Celebrity Surprise

Surprisingly, he picked up his coat, turned to his right, looked directly at me, smiled the warmest of smiles, and extended his hand.

In the year 1996, while attending a Broadway show in New York City titled _Will Rogers Follies,_ I had the extreme good fortune to be seated in the row behind and one seat to the right of Gregory Peck. He had a pre-recorded part in the musical, that of Will Rogers's voice, which emanated from the balcony at timely moments throughout the show. I have a permanent vision of the back of him and his attractive wife as my friends and I shared in the enjoyment of this three-hour musical with none other than Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Peck.

At the show's conclusion, as we all stood to put on coats and find our way out of the theater, a second vision occurred that became instantly and permanently etched in my brain. Thinking he and his wife would escape the crowds in some pre-planned mysterious manner, I arose, expecting very little contact and resigning myself to the knowledge that I had at least been in the presence of this great actor. Surprisingly, he picked up his coat, turned to his right, looked directly at me, smiled the warmest of smiles, and extended his hand. It is as if he could feel my eyes on him throughout the show and knew I was a sincere fan with no intrusive intentions.

Drawing upon my best social skills, I smiled and shook his hand as he extended his and introduced himself! As if anyone would not know this man! His humility was taking my breath from me. He commanded my immediate respect, as he does in so many of his works. Knowing this was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, I pulled all the teacher instinct from within, told him how wonderful he was in _To Kill a Mockingbird,_ and thanked him from the bottom of my heart for the body of work he had created for the ages. He thanked me and, after shaking hands with a few more theatergoers, placed his coat over his arm and proceeded toward the exit--but not before autographing my _Playbill._

This is just one of those priceless memories that only I can fully enjoy time and time again. I am so grateful for the ability to become lost in memories such as these.

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