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California Dreamin’

As promised, I wanted to write about the Los Angeles years.  I moved to the city of angels when I was 28, and happily lived there for 10 years.  I arrived on there as a doe eyed ingenue, searching for stardom.

And left 10 years later, a born-again Christian, married,  and looking forward to starting a family, having left the spotlight far behind.

What a wild ride those 10 years were.  And I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

News Stories:

The Los Angeles Riots of 1992 – I had thankfully moved from the heart of Hollywood to the valley, so I was fairly sheltered from the turmoil just over the hill.  I remember smelling smoke from the fires, and staying glued to the news.  And not going out.  For a really long time.  The fear was nearly crippling.

The 1994 Northridge Earthquake – I had experienced smaller tremors while living in Los Angeles.  I remember one smaller earthquake that awakened me one night.  I looked out of my 2nd story apartment window and watched the water slosh from side to side in the pool.

But nothing could have prepared me for the much larger Northridge quake.  I was spending the night with my best friend Kathy in Santa Monica.  The quake struck in the middle of the night.  We dove for the door jamb and hung on.  I really thought we were going to die.  The quake was well felt in Santa Monica because evidently there was a fault line extending from Northridge and heading south into Santa Monica.  There was so much destruction along that line.  That was why the IH 10 overpass collapsed.

Kathy’s apartment didn’t suffer much damage.  But her refrigerator was thrown across the kitchen.  And while all about us lost power, her building was the only one within miles that had electricity.  A little blessing for two high strung Texas girls.

My little house in Burbank had no damage whatsoever.  Well.  Except that the cat soiled the carpet.  But had I been there, so would I.

Anyhoo, on the lighter side.

A Brush with Greatness:

One of the perks to living in Los Angeles (besides a Starbucks on every single corner) was the unexpected sightings of the famous.  That just never got old for me.

And now I will commence with the shameless name dropping.

•  I attended a Sunday afternoon BBQ that included as a guest, Keiffer Sutherland.  I KNOW!  Jack Bauer!  This was during the “Young Gun” years.  Long before he became THE TORTURER OF ALL EVIL AND DEFENDER OF WORLD PEACE.  I remember he was very soft spoken and polite.

•  When I was performing children’s parties, I was able to  ogle some interesting stars.  Without them suspecting.  I played Minnie Mouse once and saw Demi Moore (with Rumer as a toddler) at a swim party.  Demi wore a red bikini.  And she had a “mom body.”  She was adorable with her daughter.

Also, at the same party I saw Rachel Hunter.  She DID NOT have a “mom body.”

My vision was a bit hampered, due to the giant Minnie Mouse head and all the sweat pouring into my eyes.


•  I also performed for a couple of kids parties for Barbra Streisand’s god daughter.  I met Babs.  I have a picture, but doggone it, I have no idea where it is.

At the same party I also had a conversation with George Hamilton.  Very nice.  Very tan.  Awesome smile.

•  I did a little movie with Vince Van Patton.  We were both awfully long in the tooth playing teenagers.  He was very easy to work with.  Not to mention easy on the eye.  And btw, that movie never even made it to the can, much less a release.

Vince & Me

Me and Vince Van Patton, 1989 ish

•  Once, after a trip to the grocery store I called my Dad.  “DAD, I JUST SAW ‘DRABBY’ AT RALPHS!”  And he knew who I was talking about.  When I was growing up, I religiously watched “The Young and the Restless” with my mom.  My dad would wander through and rename characters for us.  ‘Drabby’ was Jill Foster’s mother (before she found out her mother was Kay Chancellor, who really isn’t, so now I guess ‘Drabby’ is her mother again).  I can’t believe I really know that stuff. Dad named her thusly because she always wore gray.

•  Other soap sightings included Drake Hogestyn from DOOL.  I heard is voice while I was shopping in Michael’s.  I peered around the corner, AND IT WAS HIM.

•  I also did a step class at a Hollywood gym with ‘Luke Spencer’ (GH) two rows away from me.  I almost broke a femur paying more attention to him than to the instructor.

Because I’m a dweeb.

