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Dad Seemed to Know Everyone

Updated on January 30, 2017
Dan W Miller profile image

The Vanilla Godzilla was raised in Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks, CA. Veteran, divorced in 1996, kids, grandkids. Lived In Phoenix since 2000.

The Champ delivers the crushing blows to the undefeated and seemingly invincible giant.
The Champ delivers the crushing blows to the undefeated and seemingly invincible giant.
We were part of the huge "Arnie's Army" but felt like one of his lieutenants thanks to Dad's amiable ways.
We were part of the huge "Arnie's Army" but felt like one of his lieutenants thanks to Dad's amiable ways.

Dad taught me how to properly meet and greet people while acting at ease in any social situation.

He had grown up in downtown Los Angeles and was a big football star at Dorsey High School. Son-of-a-gun always seemed to know the right people when we'd go back to his neighborhood. That was my Dad!

"Wanna go see Ali box? I can get tickets from my friend," he asked me one day. He was referring to the upcoming heavyweight title match between Muhammad Ali and the champ George Foreman.

"Real funny, Dad. It's in Zaire. Now how are you going to do that?" I quipped. I was a skinny, too-tall for my age young teenager and sports nut.

"There's this new thing called a "live closed circuit broadcast" and the only place to see it on the west coast is at the Pantages," he said. (Black and white broadcast was the usual) The Pantages Theater was a beautiful old venue about a half mile east of Sid Grauman's famous Chinese Theater on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.

MEETING SOME NICE "GOOD FELLAS"

So we drove the family Ford Pinto to the back of a big warehouse off Vine and parked in a lot that was full of gaudy Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals painted in unusual colors. After we had to be checked off of a list by a mountain of a man with a flat nose outside, Dad and I walk through this rathole of a door and into a warehouse full of about 30 cigar smoking men with a smattering of "dames" in too-tight dresses chewing gum with their mouths open.

Then the smallest, slightest man in the place approached us. He had a pale, waxy complexion and was one of the few smoking a cigarette. I remember his ivory cigarette holder. His right hand was permanently stuffed into his suit coat pocket.

"George! George! Howyadoooin'?" he said as he slapped Pop on the shoulder in a tough guy "accent" if there ever was one. He made sure we were served drinks from a wet bar (in a warehouse?) and I sipped my Roy Rogers while trying not to get into anyone's way.

Something was DEFINITELY different about these guys. All were in tuxedos or shimmering shark-skinned suits and big fur coats. The few women that were there appeared bored with their platinum blond hair and glittering evening gowns that had looked like they were spray painted on.

The air inside was a choking cloud of cigar smoke from the fattest stogies I'd ever seen. Guys had huge wads of bills in their fat mitts and were exchanging handshakes. A bookworm of a fellow was furiously scribbling on a small tablet while taking their money and handing it to a gorilla of a man.

"Dad! Who ARE these guys," I whispered in his ear "and how do you know your friend?"

"Oh, they just like boxing, son and I've known Clyde since high school," Pop said.

I saw the man finally pull his right hand from his pocket and it was horribly deformed. When I asked my father what had happened to him, he just dismissed it as "an accident."

ON TO THE EVENT AS A SPECIAL GUEST

So we all piled into our cars and headed on over to the theater. We in our family Pinto, they in their "land yachts." The parking lot attendant at the Pantages Theater stopped traffic to allow our entourage to find about a dozen front spots reserved just for us.

A motorist honked for us to hurry up. A gigantic man in a floor length black leather coat got out of one of the lead cars, walked over to the honking motorist and stuck his basketball sized head into the guy's driver's side window. Problem solved. No more honking.

Inside the theater we were treated like royalty from nervous and fast talking employees who seemed to know who we were. Ushers lead us to our seats and I couldn't believe we were sitting in the second row!

"First row is just too close, y'know fellas!" laughed Clyde as the group seemed to be on queue from this statement to laugh a bit too hearty and in unison.

George Foreman, the Olympic Gold medalist and current heavyweight champion, was an enormous man that usually outweighed his opponents by at least 20 pounds. He was undefeated and he didn't just win his matches, he literally pulverized his opponent. He'd never even been past the third round - ever!

Ali let Foreman "punch himself out" with his famous "Rope-a-Dope" style all fight. It was tough to watch because Ali just LET him pound away at him. Just as it looked like he (we?) couldn't take it any longer, he'd pop the champ in the kisser with a shocking blow that made the Goliath Foreman reel back.

But it just didn't look good for my hero. He was older, he was trying valiantly to stage a career comeback and everyone thought the end would inevitably come sooner rather than later. Little did we know "The Louisville Lip" was stalking his prey, feeling him out and wearing him down for when the time was just right.

