Photos with celebs, then and now

Back when I was growing up in Cleveland, I was in a high school singing group called Girl’s Glee Club/Men’s Chorus. On a trip to Washington, D.C., I took some photos of my friends at the time. The photos included one of Sean Young, who later gained fame as an actress playing the love interest role in the Harrison Ford film “Blade Runner.”

Of course, in high school, no one knew who might become a celebrity in later life, so it was just a casual photo of a friend I knew.

As I pursued my own acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, most of the celebrities I came to know were those I waited on in restaurants. Some who I worked with in bars and restaurants were friends as co-workers and later became well-known actors – the exceptions being Danny Aiello (who I used to call “Uncle Danny”), Dennis Hopper (who I used to spend Saturday afternoons chatting with at the West Beach Cafe), artist Peter Max (whose home studio I’ve visited and who sketched two portraits of me) and Julia Roberts (who I used to double-date with). These were patrons who I waited on and then became friends with.

Others were struggling actors like myself at the time, such as Michael Chikliss (who still owes me money I leant him to pay his Con-Ed electric bill) and Edie Falco. They’ve both gone on to win Emmys in dramatic television series, but at the time they were just co-workers and pals in the restaurant where we worked called Formerly Joe’s in the West Village. Anthony Bourdain also worked there, and I knew him pretty well long before he wrote “Kitchen Confidential” and became a well-known traveling chef. At the time, he was a clam and oyster shucker at Joe’s Raw Bar.

Herman has asked me why I have no photos of myself with them at the time. There are several reasons for that. First of all, who knew who might become famous later? It might have been me.

Also, we were all just co-workers and friends, and not trying to cozy up to celebrities or get autographs at the time.

Also, we were young. And when you’re young, you don’t think about looking back on those times with photos or autographs; you think your life will go on like this forever.

As I’ve been writing this column the past 19 years (it’ll be 20 years this coming spring), I’ve come to treasure those memories and realize how fleeting time can be. So I’ve been a bit more apt to have photos taken with those I meet and interview along the way.

I include a couple of photos here, one with singer-songwriter Danny Peck when I saw him in L.A. back in 2000, and another with “American Idol” finalist Cara Samantha on Aug. 2 at the third annual Caroga Lake Music Festival.

After all, who knows who will become famous in years to come? So I’m getting the photos now.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website,