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October 24, 2017


Hank Phillippi Ryan

That is SUCH a great story, Ellen! (ANd you know, Caroline Kennedy was my intern when I worked on Capitol Hill..so we'll have to compare notes! She was lovely ,too.)

Congratulations on your great success.

The most famous person? Ah. Besides Caroline? Prince Charles, maybe. SO charming. And short.

Ellen Byron

Hank, that's amazing about Caroline K. I've heard she's lovely. And you met Prince Charles?? SO jealous! I think he gets the short end of the stick too often. I think I'd be an utter embarrassment meeting royalty. I'd be all giggly and probably topple over when I tried to curtsy.

Ellen Byron

And Femmes, thanks so much for hosting me. And Catriona, super thanks for that awesome intro. Right back at ya!

catriona mcpherson

You can't bounce that back at me,Ellen. I've never won a grant. And Helen Mirren. She admired my (false) eyelashes.

Sherry Harris

Love this, Ellen! I saw Jack Nicholson walking down the street in Aspen. And when we live in the Los Angeles area we saw lots of celebrities. But that's not actually meeting them.

Kathy Reel

Wow! Riding in the elevator with Jackie O. and getting to observe firsthand her true nature, which was obviously on of warmth and kindness. That has to be one treasured memory. And, Hank? I didn't know about Caroline Kennedy being your intern. You really should brag a bit more. Hahaha! Me, I consider meeting Neil Gaiman and having a picture taken with him a celebrity moment, but then, I think of all my favorite authors as celebrities. Oh, there was the time I saw Julian Lennon, who was staying on the same floor as my husband and I at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, but then I was distracted by the ducks.

catriona mcpherson

All celebrity-sighting anecdotes should end. "but I was distracted by the ducks", shouldn't they?


Wow! Who haven't you crossed paths with?

No stories like that on my end.

Cynthia Kuhn

Love this, Ellen! It's charming and thought-provoking all at once.

And Margaret Atwood.

Pat Dupuy

I found myself in a hotel lobby in Austin with the Monkees back in the late 80s maybe. Just ships passing in the night. I actually met, as in was introduced to, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Also in Austin. He used to narrate some films made for a security company and my husband stopped by on business. The man was totally gracious and we talked a little bit about Austin and his daughter's career. He offered to pose with me for a picture but I declined. I was a hot sweaty mess who had just climbed out of the car and looked like a disaster!

Keenan Powell

Ellen, what an amazing story! My brush with fame was meeting Arlo Guthrie a few years ago when I visited the Berkshires. My cousin arranged it; they're neighbors. I have the photo hanging in my dining room.

Ellen Byron

Love these stories! And Pat, one of my besties is very close friends with Stephanie Zimbalist! I've met her at several parties. She's lovely.

All of these people mentioned are legends. There's something about them that just feels extraordinary, isn't there?

Judy Alter

My slight brushes with the famous reflect my background in writing about the American West. I semi-hosted Tony Hillerman at a writers conference and met him at several, and I once (only once, Ellen) rode in an elevator with James Garner, who was warm and friendly when I confessed that I was a fan.

Leslie Karst

i know a gal who roomed across the hall from Jackie Bouvier at Vassar. Does everyone have a Jackie O story?

As for my best celebrity story, it's without doubt when I got to cook dinner for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband (as well as six federal marshals). Ruth and my dad were colleagues back in the early '70s, and when she accepted his invitation to come speak at the UCLA law school ten years ago, I jokingly offered to cook a fancy dinner for her. Rather than simply laughing as I expected, my dad said, "Oh, that's a great idea." Gulp.

Pamela Kopfler

Very cool brush with an icon!

Doris Ann Norris, the 2000-year-old librarian

I met Marilyn Horne in Cleveland when we were checking out of the hotel after her performance as Carmen with the Met. I said we always came when she and/or Joan Sutherland were performing. She replied, "Oh, you like us fast ladies."
But best of all, I have met most of the "Femmes" which I feel is even more impressive.

Ann Mason.

Was at a memorial service for a local celebrity when, during the opening hymn I heard this HUGE voice right behind me. I turned to look and it was Jessie Norman. She mouthed "I'm sorry!" Other than that, I stalk Catriona.

Ellen Byron

Opera singers, Supreme Court Justices - amazing meet-ups!!

Vickie Fee

Ellen, I love this! I didn't know Jackie O was an influence for Grand-mere -- how cool! I've shaken hands with Walter Mondale and Al Gore. (Some kind of VP groupie)! And, try not to be envious, I once met Junior Sample of Hee Haw fame.

Pamela Asbury-Smith

I love reading about all the celeb encounters,and I'm especially happy to hear that Jackie and Caroline were lovely to people. I've had dinner with Star Trek's James Doohan, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and Mark Lenard, and was kissed by Michael Dorn (hehe)when I gave him a lei. Met astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Ed Mitchell, Frederick Gregory and Mark Kelly. We can all see where my interests lie.