•  One of the first Bible studies I attended included Patty Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond).  I adored her.  Very real.  Very candid.  I attended her wedding and a baby shower or two.  I hate that I lost touch with her.  Some of those girls from that early Bible Study are still some of my closest friends in life.

•  Lisa Whelchel and her family became good friends a million years ago.  They were one of the many perks to my meeting Fiddledaddy.  He was a buddy of Lisa’s husband, Steve.  And thankfully, we still count them as very very good friends.  So she’s not really a brush with greatness, since she hasn’t been able to shake me for all these many years.  🙂

•  Well.  Y’all know I belonged to a rag tag group of friends that played poker every week in the early 90’s.  And that Brad Pitt some times made an appearance.  (Once even at my Hollywood apartment when the game was hosted there.)


Brad, sitting on my floor, touching my couch

A couple of other players went on to bright futures.  Lou Diamond Phillips was one.  But I just accidentally saw him on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” and I have to seriously question who is giving him career advice.

Anyway.  Lou was one of the sweetest, most giving human beings I’ve ever known.

Lou & Me

Lou Diamond Phillips, enjoying some birthday cake

Another player was Brandon Lee.  As in son of Bruce.  His bright future was cut short on the movie set of “The Crow”.  A very dark day for our little band of friends.  Brandon lived life to the maximum.  We was funny, witty, smart, and a fiercely loyal friend.  He is still missed.

One other player, Chris Lindsey, went on to become a Grammy Award winning songwriter.

Another friend, who never played poker, but hung around with us was John Hancock.  He went on to become a much sought after director (think, The Rookie)  A bunch of us from the poker group did a play together that he wrote and directed.  I don’t think we made it past the previews.

That’s show biz.

•  Now this is really dating me, but I once saw David Selby (Quentin Collins from Dark Shadows) at an airport.  I almost peed on the tarmac.

•  When I painted furniture and hocked my wares at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and various art shows, I always spotted celebrities.  A few that were regulars were Dr. Green (from E.R.), Drew Barrymore, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, John Malkovich (even though he scared the tar out of me on-screen, he was always very nice in person), and Diane Keaton.

OH!  This is big.  One of my regular customers was the guy from Extreme Home Makeover, Michael Maloney.  He was a buyer for a big hoopty ploopty store on Melrose.  Very very nice guy!

As a middle aged mom of 3, now living in the suburbs of Armpit, Florida, all of this makes me giggle.  Some day I’ll have big stories to tell my children.

Too bad they’ll have no idea who I’m talking about.

YOUR TURN!  Please tell me about any brush with greatness you’ve had! And I totally expect my friend Gretchen to chime in, because we have a lot of shared history in Hollywood.


34 Responses to California Dreamin’

  • This was THE most fun post to read. Thanks for sharing! I live in Austin, Texas and it is amazing how often I have run into Willie Nelson over the years. He lives near the lake and eats, shops and watches movies just like the regular folk. The cast of “Friday Night Lights” is around town a lot, and Sandra Bullock has restaurants here and hangs around. Andy Roddick and Lance Armstrong are also continually spotted around town. Never had the nerve to speak or take pics of any of them, but it is a jolt to spot them. Kind of like a Where’s Waldo game involving stars!

  • I live in SW Fl, and my only star sighting is Lisa Whelchel. I went on a Christian cruise in 2005 that she spoke at. I also seen her speak in Orlando last April at an E-Women Conference. I acutally found your blog from her website which I read faithfully, until she went on a sabatical from writing. Thanks for sharing your stories with us common folk.

  • Okay, I have only two, and the second one was with a hat …

    The first was in Peoria, IL when I was about 14 years old. My grandma had taken me there to watch a family friend’s son run in a track meet (I was interested in going out for track at the time, go figure). Anyways, at dinner that night, we were sitting at a table next to Red Skelton. Thing is, I didn’t know who he was, but my grandma did … she sent me over there with a napkin to get his autograph, which he very graciously gave. Then he winked at my grandma … made her day LOL! I have no idea what happened to that napkin.

