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(You kids may have to google some of these names! LOL)

The first celebrity I remember ‘meeting’ and talking to was Mae West in the Bronx. There use to be a group called the ‘subway circuit’ where producers would put Broadway shows together and they would play in each of the boroughs of New York. The theatre in the Bronx, which if I remember correctly, was called the Windsor Theatre right off Fordham road near Fordham University, a short bus drive away from where I lived on Pelham Parkway. I remember seeing Celeste Holm in “Bloomer Girl” one of the first musicals I ever saw in the 1940s. It wasn’t until I saw Mae West in her revival of the play she wrote and starred in called “Diamond Lil” and took on the Subway circuit that I was so impressed that for the first time I went to the stage door to just look at this actress.

To this day I remember how short she was even with wearing shoes with towering heels. I don’t remember what she said but she took time with each of us who waited for her to come out of the theatre. I don’t know how she would react now if people wanted to take ‘selfies’!

I would stand at the stage door to meet a star only one time more and that was to meet Gloria Swanson. She had made a great comeback in “Sunset Boulevard” and now she was on Broadway starring opposite Jose Ferrer in “Twentieth Century" and I wanted to meet her. When she came out the stage door I almost gasped as here was another actress who was so short and looked so tall on the stage and screen that I immediately thought of her quote in “Sunset Boulevard” saying “I am big. It is the pictures that got small!” She and Ferrer were not only pleasant though I heard she could be abrupt with fans but they also signed our programs. (My mother threw that Playbill out when I left home.) A sort of side benefit was that he was dating Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt and a great singer) and she was there also.

I wrote, very briefly, in one post about having a play on Broadway (not a success by any means!) and it was then that I discovered I didn’t want to know celebrities as people but preferred to admire them as people on the stage or in the movies. I have had the opportunity, due to circumstances, to interview many stars and/or go backstage in conjunction with my reviewing Broadway touring companies but I always said--I want to believe in the magic.

Part 2; Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Diahann Carroll, David Frost, Queen Latifah and more

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