Strange Encounters: 14 Weird Meetings Between Celebrities

RealClear Staff


Killer Mike's endorsement of Bernie Sanders and Sean Pen's interview with El Chapo got us wondering about the encounters between celebrities that couldn't be more different that have occurred throughout history. We dug up a few.

1. Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders

What does a black rapper from the South have in common with a white 74-year-old Jewish politician from the Northeast? A desire for economic revolution.  

2. Sean Penn and El Chapo

Actor Sean Penn got a world scoop for Rolling Stone. Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán got arrested. A win-win?

3. Cary Grant and Amelia Earhart

Earhart must have had a layover in Hollywood amidst all her flying about. Two years after her 1937 disappearance, Grant gave a moving performance in "Only Angels Have Wings," a film about the risks of flying. Might he have drawn on this meeting when constructing his character?

4. Colonel Sanders and Alice Cooper

One question: What could they possibly have talked about?

5. Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali

This Cooper guy gets around! This meeting makes more sense. Only slightly.

6. Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin

The genius theoretical physicist told the genius comedian, "What I admire most in your art is the universality. You don't say a word, but the whole world understands you."

Chaplin reportedly replied, "True, but your glory is even bigger: The whole world admires you when nobody understands you."


7. Gene Simmons and Brooke Shields

Given that the actress was a teenager at the time she met the KISS front man, we hope there was a chaperone present ...

8. Nancy Reagan and Mr. T

In this photo, taken on Dec. 12, 1983, First lady Nancy Reagan gives some sugar to A-Team star Mr. T, who is dressed as Santa Claus for a preview of the White House Christmas decor.

9. Ernest Hemingway and Fidel Castro

The classic author of "A Farewell to Arms" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" spent time in Cuba, but was firmly an American individualist with strong beliefs in freedom, so he would seem to be at odds with the socialist revolutionary Castro.

10. Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini

In 1920, two of the biggest celebrities of the age met for the first time. One was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famed creator of the great detective Sherlock Holmes, and the other was Harry Houdini, the illusionist and escapologist who became one of the world’s highest-paid entertainers for his ability to escape from a steel and glass coffin filled with water in which he had been suspended upside down, or to make elephants disappear.

Conan Doyle and Houdini were an improbable pair. One was very much the bluff Scottish Victorian gentleman, educated at a minor Catholic private school; the other a largely self-educated Hungarian immigrant to the U.S. who had spent most of his life in rackety vaudeville. Turns out the two men clicked because of a shared interest in spiritualism.

After his son died in World War I, Conan Doyle become a huge believer in the afterlife, and believed the most important thing was to “prove immortality.” Houdini longed to believe that he might be able to communicate beyond the grave with his beloved mother, but also feared it might be impossible.

11. Charlie Chaplin and Mahatma Gandhi

Apparently, this hastily arranged meeting in 1931 came about when both happened to be in London at the same time. Gandhi had never heard of Chaplin, who had been the most famous movie star in the world for a good decade by then.

Chaplin reportedly asked Gandhi: “I am all for the freedom of your country and its people. But there is one thing that I don’t understand. Why do you oppose the use of machines? Don’t you think that a lot of work would come to a standstill if machines are not used?”

Gandhi responded, “I am not against machines but I cannot bear it when these very machines take away a man’s work from him. Today we are your slaves because we cannot overcome our attraction, for your goods. Freedom will surely be ours if we learn to free ourselves from this attraction.”

Perhaps that meeting influenced the famous final speech of his 1940 classic "The Great Dictator," a film that is an impassioned plea to resist Hitler.

12. Ray Bradbury and Marlene Dietrich

The future science fiction author was only 15 when he met one of his favorite stars, the sexy Marlene Dietrich, outside the Paramount gates. Bradbury ("The Martian Chronicles," "Fahrenheit 451"), growing up in Los Angeles, was in love with the movies, and often went to studio gates and famous celebrity watering holes such as the Brown Derby to see movie stars. 

12. Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw

Albert again (he's on the left), crossing paths with the famous write and playwright (center).

13. Benny Hill and Michael Jackson

The ribald British comedian and Jacko. Very weird.

14. Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley

This is the most famous weird celebrity meeting ever -- there was even a movie made about it! On December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley paid a visit to President Richard M. Nixon at the White House in Washington, D.C. The meeting was initiated by Presley, who wrote Nixon a six-page letter requesting a visit with the President and suggesting that he be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Presley, who would die of longterm drug abuse in 1977, told Nixon that he could influence the hippie movement against the use of drugs. Eventually he was given a specially-made Bureau of Narcotics badge.

"The narc badge represented some kind of ultimate power to him," Priscilla Presley would write in her memoir, Elvis and Me. "With the federal narcotics badge, he (believed he) could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished."




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