Over the years, I’ve had several chance encounters with celebrities.
I once rode on an elevator with Kevin Costner. It was in San Antonio while covering Kentucky in the Final Four in 1998. Costner was a huge Utah fan and that happened to be the team the Wildcats played and defeated in the championship game.
I can’t remember at one stage of the Final Four our elevator ride happened to be. But I remember stepping into the elevator with another newspaper reporter, turning around and Costner was coming on with us.
We tried to make some small talk and eye contanct with him, but he essentially blew us off. I guess they get that stuff all the time.
All we said was: “Hello Mr. Costner. We really enjoy your movies.”
He said nothing, instead choosing to look down at the floor.
Not a thank you or anything.
Of course, “Field of Dreams” being one of my favorite movies, I’m a Costner fan. At least I was until he pulled the “Are you really talking to me?” on us in the elevator.
I mean, we weren’t stalking him. Remember, he followed us onto the elevator.
At least Kentucky spanked Utah in the championship game and hopefully spoiled Mr. Costner’s weekend.
Another one I met, also on an elevator in Memphis while covering UK basketball, was Brett Butler of “Grace Under Fire.” She was not only friendly but extremely funny in person — not to mention very tall. Like, I’m talking skyscraper tall, especially with the 6-inch heels she was wearing.
After getting up the nerve to say something to her on our ride down the elevator at the Peabody Hotel, she even started joking around.
“How’s the weather down there? I want to make sure the ducks are still coming out.”
The Peabody Hotel is famous for the Duck March, an 80-year tradition. The marble fountain in the hotel lobby is still graced with ducks that march twice daily.
That elevator ride left me feeling better about Brett Butler.
My first celebrity chance meeting was when the late Ann B. Davis — aka Alice on the “Brady Bunch” — happened to be in Ashland one afternoon.
It was around 1976 or 1977 when Bill Hornbuckle and I stopped at the AAA office in Ashland to pick up a trip package with maps for a trek to Myrtle Beach. The AAA was where the Tim Horton’s-Winchester Avenue store is today.
When got our maps — this was long before the days of GPS or the Internet — and walked out the door.
We noticed a Porsche coming onto the parking lot and it had a California license plate with ABEEDY on it.
She got out of the car and walked into the AAA while Bill and I both stood there gawking.
“Was that who I think it was?” he said.
We both rushed back into the office and Hornbuckle, who to this day has never met a stranger, immediately struck up a conversation and asked her if she was Alice from the “Brady Bunch.”
She politely told us she was indeed Alice and actually carried on a short but nice conversation as we bombarded her with questions. She was such a gracious woman to speak with two “fans” for that long.
Growing up when we did, we seldom missed watching “The Brady Bunch” episodes still airing today. Maybe it was because the kids in the “Brady Bunch” were around our age. Maybe we thought Marsha was hot? Who knows?
Of course, we all loved the lovable Alice, and it was nice the actress who played the part was much like the real-life person even if she didn’t wear her housekeeping uniform.
She was just passing through Ashland to attend a wedding on the East Coast. She stopped to pick up a map and some directions.
I’ve since learned she visited Ashland often, having a friend at the Episcopal church downtown with whom she did mission work.
Davis mostly retired from show business in the late 1970s to settle down in an Episcopal community.
“I’m convinced we all have a God-shaped space in us, and until we fill that space with God, we’ll never know what it is to be whole,” she told People magazine.
When I read that quote on Monday morning, the day after she died, I gained even a little more respect for America’s favorite housekeeper.
I’m glad we met, if even only for a moment.
Not sure I’d say the same about Kevin Costner.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.