I have always felt a bit sorry for traveling celebrities. Even though they are usually in a higher class of service on the plane, all eyes, cameras, and conversations are riveted on them.
Some of the celebrity in-flight hardships that I have witnessed include ripped clothing, soap opera villains being spat on, personal items stolen, drunken advances, and even a mauling by a star-struck fan. There is even a flight attendant that I fly with who works for a well known tabloid. He secretly takes pictures and reports on celebrity behavior in-flight.
Quite often, celebrities turn out to be the opposite of their movie or television characters. For instance, a certain actor who played the original grumpy bigot, was the nicest celebrity I have ever met. Answer: Carroll O’Connor
Let’s see how good you are at guessing who these celebs are (I’m giving away books to those of you who can answer correctly – details are at the end of this column):
This celebrity was on a flight from London. After takeoff, I quickly went to his seat to take his drink order, eager to ask the question, “Shaken or stirred?” “Miller Lite please.” My excited smile faded, as he continued in his proper English accent, “You don’t know how many people I disappoint with that reply. I actually detest martinis.”
This next singer/actress was one person who I expected to be a total witch. Luckily, I was totally wrong. She was kind, well-mannered and looked elegant even though she was wearing sweats. Let’s just say she didn’t look like a gypsy, tramp or thieve.
The next actress, famous for the voice of a well-known animated rascal, was invited up into the cockpit. She made the captain’s announcements, which had everyone in hysterics.
I had a lifelong crush on this next actress until she succeeded in making a 10-hour flight unbearable for everyone. She had made her start in horror films and was the girl who always got away from the bad guy in the end. On the flight she complained about everything, drank too much, and acted like a passenger from hell. Now, every time I see an old movie of hers, I root for the bad guy.
A certain sports star wins the Frank prize for the rudest in-flight celebrity. He injured a gate agent, yelled non-stop at the crew, and ruined everyone’s flight. Someone needs to tell him to grow up, and I am being serious!
This former night-time soap opera star was spat on by a passenger. His onscreen character was the epitome of evil but he didn’t wish to press charges and wasn’t shocked in the least. “It’s all a part of the job” he replied as I handed him a box of tissues.
A certain female talk show host demonstrated very conspicuously that she disliked all flight attendants. She always had her assistant with her, who would do all the talking for her. We weren’t permitted to talk directly to her. The assistant repeated everything to the celebrity as if she didn’t hear the flight attendant. She came across as snobbish, spoiled, and having an extreme holier-than-thou attitude-the complete opposite of her demeanor in her professional life.
What these celebrities don’t realize is that flight attendants can be the source of the best or worst publicity you could ever imagine. They talk to other flight attendants, passengers, and anyone else who will listen to their stories. One bad move by a celebrity can go a long way.
When I first started flying, this passenger was a young comedian just starting out in show biz. He was sitting in economy, but his seat was broken, so he hung out in the galley and chatted with the crew. I remember one thing he said quite clearly: “Somebody should write a book about the characters and incidents in the airline industry. All of this would be great material.” That man is currently the host of a one of the biggest shows in the country.
This passenger once was a member of the English Monarchy who managed to smoke, drink and eat her way across the Atlantic Ocean. She ended up on oxygen for the final hour of flight, stopping intermittently for a cigarette break.
This old time rocker, who is no stranger to undergarments and room keys being thrown on his stage, was a very good sport when one of our elderly flight attendants retrieved an extra large pair of panties from her bag. She had me deliver them on a silver-lined tray. His smile was ear to ear and he remarked, “Cheers, there’s nothing better than knickers from a full figured lady.” He put them in his bag as if it was a normal occurrence. What made it even funnier was the flight attendant actually wanted them back.
(Tie-breaker)This late celebrity was on my very first flight. Even though he was in a first class seat, he barely fit. He was a very funny man and had the crew in stitches the entire flight.
If you notice a celebrity in-flight and wish to get an autograph or to meet them, avoid approaching them directly. They may be having a bad day or not want the attention. Contact a flight attendant first to ask the person if it would be all right to approach them. Celebrities usually are courteous and amenable to requests, unless, of course, they have their assistants with them.
OK, rules. The top ten correct guesses will receive one of my books as a prize, either “The Plane Truth” or “The Air Traveler’s Survival Guide” plus a “Be Frank” bag tag (so the airline won’t lose your luggage). All you have to do is to put the correct celebrity down in the following order and send the list off to me.Look for the correct answers and winners on my site in a week.