Ellen Byron

Well, Vickie Fee, it's pretty hard to top Junior Sample!

Deb Romano

I once sat across the aisle from Maria Von Trapp on a plane. It was stormy from the minute we boarded, and there was a lot of turbulence. She was calmly reading while I watched my life flash before my eyes.

Jane Kelly

When waiting for a car to pick me up at the Marine Terminal at LaGuardia, I realized the car was not picking me up but dropping Jacqueline Onassis off. It was very important to me that I pretend I didn't notice even though we were the only two people in sight. I felt as if I had spent a lot of my life violating her privacy, just by watching what I saw on television and in the press. Of course, I was pretending. That day I could have told you the details of what she was wearing.

Mary Ellen Hughes

I lunched at the table next to George Lucas (and his entourage) at Park City, Utah. He was there, I'm sure, for the Sundance Festival, we were there to ski. The King and Queen of Belgium visited the chemistry lab at NIH in Bethesda, where I worked at the time.

Both encounters had me gazing speechlessly, while they looked, um, elsewhere.


I worked props in Theater at UNA under Broderick Crawford, Peter Breck, Janis Paige of "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" and a lot of other old Movie Stars. Janis Paige stands out..her first words to her understudy (a close friend of mine)was "We won't be needing you." And it was not said with any warmth...

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Wow, these are great stories! Leslie--WHAT did you cook?? You have to blog for us about it!


It's funny. In my job, I met many people I think you'd say were pretty well known, either for talent, high achievement, or fortune, or all of the above. Never Jackie O, however! Great story, Ellen.

Ellen Byron

Okay, Susan, now I want to know where you work!

Leslie Karst

Hank--I'd LOVE to do a guest blog about My Dinner With Ruth! Write me at ljkarst@gmail.com and we can set it up!

Kaye George

What a fantastic experience! I'm deficient in celebrity brushes, I think, althoughI have a picture of me with Harlan Coben's arm around my shoulder--a prized possession. I had a sighting of Lance Armstrong with his family in a pizza place in Austin, but I can't count that since he's been disgraced.

Marilyn Meredith

These were fun to read. Back in my childhood I chased down movie stars for their autographs, people probably none of you youngsters ever heard of, Van Johnson for one. was in an elevator with Farakhan (sp) and all of his body guards.

Carole Nelson Douglas

What wonderful anecdotes! I've met many of "greats" and/or "famous", now mostly passed, Helen Hayes, Ruth Gordon, Mary Martin, Danny Kaye, Julie Harris, Dana Andrews, Omar Sherif (a pill), Joseph, Heller, Beverly Sills, but that's not a "sudden encounter", as they all were interview subjects for my newspaper articles. Best met: film writer-director Garson Kanin. I interviewed him twice, five years apart, and on the second meeting he volunteered to take my first novel to his Doubleday editor. Whee! But the celebrity meet that made my college girl heart soar was spending one crazy weekend with Robert Vaughn when he was THE Man from Uncle and the celebrity guest at our annual St. Paul Winter Carnival. So gracious, and his accessibility and intelligence (he was working oh a Ph.D while acting in a super-hot TV show) inspired me to become a reporter. And, wow, no one could carry three drinks--his and two for my (underage at 19) girlfriend and me at a cocktail party with more aplomb. But what are you gonna say when Napoleon Solo politely inquires if you want a drink? We felt an instantly sophisticated 21, at least. Bidding him adieu forever recently felt like quite a landmark in my world. Admired celebrities taking young people seriously can light many sparks. He was from the Twin Cities and we had admired his acting long before "Uncle". Sail on, unknowing mentor.

nancy cole silverman

I would be in a total state of awe if I ran into Jacqueline Onassis. As you know, living in Los Angeles we see stars all the time, but big-time politicians, particularly like those from Jacquie's era are heart-stopping. And I did have a heart-stopping moment of my own. Back in 1995, I was meeting a client at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica when John Kennedy Jr., dressed in running shorts and t-shirt came running in off the bike path. I literally dropped my fork and couldn't stop staring, and I wasn't alone in my awe. John walked into the restaurant, grabbed a water bottle from the maître d’, and seeing a stunned audience staring at him, smiled and waved a quick hello. Charming! Turns out he was in town for the launch of his new magazine, George.

Elaine Viets

Welcome, Ellen, and what an amazing story. Thanks for joining the Femmes today.


I love your work Ellen. I’m pretty broke right now but the library is getting the latest book. I’m third on the list.

I’ve Met a lot of Canadian politicians and monied big wigs and knew a few actors in my time but only one stands out. I met Kiefer Sutherland no idea how my dad knew his family but I think I was 15 when we met. My dad took me to a fund raiser and he was there with his mother I think. My father never had much money but he knew a lot of people who did.

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