In 1982 I was your average 12 year old girl…living in Alaska. There wasn’t much to do after school unless playing in 12 feet of snow, in -30 degree temps was your thing. It wasn’t my thing!
My best friend was Geri. We did everything together…except after school time. She rushed home from school to watch Guiding Light! It was the bane of my existence. We couldn’t hang out, we couldn’t talk on the phone…for a solid hour she was totally unavailable. Finally, out of desperation, I watched an episode.
I was hooked! I watched Guiding Light nearly everyday until it finally went off the air 8 years ago. I saw hundreds of characters come and go and to be honest I couldn’t remember most of their names or faces now. But I will always remember Josh & Reva. They were my favorite couple, even when they were separated, and they separated a lot! From junior high through adulthood, no matter where we moved, Josh and Reva were a constant in my life.
Friday night I was invited to a champagne reception for the opening night of Annie at the Cape Fear Regional Theater. Just before we entered the theater, Bill Bowman, publisher of Up & Coming Weekly (and my boss) thanked everyone for coming and spoke about the production. I could barely hear him over the slight chatter, but I very clearly heard…’Robert Newman star of Guiding Light for 28 years is starring as Daddy Warbucks!’
And just like, I was a 12 year old girl again.
I’ve never really met a celebrity of any kind. After high school I worked at Dollywood. The employee parking lot was behind the Butterfly Theater where the big country music acts performed. One day as i was walking to my car the singer performing that night was being interviewed on the sidewalk by a local news station. I tried walking behind the cameraman but Mr. Celebrity pulled me into the shot and started joking that I was so young I probably didn’t know who he was. I grew up listening to old country music so I definitely knew who he was. I smiled and said “I sure do, you’re Mr. Celebrity”. I just knew it would be on the 6 o’clock news and Dolly Parton herself would see it, and be so impressed that I’d be promoted to executive in charge of something. Didn’t happen. Mr. Celebrity laughed real loud then dropped his hand down to my tush, gave it a squeeze and scooted me out of the shot.
Years later I was standing in the rose garden at the White House deep in conversation with a friend when a man brushed past my elbow. He said excuse me and kept going. I barely looked up and went back to listening to my friend. But he was standing there all googly eyed and said “OMG Sam Donaldson just walked into you!” By the time I realized what had happened, Sam was 40 feet away.
So this…was a big deal. I was going to meet a celebrity. Not just a random celebrity, but one I’d invested years into. A celebrity who brought me decades of joy and entertainment!
The play was amazing. The entire cast is so talented and I recommend everyone go see Annie! It’s such a fun story and sort of timeless. And…they added a little cheeky political humor.
Afterwards Jim and I rushed to the lobby and my friend sent us backstage. We waited. We watched the entire cast come out. It’s amazing how quickly they change into street clothes! Finally, I heard his voice. Robert Newman was about to come around the corner. I had the program, my ticket, a flyer and three pens ready for autographs! I wanted to tell him I’d been a fan for 37 years! That I’d watched each and every time he and Reva broke up and got back together and how it meant so much to me as a military brat that moved all over the country to have that constant presence in my life.
He appeared in the hallway, following what I assume was a production director of some kind. He looked straight at me and I said Hello! He said Hi…and kept right on walking.
The cast is staying in some local apartments or something and they were meeting with the owners or property managers. By the time we walked back to the reception he was deep in conversation with a small group and he stayed in conversation with them for 15 minutes. Jim kept insisting we could stay and wait, but it was late and he was exhausted. I gave up and we went home. But…Jim did manage to snap this awesome picture before we left.
That’s my blonde head on the left, and Robert Newman is in the black t-shirt. I was ten feet away from meeting my first celebrity!
Visit Cape Fear Regional Theater to purchase tickets and see show times
Visit CFRT’s Facebook page for some great behind the scenes information
Visit Robert Newman’s Facebook page for information about his upcoming shows