WIthout any warning, anyone could find themselves in front of some of the most famous people in the world. Whether it's a comedian at a local book signing or the actual president outside of a bathroom, these people were completely shocked at what life threw at them. The phrase 'don't meet your heroes' exists for a reason, and unfortunately these celebs were way too much for anyone to handle! Content has been edited for clarity.
"I have met quite a few authors chasing book-signings around (including Stephen King, about 6 times when he was in the UK). I once went to a J.K. Rowling event in Bath (near Bristol, in England) when she was promoting 'A Casual Vacancy' (her first non-Potter title). So, I was with my two sisters (one of whom has severe cerebral palsy, and is wheelchair-bound), along with my mum. So, one sister (N) and my mum were in the general stalls of the auditorium, I and my sister (C) were placed with a number of other disabled people of the left-hand-side near the stage (optimal for the view and the subsequent planned signing). So J.K. Rowling is being interviewed on stage when my sister C starts to cough. As she gets older, her swallow and gag have become a lot worse (especially when eating, to the point where she’s quite embarrassed to eat in public now), and getting louder and more frequent, to the point where an usher comes up and asks if she wants some water. She goes to get some, but while she gone, the coughing gets louder, and she can’t stop. Suddenly, J.K. Rowling stands up and walks to the edge of the stage and shouts, 'Is somebody dying over there?!'
She looks right at my sister as she says this (she’s only about twenty feet away). She can plainly see it’s a disabled person in difficulty, but she makes no apology (her question seemed more annoyance than a genuine concern for the welfare of another human being), and the whole auditorium is now looking at my sister, who is now feeling pretty embarrassed. As I remember it, I recall her shouting the question rather than simply just asking it. When it came to the signing, there was no 'Are you ok now, can I do anything for you?' I handed J.K. Rowling the book my sister wanted signed, and she said, 'Sorry, not signing any Potter books, just 'A Casual Vacancy'.'
So my sister, already feeling pretty humiliated in front of a 4,00 person crowd, didn’t even get her book signed. There were people there in that room who were weeping openly for being in the same room as JKR. All I saw was a woman who was completely devoid of a sense of basic compassion. This was several years ago, but it affects my sister to this day."
"Chelsea Handler. I worked for a bookstore several years ago. Chelsea had written her first book and was in Cleveland to perform stand up. This was back when she was still kind of new to the scene and was trying to make a name for herself. It’s not like she was super famous yet. Her show wasn’t out yet. Our store partnered up with her to sell her books at the event. This was in the evening, after I had already worked a full day. I went with one of my managers and also invited my husband along to help. I thought it’d be cool to watch Chelsea perform after we finished selling her books. We got there and set up. I had never seen her in anything, so other than reading her book I knew nothing about her. She showed up holding a drink and seemed like she might be a little loosened up already. She was instantly unlikable. She gave off a very entitled vibe and had an air about her that just screamed 'you’re beneath me'. She was very 'rough' and kind of like a hot mess. She talked to her handler the whole time. Even after we were introduced, she didn’t acknowledge us, even though we were right next to her. She drank and talked trashy and dirty the whole time.
We only wanted her to sign a few books, because after she signed them, the publisher wouldn’t take them back if we had a bunch left over. She started signing the books, and when my manager felt she had signed enough, he told her it wasn’t necessary to sign anymore. She got huffy at that and out of spite, proceeded to sign a whole bunch more. My manager finally stood up and very firmly told her to stop. She just rolled her eyes and walked off. She didn’t thank us for coming out to help her. She just walked away. We were so disgusted that we didn’t even stay to watch her perform.
We didn’t sell any books of course, and so we had to haul them all back to our cars. We were stuck with a whole bunch of her books that the store had to take a loss on, since she signed so many. It was so disappointing, because I had read her first book and thought it was absolutely hilarious. Needless to say my husband and I would not watch anything she was in after that evening. I also couldn’t read any of her other books afterwards, even though I had wanted to before the event. I don’t think this was a one off thing for her either. Anytime I read about her (in magazines I subscribed to) or saw her on something (flipping through channels), she always came across as strident, sarcastic, hard and just plain mean. Knowing what I know now, I don’t understand why she was ever a thing."
"Ty Pennington, he was the host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I was a volunteer on the reality show, and I was helping to move furniture into the new house. This house was built on a very small lot, so in order to make it larger, they built this house up to be four stories tall. The master bedroom was on the fourth floor. There was a massive stairway and elevator, but the elevator was really just made for one person at a time. Unfortunately, we had to carry all of this furniture up those stairs. We carried up the bed, mattress, and box springs up these levels, and next on the list was the TV. We had to carry this 70-inch flat screen TV during a 100 degree summer day. At long last, we get this monstrous TV to the top of the stairs. Ty and his crew are discussing the layout of this master bedroom, so we simply set the TV down and leaned it against the fireplace. Ty stares at us and screams 'Don't put that there!'
