This post includes brief, but exciting “brushes” with the legendary Bay Area sports
announcer Bill King and iconic actors Shirley Temple Black, Shirley Jones, and Gregory Peck. Recently, I’ve read the outstanding biography of radio announcer Bill King, Ken Korach’s Holy Toledo – Lessons from Bill King: Renaissance Man of the Mic.” King uniquely did professional sports play by play radio broadcasts for basketball, football, and baseball. Moreover, in his career, he was the voice of the San Francisco Giants, University of California football and basketball, Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders and Oakland A’s. His tenure with the A’s was the longest, lasting from 1981 – 2005. King is truly a radio legend and arguably the best play by play announcer of any sport in the history of U.S. radio broadcasting.
I was fortunate to cross paths with King one night after a Golden State Warrior’s game. Those days, I was friends with the son of the producer of the Warrior’s radio broadcasts and went with him to several games. It was exciting arriving into the player’s parking lot, walking in the player’s entrance, and having great seats to watch the game. As I waited for my friend after a game one night, time passed and I couldn’t find him. I needed to ask someone associated with the radio broadcast if they knew where he was, so I found Bill King and politely asked if he had seen my friend. He knew his father and knew who my friend was. Not knowing me, this legendary broadcaster was polite, helpful, and couldn’t have been any nicer in assisting me. Wow! It was great to see first-hand that the man you grew up listening to the Bay Area’s most exciting sports moments was not arrogant in any way, but instead a down to earth, friendly helpful person.
Through the same friend, I also met the movie legend Shirley Temple (now Shirley Temple
Black). Temple was a film and TV actress, singer, dancer, and former U.S. ambassador. She is No. 18 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest female American screen legends of all time. She was the top box office draw four years in a row. I knew who she was, having seen recent photos of her. It was during the time the Democratic National Convention was in San Francisco. My friend’s father’s company produced the radio broadcasts for the Commonwealth Club events, and he invited me to one of their luncheons where Coretta Scott King was the featured speaker.
As I arrived and tried to locate my friend, at one of the door’s I tried to enter, there standing in front of me was Shirley Temple Black! It was only a few minute conversation, but I was talking to the woman who as a child star was known around the world. I believe I asked her if she was in fact Shirley Temple. She smiled and said yes. She then assisted me in a very polite and friendly manner. Temple seemed like a sincere sweet person, like she portrayed on screen since childhood.
Finally, unbelievably, somehow I touched paths with movie icons Gregory Peck and Shirley
Jones. Both “brushes” happened at Mineta San Jose Int’l. Airport in what was at the time American Airlines Admiral’s Club. Often I would stop in at the Club before a flight saying hello to friends who worked there. Waiting for a flight one morning in the club, I suddenly saw a tall bearded man with glasses in a long coat slowly walk past me. I was speechless as I recognized him, the same man who appeared with Audrey Hepburn in one of the all-time classic films “Roman Holiday!” Peck starred in numerous classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and others. The American Film Institute has ranked him No. 12 among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time. Peck passed away in 2003, not long after I saw him.
Another time at Mineta San Jose Int’l. Airport at the same former American Airline’s Admiral’s Club, as I was leaving, the beautiful singer, actress, stage, film, and television star Shirley Jones walked in with her husband Marty Ingels. Having reached my early teen years glued to the TV watching the popular 1970s situation-comedy The Partridge Family, I immediately recognized Shirley Jones. Not only was she a TV star, but early in her career she starred in several great movie musicals, including Oklahoma, Carousel, and The Music Man. As she had just arrived into the club and was with her husband, I regretfully didn’t approach her. However, I literally was within feet of her for nearly five minutes as they checked into the club. Shirley Jones has since released a “tell all” book titled Shirley Jones – A Memoir. These brushes with legends are great memories I hope to never forget.