Meeting 80s Stars At Chiller Theatre, Part 3: April 2018 and October 2018
Welcome to Part 3 of my four-part series about meeting 80s stars at the Chiller Theatre convention. This article will cover my visits to the show in 2018, starting with April of that year. This was the first time I attended Chiller Theatre in April, and I enjoyed it just as much as the October shows I'd attended the previous four years.
Johnny Caps and Michelle Johnson
The first 80s star I met was one of my earliest interview subjects for Pop Geeks, Michelle Johnson. She started out as a model, appeared in memorable 80s movies like Blame It On Rio and Waxwork, and has been active as a singer also. We were Facebook friends until she deactivated her profile, but she recognized me from our interview, and she was very friendly to meet.
I actually met Michelle twice at the April 2018 Chiller. First I got her autograph, and then I forgot it at her table. She still had the autograph when I doubled back, so I decided to purchase her CD as well. Michelle is a fantastically talented singer and songwriter, so if she appears at a convention near you, buy her album. She was actually going to return to Chiller in 2020 before COVID tabled everything, and I look forward to her eventual return to the show.
Johnny Caps and Roscoe Orman
I then met Roscoe Orman, who memorably played Gordon for several decades on Sesame Street, and still makes occasional appearances as the character for special programs like those that are part of the Sesame Street In Communities initiative. I told Mr. Orman of how I went back a long way with Sesame Street, and he appreciated that. This was a few years after he was let go from the show as a regular, so I told him I hoped he'd return for the show's 50th anniversary the following year, and he did. Mr. Orman was very friendly.
Johnny Caps and Valerie Leon
The next star in the grand parade was Valerie Leon, an actress and model with credits going back to the 1960s. She holds the distinction of being one of the few actors to appear in both an official and unofficial James Bond movie, playing a hotel receptionist in The Spy Who Loved Me and a woman in the Bahamas in Never Say Never Again. I decided to get an autograph from the latter movie, and Valerie was very sweet when signing it. I hope Ms. Leon comes back to Chiller Theatre someday so I could look at her selection of photos and get one of her modeling shots signed.
Johnny Caps and Joanna Cassidy
After Valerie, I met another great beauty in my future Facebook friend and 2020 interview subject, Joanna Cassidy. Ms. Cassidy appeared in some of my favorite 80s movies including Under Fire, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Blade Runner. Blade Runner was the movie I chose to get an autograph from, and I told Joanna of how I sympathized with the Replicants, a thought I would elaborate further on in our Pop Geeks interview. Here's a link to that article when you're done with this piece.
Johnny Caps and Randal Kleiser
2018 marked the 40th anniversary of Grease, and as such, there was a massive reunion of cast members from that movie. I met some of the cast members from that movie, but before them, I also met the movie's director, Randal Kleiser. While most of his photos were Grease-related, I told him that I loved his movie Flight Of The Navigator, and how I enjoy it to this day.
I told him that I wished the movie had gotten a better release on Blu-Ray and DVD, and he told me of a European Blu-Ray that had extras. First, I need to find if my Blu-Ray player can play Region B titles. If it can, I'll purchase that Blu-Ray, enjoy the upgrade, and hope that Randal returns to Chiller someday so I can get the cover signed. Either way, Randal was fantastic to meet.
Johnny Caps and Susan Buckner
One of the Grease cast members I met was my Facebook friend Susan Buckner. Her 80s credits include the sitcom When The Whistle Blows and the horror movie Deadly Blessing, and she also has spent time as a singer-songwriter and a model. I decided to get Susan's autograph on a Grease photo, and as with all the stars I met, Susan was very friendly. I plan on reaching out to her again soon about an interview.
I stepped out of the room with the Grease reunion, and into the room with a reunion of another school-themed movie that turned 40 in 2018. That movie was Animal House, and I met most of the cast members who were part of that reunion.