I ask him where he wanted us to put it, and he responds with, 'You think I care about that? Just not right there!'
After the official televised reveal happened, I was walking by Ty as he was signing an autograph for a little girl. He hands her back this autograph book, then he turns to who I assume was his manager. He loudly states, 'Now get me the 'eff out of here!'
This sweet young girl, who's book he had just signed, was maybe three feet away from him when he exclaimed that."
"In the early 90s, I ran into famed lawyer Johnnie Cochran on a flight to Detroit. I got the last seat on the airplaine, lucky me! I got an aisle seat in first class. The flight attendant leaned in and told me that they could be delayed for awhile. There was a celebrity on the way who was running late, and the airport was holding the flight. I couldn't have cared less. I was going home following a twelve-day trip in Asia. This was just one more obstacle in order to get home finally. I boarded the plane and easily found a place for my stuff before sitting down. The jet was completely full, and the window seat was empty next to me. I notice police lights leading a long line of cars driving along the ramp. Who is this person? This parade of cars stops at the bottom of the jetway, and a coupel dozen people get out of the car. In the center of it all is Johnnie Cochran himself. Apparently he had to say goodbye to a lot of those people, so he come through the boarding door quite some time later.
I got up and moved a little way down the aisle so he could get to his seat without climbing over me. He completely ignores the flight attendants who greet him pleasantly and show him to his seat. He ignores me completely and sits down. He places his briefcase under the seat ahead of his and buckles up. When he looks settled, I sit down. The look on his face compares well to what I would have expected if I’d dropped a 50 lb. bag of manure in the seat instead of sitting down. I’m still in uniform but I guess I’m still one of the vast unwashed masses. I’d been up for over 20 hours, so unwashed might have been more accurate rather than figurative. Cool. He’s not going to bother me or prevent a nap on the hour plus a little flight.
Contrast Cochran to Johnny Cash. I met the man several times in the Nashville airport, which was near my home for 30 years. The first time was memorable. I was headed to work this time. More Asia flying. I, again, got the last seat in the cabin which happened to be in first class. I’m seated and we’re about to leave. The agent, a great friend named Frieda, enters and comes directly to me. I knew exactly what was happening. That seat was no longer available, as she knew that I now knew. I got up, grabbed by bag out of the overhead, and left the aircraft. Standing in the jetway is Mr. Cash. He asks Frieda if he is taking my seat and she says yes. He immediately says that he can’t do that. I smiled at him and said of course you can. You are why we all have such good careers. Please enjoy the flight. I’ll get on the next flight. He nods, smiles, and says thank you. They close the door behind him, and I got on the next flight in a couple of hours. I saw him several times in the airport after that. The first time he saw me first and walked over to say hi and thanks again. We always at least spoke briefly every time after that. That, friends, is a gentleman.
President Jimmy Carter is another formed in the same mold. He and his entourage were on one of my flights on the A330 from Atlanta to Amsterdam. He was headed to Africa to try to mediate a civil war and try to prevent a genocide. I was not very fond of how his presidency went, but anyone who followed the Nixon-Ford goat rope would have had a a slim chance any doing better. His work since then is nothing short of heroic to millions around the world. The flight was completely full, but before we left, he walked through the airplane shaking anyone’s hand who wished to do so. He didn’t have time to say much to people, but he did what was possible. Rosalynn, his wife, had to go back and drag him forward so we could leave somewhat on time. She softly told him that they had a tight connection in Amsterdam and didn’t have time for him to do his normal routine. He quietly said okay, looked a little disappointed, and went to his seat.
I was starting my break and came out of the lavatory to run face first into the president waiting for the lav. We spoke a few minutes after he came out. I knew about some of his work and knew this was an important trip. I told him that I was impressed with all that he was doing around the world, especially Africa, and thanked him. He was humble and easy to talk to. I won’t initiate contact with celebrities. When I have, it is only when it would be more awkward not to say something. They need and deserve privacy too, and I respect that as a firm rule.
I was eating my dinner in the crew bunk room when I got a message from my first officers on duty in the cockpit. They had a security message for the presidential security detail about a diplomat, Libyan I think, who had said something stupid to a flight attendant on a United flight near Denver. I went back with the message to the head of the detail. He, the former president, and I stood in the first class galley as they went through the information and discussed how to respond. The president went to his seat while the head of his security detail and I spent the rest of my rest break talking about the incident and the work of the Carter Center. He was a very strong advocate for Jimmy Carter who told me a whole lot that I didn’t know about his work following his presidency.
