Source of Photo: By JudyBlume2009.jpg: Carl Lender of Flickr.com derivative work: Solid State Survivor (JudyBlume2009.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Judy Blume’s first book was The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo. At her very first book signing, her mother, her young son, and her young daughter showed up. Ms. Blume remembers, “I sat there for a couple of hours next to a stack of books hoping, praying someone I wasn’t related to would walk through the door. But no one did.”
Late one afternoon movie critic Roger Ebert walked across London’s Hyde Park from Kensington Gardens to Hyde Park Corner. Unfortunately, the gates of Hyde Park are locked at dusk as he discovered when he found himself locked inside the park that rainy winter evening. He climbed up a muddy hill, falling twice and getting himself muddy, and he reached a tree that he climbed in an attempt to get to the top of the iron fence. He climbed from the tree to the top of the fence, but the jump down was too unsafe for him to attempt without help. Fortunately, an American boy, who was with friends, saw him: “Hey, look, it’s Roger Ebert! No way! Is that really you?” Mr. Ebert assured the boy that in fact he was Roger Ebert, and he admits that in the situation he was in, “If I had been the Queen, I would have answered to Roger Ebert.” The American boy replied, “Far out, dude! What are you doing up there?” Mr. Ebert answered truthfully, “Trying to get down.” The American boy and his friends helped him down, and Mr. Ebert gave them his autograph, then returned to his hotel and enjoyed a fire and a hot bath.
Jack Benny entertained the troops in Stuttgart, Germany, as part of a USO tour, but he did not know the protocol of being on a military base. Driving on the base, he saw some MPs waving at him, so he waved back, but he stopped driving when an MP shot at him and hit his jeep. The MPs checked his papers, discovered that Mr. Benny was supposed to be on the base, and then they examined his jeep. The MP who had shot at him said, “Loosened a spring.” Fortunately, Mr. Benny was not injured. After the show, lots of soldiers surrounded Mr. Benny, requesting that he sign autographs. One soldier requested an autograph, then added, “Make mine a good one. I’m the soldier who shot at you.”
Following a recital in Boston, Massachusetts, by soprano Marilyn Horne, a woman with a seeing-eye dog asked Ms. Horne to autograph her program. First, however, Ms. Horne asked about the seeing-eye dog and whether she could pat him. The blind woman replied, “It’s a her. Her name is Gloria, and sure, you can pat her.” Ms. Horne patted Gloria, and then she signed the program. A little later, the blind woman and a friend came back, and the friend asked Ms. Horne to re-sign the program. Ms. Horne looked at the program and saw that she had written, “Dear Gloria, Many thanks for being with me today. Sincerely, Marilyn Horne.” Ms. Horne commented, “It may be the only time a dog has received an autograph.”
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan invited baseball player Joe DiMaggio to the White House for a state dinner with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. While he was there, Mr. DiMaggio asked President Reagan if he would be so kind as to sign a baseball—and to ask Gorbachev to also sign it. President Reagan—and Gorbachev—were willing, and that may be the only baseball ever to be signed by both an American President and a Russian head of state.
In 1927, when Bob Feller was nine years old, his father took him to an exhibition game featuring Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as well as other stars. Bob wanted a baseball signed by Mr. Ruth and Mr. Gehrig, but the price was $5—a lot of money at the time. Bob was able to get the $5 by catching gophers. For each gopher, the county treasurer paid a bounty of 10 cents. Bob caught 50 gophers, and he got the autographed baseball.
Band leader Doc Severinsen, most famous as the band leader on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and his wife, Emily, were fighting and screaming in a hotel room when he noticed a paper being slipped under the door. The paper was a note from some people requesting an autograph. Doc and Emily opened the door and signed some autographs, and then they closed the door and started fighting and screaming again.
World-famous make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin published three books. In his book Making Faces, he used his mother, Thelma, and his sisters, Carla and Kim, as models. After the book was published, people approached Thelma, Carla, and Kim and asked them for autographs. The book became a bestseller, and Kevyn was amused: “I’m a high school dropout with a New York Times bestseller, so the irony of that is hilarious.”
After a concert, Sir Malcolm Sargent retired to his dressing room to relax. Shortly afterward, his valet asked, “Sir Malcolm, shall you be signing autographs?” Because he was tired, Sir Malcolm said, “I’ll do the first six.” The valet replied, “There are only three, Sir Malcolm.”
On June 26, 1997, J.K. Rowling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in the United Kingdom. She went to a bookstore to see her book, and she was tempted to sign all the copies, but she decided not to in case she got in trouble.
Sid Fleischman, author of the McBroom comedy series of children’s books, knew that he had made it as an author when a group of kids lined up to meet him — the line of kids included his own seven-year-old daughter, Anne, who wanted his autograph.
Ronald Reagan was once asked to autograph a poster that showed himself and his co-star in Bedtime for Bonzo: a chimp. He did autograph the poster, and he added this note: “I’m the one with the watch.”
In his book, Life in a Putty Knife Factory, H. Allen Smith wrote this “Partial Dedication”: “Ten per cent of this book is dedicated to Harold Matson.”
Margot Fonteyn dedicated her Autobiography in this way: “To Love and Courage.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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