Celebrity Misadventures

I hope to add a few more (both mine and any others I get), but so far we have 3 New Mexican stories. Burt Ward in Hobbs, written by my friend Bill Adams, Michael Douglas visits Santa Fe but probably has little memory of me, and Tony Randall laughs at those without his expertise.

I actually met Robin the Boy Wonder in the oddest of circumstances! In 1975 I was the sole reporter on the weekly Hobbs (NM) Flare. A new auto dealership, Jim Spence Oldsmobile, had a grand opening. (The dealership is still in business, although Oldsmobiles are not.) The guests of honor, weird as it will sound, were Sen. Joseph Montoya, infamous as the only senator to fall asleep during a televised Watergate Hearing the year before, and his buddy, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, later to become famous as "Pork Barrel Byrd" and Ex-Klansman Byrd.) Montoya is long gone, both from the Senate and from life. He was defeated in his next election by Harrison Schmitt, the probably gay Republican who walked on the moon, and whom I interviewed during the campaign. (He only served a single term, I think, having no more charisma than Montoya, but less narcolepsy.)

Sen. Byrd, who I find astonishing that he is still in the Senate and still thinking he's really somebody, looked in 1974 almost exactly as he does today, except that his hair was black back then. But I think he had just as many facial wrinkles. Those two dullards held a press conference in the showroom for me, the guy from the Daily Hobbs News Sun, the editor from the Lovington Daily Leader, one dude from local radio and a stringer for the tv station in Roswell.

Yada-yada-yada about NM economy and the wonderful things the Democratic Senate was doing for the national business scene. But the strangest thing was that Burt Ward had been hired in his Robin suit to be the "entertainment" for the day, which consisted of him standing outside waving traffic into the new car area, and being interviewed about his lack of a career since the Batman show ended.

While Joe and Bobby were pontificating to us, Burt was seated on a window ledge behind them, smoking and looking more bored than we were. Two senators up front, a grown man in colorful tights exhaling smoke behind. What a glorious day for Lea County! I have to this day no idea why Sen. Byrd got into this...he must have been visiting Joe to counter Joe's image as a no-clout senator. I recall asking Robin how his day was going, and getting a murderous Robert Blake/O.J. stare in return.

In about 1980 or so, Michael Douglas and some babe came in for dinner at The Compound in Santa Fe. Sat at what we called the Garden Door table (our tables had names, not numbers--very classy!) He had several margaritas, and then several more. Now back then, we did not do much to enforce sobriety in our establishment. Those were the pre-litigation days, when, if they left the building alive they were no longer our problem. We believed in personal responsibility. Drink all you want, you'll be the one to pay the price. But this guy was getting loud and abrasive, and I told him I he had had enough.

He got red, then glared at me, his eyes growing, his brow collapsing, and his boiler expanding, until that nasal twangy voice screamed "Don't you know who I am?" This is a question no attorney would ever ask, for fear of the wrong answer, but Mr. Douglas was not the first, and certainly not the last, under-appreciated celebrity to fling this one at me.

At that time we did not have a TV, and I had no notion of who he was. It didn't matter; I had been insulted by people I recognized without flinching. Whoever this twirp was made no difference.

I looked at him plainly and replied "I haven't the foggiest idea who you are, but whoever you might be, you're not getting another margarita" or some such dismissal (I was pretty good at those back then.)

A string of abuse came forth. "You little fuck. When I want a drink, it's your job to deliver it.' or some such rubbish. He would not relent, would not stop swearing, would not calm down. But I would not serve another drink. And since he couldn't blackmail me into doing what he wanted (after all, I had a two year old at home; I knew how to play this game), he left. I'm not even sure if he paid for the meal, but I just wanted him out. So I got what I wanted.

After he departed, one of the other guys I worked with told me he was a TV actor. Big deal. He was another in a long string of actor morons I dealt with (Tony Randall being the absolute worst), and I forgot him. Until he started to get bigger, and I remembered that leering face demanding I serve him another. Glad I didn't. And glad I've never paid to see a movie he's in. My small gesture to not share my wealth.

So, why Tony Randall? At about the same time, Santa Fe held a D.H. Lawrence Festival. Lawrence had loved the Southwest and was buried in Taos. Tony was in town for that one, I think. He sat at the Back Post table , a round table that could seat 6-8. Tony was there with about 5 women, all fawning over his wit and charm. When taking the order, he corrected my grammar. I don't take public correction well, but I especially don't like it when I am right. And I was. He told him I believed I was correct in my utternace, and he shared with the ladies a pitying look, then said something like "Ah, these little people think they know as I." The women nodded approvingly, the great linguist felt at peace, I was dismissed, and I have hated him ever since. I checked when I got home, and I was indeed correct. Small consolation, but when the greats share their valuable time with lowly mortals, we are so grateful.

To see my Joe-Torre-is-a-jerk page, click Here. Another worthless celebrity, and an icon as well. Shame.