Like Johnny Cash and Jimmy Carter, this man is a fine gentleman and someone I offer my highest respect. I don’t have any use for self important tools and dirtbags, whether they’re minor celebrities or the President of the United States. It’s how people act that counts and not who they think they are. We really don’t need their like and certainly shouldn’t look up to them. Respect is earned not anyone’s due."
"I somehow ran into Vince Vaughn. Way back when, I was working in Hollywood as a screenwriter, but I didn't often run into any actos. Usually I just came across fellow screenwriters, all of whom were extremely friendly. One night, I went to this party at a friend's apartment, but this wasn't for any sort of famous crowd. After about an hour, Vince Vaughn walks into this apartment, acting like he expected to be the center of attention for everyone around him. I'm not sure if anyone there even knew who he was, or if he was crashing this party. I didn't pay much attention to this guy, and neither did anyone else, which apparently was a problem for him.
I heard him comment that there wasn't much food there, and he was drinking a ton. The party was 'bring-your-own' food and drinks, so he didn't get that update. Every time I noticed him, he had this sour expression on his face. He thankfully left after about twenty minutes. Afterward, there were several snarky comments about him that I overheard. I didn't notice him being nasty to anyone in particular, just completely out of place.
I just checked his IMDb profile, and I noticed that during the period I saw him, he wasn't getting any work, and he hadn't had any notable roles at that point for a few years. I don't know if he had an attitude that kept him from working, or if it was the lack of work that caused this attitude."
"Believe it or not, Steve Martin! To this day, I hope he was just having a bad night, because I really adore him as an actor and musician! I was at The Magic Castle, an exclusive, private club in the Hollywood Hills. Many celebrities can be seen here, and I’ve always seen nothing but respect from patrons when it comes to ‘star gazing'. It doesn’t happen in this club! They are just people like you and I, right? Well, wrong when Steve Martin was there the same night I was. Usually, a magic show is performed three times a night in various rooms at The Castle. I had heard wonderful things about a magician who used drama, comedy and pickpocketing as part of his act. I was VERY excited to see this show! As a frequent visitor to The Castle, I got to know many of the employees there. The owner really deserved a LOT of credit for the amazing people he had working there. Many led VERY interesting lives, but that’s another story. So, I mentioned that I was excited to see this magician to one of my favorite employees, and he immediately led my date and I to the room where the show was to be held. This resulted in us surpassing the long line and getting the prized front row center seats.
I noticed that Steve Martin was in line for the show as we got the VIP treatment and were allowed in. Steve Martin ended up sitting in the row behind us and a few seats over. I don’t remember the exact comment, but it had to do with an employee, allowing ‘trash' in. Mind you, my date and significant other at the time was a well known retired LAPD and LA Councilman at the time. I was, well, a nobody unless you were in the legal business. I thought he might be talking about my date. I glanced behind me, and it was very clear he was referring to us. I’m just not the type that sits quietly when insults are being thrown around, but I sincerely wanted to be respectful in this magnificent club that I loved dearly. Then there was the next insult directed at my boyfriend and his status as Councilman. I vaguely remember saying him saying something loud enough that if ‘someone' hadn't shown an appropriate amount of cleavage, he could be sitting in the front row.
THankfully, the show started right then. We absolutely LOVED the show! To this day, we cannot figure out HOW the magician pickpocketed the police badge when my boyfriend was lucky enough to be chosen to go on stage. Again, in my heart, I want to believe that Steve Martin just had a bad day. He’s an awesome actor and an AMAZING musician! So, to the one and only Steve Martin, no hard feelings, I just got lucky that night and was treated like a star."
"Bruce Willis. I was at this little bar on Beverly Blvd. after work, about to use the bathroom. There was this huge man in a slick suit, wearing mirrored sunglasses (keep in mind, this was at 9 p.m.), and blocking the door. 'Excuse me,' I said, expecting him to step aside.
'You can wait,' he said, in a rather curt tone.
'Excuse me, you're blocking the door to the bathroom' I added, just in case he hadn't noticed.
'I know where I'm standing fancy pants. As I said, you can wait.' he repeated evenmore curtly. Then he added, 'Are you hard of hearing, fool?'
Now this guy was big. Picture the Great Wall of Chine in a suit. But with less personality, and the ability to snap me in two without wrinkling his suit. I have a problem with people who are so dismissive, and with being called a fool. Keep in mind, I was much younger and had a nasty temper back in the day. I grabbed a bar stool, held it like a Louisville slugger, and shouted, 'There's nothing wrong with my hearing!'