    My second was when I worked in Chicago. One day I noticed a trailer in front of our building … the door was open and there was a hat hanging on a hook right inside. I didn’t think anything of it until I got upstairs and the receptionist mentioned that they were filming a movie across the street. Turned out it was “The Fugitive” starring Harrison Ford … and it was his Indiana Jones hat that was hanging in the trailer. Never did see Harrison, though …

  • I left Cali not 6 months before the Rodney King riots and watched them from my first apartment TV in…Alabama (don’t ask how I got to AL from Cali–that’s worse than Armpit, FL!!)

    I have many friends who were affected by the Northridge quake. I went through a much more minor quake in 1991.

    My “brushes” with greatness: In 5th grade, I saw a taping of “The Facts of Life”, the one in which Blair takes Mrs. G’s car out. (I think I’ve told you this before.) I HEART Lisa Whelchel–what a lovely, Godly woman!!

    I also saw Erik Estrada in Toys R Us, PLUS got an autographed picture from him. My Sunday School teacher was in an episode of CHiPs and gave the picture away to whoever brought the most friends to SS. I kept that thing for years; wish I still knew where it was.

    You’re right, though…our kids? They’ll say, “Huh? Who’s that? You’re so old, Mom!”

  • Oh, and this isn’t MY brush with greatness, but my husband’s so it sorta counts…

    He travels a lot and often sees “famous” people in the airport. He called me from the Delta Crown Room one day in Atlanta and said, “Guess who’s sitting across the room from me?” I had no clue. It was Weird Al!

    I dared him to start singing “Eat It” at the top of his lungs, but he declined.

    Scaredy Cat.

  • I lived in So. Cal for 31 years, so I have earthquake stories, too!

    While skiing in northern Cal, I was walking across the lodge in my clunky ski boots. I tripped and would have fallen on my face if a strong hand didn’t reach out and grab me. I looked up to say thank you and stared into the eyes of Robert Conrad! (Yes, Jim West and Pappy Boyington!) He grinned when he saw my face and warned me to be careful. I think I babbled like an idiot, because of course I was supposed to marry him when I was growing up . . .

    We also lived in the Palm Springs area for 10 years and saw many celebrities. We waited outside a restaurant with William Devane, waiting for it to open. He had a lot of polo ponies in the desert area.

    So far, I’m enjoying Lou Diamond Phillips on I’m a Celebrity! He seems to be the voice of reason. 😀 I admit I haven’t watched many episodes. Maybe I shouldn’t admit to watching it at ALL.

  • I grew up in a suburb of LA (LOVE the Rose Bowl flea market!) and very very vividly remember the many S. Cal earthquakes – including one at 4 am when I woke up to have my bed rolling across the floor… ahh, the memories…

    Now, living in another armpit of FL myself, I remember meeting Woody Harrleson at a UCLA conference, Steve Martin often came into the store I worked in Pasadena, seeing tapings of Mork and Mindy (I KNOW!), Who’s the Boss, and Joker’s Wild. I also worked shows for Adam Sandler, the Neville Brothers, and Gallagher.

    As for you, Dee Dee – I can assume that you still have the couch that Brad Pitt sat on and no one has been allowed to sit in that spot since? 🙂

  • When I worked at a Toys R Us in high school, Kevin Sharp (country singer) came through my line, and bought squirt guns for his concert, and signed a piece of Toys R Us receipt tape from my register. 🙂 I probably still have it (somewhere…)

  • When I was about 6 weeks old or so, Charles Gibson (of ABC News) held me in an airport! How random is that?

    I grew up in So.Cal. & went to a Christmas parade one year. I swore up & down that Alfonso Ribeiro waved at me from his float. LOL

    Around here we consider 2004-2005 the “Year of Clay Aiken” as I was a bit obsessed. I saw him in concert 7 times, including flying from GA to CA for a show. Needless to say I was a member of his fan club. In 2005 I won a meet & greet for one of his shows & was able to meet him & get his autograph. He is so sweet; and so tall!

    I guess those are my “brushes with fame”. Exciting stuff!

  • Since I worked for NBC News, I “met” a lot of people during interviews. It’s just that most of the interviews were done via satellite, so I was just a voice in their ear.

