If there’s one thing Blaze readers know about, it’s yummy men, and once upon a time I was lucky to meet a legendary one–Cary Grant.  I not only got to meet him, I got to spend time in a coat closet with him! Yes, a coat closet.  Here’s how it all went down:  During the summer between my junior and senior years of college, I got a part-time job with TWA in passenger relations at JFK airport.  I worked in the domestic terminal assisting arriving and departing passengers and was basically a walking information counter.  Our uniforms were tres spiffy–designed by Ralph Lauren, no less!–and the job was an absolute blast.  Part of our job (which was really a perk, if you ask me) was escorting VIP’s. And that’s where I met Cary Grant.

The legendary Cary Grant

He and his wife Barbara were catching the afternoon flight to LA and my assignment (along with a senior passenger relations rep) was to escort the couple from the fancy schmancy Ambassador Club to their first class seats onboard the 747 (a tough job, but hey, someone had to do it!).  Now, company policy was that we weren’t supposed to ask celebs for their autographs, and I’d managed to refrain up to that point, not asking Cher, Ryan O’Neal, Farrah Fawcett, Muhammad Ali, Raquel Welsh or Peter Falk to name a few, but really–Cary Freakin’ Grant??  How many chances does one get to meet him?  What am I, made of stone?

So there I am, in the fancy schmancy Ambassador Club, and OMG, there’s Cary Grant.  Wearing those trademark black glasses, his silver hair perfect, wearing a white dress shirt and light gray trousers, looking utterly perfect and oozing class and debonair charm.  His wife is stunning and wearing some gorgeous dark blue ensemble that undoubtedly cost more than my car (this was back when people actually dressed up to travel, especially in first class), but really who cares about what she’s wearing when Cary Freakin’ Grant is standing there?!

The other passenger relations rep chats up Mrs. Grant, leaving me to chat up the legend himself.  And naturally, I’m completely professional.  I nearly faint and breathlessly gush, “Ohmygosh, Mr. Grant, I am your hugest fan.  Arsenic and Old Lace is one of my favorite movies of ALL TIME.  Do you think I could possibly have your autograph?”  Smooth–I’m telling you, I was reaaaalllly smooth.

He leans closer to me and says IN THAT VOICE WITH THAT ACCENT!, “Well all right, but I don’t want to give it to everyone.  Let’s go in the coat closet.”

Cary Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace

Since there isn’t a person on the planet who would argue with that logic, into the coat closet we went.  Now you must understand that this being the fancy schmancy Ambassador Club, the coat closet is a walk-in and a pretty good size–kind of long and skinny, probably about 8’X12’ so it’s not like we’re crammed into something the size of a Porta Potty (darn!).  Being the walking info counter I am, I carry a clipboard with a printout of the day’s flight information.  I quickly turn the paper over and present it to him with my pen, all while gawking at him in my most professional manner.  The conversation goes like this:

Carey Freakin’ Grant–What’s your name?

Most Professional Me: Jacquie

(He writes To Jackie then signs his name and hands me the clipboard).

MPM–Thank you so much, Mr. Grant.  But, um, you spelled my name wrong. (well, I had to say SOMETHING to keep the conversation going!)

CFG (looking startled)–Really? (takes clipboard back and says IN THAT VOICE WITH THAT ACCENT!)–How do you spell your name?

I spell it for him, slowly as to drag out our closet time together (why didn’t I think to say my name was Jacqueline??)  As I do, he crosses out Jackie and spells it correctly, then for emphasis adds a couple exclamation points.

CFG–(IN THAT VOICE WITH THAT ACCENT!) Why do you spell your name like that?

MPM–there was an actress my mom liked who spelled it that way**.

** (note–I’m 99% sure this is what I said, certainly it’s what I wanted to say, but I may have forgotten how to speak English, so there’s a chance I merely blubbered and drooled on his shoe—which was a perfectly shined black leather Oxford, btw).

Me and Cary in the coat closet. Yup, that's us. Really. I mean it.

While we were in the coat closet, we collected his garment bag.  Then with CFG’s garment filled with CFG’s clothes folded over my arm, I escorted him from the fancy schmancy Ambassador club to his first class seat (his wife followed with the other rep).  We made small talk, he was incredibly charming, and I could have listened to him talk for hours.  I still have that autograph, along with the others I collected during my time at TWA–Brooke Shields, Timothy Hutton, Dustin Hoffman to name a few.  All of whom were delightful and charming.

But none of them were Cary Freakin’ Grant.

Cary and his wife Barbara. Photo taken around the time I met him.

So–have you ever met a celebrity?  Were you calm, cool, and professional like me (cough, cough), or did you blubber, drool and gawk?  Is there a celeb you’d love to meet?  If you met him/her what would say?

  1. Keira says:

    I want this job. How did you get it? Give me details. I’m ready to take notes and redesign my resume right now. 😀

    • Jacquie D'Alessandro says:

      LOL, Kiera! I know–it was SUCH a great job. Sadly, TWA isn’t around any longer. But I can tell you that working for an airline is lots of fun!

