It was the quite the crowd yesterday at the Hollywood Collector’s Show at the Los Angeles Westin near LAX. My boyfriend and I arrived about a half-hour after the show opened (or 90 minutes after the early bird opening at 9 o’clock). The Baywatch reunion was assembled in the hallway off the ballroom where most of the celebrities were congregated. As we entered, we passed the long queue already waiting to meet David Hasselhoff. Another long line out one of the ballroom doors led to Bo Derek and once inside, we saw another line of fans waiting for Joan Collins. Fortunately for us, the lines for the various Bond stars had not really started yet, but by early afternoon when we left, it was elbow to elbow down each aisle. Many fans were overburdened with oversized movie posters, books with post-it notes sticking out from the pages, and there were a few ardent collectors with wheeled suitcases!
|Photo op: me, my boyfriend and the bewitching Caroline Munro|
There were a handful of vendors in the ballroom with all sorts of collectables on sale lining their tables and huge posters hung from the perimeter of the room where most vendors were set up. As seasoned show attendees, we always take a turn of the room to see which celebrities made it and who cancelled. For this occasion as is typical, all of the Bond stars were together: George Lazenby and Richard Kiel headed up at the aisle end cap of tables. Shirley Eaton and Valerie were down one side next two show veterans Caroline Munro and Martine Beswick, who are thick as thieves. Rounding out that side were Tanya Roberts, Trina Parks, and Gloria Hendry. Britt Eklund led the other side of tables. Luciana Paluzzi was chatting with Mary Stavin and Kristina Wayborn, both who were new to the show. And, the show organizers delivered Michael Madsen, who has been a no show for each scheduled appearance over the past few years. Lana Wood was at the opposing end cap. With all these stars, the question was who to start with first?
Just before making the decision of who to will be the first celebrity to approach, I find myself tense and uncertain because I’m hoping for quick easy rapports to develop in the few minutes I will have with each star. While I have seldom run into a star that has been sour to being at the show (thank goodness!), sometimes a star is new to the circuit or is kind of shy, leading to hesitant pauses as either the fan or star takes the lead in the exchange. Or, sometimes, just as you get in front of the celebrity, some person shows up to monopolize their time, taking the attention and time you paid for when purchasing their autograph. And, of course, this happened as I stepped up to the table of my first star of the morning.
|Long time in coming, but finally, Michael Madsen - yay!|
Michael Madsen looked like he was straight out of Reservoir Dogs, minus the suit, but attired all in black, including his unkempt jet-black hair. Silver rings and tattoos adorned his hands; he had the total bad boy image going on. Mr. Madsen seemed intrigued by my James Bond Archives book, as I opened up the huge book and the pages fanned out before him. I offered him to have a look through the pages of Die Another Day before returning to the title pages for that film where I figured he could sign since there wasn’t a picture of him from the movie included in the book. (I am always a bit worried, especially if the star had a major role but was relegated to one rather small picture in the corner of a page. Sadly, this happened to Tanya Roberts.) I always ask for the autograph to be personalized, which he did, but due to a wannabe-VIP who decided to make Mr. Madsen guess which three films they had been in together (it sounded like the guy had been a stuntman?), Mr. Madsen misspelled my name. I didn’t say anything though because it happens sometimes. I really wanted to wait for wannabe to get through his twenty questions, but my exchange was already in motion. But in this case, there was a silver lining: as Mr. Madsen finished signing his name, he said that since the book didn’t have a photo of him, he tucked one of his stills from Reservoir Dogs into my book. I thought that was very kind and generous of him to do and kindly thanked him.
Luciana Paluzzi was just to Michael Madsen’s right and even though I already had her autograph in my book, we had brought a print of a photograph we had taken with her back in January for her to sign. The thing about Ms. Paluzzi is that she is a bright spot to any Bond reunion and it is not just because of her red hair. Still gorgeous 50 years on from Thunderball, she has a graceful demeanor sprinkled with a hint of shyness that is just so sweet. She mentioned she would not be traveling out for awhile after doing two shows in the same year (I believe she lives in Rome).
|Taschen book provides insight to the Eaton's golden transformation|
Next, cue Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger and images of a golden Shirley Eaton draped over the edge of a hotel bed in death is one of the most enduring icons of the Bond franchise. By the time we got to Ms. Eaton, the ballroom was buzzing with excitement as fans met and chatted with their favourite stars. My book had a fantastic two-page behind-the-scenes spread of setting up that famous shot, so it was the best place for her autograph. Her assistant cradled my book in his lap as she signed. I think they both mentioned the size and weight of the book, which was beginning to cause fatigue to my carrying arm – a twenty-pound (actually according to Amazon, it’s just shy of fifteen pounds of Bond goodness) book has a tendency to do that!
