David Bruce: Fans Anecdotes

In the 1999 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles used their first pick—the second overall—to make quarterback Donovan McNabb a member of the team. Unfortunately, some fans had wanted the Eagles to choose Ricky Williams, a star running back for the University of Texas and the winner of the Heisman Trophy. Mr. McNabb could not believe that he was being booed. He even told his mother, “Mom, they’re booing me.” Still, he said, “Fans are always going to state their opinion, and I respect them for that. I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what fans say in the beginning, just as long as they’re cheering in the end.” Fast forward to 2002, just before the NFC Championship game, which, unfortunately, the Eagles lost to the St. Louis Rams, 29-24. Before the game, Eagles fans reenacted the 1999 NFL Draft. This time, when Mr. McNabb’s name was announced as the Eagles’ first pick, fans cheered. In 1999, Philadelphia radio personality Angelo Cataldi had led the booing; this time, he helped lead the cheering, saying, “I just thought we needed one final moment of absolution. We gave him a response more worthy of his talents and what he has done. It looks to me like he will be an absolutely terrific quarterback for the next ten years.”

Rita Moreno’s daughter loved Sesame Street, and when Ms. Moreno was offered a job as a cast member on the TV children’s program The Electric Company, she took it. Today, many people remember her opening yell on the show: “Hey, you guys!” In 2008, she walked into a restaurant, and she heard a balding man with a fat stomach who had apparently grown up watching the show say, “Hey, you guys!” She immediately thought, “I can’t be that old!” Ms. Moreno loved the Muppets on Sesame Street, and seeing Muppets creator Jim Henson in a restaurant one day, she got down on her knees before him, kissed his hand, and said, “Anything you want me to do on your show, I will do it. I can do all these little girl voices.” He was embarrassed by the kiss, but excited by her offer to do voices for the Muppets. Ms. Moreno says, “And so I wound up doing the voice for several of the puppets, working with Frank Oz. It was so marvelous.”

The B-52s recorded “Love Shack,” and sure enough, 19 years later, in 2008, they recorded the album Funplex. Singer Fred Schneider admits, “We’re not exactly the most prolific group.” Despite not producing a lot of new music, the B-52’s retain their old fans and they have acquired new fans, thanks in large part to <youtube.com>. “I’m happy doing the new stuff, and the response to the new stuff, because of YouTube, they already know it,” Mr. Schneider says. “In the past, they used to clap politely, and then you’d play an older song and they’d go wild.” The B-52’s started making music over 30 years ago in Athens, Georgia. Mr. Schneider jokes, “I’m just lucky. I haven’t got a skill, so as long as I can sing and stuff, I’m OK.”

One problem with modern celebrity is that going out in public can be dangerous. Tegan Quin of Sara and Tegan fame remembers being able to sign autographs for hours with no problems, but then things changed with greater fame. Tegan says, “That’s the one thing I regret. The bigger you get, the less you can connect with people.” Still, at times Tegan can act like a normal person. In 2008, she got on a public bus and was recognized by a few girls who asked her, “Why are you on the bus?” Tegan had the perfect answer: “I don’t drive!”

Harlan Ellison is aware that some fans can treat those they adore—or sometimes adore and sometimes hate—very, very badly. In fact, he once wrote an article on this subject after doing research: He contacted 100 writers to ask, “What’s the worst thing fans ever did to you?” Mr. Ellison received many answers about worst things, “Not the least of which is somebody walking up to Alan Dean Foster in a corridor at a science-fiction convention and throwing a cup of warm vomit on him for no reason.”

Christopher Reeve, star of four Superman movies, played a bigamist whom fans loved to hate on the soap opera Love of Life. Some fans of the soap confused the character he was playing with the real-life Mr. Reeve. Once, he was eating lunch in a restaurant in Manhattan when an angry fan hit him on the head with her purse. Benjamin, his brother, looked like him, and an angry fan once hit him on the back with her umbrella.

Movie star Clark Gable once arrived for an appointment to have his portrait taken by renowned photographer Yousuf Karsh. Why? He had been stuck in an elevator for nearly an hour at a department store on Wiltshire Boulevard. For Mr. Clark, being stuck on an elevator was a minor annoyance, but his fans who were stuck on the elevator with him were delighted.

Chicago Bear tackle George Musso was blocked in a game so fiercely that he lost consciousness. Trainer Andy Lotshaw ran over to Mr. Musso just as he was regaining consciousness. Mr. Lotshaw asked, “How are you feeling?” Mr. Musso replied, “OK — but how’s the crowd taking it?”

The Cliks are a queer band. At one time, it was an all-female band, but guitarist/lead singer Lucas Silveira transitioned into a man. How do you know when you’re a rock star? Mr. Silveira knew after a fan asked him to autograph her breasts. He says, “It’s a true sign of success.”

In 1997, the California Angels released pitcher Jim Abbott, who immediately took out ads in two newspapers in southern California to thank the fans: “Angel Fans … Thanks For The Cheers … Thanks For The Jeers … Thanks For The Memories … All My Best — Jim Abbott.”

As a young man, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho idolized Argentine novelist Jorge Luis Borges. Mr. Coelho even made a trip to see Mr. Borges, and he did see but not speak to Mr. Borges. He could have spoken to the great writer, but he thought, “Idols don’t speak,” so he left.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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