The other day, my kid asked me who was the biggest celebrity I had ever met and I told them this story.
As many of you know, in the year 2000 I was crowned TV Land’s Ultimate Fan. It was a great experience that I will always remember. I got to visit New York in the Fall and, again the following winter, I won a bunch of prizes and I also got to meet a lot of cool people. The coolest by far was Mr. T.
I met Mr. T before the competition started at a mall in Orange County, California. I decided to drive out there to audition for the show and, once there, I discovered that the celebrity appearing that day was Mr. T. Before the competition, Mr. T signed autographs for people and once that was done, he got onstage and answered questions. Many of the questions were typical; “Will there be an A Team reunion? How did you beat cancer? What projects are you working on?” But I will always remember the question asked by a young man in the front row.
I couldn’t see the young man because I was standing in the back row, so when the young man raised his hand, I thought nothing of it. However, when he stood up, I realized that he was not a young man but a very large child who was suffering from Down Syndrome.
His question was this… “Mr. T, why are you so mean to Murdoch?”
The entire mall went silent. The Sunglasses Hut, The Hot Sam … even over at Baby Gap people stopped what they were doing to hear his answer. Does he explain that Murdoch is not a real person? Does he politely ignore the question? Does he go off on a rant about how he doesn’t like to fly? We all watched with baited breath to hear his response.
Mr. T looked the boy straight in the eye and said, “Because he’s a crazy fool!”
The crowd went wild. The reaction was amazing. People were cheering and shouting catch phrases. “I pity the fool!” and “No time for jibba-jabba!” At that moment I realized why Mr. T was the huge celebrity he was, because regardless of the era, the setting, or the audience Mr. T treats each and every fan like they are his biggest fan.
I am often reminded of this day when I see other celebrities treating their fans poorly and like Mr. T himself, I often am forced to pity the fools.