  2. Kim Lyn says:

    Holy King of all that is suave and debonair, Batman … Cary freakin’ GRANT!?! I’m jealous … so unbelievably, embarrassingly, green with envy. (And if you knew me … you’d know green is definitely NOT my color!!)

    Loved your blog, totally made me LOL. I have to say, I’m just as calm and professional as you. :)

    I used to work at Macy’s in San Diego and we had quite a few “celebrities” pass thru. Astonishingly, there are some stories floating around about a couple haggling over sale prices!! Mostly, they would run in to grab a pair of socks, or shoes, or something they needed quick. They wouldn’t actually SHOP. My favorite was David Arquette … just as funny and personable as he seems!!

    My Mom and I also ran into Alton Brown once. I’m a pretty big foodie … so I’m surprised I didn’t throw myself on top of him. :)

    BUT, all my encounters have been in the last decade, where “stars” have turned into Gods and are pretty much unapproachable. I would have loved to have an encounter like your … I’d never look at a coat closet the same again!!

  3. Jacquie D'Alessandro says:

    LOL, Kim! I’m glad to hear David Arquette is nice in person. And I’m pea green over your encounter with Alton Brown! I would have dragged him to the nearest kitchen and begged him to cook me something. I met Tyler Florence last year when he came to Atlanta for a cooking demonstration. SO CUTE!!! I had a pic taken with him and bought his cookbooks. He demonstrated the most delicious linguine and shrimp dish–I now make it all the time. So good!

  4. Aurora says:

    I haven’t met a celebrity yet :( There’s a popular Taiwanese singer by the name of Jay Chou I’d love to meet and tell him how much his songs inspired me over the years and ask him if I could kiss him on the cheek.

  5. Tammy Yenalavitch says:

    I loved your Cary Grant story. I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, so I often saw celebrities, not too many sexy men though. The only one I can think of is Bruce Boxleitner from The Scarecrow and Mrs. King. He was doing a promotion with Estee Lauder in the late 1980’s at a department store. He put his arm around me and they took a picture of us. He was so good looking, I nearly swooned when he touched me. He was very sweet and I still have that picture.

    • Jacquie D'Alessandro says:

      So great to hear stories of celebs behaving nicely! I recently saw a photo of Bruce Boxleitner in a magazine and he STILL looks great! Bet he smells good, too, LOL!

      • Tammy Yenalavitch says:

        Bruce did smell good that day!! I am sure he still does. And we just got the word that Ty Pennington will be at my work tomorrow for a 2 hour meet and greet.

        • Jacquie D'Alessandro says:

          How exciting, Tammy! Have a great time–and report back how the meet and greet went. I’d love to know!

  6. Colleen says:

    Oh what a great story! I would have been babbling or gone mute, I am shy to begin with… never had a face to face with a celebrity…

    • Jacquie D'Alessandro says:

      Babbling and/or mute–perfect! That’s just what all us Very Professional People do, Colleen. :)

  7. katie says:

    Many moons ago, Hub and I were at the Bellagio’s art museum and Kirstie Alley pushed me out of the way (I was focused on the Monets).

    • Jacquie D'Alessandro says:

      And now she’s on Dancing With the Stars, pushing Maks around the dance floor. Some things never change! :)

  8. Patricia says:

    Cary Grant was also my fave. Based on people who knew him, seemed a very unhappy guy, but, on screen, he was magical.

    Worked at NBC & CBS for over 30 years, so met plenty, but, most were not very pleasant. The one I most wanted to meet, Fred Astaire rehearsing for his 1-hr. Specials with Barrie Chase. Rehearsed 9-6 every day for 1 mo. Never saw him in-person, but, heard those magic feet.


  9. JackieW says:

    The most recent celebrity I talked to was actor Chad Everett..we were at a Little Gym neasr Burbank with our grandchildren and he has twin grandsons and since I am a twin we talked about…what else, TWINS. When I was much younger I met Ken Curtis..the actor who played Festus on Gunsmoke..he was a classmate of my mom’s in Colorado and when he came to our little Arizona town to promote a radio station…he began his career singing with the Sons Of The Pioneers..my mom and my sister and I went to see him….a very nice man. But my most famous autograph is from Dick Contino, the accordion player who used to be popular in the 40’s-50’s on the Arthur Godfrey shows…I treasure that as I too played the accordion in my younger days. I would have traded all this in just to be near Cary tho!

  10. JOYE says:

    I haven’t actually met any celebrities but I have been close to them or in the same area. Once in a bar in Apache Juntion, Az I sat in the booth behind Paul Newman. That was before he was well known and in fact, a couple of those in our party had never heard of him. His blue eyes were amazing.
    Then I was in a hotel lounge in that same area and in walked ElvisPresley. He said “Hello everybody” as he walked through. Another time in that same hotel lounge were Ricky Nelson and James Arness. There was an area near there called Apacheland where a lot of films were made, especially those where they coud film the desert scenes.
    So no, I was not a lush but that was a common place to see “the movie stars” in those days.

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