I AM A WITNESS TO SPORTS HISTORY

The famous eighth round began and I recall whispering to Dad, "Foreman looks tired." The champ had NEVER been this far into a boxing match in his entire career. Ali assumed his position he had taken the entire night against the ropes with his arms up.

With the crowd chanting his name nearly the entire match, suddenly Ali comes to life, grabs Foreman around the back of the neck and says something to the crowd. It was time. A flash of punches like a rapid-fire machine gun explodes into Foreman's face! 1, 2, 3, 4, BAMBAMBAMBAM!!

The champion looked like a ridiculous rag doll as he flailed his arms, does a half circle backwards and collapses on the canvas for the first time in his life. KABOOM! Foreman looks as though he's trying to find the license number of the truck that just hit him. He has no idea where he was!

The ringside crowd roars hysterically and the entire theater audience leap to their feet! The noise was deafening as many in our entourage let go a booming string of cuss words that could curl my hair even today. Clyde's gang of guys are a mix of ecstasy and horror (obviously according to their bets) as a new champion is about to be crowned and the soon to be former champ is dazed, sitting on his butt.

Now, this is the first time I had ever seen grown men cry. A couple of (our?) guys were screaming through tears at the movie screen, "Get up, ya big &%$@in' lummox!!" Some were jumping up and down with jubilation. Well, you know the rest. Ali went on to reclaim his title in one of the greatest sporting events and comebacks of the 20th century.

What a night to remember! But I still have to ask... Hey, Dad... who WERE those guys?

MEETING CELEBRITIES

Another time when I was an impressionable thirteen year old, Dad asked me if I'd like to go with him to see the L.A. Open (pro golf tournament.) Sure, why not, I thought. He had caddied at that same Los Angeles Country Club as a kid.

I insisted we follow "Arnie's Army." The great Arnold Palmer was well past his prime but his popularity never waned. Arnie always had a throng of hundreds of fans following him around the course as compared to the other golfer's groups which might have a few dozen.

He appeared to be genuinely enjoying just a leisurely round of golf with his buddies, laughing, talking and rather oblivious to the huge crowd studying his every move. You'd swear at any moment he'd take a pull off a beer and stuff the can back into his golf bag! He sometimes puffed on a smoke between tees.

On the eighth tee, The Great One blasted a drive down the fairway as the crowd cooed with amazement and roared their approval. When the applause had died down, my father yelled out, "Hey, Arnie! Come on over here!" The legend looked over at who said that and strolled on over to us with that constant smile upon his inviting face.

HOW TO SPEAK WHEN YOU'RE SPEECHLESS

Now, this is how I learned how to be amiable, how to meet strangers and also how to give respect to a celebrity while meanwhile treating them like just another "Joe." This is the correct way many celebrities actually enjoy meeting new fans because, after all, they're just people too. But, of course, everyone appreciates simple respect.

"Hi, Mr. Palmer! Glad to meet you! I'm George and this is my son, Dan." Pop confidently exclaimed. The Great Man shook Dad's hand, then mine, called me by name and said it was a pleasure to meet us. He was brown, tanned from decades on golf courses with smooth skin and a sort of raw-boned strength about him.

Fans around us just stood there silently in awe smiling or else with their mouths wide open, not bothering our conversation because clearly, it seemed as though my Dad actually KNEW him.

After making Arnold laugh and "talking shop" with my Dad for a few minutes, he wrapped up the conversation (and signed my program) by saying, "Well George, it was a pleasure to meet you and you too, Dan but if you'll excuse me... I have to get back to work now." He turned on one heel and merrily strolled down the fairway towards his next approach shot.

I stood there stunned and dumbfounded. I had just met one of the 20th century's greatest athletes. Truly one of it's most popular and beloved ones, too! People around us gazed at us with reverence and envy as though WE were the celebrity.

As I looked up from staring a long while at the autograph on my program, I asked Dad, "Do you KNOW him, Pop?"

"Oh, no. But I do now. Nice guy, eh?" he chuckled.

Dad was MY legend and I never will forget how to act in any social setting thanks to his proper example.

"Hey, Arnie!," my Dad said, "Come on over! Like you to meet my son." And HE DID!

Arnie's Army
Arnie's Army
The famous Pantages Theater was where one of the first closed circuit boxing championships was ever held.
The famous Pantages Theater was where one of the first closed circuit boxing championships was ever held.

I leaned over and whispered to my Dad, "Foreman looks tired." Ali saw it too and moved in for the kill

Did you learn more male qualities from your father or someone else?

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Tell us how great your Father was! Leave his name and a brief message in homage to him here.