    The fact that you recognized Drake Hogestyn from his voice cracked me up. The way he says, “Doc,” will live with me forever.

  • I love hearing these kind of stories!

    I was a flight attendant for a while right after college. When we worked the weekend flights in and out of New York there was always a good chance to do a little greatness brushing. On one of those flights I poured Warren Beatty a glass of Diet Coke and kept the remainder of the can for myself so I can say I shared a drink with him. Geraldo Rivera was on one flight and never stopped talking. Diana Ross didn’t want the peanuts I offered her because she had brought her own sunflower seeds. She also nagged me about making sure her luggage made it on the plane.

    Back in 2002 the movie “Radio” was filmed in our little town. They wanted a small town that looked like it was set back in the early 70’s – and I guess you would say we live in Armpit, SC where not much has changed since 1955. So, the movie was filmed in its entirety here. Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jr. were regulars around town here from Sept. to Dec. that year in the bars and restaurants and just walking down the street. And basically almost everyone in town were extras in the movie.

    Thanks for prompting all those memories. What fun!

  • My only brush with greatness was meeting Larry Norman – a.k.a. the Father of Christian Rock. I grew up listening to his music, which my dad listened to in high school.

    However, one of my bestest friends, Sabrina, has a picture of her mom and herself as a baby, being HELD BY JOHN STAMOS! This was in his Full House mullet days, but he’s still frickin’ HOT. 🙂 I should make her post that picture…she was all dolled up for those southern little beauty contests.

  • Having never been to Hollywood (or California for that matter except for layovers at the LA Airport … where I did pass Ozzie Osborn in the terminal), I haven’t had many brushes with “that” kind of greatness, but my years at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, and now my job with the Tulsa’s Signature Symphony provide regular brushes “greatness” in the Christian and music arena.

    Some of which include my college buddies who went on to become “great” later … and I’m proud to have “known them when.” I’d drop names (one in particular), but I need to get back to work!

    Loved your LA stories … it’s a real tribute to your character that you can look back on those fun times with fond memories while embracing the gift of motherhood and family that God has given you for this time in your life.

  • Well…first of all, I am here to testify to the validity of DeeDee’s adventures. I witnessed quite a few of these brushes with celebrity, and was a member of the weekly poker game. That was a really wonderful, and fun group! And I was there when Brad was on DeeDee’s sofa, though I don’t remember much about him, just that he was kind of cute and sweet and didn’t say much. I too still miss Brandon, and think of him often. I was in the play DeeDee mentioned, and got to slowdance with Brandon in it! I do have one correction, though, songwriter Chris Lindsey never actually WON a Grammy, he was merely nominated, and I’m only being a stickler because I was…well…married to him, back when I supporting him for YEARS while he was a slacker rock and roll wannabe, before I kicked him out, before he went country, before he became a multi-millionaire. But anyhoo (as DeeDee would say)…

    Nowadays, my brushes with celebrity are mostly kid related. We run into people in the playground all the time, most recently Gwen Stefani and her kids, Heidi Klum and Seal and their kids and Molly Shannon and her kid. They all look very, very skinny in real life. And the guy who plays Richard on Lost (you know, the creepy other who never ages) coaches a soccer team that Jude plays against. It’s very surreal. And now, my weird connection to Brad Pitt is that Jude is friends with the son of Brad’s bodyguard. So we have playdates in Brangelina’s pool and in their yard, but we never actually see Brangelina and their brood. Though Jude plays on their toys.

    And…I ran into Lou (Diamond Phillips) at a kids birthday party about a month ago! He’s remarried. Again. And has another daughter, who is a doll. He said to tell you hi.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane D2!

  • I find it amazing that those who live in Cali have endless stories of beautifully tanned and pumped celebrities!

    I live in New York City (well, now in the suburbs) and have only seen Woody Allen! Although a talent and an interesting psycho-social case study, I could not post any dreamy post or present pictures/stories of him!
    So instead, I will read, laugh and dream on with your wonderfully witty Cali posts!


  • I know it’s shameless to link to myself here, but it’s much funnier in context. I had dinner with and nearly insulted ROBERT DUVALL.


