When you stay in hotels as often as I have over the past 20 years, you find yourself taking a lot of elevator rides. I’ve been brushed by fame more than once inside this confined space. One of my most memorable rides happened in San Diego at what is now the Andaz San Diego. Once the door closed, I quickly realized the man standing next to me with a cap on his head was the actor John Lithgow. Lithgow, who received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment, was in San Diego performing on stage in the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In fact, he told me he was on his way to the theater to perform. Having watched him in the movies and television, I imagined him taller. But, most importantly, he was friendly and down-to-earth, a really nice guy.
A few years earlier, while waiting for an elevator at the same San Diego hotel, out walked California Governor (at the time) Pete Wilson. I’ve ridden in the same elevator with several sports icons over the years as well. At the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, I found myself riding up with Utah Jazz (and later Los Angeles Laker) Hall of Famer Karl Malone. Nicknamed “The Mailman,” Malone was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 14-time NBA All-Star. Malone seemed quiet and kind of shy. I asked him a question just to make small talk, but that was it.
In contrast, as recently as last year as I rode the elevator down at a Ritz Carlton, the young Italian basketball superstar Danilo Gallanari of the New York Knicks and currently with the Denver Nuggets walked in. I mentioned to Gallanari about how my co-worker, an Italian, was a big fan and asked if I could take a photo with him. He did not forget. Once out of the elevator, the 6-10 giant stopped outside and waited for the photo. He seemed like a genuinely great guy.
I saw the beautiful actress Beth Broderick of Sabrina the Teenage Witch fame trip as she entered an elevator at New York’s JFK airport. Beth had a sense of humor about it though, later referring to herself in a Facebook message to me as a “graceful klutz.” I have to attest, she did trip gracefully! Also in New York, my ex girlfriend of seven years rode in an elevator with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. She said Jackson seemed shy, but was courteous, polite, and very nice.
Finally, at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles I was in the elevator alone when I got off at the top floor. Departing the elevator, directly opposite on the same floor, was the actress Pamela Anderson and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. As the famed couple exited and walked directly in front of me, they turned left as I turned right on the way to my room. I saw Ms. Anderson two more times though, once in the lobby with members of Motley Crue as they waited to attend the American Music Awards and again the next day as she left the hotel. Keep your eyes open next time you walk into or out of an elevator. You never know who you may see!