Saturday, July 26, 2008

Celebrities I Have Known - Part 1

One early morning, many years ago, I almost ran over Arnold Schwarzenegger and a couple of his Gold's Gym body-building pals when they ran across Pacific Avenue (in Venice, CA) without looking both ways.

Another time, when I worked in a medical building in Santa Monica, I shared an elevator ascent with a familiar-looking guy and had the following conversation:
"Are you Arnold?"
"Yes."
"Are you sick?"
"I have a cold."
"I don't believe it. Conan the Barbarian doesn't get colds."

Not original, not clever. But, going by some later news accounts, I may have achieved the distinction of Only Woman Ever Alone with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Not Molested.

***

I met Neil Diamond in the middle of the night in a hospital hallway. He asked if it was okay to smoke there. At the time, it was. His wife had come into the E.R. with stomach problems that turned out to be nothing but the aftermath of Mexican food.

***

Perhaps the most bizarre and unexpected celebrity encounter happened when I stayed overnight with a sick woman in one of the Century City towers. Somewhere in the small hours after midnight the phone rang. It was David Janssen, who lived in the other tower across the way. He urged me to warn my patient that there was someone sneaking around on her balcony, although he had no idea how anyone could get up there. I figured I should tell her about it, but she was unimpressed. Janssen was a nuisance who had a reputation for seeing things that nobody else saw, and she intended to complain about it to the management.

***

On the way to night shift at the UCLA hospital, I stopped to pick up hitchhikers, a hippie-looking couple with a small child. They were Calista Carradine and her husband and child. Her father was David Carradine of Kung Fu fame, who had for years been filming a movie about Mata Hari with his daughter in the lead role. The husband was also a filmmaker, who made movies of babies being born, quite a shockingly innovative concept at that time, when the ability to do such a thing was limited to a very few people who could afford the equipment. This encounter even had a sequel: a few months later I was at a screening that David Carradine attended. Although I had watched Kung Fu religiously, I figured half the world probably told him that. So I told him I'd picked up his daughter hitchhiking.

***

I met Dan O'Bannon, who with Ron Shusett wrote Alien. O'Bannon suffered from a chronic stomach disorder, and I wouldn't be surprised if the concept of a horrible life-form bursting right out of a person's abdominal cavity was inspired by his personal experience with this severe problem.

1 comment:

Barbara Houston Garrett said...

Say, Pat, ya know what? Half those people, I wouldn't have recognized in person even if they'd told me their WHOLE name. : ) Not without Google, anyhow. Amazing what different lives we lead. I love it--"I picked up your daughter hitchhiking." To have seen the look on his face. Heehee.