Nine Celebrities I Have Walked Past in Los Angeles

Al Pacino and friend. Not my photo, but it’s what I saw

Who says nobody walks in LA? I walk around this city all the time. And this list is proof that I'm not alone. Even multi-millionaires have times when they need to tumble out of their limousines and stretch their legs. And lo, here are nine famous Angelenos who, as I can personally attest, have actually placed their feet upon a sidewalk and moved their legs back and forth.

  1. Penny Marshall. This TV star turned film director turned memoirist is starting to become one of those celebrities I see all the time. At this point, I have crossed pasts with Ms. Marshall thrice. The first time was at a star-studded boutique opening. (I was there because I knew the woman who ran the place.) The second time, my wife and I saw her shopping for televisions at a Best Buy. But the third time, she was just strolling down a rather abandoned stretch of the Sunset Strip as I walked to my bank. She did not make eye contact.
  2. Patton Oswalt. I walked past the comedian and star of Ratatouille and Young Adult on Sunset Blvd. sidewalks as well - twice in the past year, in fact. And on entirely different sections of Sunset. (For the uninitiated, the street is over 23 miles from end to end.) Again, no eye contact.
  3. Quentin Tarantino. I have bumped into the cult director so many times that I lost count after 6 or 7. Anyway, he used to live on Crescent Heights Blvd. and I walked past him a few times on my way to the movies. I'm not building up to any "Yes, this person looked me square in the eye!" revelations on this list, so let's just settle things now. None of these people made eye contact with me.
  4. Chris Farley and Tom Arnold. This encounter was super strange, in that the two famous funny men - well, one famous funny man and his obnoxious friend - were actually hanging out on Rodeo Drive, on a weekend, with loads of tourists walking by. They were cracking wise with whoever was game enough to go up to them. "You want my picture? Hey, let me take your picture!" This was way back in 1994, and the irony is that many of the Europeans who came to Beverly Hills to gawk didn't even know these guys because their shows and movies hadn't yet made it overseas.
  5. Al Pacino. Yes, really! Apparently Mr. Pacino gets around: My old roommate saw him at Enterprise Rental Car. Another friend of mine caught a glimpse of him shopping at a Target. He's a regular guy, this Pacino! I saw him in residential Beverly Hills a year ago, strolling with an elderly acquaintance and deep in conversation. I was, again, on my way to a movie.
  6. Nick Nolte. A friend from New Zealand was staying with me in 1998, and we took a long walk at night past the many fancy (yet vaguely tacky) restaurants on La Cienega Blvd. We turned the corner and there was Nolte, who appeared to be wearing some sort of white karate jacket. He looked wild-eyed. He might have been a bum. But he looked too weird to be a bum. It was Nolte, I swear.
  7. Jamie Lee Curtis. If it's uncommon to see film and TV people out in public, it's ultra rare to see them at a farmers market, buying vegetables. But that's what La Curtis was doing, one fine Saturday morning in Santa Monica.
  8. Faye Dunaway. I'm not entirely sure I should count the famous diva, because I didn't actually see her walking, but merely standing. Once was in front of Erewhon Natural Foods Market, where my then-roommate and I actually chatted with her. The second time, she was standing in front of a movie theatre playing Being John Malkovich. In both cases, it appeared as though she was waiting for a car to pick her up.
  9. Kirk Douglas. The legend! Now, I'll never be 100% positive it was ol' cleft chin, because even before his stroke (I believe this was around 1993 or 1994), a public sighting would have been unusual. But in this case, Douglas was not only strolling down the sidewalk, he even walked into traffic like a crazy man. But he was with an assistant-looking person, he was well-groomed, and he had some justification (I think there was some pylon on the sidewalk). So I think it was him. Some big fat guy in a suit was walking behind me, eating ice cream. After the legendary movie star walked by, I turned to the fat guy and said, "That's Kirk Douglas!" The fat guy just briskly nodded his head at me. And didn't make eye contact.