Johnny Caps and Tim Matheson
I started out by meeting Tim Matheson, whose 80s credits include movies like Up The Creek and Fletch. I greeted him with a variant on a line of his from Animal House, "I'm Johnny Caps, and I'm damn glad to meet ya!". Tim was fantastic to talk to, and he laughed at my tale of first being exposed to Animal House via TBS, where I caught an edited version of it in the early 90s.
I wish I'd told him about how I saw this around the time we were studying ancient Rome in middle school and how, when we dressed up in sheets, I had us chanting, "Toga! Toga!". With 2023 marking the 45th anniversary of Animal House, perhaps Mr. Matheson might return to the show, so I could tell him that story. Of course, if I have the chance to interview him before then, I'll tell him about it sooner.
Johnny Caps and Peter Riegert
Next up, I met Peter Riegert. Although he was there as part of the Animal House reunion, the movie I got an autograph from was Crossing Delancey. I told Peter of how I discovered that movie in the mid-00s, and how I came to enjoy it. I told him of how I found it to be a story that, although set in the Jewish community, has resonance for everybody, and he appreciated hearing that. It's definitely a fantastic movie.
Johnny Caps and Karen Allen
After Peter, I met Karen Allen, who played Katy, the love interest of Riegert's Boone, in Animal House. I mentioned to hear that I had reached out to her about an interview a few years before and was declined, but she was polite about it. Again, although Karen was there as part of the Animal House reunion, I got her autograph on an 80s picture, more specifically, a picture of her as Marian in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I plan on reaching out to Karen again about an interview next year, and I'll put it out there into the universe that it will happen.
Johnny Caps and Martha Smith
The fourth Animal House cast member with 80s credentials I met at this Chiller was Martha Smith, the former Playboy Playmate who played Babs in Animal House, and would have regular roles in the 80s on TV shows like Days Of Our Lives and Scarecrow And Mrs. King. Martha was very friendly, but I only wish I'd thought to get one of her Playboy photos signed in addition to the vintage headshot I purchased. If she returns to Chiller in 2023 to mark Animal House's 45th anniversary, I'll get one of those Playboy shots signed.
Johnny Caps and Adrienne King
I then met Adrienne King, who memorably played Alice in the first two Friday The 13th movies. Adrienne is friends with my honorary big sister Lisa, so I mentioned her to Adrienne when we met, and she thought that connection was cool. I got a Friday The 13th picture signed, as one might expect, and I hope that Adrienne might return to Chiller someday so we can get a clearer picture.
Johnny Caps and Eddie Deezen
I ventured back into the Grease reunion room to get a new picture with Eddie Deezen, whom I first wrote about meeting in Part 2 of this series. Eddie was just as friendly in April of 2018 as he was in October of 2016. I told him this was my first April Chiller, and he said it was his as well. Again, I wish Eddie all the best in his recent struggles that have left him hospitalized. Mental illness can be a b*tch to deal with.
Johnny Caps and Lawrence Monoson
After Eddie, I met Lawrence Monoson, who first made an impression on me as Gary in the cult classic teen dramedy The Last American Virgin. The character of Gary was a jerk. Lawrence, on the other hand, is a genuinely kind and friendly man. I asked him to sign a picture from The Last American Virgin, "Johnny, don't be like Gary. Lawrence Monoson", and he obliged. When I posted the picture to Facebook, some said we looked like brothers. I can see that, and I think that's pretty cool. I hope to interview him someday.
Johnny Caps and Amanda Pays
Amanda Pays was at this Chiller as a surprise guest alongside her husband, Corbin Bernsen. I told Ms. Pays of how I loved her work in the 1988 Vietnam thriller Off Limits, and she liked hearing that. I then got a picture with Amanda, but in the picture, my eyes were closed and I looked like I was asleep. I was unaware of that until I uploaded the pictures to my computer when I got home. I was nervous because I didn't know if I'd have a chance to redo the photo, but when it comes to that...Well, we'll return to that matter soon.
