Celebrity Story

Every family has its stories. The ones that cause us to post links and odd comments on the social media of our family members. Nobody else “gets” it because they don’t know the stories we’ve developed over the years.

One of our private stories (no longer private with this post, I guess) may or may not be apocryphal. I’m going to tell it as I know it, but maybe somebody else might have a different take on it.

Years ago, before I had kids even, it was very special to be able to tour Burbank Studios (now part of Warner Brothers). They only allowed a handful of people to tour each week, and you had to have some sort of connection to the industry. They were private tours.

When the gardener and I visited Los Angeles, I decided I just had to go on the tour.  So I had to come up with an occupation that had some involvement in the film biz. I told them that I was a writer. That did the trick. Hahaha, this was before I was a writer. I wanted to be a writer, but if wishin’ were horses, I’d have my own stables.

On the day of the tour, the southern California sky turned a very opaque gray and hurled a deluge at us. The lot at the studio had turned to mud and it splashed at my ankles as I ran from the car to the building. I remember what I was wearing. My good blue and green striped cotton Polo sweater and ivory cords. You know what mud does on the back of ivory cords? Brown spatters up to the knees. It’s a good thing those cords were ruined. Nobody dresses like that anymore. I hope.

My hair was medium length by then, no longer to-the-waist. And I’d gotten a perm to try to replicate marcel waves, a look I’d always loved. My hair had turned a golden color from the perm. OK, it was positively brassy, but shiny and twinkly and not too ugly under a strong overhead light. Because I was young I looked pretty good, but if I had been any older I think the hair and the outfit would have DONE ME IN.

We toured some of the facility by golf cart, but most of our time was spent inside the sound stages because of the rain. They were filming T.J. Hooker, and William Shatner was hamming it up for the cameras. The four of us (a screenwriter and his wife, the gardener and moi) and our tour guide sat on the far side of the sound stage to watch the action. Fifteen minutes into this, a “runner” came to our tour guide and whispered into her ear. She whispered back and the runner ran back to the Hooker set. Our guide caught my eyes and raised her eyebrows, then pursed her mouth in a way that said I’m impressed.

When we left the sound stage, she told me that I had caught Shatner’s eye and he’d sent the runner to find out who I was. Maybe he assumed that I really was a writer, maybe even one cooking up a good story for him to star in.

This blog post is the best I could do for him, I’m sorry to say.

The gardener kept the story going for years, assuring the kids that I could have married the TV star before they were even born. Because the kids grew up with that story, my fate as almost-Shatner’s-wife became family lore.


Perry’s bloodwork came back negative, so his heart must be ok. And I #amwriting, no kidding. Maybe not what I intended (the memoir), but still writing.

Go write one of your family stories, a page out of your family lore. If you post it on your blog, let me know!


Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, California, Flash Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sightseeing & Travel, Vintage American culture, Writing, Writing prompt

62 responses to “Celebrity Story

  1. Well get you Miss Luanne, that’s a great story 🙂

  2. Luanne Shatner…nah…I’m glad you ended up with the gardener!

  3. You met William Shatner: WOW 😛
    I always had a special love for him because he was J.T. Kirk in Star Trek and acted a marvellous drama in Boston Legal.
    That’s a great, great story!

  4. A great story, Luanne. Super family lore. I think you should count your lucky stars you missed that bullet.

  5. That is such a good story to have Luanne, I bet the kids love it! 🙂

  6. So glad re Perry!
    GREAT celeb story, Luanne!!
    Here’s a (very short!) blog post of mine, a teensy taste of family lore! 🙂
    Also this one:
    Hope you like ’em! 🙂

  7. I’m grinning ear-to-ear – what a great story. I tired to find a William Shatner meme or gif to add here, but have been defeated. Perhaps that’s for the best. 🙂

    • OK, Maggie. You wrote this in October. This is February. I am SO sorry. You are not the only one I didn’t leave a comment on either, although it’s hard to believe I didn’t. I wonder if I wrote and lost it on its way to being published. I haven’t seen you blogging lately, and I wonder how it’s going. I hope you are feeling well. xoxo

  8. What a charming story!

  9. Brilliant. In the distant future I foresee great-grand-children utterly convinced that you had once been the “one-that-got-away” for a famous Hollywood actor.

  10. Oh my–great story, Luanne. You and William Shatner, hmmmm. 🙂
    I’m glad Perry’s heart is OK. (Well, we know he has a great heart!)
    I will have to think about family lore.

    • I love that “hmmmm.” hahaha I can hear your mind talking. Now they are worried that Perry might have a polyp between his nose and his ear. That means surgery if that’s the case. I am being eaten up in vet bills. I should have gone to vet school.

  11. Ah! even then, it seems, W. Shatner had an eye for a standout – like you! 🙂 When I saw your post title, Luanne, I thought of a celebrity story we have in our family related to our family tree. My dad’s name was “Boone” (as in Boone Barker) and his grandfather’s name was also Boon (no “e” in that one, Boon Barker). There was a family story that we were related to the Daniel Boone family. But my husband, who did amateur genealogy research for many years, looked into it when he was gathering our family tree data quite a few years ago. It turns out, no, we are not in the Daniel Boone family. He said that the Boone family has long ago published its genealogy, since they are well-known, and we would have been in it if we were related. Which sort of made sense, since my great-grandfather Boon Barker was not the eldest son or anything, as a family name might have suggested. It was probably a name of admiration rather than of blood relationship.