  • I’ve had two brushes with fame that I can think of…

    The first was during a weekend in NYC. My husband (who has met Matthew Broderick and went to school with Andy Dick…but those are HIS stories) and I went to see Music Man and we hung out by the backstage door after the show. I had my picture taken with Robert Sean Leonard!

    The second was when we were visiting Japan. While we were walking down some random street in Tokyo, we saw a crowd of people circled around a very tall man coming out of a Hello Kitty store. It was Kobe Bryant, so we snapped a few pictures of him.

  • My name is Anita Koller and I got to help a tiny bit with Lisa Whelchel’s book, “So You’re Thinking About Home Schooling”. To my surprise she even mentioned me in the acknowledgements! I got my autographed copy. Thanks LISA, I will cherish it forever!

  • OH! Did I forget to mention that Arlene Mandrell inlaws used to live next door to my parents. Yeah, I have a picture of her holding my 6 month old baby boy. (Arlene is Barbara Mandrell’s baby sister)

  • 1. My best friend in college was married during the Riots of 1992. I was heavily pregnant with Kati, and we were under the curfews still. Her brother is LAPD, and had to leave the reception early to go on another 48 hour shift downtown. John was freaked out til I walked in the door.

    2. Her house? Right around the corner from (then single) Mark Harmon. Yes, we did everything we could to walk by 100 times a day.

    3. I lived through the 1971 and the 1994 earthquakes. Living too darn close to both epicenters. Our house was basically leveled in ’71. And again, I was heavily pregnant in 1994.

    4. John spent 10 minutes screaming the cat’s name while I scrambled, heavily pregnant, for Kati. I could have killed him- and the stupid cat.

    5. I went into labor during the aftermath of the 94 earthquake. Me and about a thousand other women.

    6. Me, pregnancy, major catastrophes. Like a hand in glove, we were.Call me a drama queen.

    7. Ok- on to lighter things. My dad worked at one of the studios until he retired, so my days off from school were spent hanging around the studio. It. was. cool.

    8. I have a box of call sheets with autographs collected by him over about 30 years. It. is. cool.

    9. Dick Gauthier hit on me once. Once. I was 12. He was, well, you put it together.

    10. Dean Jones is my favorite person in he whole wide world.

    11. When I was 13, I met Shaun Cassidy for the first time. When I was 18, I went with my dad to his house (he was married to Ann Taylor, the “C and R Clothiers girl”) and I was the absolute envy of my entire group of friends.

    It was cool.

  • My sisters and I were NKOTB groupies (I know, I KNOW!) and on one of their tours we found out where they were staying and went to the parking lot to hand out and hopefully catch a glimpse.

    We got an EYE-full because Mark Wahlberg was hanging with his big brother (before he was a big movie name himself) and stepped out on the balcony wearing only a towel. I snapped a quick pic with a telephoto lens…And someday, perhaps I will post it on my blog to drive traffic there. =)

    I guess that’s less of a brush and more of a stalking story…LOL Still, it is a moment I won’t forget.

    I really enjoyed reading about your time in CA. I grew up out there and remember earthquakes very well. I’m not sure, but I think I like them better than hurricanes. (I’ve lived in FL for most of my adult life.)

  • I saw Chuck Norris in one of the Ice Rinks my son was playing hockey in…he was at the snack bar and we all just sat there looking at him, saying, “Is that really Chuck Norris?” He turned around and just smiled real big!!
    Another brush with greatness — my “That Other Kid” plays hockey with Jere Lehtinen and Darryl Sydor’s little boys (both Dallas Stars NHL players; in case you are not a hockey fan!) So we see them a couple times a week! Marty Turco (Stars goalie) also hangs out at the rink where That Other Kid plays!

  • My brother has a picture with the late Rich Mullins – Christian singer and songwriter. He was from Wichita, KS, so he came to Kansas once in awhile to do concerts. That’s really about it for me.

  • I’m thinking my only brush with greatness is commenting on your blog.

  • This post was so much fun to read! I’d love to hear more of your California days.

