Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Day I Almost Met Gregory Hines


Over the Years
Over the years I’ve had chance encounters, quick views and near-run-ins with a number of celebrities and sports personalities. Like former boxing heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali who I saw entering the Black Muslim mosque in Baltimore in the late 1960’s. Mike Tyson sat in a small restaurant at the table next to mine in Chester, Pennsylvania saying “excuse me when he accidentally bumped into me while seating himself. Another former heavy weight boxing champion, Evander Holyfield was at a private cookout I attended in Atlanta, Georgia. Joe Frazier had a small fast-food joint on City Line avenue in his home town of Philadelphia where I also lived in the late 1970s.

Malcolm X
Black political activist Malcolm X was also at the Black Muslim mosque in Baltimore, Maryland which was located three blocks from where I lived at the time. I passed the mosque often on my way to the market and shopping districts. Actor Martin Kove walked past me and up the stairs to his hotel in New York city. I didn’t recall who he was until a few minutes later. Jazz musician Grover Washington performed live in front of me in a small club in Philadelphia. R & B pop recording star Patti LaBelle who also lives in Philadelphia often shops locally and is often encountered casually by fans like I did. Singer Sarah Dash is the aunt of a buddy I hung out with while living in Philadelphia too. Little Anthony (of the Imperials) and 1960’s soul music singer Mary Wells who died a few years later of cancer, I chatted with both at after-concert casual settings at different times (with Mary Wells in Cleveland).

I Loved Jazz Then, and Still Do
Jazz drummer and legend Art Blakey performed at a tiny jazz club in south Philadelphia on a stage so close to my front-row table that he nearly stepped on my outstretched hand when he shifted positions while playing (Thanks Priscilla). World land speed record holder (at the time) - Craig Breedlove autographed my program at a car show. Although I never actually met him, as a teenager I got a signed “Thank You” letter from then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. I saw Queen Elizabeth in person once too, in a parade for her birthday while I was living in London (1972). Prince Carlos of Spain passed in front of me outside the Hilton Hotel in Quito Ecuador. Actress Halle Berry addressed a small crowd I was standing in when she was promoting the film debut of “Cat Woman (“Gatubela” in Spanish) in Barcelona, Spain.

And Now About Gregory Hines
And the late great hoofer Gregory Hines, well I was sitting in my parked car downtown in Allentown, Pennsylvania when he walked around the corner towards me while taking a break from a show he was performing in. I was so stunned I said nothing – I just stared, wondering what he was doing there. He chatted casually with the lady who accompanied him briefly before returning to the theater. I never got out of my car to speak to him and no one else was around or on the street. I missed my chance to meet him even though I enjoyed his dance routines and movie roles. Born on February 14, 1946 (Valentine’s Day) he died from cancer on August 9, 2003 in Los Angeles.

Epilogue
That afternoon in Allentown I was waiting for my girlfriend to arrive at the bus terminal which is located next to the theater. When she got into the terminal shortly thereafter, I told her the story of what had just recently happened but she didn’t believe me. We got married in July of that same year. After all these years, she still doesn’t believe me. You do though, don’t you?


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.


1 comment:

betty537 said...

Your title caught my eye, because I, too, almost met Gregory Hines one day in the late 1990's. My daughter and I were flying from New York to Sydney, seated in First Class on the New York to LA portion. We could not get seats together. I sat in my assigned seat, and glanced at the boarding pass on the seat next to me...yup, Gregory Hines. Just as I was getting rather excited, a helpful flight attendant came to me and told me that she had arranged for me to have a seat next to my daughter! I had to move.