The owner of the joint jumped over the counter, shouting my name and the limitations of his business insurance, specifically how it didn't cover idiot bous being pounded into mush. Just when all heck was about to break loose, out strolls Bruce Willis from the men's room. As nobody had noticed him stroll into the men's room, this was stunning enough to stop me in my tracks. He left to go further into the bar and started delivering a speech for everyone around, followed by his personal bodyguard. The bodyguard had standing orders from Bruce never to let anyone else enter a men's room that he was in, because he was a 'star'. Yep. Bruce tried to explain that we 'little people' (being everyone else in the bar) didn't know what it was like having people constantly come up to them. To which I retorted something like, 'We didn't know what it was like either to earn $25 million for your piece of garbage last film!'
The more Bruce moaned about the burdens of poor movie stars, the nasiter the bar got. Suddenly, I wasn't the only one holder a bar stool. There were boos, there were jeers, and Bruce and his bodyguard decided that it ws time to beat a hasty retreat from all of these new fans that he had made. After their departure, I drank free for the rest of the night, was hit on my some women way out of my league, and I even got a standing ovation when I finally left for the evening. WHen I returned to the bar a couple of days later, the owner had changed the sign on the men's room to read: 'Men's Room (No Bruces Allowed)' It stayed like that until this place closed. To balance that out, the nicest celebrities that I've ever met were James Earle Jones, Bill Bixby, Ross Martin, Harry Ritz, Martin Mandau, Carl Reiner, and Paula Prentiss. Enjoy!
"Frank Sinartra, Mr. Blue Eyes himself ! My boss made me babysit him every December, as he made a fool out of himself by chasing young girls in the pub. My job was security. The boyfriends of these girls would approach him in anger because he would try to fondle these women regularly. I would go to intervene when Frankie, would snootily ask, 'Do you know who I am?'
Naturally, being on the younger side, they did not. Here is this wrinkley, tiny, old man with a bad attitude, cussing out these big beach surf boarders, so can you just picture it?! Unfortunately, it was my thankless job to make peace between sides. On one of his December visits, it was about midnight and everyone was pretty wasted in this pub. Here he goes again chasing this young lady who was with a group of youngsters. One of the guys in this group smacked Frank on the back in retaliation. I got in between them both, and I falsely explained tht my poor grandpa was wasted. Frank simply looked at me with evil eyes and said, 'Do you know who I am?'
I wasn't having any of this. I pointed to my badge and said, 'Do you know who I am?'
I picked up my phone, called another security officer, and I had Frankie’s car towed away to be impounded. How was he still able to drive, anyway? Don’t ever tick off a 40 year old female security guard, she'll fight back!"
"Rita Ora, the pop singer. She was posing for photos on the red carpet a few years ago, and I happened to be a reporter interviewing celebrities on the red carpet. AMong other questions, I had to ask each celebrity what designer they were wearing, because that's what our readers were really looking for. At first, I thought that she didn't hear me for whatever reason. I asked her this quesiton a second time, and she huffed at me, letting me know that she didn't intend to talk to me at all. Believe me, I wanted to say something snarky, but that would put me in a bad light as someone representing my media outlet, so I had to let it go. Had it been any other time, I would have told her off. She isn't all that, I had to search for her online to see what she was famous for, so I have no idea why she was looking down on me for whatever reason. Hopefully it wasn't her feeling better due to her supposed wealth."
"I ran into Alan Thicke at LAX while waiting for a flight to Miami, and he made sure that everyone could would notice him and his smile, and he sat next to the prettiest, youngest woman he could find. He then proceeded to flirt with this woman for over an hour, promised her that he would help her in Hollywood, got her number, then got on the same flight that I would be on. He sat in the middle of the plane, smiling and wavign at every single person that came ontot he plane. Obviously, his goal was to be recognized. He then proceeded to walk up and down each aisle once the plane had taken off, introducing himself to several folks, and making sure that he was always talking to flight attendants like he was a member of the crew.
Now Cameron Diaz sat next to me the following week on the same flight, but she quietly boarded the plane with an unassuming baseball cap on her head, keeping her head down while people boarded the plane. She was very friendly and polite, and she didn't tell anyone who she actually was, even thought it was fairly obvious. I've probably met at least a dozen stars on this sort of flight. Alan was the most obnoxious of them all, followed by Mehtod Man, who criticized a person with a disability for taking too long to get onto the plane."
