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Fans Score Stars' Sigs at The Hollywood Show
August 5, 2012  | By Bill Brioux  | 1 comment
BURBANK, CA—What better way to celebrate the end of another press tour then to go to the place where the stars ultimately wind up — The Hollywood Show.

The celebrity autograph exhibition and marketplace takes place a couple of times a year at the Burbank Marriott hotel. Other shows are in Chicago and Vegas.

About 70 stars are there through the end of today, Sunday, including Henry "The Fonz" Winkler, Dean Cain and Todd Bridges.

I've been checking out these shows for many years and it is interesting to see how things shift. Used to be stars from the '50s and '60s were the main attraction. Now it is '70s and '80s. Pretty soon the joint will be filled with reality stars looking to make one last cash grab.

Sometimes it takes five, 10 or 20 years after a press tour appearance for a star to get to the Hollywood Show. Sometimes it takes a few hours. Cain was at the NBC sessions last week as part of the cast of Stars Earn Stripes but there he was Saturday, with autograph seekers lined up outside the door and down the hall.

He was mainly signing photos from his days as TV's Superman. He wishes he had photos from Stars Earn Stripes he said when I asked him about the new series. He said that experience working out with real U.S. army recruits was killer tough.

Winkler was busy signing Happy Days board games and posters and anything you wanted for forty bucks. He says he reports to the set of Arrested Development to start shooting those new episodes Thursday.

There were several musicians at the show, including two of Paul McCartney's former bandmates: Denny Laine (at right, with yours truly) and Denny Seiwell (far right). Seiwell was in on the Ram sessions and signed a photo of he and McCartney at CBS's 52nd Street studio where much of that album was recorded. Lane was tremendously good natured with fans, posing for photos and half the time forgetting to collect the $20 bucks folks were shelling out for their signed pics. He says he just spoke with McCartney two weeks ago and the two are planning a trip to Chicago next year to visit this dude who collects all kinds of keyboards and other instruments.

Another rocker, Keith Emerson from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, is also at the show. A guy from one of the dealer rooms walked up with six electric keyboards and had Emerson sign each one. Does the dude plan to sell them for a hefty mark up? That's the plan, Stan.

Some stars don't seem that removed from the scene. Charles Shaughnessy, from The Nanny, was there. Others go way back. All of the Dallas cast members not on the new Dallas are there, including Ken Kercheval, Steve Kanaly, Jennilee Harrison, Charlene Tilton, Morgan Brittany, Cathy Podewell and Tracy Scoggins. Tilton did sneak onto the new Dallas and did not seem shy about signing any of her racy Sports Illustrated shots. In fact, that signature will cost you a little extra.

I caught up with Kercheval (left), who has spoken with the producers about getting in on the new Dallas next season. (The first season finale is this Wednesday on TBS). He remembered the celebrity food story I wrote about him way back in the day for TV Guide Canada, mainly because of the photo shoot. Kercheval had invested in a popcorn farm at the time and my good pal, photographer Gene Trindl, took a large box lid, cut a hole in it for Kercheval's neck, and filled the lid with popcorn. It made for a memorable shot. Gene was always making gold out of things like popcorn.

Unfortunately, Kercheval did not have the same luck, which is probably why he is signing his autograph this weekend at the Hollywood Show. He did have fond memories of Gene, though, recalling days when the two of them just sat around and talked about this whole crazy business. He was sorry to hear he had passed away.

There were a few stars there that were hard to recognize — not because they weren't so famous, but because they had gone too far in their attempts to look young. One actress, who worked on two of the biggest TV comedies and dramas ever, had these giant breasts put in, perhaps in hopes one would not notice that too much work had been done to her face. Spoke with her, and she was warm and friendly, but there are moments at these shows were you wish you didn't know what these stars look like today.

That's not true for Brandon Cruz, who played the adorable tyke Eddie 40 years ago in a show that was pretty sophisticated for its time, The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Cruz, grayer but fit at 50, has been through his own highs and lows, battling drug and alcohol addictions. He's now clean and sober and counsels others, particularly fellow surfers. He was just back from France where he performed an intervention.

Cruz had some interesting things to say about Courtship. Yes, the series ended when star Bill Bixby and creator/producer James Komack had a falling out. Komack, who went on to create Welcome Back Kotter and Chico and the Man, was getting pretty hard to take, says Cruz. Miyoshi Umeki, who played housekeeper Mrs. Livingston, had already served notice she was not coming back.

Cruz says Umeki contributed something now standard on every movie and TV set — the portable dressing room trailer. The Oscar-winner demanded a dressing room as big as Bixby's and when she didn't get it, she had one built and moved it right on the lot. As Bixby later noted, it was bigger than his. Umeki, who passed away in 2007, went on to have many more built for other series stars who liked the idea; today, her family is still in the star trailer business.

Other former child stars at the show include Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair), Todd Bridges (Diff'rent Strokes) and Tracey Gold (Growing Pains).

Wacky prop comedian Rip Taylor is also at the show. "Yes, I'm not dead yet!" he proudly declared. He's sitting next to Whitaker. The two made a movie together many years ago.
Robert Loggia was also there. More famous today for bouncing on the keyboards with Tom Hanks in Big, I asked him about his mid-'60s series T.H.E. Cat. "Did all my own stunts," he said with pride.

The oldest guy in the room may have been Booth Coleman. In his 90th year, the Broadway veteran has been on TV for 60 years, appearing on everything from Frasier to The Monkees to Gilligan's Island. He most recent credit is an appearance on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

He sat behind stacks of photos from his stint on the TV series version of The Planet of the Apes. Took three hours to get into makeup as Dr. Zaius. "Makeup at 5 a.m., on set at 8."

There wasn't much action at Coleman's table. Was coming to these shows worthwhile, I asked? "Eh," said Coleman. "Not so much."

If you're in Burbank today, stop by and tell him you remember him — and give Kercheval a hug.

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Bill and I have journeyed together to a few of these shows, but he's the lord and master. And we'll always have Kate Jackson together. He'll know what I mean.

Small correction: Ken Kercheval has been a recurring character in the first season of TNT's "Dallas," and in fact has a pivotal role in the Wed., Aug. 8th "cliffhanger." But he's not a "regular" yet in league with the show's Big Three -- Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Patrick Duffy.
Aug 7, 2012   |  Reply
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