    I’m in the same boat with Lora Lynn, but I’m pimping myself about brushes with John Grisham, Tom Cruise and Holly Hunter. In all three cases, I was true to myself and remained an idiot.


  • When I was young, my parents took me to a political picnic and I met the then VP George Bush.

    I went to high school with Neil Patrick Harris during his Doogie Howser days. And I am still good friends with Tony Vincent (Broadway actor)~he and I met in high school. I also went to high school with Freddie Prinze Jr (although he graduated a couple years after I did).

    While working in Scottsdale Fashion Square, I met Andre Agassi (so cute), Michael Keaton and Courtney Cox.

  • I just tagged you for the meme “8 things about me”! Hope you’ll participate! We would love to read more about your “things”!

    Let me know if you participate so I can read all about your “things”!


  • I loved reading this post! I was a flight attendant as well, so I met lots of people, but you know, it was pretty much “What beverage may I serve you at 10,000 feet?”. Although when I lived in London my girlfriends and I sat next to Simon Cowell at lunch one day, and my friend started SINGING (she is a total loon) Then my other girlfriend’s son (2yo at the time) ran into Simon’s crotch – with his head! – outside afterwards. I think he had quite his fill of obnoxious Americans that afternoon! Ha!

  • I have met Jay and Jimmy Osmond at their theater in Branson, MO. I visited with them for a minute and had my picture taken with Jay. Also, I sat next to the real Rudy Rudiker ( sp ? ) On a plane from Las Vegas to Phoenix. The movie” Rudy” was based on a few years of his life. My husband and I were dating when we saw
    the movie. He was extremely charismatic but nice. We were traveling with my 12 mo. old daughter because she was still nursing ( the other three were back in OK with grandparents ) . He asked a lot of questions about my daughter because his wife had just found out she was expecting.

  • I was sitting in an El Chico’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma one time and Brooks and Dunn walked in. I almost choked on my taco! One time we were walking in the French Quarter and Delta Burke’s hubby (Gerald McRaney) went strolling by. Never did see Delta, but I saw her signature in a guest book! An old co-worker of mine dated one of Garth Brooks best friends and when he went to visit him he took my Rolling Stone w/Garth on the cover to sign. He actually wrote my name… I know exactly where that is!! 🙂

  • Hmmm, I think my only brush with greatness was as a kid I was friends with John Grisham’s daughter. We hung out from time to time at the barn (we rode horses) and sometimes at their house, and I LOVED their home. I ran into them again some years later whilst super pregnant with my second kid. I feel so bad though because out of respect for his privacy I only introduced his wife and daughter to my in-laws who were with me and then realized later that was probably rude. Oops! I still feel bad about that.

    The only other brushes with greatness I have ever had was with horse celebrities.

    OH! My husband used to bounce in Louisville and around Derby weekend he carded celebrities such as Magic Johnson, Michael Johnson, and Steven Culp (Desperate Housewive’s-Bree’s husband that died) and him had stood around chatting for a while. He even asked him is Marcia Cross was like her character on Desperate housewives and Steven just grinned and plead the 5th, haha! I know there are more, but I can’t remember them all.

    So a little brush with fame… but not much. I certainly never had Brad Pitt in my house! 😉

  • I was in Nashville nearly 10 years back, and while visiting a church, passed Steven Curtis Chapman (and his family–I think this was before all the China girls were around) in the hall. My first thought was “he’s short.” I’ve since met him in person and he’s incredibly down-to-earth and easy to talk to.

  • Mine was a near brush.

    I came inches from running into Emeril’s shopping cart in Target. It was filled with Bounty paper towels and toilet paper.

    One more thing. He is short.

  • This was so fun to read. I grew up in So. Cali and went to private school–this was years ago so I can only imagine who goes there now or whose kids go there now. It was so uncool to look excited to see someone. But late Ricky Nelson’s daughter went there and my mom was over the moon but he meant nothing to me. The Facts of Life got its ideas and one of its stars from my school. I used to see OJ Simpson walk around Westwood with his wife Nicole. Too mnay to mention. I have to say the photo of Brad Pitt is very cool. I like him because he seems to not come from connections and got his roles on his own. However, I cannot say the same about his partner.