I’ve Encountered Through the Years
~ Part One ~
I was asked this question recently,
and I thought it would make a fun blog post.
I have not met famous people like Mother Teresa,
Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi
who have truly made a difference in the world,
and will never be forgotten.
I’d love to hear what famous folks you’ve met!
KATHRYN BIGELOW (Hurt Locker, etc. director): High School Classmate. In 2010, she became the first woman in Oscar history to win the Best Director award.
TEX RITTER and TAMMY WYNETTE: In the late 1960s, my best friend Nina and I attended a Country Music Concert at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. We were 17 or 18 at the time. The first half of the show was young, up-and-coming country rock bands. During the intermission, we strolled the wide hallways built to accommodate cows and horses for rodeos and horse shows.
One of the young bands said hello to us, and invited us to sit on the side of the stage to watch the Grand Old Opry entertainers perform the show’s second half. I sat next to Tammy Wynette. The pretty, young blond wore a gold-spangled mini-dress and was friendly. She sang her big hit of that year, “Stand By Your Man.” Tex Ritter introduced himself and asked me to hold his bourbon while he performed with his band. We were invited to a big party afterward. Back then, I was a weekend folk singer in the streets of San Francisco, and I wanted to go the party, thinking I might have a chance to sing, and who knows — maybe be discovered as the next big country-folk music singer; but Nina was too shy to go.
JOAN BAEZ: I volunteered at her Peace Center in Palo Alto during the Viet Nam War. We arranged peaceful war moratoriums. Before that, I had met her while working at a high-end department store at the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto, CA. Joan was looking for a new outfit to wear on “Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show” the following night. She told me he always put her on at the show’s end, so she only had time to sing a song but not talk. She said, “I guess he thinks I’ll just talk about political stuff, but I can be really funny, too.”
The next night, I watched the show; sure enough, she was on in the last five minutes. When she finished her song, she dashed over to the seat next to Johnny’s desk and joked about always being the last guest on the show. He promised he wouldn’t do that again.
KENNY ORTEGA (Filmmaker, choreographer – High School Musical movies, Michael Jackson tour, etc.) When he was maybe 19, he directed “Oliver” in the San Mateo area. Nina and I wanted to work in the musical. Nina wanted to be in the play, but I wanted to be a stagehand instead of an actor because of my full-time job and school. He said I had to attend every rehearsal, or I could not be a part of the production. Although disappointed then, I understand why he insisted I be at every rehearsal. It is this work ethic that made him successful. However, at his young age back then, he was very brash and arrogant. When he was 21, he was in the touring stage production of “Hair.” Nina and I went to see him in San Francisco. Mainly to see the skinny guy naked on the stage, and have a good laugh. That doesn’t sound nice, but even though he was very talented, he was not a likable guy at that time. In later years, he was a weekly judge on “So You Think You Can Dance” and came across as a nice person. Age has a way of mellowing some people.
DAVID CROSBY: I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young at the Oakland Coliseum. They were a big band, making beautiful music. I was 18 and went with my friend Elaine and her younger brother, Jim.
After the show, we went around back to watch the band leave. Crosby, who was very cute (in my opinion) at the time – long hair, droopy mustache, 27-ish, opened the door of his limo and invited me to the after-party. I declined. I may have been young, but I wasn’t dumb. The creepy looking guy on the right is Neil Young.
SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR JOSEPH ALIOTO: In 1970, I went to a dinner party with my boyfriend, Dan (who became my brief first husband—my “practice marriage”), at his much older brother’s home in San Francisco. His brother was a professor and on the San Francisco school board. I was nineteen and very much out of my comfort zone.
JIM JONES: He was also at that dinner party. He was a prominent preacher who led the “Peoples Temple” in San Francisco between 1955 and 1978. He was heavily involved in political and charitable activity throughout the 1970s. Jones was appointed chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission in 1975. When I met him in 1970, he was 39, good-looking, and very intense. His eyes bored right into me, and I did not like it —or him. He gave me the willies. I guess the thing that attracted many people to him, repelled me. I remember him saying that my last name, Frost, was a good Anglo-Saxon name.
In November 1978, he led a “revolutionary suicide.” Jones and the members of his inner circle orchestrated a mass murder-suicide in his remote jungle commune at Jonestown, Guyana. Almost all his followers, 909 commune members, including 304 children — died by drinking Flavor Aid laced with cyanide. That is where the expression “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid” came from.
To this day, I still get a sick feeling inside when I think about this man
and what he did. How can anyone have this kind of power over people?