Johnny Caps and Lee Grant
I then met Oscar-winning actress Lee Grant who, in addition to her acting in the 80s, directed a lot of powerful documentaries in the decade. One of them, Down And Out In America, would win a Best Documentary Oscar. I told Lee of how I enjoyed her episode of Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, and how I admired her great strength and courage in the face of the Hollywood Blacklist. It was an honor to meet a talent of her stature.
Johnny Caps and Corbin Bernsen
I mentioned Corbin Bernsen earlier, so I decided to get an autograph of, and picture with, him. I told him of how I could recall watching his episode of Saturday Night Live in reruns and his cameo as his L.A Law character Arnie in the Sesame Street 25th Anniversary Special. I got his autograph on an L.A Law photo, and I found Corbin to be very friendly to meet. Maybe I should go for a Major League photo the next time he comes to Chiller.
Johnny Caps and John Schuck
The April 2018 Chiller was one of John Schuck's first convention appearances. Mr. Schuck's list of credits is a mile long, and he had great stories to tell about all the movies he had pictures of available for signing. I went for an Outrageous Fortune picture, and John told me a fascinating story of how they pulled off the scene where he gets whacked in the back of the head with an oar. If I recall correctly, they took a cast of his head and filled it with gelatin, which they then put on a dummy. It was a rather lifelike scene, though, and a very cool story from John.
Johnny Caps and Didi Conn
I ventured back into the Grease reunion room to meet Didi Conn, a Facebook friend familiar to older 80s audiences from Benson and younger 80s audiences from Shining Time Station. Didi has a son on the autism spectrum, and as I'm on the autism spectrum myself, I asked her if she knew about the massive fanbase of Thomas The Tank Engine in the autism community. That led to a very kind discussion about being on the spectrum.
I got Didi's autograph for both myself and a local restaurant, and Ms. Conn was fantastic to talk to. As to that local restaurant, Emerald Point, Didi's autograph was the first I got for the restaurant. With every Chiller I've attended since then, I've helped this restaurant build up a Wall Of Fame to give it a bit of a show business shine, an idea I got from having spent years performing karaoke there. Although the karaoke evenings are long since done, these autographs I get for Emerald Point help the show business connection continue.
Johnny Caps and George Chakiris
I met another Oscar winner at the April 2018 Chiller when I got an autograph of, and picture with, George Chakiris. George won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for West Side Story, and is known to 80s fans for his work as Nicholas on Dallas and guest spots on quintessentially 80s shows like Matt Houston and Murder, She Wrote. George was rather quiet, but his quietness didn't deter his friendliness. If he ever comes back to Chiller, I'll have to ask Emerald Point's owner, my friend Erin, if she would be interested in adding his autograph to the Wall Of Fame.
Johnny Caps and Brian Thompson
The next 80s star I met was Brian Thompson, who memorably played The Night Slasher in the 1986 action favorite Cobra. The Night Slasher was a very nasty character, but Brian couldn't have been nicer. He was very friendly to talk to, and one of the things we discussed was my shirt, which I custom-made at the now-defunct Design-A-Tee at Disney Springs on my last Walt Disney World trip in 2016. He found the shirt to be fascinating, and I always like compliments like that. If only they made official Little Mermaid shirts for men...
Johnny Caps and Stepfanie Kramer
The last 80s star at this Chiller I got a camera photo with was Stepfanie Kramer, who memorably played Dee Dee McCall on the classic 80s cop drama Hunter. What I discussed with Stepfanie, though, was her singing. We talked about the disappointment of how most Stephen J. Cannell series lacked the original music on their home entertainment releases, and I told her of how I wished her rendition of, among other songs she sang on the show, REO Speedwagon's Can't Fight This Feeling was retained on the DVDs. If anybody can hip me to uncut Cannell series on the fan-to-fan DVD circuit, let me know.