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.

Ladies of General Hospital

A mere two months behind, but here’s the first report of 2017. On January 22nd, I attended my first event of the year – the Annual Ladies of General Hospital event down at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Pt. Pleasant, NJ. Laura Wright has been putting this event together every year since 2013, and I’ve attended I believe 3 of them. This event was a nice change of pace as Laura brought in two new faces to Uncle Vinnie’s – Hayley Erin and Chloe Lanier, as well as a rare appearance from GH royalty, Miss Jacklyn Zeman.

The venue was not as crowded as it has been in past years, but it still took the girls a while to visit fans from table to table. They started the event with a mix and mingle, then went into a Q&A, and ended with group photo ops.

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Hayley Erin (Kiki) ~ I can’t say enough positive things about this lovely young lady. I’ve met her a handful of times, and she is an absolute angel. I think us being the same age has really forged that bond.

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Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie) ~ I just adore Jackie. I met her for the first time almost 10 years ago, and the effect has never worn off. I could sit and listen to her talk about her 40 years of being on GH all day.

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Laura Wright (Carly) ~ I’ve met Laura so many times that at this point, our encounters are so common, we don’t fawn all over each other. On the rare occasion I have a photo, she’ll sign it, but typically we just pose.

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Chloe Lanier (Nelle) ~ Only my second time meeting Chloe, she’s a doll. She remembers not just my first name, but my last name too!!! That’s quite impressive!!!

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And now for the coveted group photo. It’s no secret that I love being in the middle of the Ladies of GH. I’m happy to say that as of this writing, albiet being two months behind, I’ve already had it signed by 3 out of the 4.

As always, a huge thank you to Dino, Linda, Laura, Hayley, Chloe, and Jackie. There was no better way to kick off 2017 than with the lovely ladies of GH!!!

2016 In Memoriam

As 2016 draws to a close, the world mourns the dozens of celebrities taken from us this year. While I only met a handful of those we lost, those I did have the privilege of meeting were quite the formidable group – identical cousins, a cool ghoul, a lovely lady, a masked crime-fighter, and a princess.

We lost Patty Duke on March 29 at the age of 69. At the time, I said of meeting Patty, ” It was like seeing an old friend. She loved to hug her friends, and damn, did she give great hugs.” I’ll always miss seeing her at autograph shows and lining up for her each and every time.

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On October 27, the eve of the annual Chiller Theatre Expo Halloween Spooktacular, the show’s longtime host John Zacherle, aka Zacherley the Cool Ghoul, passed away peacefully in his sleep at 98.

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Death took no holiday when Florence Henderson, America’s mom, passed away suddenly on Thanksgiving, November 24. Henderson last appeared on live TV just four days before she passed away of heart failure. She was 82.

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While he may have been a masked crime-fighter on TV, “The Green Hornet” Van Williams was a real-life hero as well. He passed away on November 28, after years of ill health that culminated from his time spent as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff and volunteer Search and Rescue Captain for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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And the world mourned together again when Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia in Star Wars, passed away on December 27, after going into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles several days earlier. She was only 60.

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There will be a lot less “character” in the world without these fine human beings…

 

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.