|As hotel receptionist, Valerie Leon checks Bond in|
Known for her work in the British Carry On series, Valerie Leon had an impressive array of stills and a rather slick banner advertising her past roles. I haven’t seen any of the Carry On films, but she did star in a Hammer film called Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) that looked interesting (I have a fondness for all things related to Egyptian antiquity) and she did have quite the costume! (Starring in Hammer films did seem to be a recurring theme for a number of the Bond women. I was kind of kicking myself for not taking my Marcus Hearn book The Art of Hammer: Posters from the Archive of Hammer Films along.) Out of the two Bond films, she picked The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) over Never Say Never Again (1983). In the former, she made a brief appearance as a hotel receptionist and in the latter, a fisherwoman who catches more than a fish one afternoon.
|Magda's unwrapping departure was unique|
Originally from Sweden, Kristina Wayborn was exquisite in her khaki outfit, complimenting her tanned skin and her blond locks were pulled up into a partial bun while the rest cascaded down her back. I think her beauty then and now would give just about any woman a run for their money and any man left babbling incoherently in a pool of drool, such as my boyfriend. Other than her role as Magda in Octopussy, she’s been in one other film, Forbidden Warrior (2004) and several one-off television episodes for a number of the popular American series. She was generous with her time with us, and my boyfriend floated in the clouds when he had his picture taken with her. He had a goofy smile on his face the rest of the day!
|The flag marks the spot where Stavin's Kimberly Jones awaits Bond|
As I mentioned above, I feel awkward when I meet a Bond star and the book photo of them isn’t flattering or worse, there isn’t a photo at all. If money were no object, I would buy a still, get it autographed, and tuck it in my book. However, in my experience so far at the shows, I have noticed that it seems that being involved with Bond, even a small part, is cherished and an honor. Mary Stavin was an Octopussy girl, then agent Kimberly Jones in the opening sequence of A View to a Kill. Seriously, the photo is of her white sub breaking the icy surface, but she still liked the photo and autographed the opposing page.
|Beswick sizzles in Thunderball promo|
Martine Beswick (also associated with Hammer films) had returned from some nefarious adventure with Caroline Munro by the time we finished over at Mary Stavin’s table. It was the last autograph of the day and although there were a couple of photos of her fight in From Russia With Love, I picked out the two-page spread spotlighting a photo shoot for Thunderball promos. Ms. Beswick was at the 2009 Bond reunion, so we had met her before. My impression each time is that she seems like the type of person that you could have a good laugh with and has been a willing partner (or instigator) in some devious plan a time or two (I should have asked Caroline Munro!). After getting her autograph, I got my photo with her. Sheer joy!
|Photo op: me and the stunning Martine Beswick|
Before we took off, I had my picture taken with George Lazenby since the one taken back in 2009 was kind of blurry – that’s the risk when asking a random stranger to take a picture with a camera whose digital display turns out to an image of misrepresentation! Mr. Lazenby is always the gentleman (it’s our third meeting) and indicated he was having a good weekend. He was never at a loss of company or charm – swoon.
|Photo op: me and the always charming gentleman, George Lazenby|
Rounding out the Bond reunion included Lana Wood, Trina Parks, Gloria Hendry, Tanya Roberts, and Richard Kiel – all were keeping very busy too. I had gotten their autographs in January, so I didn’t spend time at their tables this time.
My collection of autographs was now up to 23 and I was already plotting who I might be able to secure in the future. There has been the odd Bond star at past shows such as David Hedison who played Felix Leiter twice – Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill – and Robert Dix, the agent killed during the funeral march in New Orleans. Timothy Dalton Bond Girl Virginia Hey has been to one of the shows a couple of years ago as well. And through the various Southern California Cons, I have had the pleasure of meeting long time stuntman extraordinaire Carl Giarfalio who played the warehouse guard who had an “eelectrified” death scene in Licence to Kill. I hope to see them all again and add their autographs to my book. All in all, a productive show!
My book: Taschen’s The James Bond Archives edited by Paul Duncan.
A special thank you to my boyfriend who, as an early birthday present, purchased all of autographs and photo ops yesterday. Thanks to him, my autograph count is now up to 23!
While researching some of the facts for this post, I did across the tidbit that two Bond girls were featured in music videos with Englishman Adam Ant of Adam and the Ants back in the 1980s. Can you name them? No? Mary Stavin was in Adam Ant’s Ant Rap and Strip, while Caroline Munro was the secretary in Goody Two Shoes.
|Photo op: me and Caroline's beautiful daughter, Tami|