"Back in the 1980s, I magaed a chain of video and electronic stores in Manhattan. This started out as a part-time job during college at one of the stores, and I worked up from there, The store that I started at was on the Upper East Side, so we had a lot of wealthy dorks who were prone to feeling entitled to special treament and meltdowns if they didn't get their way. This sort of thing happened regardless of whether or not the person was a celebrity. There are two celebrity incidents that really stand out in my mind.
The first one featured Regis Philbin, who was a massive tool. His wife, Joy Philbin, was perfectly delightful. She set up the account and would call to reserve rental movies to pick up later, but we were not supposed to reserve new movies (but for special customers, I would make an exception). At the time, I was not a morning person and had no idea at the time who she or her husband were, other than that she was warm and personable customer. One Friday, she called to reserve a hot new release, 'Purple Rain', and an older movie. She said that she would be in between 5:00 and 7:00. I told her that this was a HOT movie, and I would hold it until 7 and then have to release it. If she was going to be later, please call. She was perfectly fine with this.
7:00 p.m. rolls around, and we are all rented out on Purple Rain, and I am turning people down. At 7:30 PM, I finally rent out the reserved copy to another good customer. Just before 8:00 p.m., a short man who looks familiar walks in, wearing a full length fur coat. He pushes past other customers at the counter and says he’s here to pick up the movies his wife reserved. I asked him for her name, which seemed to offend him. He puffs up and says, 'Joy. Joy Philbin, and I’m Regis!'
So, I grab the older movie and apologize, but tell him I am all out of Purple Rain. He whines, 'But she reserved it!'
I tell him that I told her I could only hold it until 7:00 PM, and in fact I had held it until 7:30. He begins to rant and rave and demands that I open one of the for-sale copies and rent it to him. I tell him that I cannot, but since his wife is a good customer, I can sell it to him with my 25% employee discount. After some more ranting, raving, cursing and insulting (while I helped other customers), he finally agrees to buy the movie and just charge it to her credit card on file.
Here is where I get to be snarky back. I look up her account and it says that I can’t rent to him or charge the movie to her account, as he is not listed as an authorized user, but he is free to set up his own account and I hand him the form to fill out. More cursing and insults and 'Do you know who I am?!' and trying to get the other customers to agree with him that I am being ridiculous. Finally, he finishes the form and I ask him what would you like to rent. Through gritted teeth he names the movie, and I say, 'Oh, I’m sorry, that’s on reserve for another customer.'
He is silent, gripping the counter tightly. He then picks up the Purple Rain that he has not paid for and storms out. I wrote it up as a rental, let the $5/day for a new release build up for two months, then charged his card $300 for rental fees and the standard $75 for the movie. Neither he nor his wife complained or ever came in again. I could have called the cops and reported him for theft. There were multiple witnesses and store security tapes. However, I was feeling generous and chose not to.
The second incident involved John F. Kennedy Jr. He came in hear closing with some blonde woman he must have been dating. At the time, he had just come back to NYC and was staying with his mom nearby. He said she only had a Betamax, a video format that we only had a limited selection of. After picking multiple movies that we only had on VHS, I let them behind the counter to pick from the movies on the shelf. They asked of we had adult films. I showed him the limited selection and he told her to pick. I set him and her up with accounts, Name, address, phone number , and credit card. He rented a film and she rented the adult version. They signed the rental agreements and left. A week later, he has not returned the films. I called the number, which turns out to be for the doorman. I explained that Mr. Kennedy had rented some movies and not returned them, and I need him to return them and pay the rental fee, or I would have to charge him the rental and retail price for the films. It took four more calls and a visit to the building for the doorman to assure me he had passed on the message. On a second visit to the building, I ran into JFK Jr. and reminded him of the movies, and volunteered to wait outside while the doorman got the films. He went nuclear, cursing at me and telling me that his time was too valuable to dig out those films. I would get the films when he had time to grab them, or I could just charge them for the movies.
So time to be snarky again. The next day, I charged him for both rentals and $75.00 per film purchase cost, and then I called Page Six, the gossip section of the New York Post. I told them the story. They printed the story of JFK Jr. and his girlfriend getting an embarrassing movie title. He called them and said he never rented the movie and could prove it (of course he didn’t, the young lady did). They printed a retraction the next day.
He came back in on a Sunday, during my day off. I got a call from my Assistant Manager, telling me that he came in, threw both movies at her, and demanded to see the manager. I was told he stomped up and down the aisles, yelling, screaming, cursing, and throwing records and tapes, going on about how this could hurt his political career and how some day when he was president, he was going to destroy the lives of everyone who worked there. That didn't pan out. He was guilty of battery, criminal trespass, menacing, and destructio of private property. I could have carged him and provided the security footage to the cops and the media. But I did get my money and tapes back at least, so I let it slide."