On a nice summer evening in 1979, I was standing with some friends next to a big white limousine parked in front of New York’s Imperial Theatre, where Lucie Arnaz was starring in a show called “They’re Playing Our Song.”
A middle aged man tapped me on the shoulder.
“You’re that Cuban actress, aren’t you?”
“Why, yes! Yes I am!”
I was, after all, Cuban, and about to appear in “Count Dracula” at the Foothill Playhouse in Middlesex, New Jersey.
“Sign this,” the man said, as he thrust pen and paper into my hands.
I signed my name very nicely.
He looked at it, then stared at me furiously.
“What the hell is this?”
“I wanted your REAL name!”
“I mean the name you use when you’re acting!” He pointed at the posters in front of the Imperial, and I caught on.
“Oh! You wanted me to sign Lucie Arnaz!”
“But that’s not who I am!”
“You bitches think that you can play around with people like me just because you’re famous. Well, you can’t! I don’t need your lousy autograph anyway. You stink!” And he went off into the crowd, badmouthing poor Lucie all the way. “Thinks she’s so special just because her mother is a star. She stinks! She wouldn’t be anybody if not for her parents!”
Behind me, a woman was laughing heartily. I turned around and it was Marsha Mason… the Oscar-winning actress who was, at the time, married to playwright Neil Simon.
“Geez” I said to her. “He could have had YOUR autograph.”
“I guess he didn’t know who I am!” she said.
He wanted my autograph because he thought I was famous… and he passed up the chance to get hers because he didn’t realize she really was.
It’s not who you know… it’s who knows you.