his $30 so reasonable that I bought a couple autographs from him – each a different role – which is something I seldom do.

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Carol Lynley ~ Tucked behind the room-length line for Pat Priest, was another blonde bombshell from Hollywood’s yesteryear – Carol Lynley, star of The Poseidon Adventure. Like her table neighbor Priest, Lynley was charging a mere $20 for combos. Word of this quickly spread and everyone was hitting her up. A $20 combo at Chiller is the next best thing to a freebie. The downfall was that her photos were not organized in the slightest, you had to dig through her albums for the perfect shot. However, Carol chatted with you the entire time you dug, and seemingly loved the company and constant attention.

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Mike Maronna & Danny Tamberelli ~ Big Pete and Little Pete, respectively, of “Pete & Pete” were a lot of fun to chat with. I brought a Home Alone photo for Maronna, which he signed for me at no charge, and even obliged when I asked him to inscribe “You’re such a disease.”

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Stacey Nelkin ~ If you couldn’t guess it by my shirt, Halloween is my favorite horror movie franchise, so naturally I opted for a photo from Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Stacey was a sweetheart and added a quote, as well as her character name.

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Alexandra Paul ~ It was a bitch trying to find a high resolution photo from when Alexandra was on the “Perry Mason” revival in the late 80s, so I had to settle with getting one of her 8x10s. Luckily, she had a really sexy shot from American Flyers that I snatched up. Sorry “Baywatch” fans, but the short haircut just didn’t do it for me.

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Dale Raoul ~ Before heading back out to finish up with the headliners, I popped in to see what Dale’s prices were. For a $25 combo, I quickly laid out the cash and my Out to Sea DVD. We spoke for several minutes about the movie, and she echoed other costars that I’ve met when saying what a great experience it was.

And then it was back out to price gauging heaven where I would score the remainder of my combos for the night. Hamilton’s line looked longer than it was, as it weaved in between Barbara Hershey’s and Dolores Hart’s. Berenger’s showed no signs of slowing down at all – but he moved quickly, making it a short wait.

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George Hamilton ~ I guess it was the way he behaved on “Dancing with the Stars“, but I expected Hamilton to be standoffish or snobbish, however, I am happy to say I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was a true gentleman, and we got a good laugh when he told a story about a little girl freaking out at the airport recently because she recognized him as the villain, Desmond Spellman, in Casper Meets Wendy, a direct-to-video classic from my childhood.

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Tom Berenger ~ No doubt about it – Tom had the longest line of this show. He was a huge draw. I think he was only signing Major League and Platoon items until I presented him with a “Cheers” 8×10. He was an Emmy-nominated guest star during the series’ final season. He was really surprised that I had it, and got a good laugh out of it.

By the time I was ready to leave, Barbara Hershey’s line had dissipated and there was only one or two people at her table. Having spotted a Hoosiers photo earlier in the night, I was quick to hand over the cash and score the headlining star prior to leaving.

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Barbara Hershey ~ A fairly last-minute add-on, this was Barbara’s first convention appearance. With a career that spans the decades, and several iconic film roles, she was the respective headliner for this show.

Probably my fastest Chiller, and possibly my smallest – just 13 stars – Number 15 was in the books. I even came in under budget and brought money home with me!!! As always, a huge thank you to Mr. Chiller – Kevin Clement – for putting together the largest show on the eastern seaboard. I look forward to this all year, and am impatiently awaiting the guests for the October incarnation.

Nostalgia Fest Philly

Leaving the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, I headed straight for Bensalem and the inagural Nostalgia Fest Philly – featuring favorite stars from the 80s and 90s. The lineup was small featuring just a dozen stars – Gary Busey was the headliner and appeared behind a curtained off section of the room.

When I arrived I found what resembled a carnival type atmosphere outside, however once inside the venue, I found a quiet, almost abandoned banquet hall. All 12 of the talent sat along a wall in the front room of the venue. Not one of them had a line, and I quickly moved down the line obtaining my wants.

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Michael Winslow ~ The Police Academy franchise star was actually relatively quiet, a far cry from his Larvelle Jones character. He was very surprised I remembered a fire safety video he did back in 1996.

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Gedde Watanabe ~ I would have gotten Gedde when he appeared at Chiller in the past, however, he didn’t have any photos from his 7-season run on “ER.” So this time around, I brought along an 8×10 of Nurse Yosh Takata to add to the collection.

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Corbin Bernsen ~ The man is soap opera royalty, yet it’s taken me all of these years to finally meet him. While I knew him as John Durant on “General Hospital,” it was a photo of his “LA Law” character, Arnie Becker, that I chose for Corbin to sign.

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Chris Owen ~ I recently obtained quite a few cast members from the American Pie franchise, so here is another nice add to the collection – the Sherminator.

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Tia Carrere ~ I’ve met this beautiful “General Hospital” alum at Chiller in the past, however, I could never catch her posing for table photos. I was happy to see that today she was, and I also brought along one of her GH headshots to sign. She said she remembered me because I’m the only person who has ever had her sign anything GH related.

David Faustino, Dustin Diamond, and Dennis Haskins also appeared, but I’ve seen them in the past. Overall, I think I may have spent a half hour at this show. During the brief time I was there, I was one of less than a dozen fans collecting combos. The actors and their handlers outnumbered the collectors. It’s a shame that this show did not garner the attendance that it rightfully should have. Combo prices were extremely low – half of what they were over in Oaks, and a fraction of what they would be a few weeks later at Chiller.