udo_kier_1A note on a friend’s Facebook page (curator Rita Gonzalez) triggered a memory for me and gave me the inspiration to write down the following list. It is not chronological or geographical and is not meant to imply that I ascribe any importance to celebrity in and of itself.

Celebrity is often more accident than accomplishment and it is good to remember that health care workers, waiters and waitresses, drivers and busboys, grocery store clerks and bag boys of both sexes (are there any left?) janitors (like my dad), auto mechanics, animal care workers, maids and house cleaners (like my mom), receptionists, nail girls and shoe shine boys (and girls), school teachers, and of course the most invisible workforce, without whom we would starve to death, field hands and farm workers and all the other un-acknowledged laborers that work hard to make our lives easier, are and always will be, the real celebrities as far as I am concerned.

Note: The list does not include the famous people I met while driving a limousine since it hardly qualifies as a “spotting” if I am given the address to their home and required to transport them. It also does not include anyone I met while I worked the graveyard shift as an elevator operator at The Beverly-Wilshire Hotel since that was a captive odd-ience, or anyone I met through employment of any kind. My memory is not what it used to be. Often I can’t remember breakfast but I find the distant past sometimes returns for an encore so I may add names as they come to me.

Celebrity Spotting Memories from East L.A. and Beyond

George Segal – Calvary Cemetery

Walter Matthau – Commonwealth or Occidental between 3rd & Beverly

Ray Charles – LAX

Muhammad Ali – LAX

Jack Lemmon – LAX

Tony Roberts – #6 Train NYC

Tony Roberts – Public Theater Lobby

Nathan Lane – Public Theater Lobby

Wallace Shawn – St. Marks Place 1995

Wallace Shawn – NY Post Office 2005

Philip Glass – a local restaurant

Julianne Moore – a local restaurant

Alicia Silverstone – a local restaurant

Pearl Bailey – Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

William H. Macy – Beverly Center

Tony Bennett – Lexington Ave

Sophia Loren – Toluca Lake Post Office

Pierce Brosnan – Cross Creek Shopping Center

Bud Cort – a local market

George Clinton – Santa Monica Blvd near Gower

Frank Sinatra Jr. – driving east Santa Monica Blvd.

Chevy Chase – driving south the PCH

Placido Domingo – Grand Street Downtown LA

Sara Gilbert – El Rey Theater

Sara Gilbert – a local restaurant

Tom Waits – The Black Rider opening night in San Francisco

Chancellor of Austria Franz Vranitzky – Salzburg Festival

Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman – Universal Amphitheater

Mickey Rooney – Santa Anita

Dick van Patten – Hollywood Park

Martin Sheen – Hollywood Park

Smokey Robinson – Burbank Airport

Crispin Glover – A local market

John Houseman – Market in Malibu

Sam Waterston – 3rd Avenue

Jason Schwartzman – a local restaurant

Ray Bradbury – Old World Restaurant

Pat Riley – Piero’s

Natalie Merchant – Le Petit Four restaurant

Jennifer Coolidge – a local restaurant

Sir Michael Gambon – Newark Airport

Abe Vigoda (or a doppelganger) – Lexington btwn 85th and 86th Streets

Brooke Shields – Starbucks

Brooke Shields – On the bus

My all time favorite celebrity spotting was the legendary Udo Kier at the Goodwill on Hollywood Boulevard. He was trying on jackets and looked very dapper indeed. Was he shopping for a role? Was he shopping for himself? It matters none.

To shop at thrift stores is to recycle. To shop at thrift stores is green. To shop at thrift stores is treasure hunting and you never know who you might run into.