    At any rate, that Boon Barker was an outdoorsman, a man who worked as a railroad scout in Mexico at the time he had a family of his own, and when we followed the Barker line back, we went back as far as the Revolutionary War with an ancestor named Stephen Barker who was a war veteran. That was even more fun to discover, I think.

    Good to hear about Perry, Luanne! While we were on vacation our cat Pickles was very “pitiful,” our son told us. She spent a lot of time vocalizing to him about how lonely she was without us, and lobbying him for attention!

    • I love your Boon/Boone Barker story, Theresa! I think your finding about Stephen Barker is WAY better. And Boon Barker sounds like a really interesting character, too.
      Poor Pickles. Feeling sorry for herself! Perry might have a polyp between his nose and ear causing the rapid breathing. If so, it will be surgery, which is going to be expensive and sad for him. So we will see!

      • Thank you, Luanne! So sorry to hear about Perry, fingers crossed for you and him!

        Your comment about my dad and great-grandfather (the “Boones”) reminded me about a legend in my husband’s family, that a great-great-grandfather was a physician in the Civil War. My husband had a more difficult time tracing back that line because his last name is a common one in the U.S. (“Thomas”), but he finally determined that his great-great-grandfather WAS in the Civil War and WAS a physician, but not at the same time . . . too young during the Civil War, became a physician after. Funny how the stories get conflated, huh?

        We just sorted through some family photos last night and I came across one of my grandfather (not on the Barker side, on the O’Neill side, my mom’s family) in a Western Union uniform. That was heartening, because on this side of the family there is a story told that my grandfather, as a young man in Iowa, got a chance to deliver a telegram to John Philip Sousa, who was traveling through town on a concert tour. The story goes that my grandfather played the flute and/or piccolo in the high school band and they were rehearsing the Stars and Stripes Forever, which has the difficult piccolo solo at the end. He delivered the telegram and when he told Sousa of his interest and his part in the high school band, the story goes that Sousa gave him a few pointers on how to play the part. His teacher did not believe him until he played it – better than he had before (so the story goes).

        .. I’m not sure how much of the story is true, maybe part of it if not all. But when I saw that photo of Grandpa in the Western Union uniform, it made the story more credible. And, after more sorting there was another photo of Grandpa playing the flute. Hmmm. Sousa would have been fairly old, this was the late ’20s, and he died in ’32. I can imagine him at the end of his career, pleased by the attention and interest of a high school student in Des Moines, Iowa, and perhaps giving some of his time to explain how to play his composition. It seems a bit unlikely that Grandpa’s band was playing that exact tune at the time of Sousa’s visit, but perhaps it was one of the pieces they were rehearsing during the school year, and Grandpa knew he wanted to get Sousa’s attention as well. Who knows? 🙂

        (Okay, I’m making a note to write this out and put it together with the photos, now that we’ve sorted them out. Thanks for the inspiration, Luanne!)

        • First, thank you re Perry. Second, WOW! LOVE this Sousa story about Grandpa. I am a Sousa fan. Is there any way to find out if Sousa could have been in DesMoines at that time? You must know when Grandpa was in high school (have you looked for a photo of him in the band in the high school yearbook–it might be online. If you aren’t an Ancestry member, I could look on there if you give me the years, the high school and his full name. Then you could put the band photo with your story and photos :)). Anyway, back to when Sousa was there. There might be a biography or more of him that actually tells what he was doing during those years. Sorry, I get carried away with this history detective work haha!

  12. Don’t much about my families lore. I’m part English, part Irish, Part Dutch. part Scottish so who knows?

  13. William Shatner, oh my…great story!
    If wishes were horses, I’d be chasing mustangs in Montana!!

  14. I love family lore stories! I have sprinkled a few through the years in my blog posts. They mainly are of my Dad and his famous contacts, but our high school had a couple of people who became famous. This town I live in, I have run into a few near misses, too.
    Your story is a direct one, William Shatner was very handsome while young and has charisma still! I love your family story and the Gardener being very good natured. You are eye catching! 😉 🌹

    • I noticed the other day that Shatner is getting up there in years now!
      My dad owned the luggage store in our town for some time and then the gardener and I bought it from him and ran it. Because it was luggage, we got travelers in there. So occasionally we got celebrities. John Mellencamp comes to mine, but he was called Cougar then. Henny Youngman came in and made friends with my dad and they palled around together the whole time he was in time. Best buds. Then he left, and Dad might have heard from him once.
      Have you written about your “near misses,” Robin?!

  15. Reblogged this on Luanne Castle's Writer Site and commented:

    In honor of William Shatner’s trip off the earth, I am reblogging my Shatner story.

  16. I’d wager Mr. Shatner was impressed by your good looks and stylish outfit of blue and green striped cotton Polo sweater and ivory cords. It’s good that you didn’t marry him. He would have tried to upstage you when you were saying your vows.

  17. What an absolutely wonderful story! I am so glad that you shared this…I am looking forward to more of these stories! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  18. I don’t think Shatner was interested in whether you were really a writer 😉 I suspect his womanizing wasn’t an act when he played Kirk. I never liked his character. I preferred Spock … lol. Thanks for sharing your story again!

  19. Love the story of your ‘brush with greatness! My (albeit feebler & shorter) story is here: https://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com/2021/10/13/magic-tom/ .
    And also of course there’s my Patrick McGoohan saga in my memoir, “Surviving Hollywood North! 😊

Leave a Reply