Years ago, I got a chance to meet Roddy McDowall and Nancy Allen after a performance of "Dial 'M' For Murder" at Playhouse Square. I was going to get their autographs afterwards no matter the cost (and it actually turned out to be pretty easy), but I had no idea what to have them sign. After some thought, I decided to have them sign in my movie notebooks.
When I was in high school and college, I filled up three notebooks full of reviews I wrote after every movie I saw. I gave everything a star rating from 0 stars to 4 stars and wrote a one to four line review of the film. I also categorized whether or not I saw it in the theater, what its rating was, why it was rated that way, and if I saw it edited for TV or not. It seems complicated, but it was pretty simple. Leonard Maltin and his Movie Guide obviously made a big impression on me.
Anyways, both Roddy McDowall and Nancy Allen had no problem signing the notebooks by reviews of Fright Night and Dressed to Kill respectively, and I discovered a cool thing to have celebrities sign when I would meet them at Comic Con or any other convention.
But my most oft-repeated story regarding the notebooks is the one about the one person who wouldn't sign it. That person was Traci Lords. I was at a convention (in Akron, I think), and I waited in her line to see if she would sign by my review of Cry Baby. I got up to her, explained what I wanted her to sign, and waited expectantly. She looked at me and said, "I don't sign reviews." I was stunned for a moment, but managed to recover and explain that they were my own reviews, and that I liked the movie (giving it either 3 or 3 and 1/2 stars). She still said "no," and said that she would sign any of the stuff on the table for me. I was crestfallen, said, "no, thanks," and shuffled away.
This was still relatively early on in my autograph gathering, so I wondered to myself if the first few autographs were flukes and everything would be like this from now on. The next person I saw that day, about 5 to 10 minutes later was Robert Z'Dar. Robert had starred in Maniac Cop 1, 2, and 3, as well as a personal favorite, Tango and Cash. I was going to ask him to sign by Maniac Cop 2. When I got to him, I gave him my spiel. He looked at me and said, "You did this? These are your reviews?" "Yes," I replied. There was a pause. "This is awesome! You should do something with this!" At that moment, I wanted to give him the biggest hug. We talked about his movies and what he was doing with himself for about 15 minutes.
He was truly one of the nicest and coolest people people I have ever met. He was at Cinema Wasteland last year and I was focused on other things, but I waved to him as I walked by. I really should have talked to him, and now I won't get another chance, as he passed away yesterday. But he'll always be one of my favorite people, and I'll never forget his enthusiastic response to this one fan.
Rest in peace Robert Z'Dar. And thank you.