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  • Dan W Miller profile image
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    Dan W Miller 2 years ago from the beaches of Southern California now living in Phoenix since 2000

    Well "48" that'll keep me going for months. Thank you. I DID NOT see this hiding here until now... Father's Day. Ironic, eh?

  • Dan W Miller profile image
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    Dan W Miller 2 years ago from the beaches of Southern California now living in Phoenix since 2000

    Dad may be gone but I have great support from Hub Authors like you, "48!" Thank you so much.

  • Dan W Miller profile image
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    Dan W Miller 2 years ago from the beaches of Southern California now living in Phoenix since 2000

    Ok HubPages. THERE IS ONE DAMN LINK AND IT IS NOT BROKEN. You can publish my second busiest hub now... ASAP!!

  • Dan W Miller profile image
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    Dan W Miller 3 years ago from the beaches of Southern California now living in Phoenix since 2000

    You're a doll, a peach, you are my Columbia the Gem of the Ocean, 'coach. Rather depressed now. So long and thx.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    I've been sharing this 'all over the place.' The only reason I'm not too surprise at the 59 score is because I've experienced this too.

    Having said this, I'm livid about your score. What can (if anything) I do to help. Go on an Hp strike? Call in the "boys" from Los Angeles?

    Well, let's wait and see what the outcome is now that you've added some 'goodies.'

    Meanwhile, here's a hub-hug to help you feel better :)

  • Dan W Miller profile image
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    Dan W Miller 3 years ago from the beaches of Southern California now living in Phoenix since 2000

    PUT ME IN (your hub community) 'COACH! You say things like that and my "pen" is able to leap tall building in a single bound! I had a thought earlier to spice this up by putting some bells and whistles (better pics, video and change the title to appeal to the information/how to crowd) into it.

    So make sure it's my updated one, please. It might take hours to catch up. I did that around three hours ago. I'm very flattered and highly encouraged to tackle writing a hub. Because t's been a while. You might even enjoy the message I wrote to Ms. Dolores next...

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Very nice words of confirmation, from The Artiste Monet! Funny, in high school I had a hot car (motorheads,) three-sport letterman (jocks,) editor of the school newspaper (rebels,) in the school plays as usually the second support (dweebs,) the guy who's car had that "funny" smell to it (party!,) surfed (uh, surfers,) and graduated early because all I needed was 5 credits before my senior year (NERDS.)

    From Southern California and forced to move to a region where seemingly underwhelmingly non-eclectic conservative people is not the exception like California... it's the accepted way. Many follow the leader and just don't "get me" or act jealous. I don't know which. I've given them 15 years to change for the better.

    Hmmm, Dad would've known what to do and how to deal with "these people!"

    R.I.P. Pop

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Cheerful and at ease with everyone - what a guy. I remember going to a high school reunion and the woman I went with was known by everyone. It appeared that she must have been one of the most popular girls at school. She had not been typically pretty, or dressed cool, or in all the clubs....she had been the kindest, sweetest girl I knew. And it never changed, friends with the punks, the athletes, the artists, the popular gang, the hippies, and the special ed kids. That's all it takes, just being nice.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    Another fantastic hub Dan. I enjoyed reading about your Dad and your relationship with him. I miss my father. He loved everyone he ever met. I'm going to share this with our hub community.

    Keep them coming my new friend. ~ Audrey

  • tsadjatko profile image

    TSAD 3 years ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

    "To Boldlygo, where no man has gone before!" Did they ever get there?

    Thanks Dan for the hub page, brings back memories of my past. I met Muhammad Ali as while in college I worked in a restaurant he stopped at on the way to his training camp in PA and later in life I worked down the road from his home in Cherry Hill NJ. I also student taught at the high school where Joe Frazier's kids attended. And I was a next door neighbor of Mike Tyson (at Cus D'Amato's home) when he was 14! Odd coincidences aren't they? And now I've met (through HubPages) the guy whose father took him to see Ali and Foreman! It never ends, I wonder if I missed a calling to be a boxer... :-)

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Actually, for the record.....I was a level 8 for the past 2 years....and like I said, my Hubber score was always 95 or above, but as it happened, I took a good 8 months off....away from HP. My husband passed away quite suddenly, which left me with months of adjustments & readjustments.......& I eventually spent nearly 2 months in Georgia, with one of my sons & his family.

    I've only been back & semi-active for a couple of months. Back on my hands and knees, trying to claw my way back to the top of Hubpages Blueberry Hill, to rediscover my thrill. The reality is, although my passion for writing is 90% of my DNA.....it is in fact, just one of my many "hobbies."

    I'm good at giving unsolicited advice.......in addition to "working on your writing skills," (which are in great shape, btw) spend a good deal of time, cruising HP neighborhoods.....reading hub after hub....commenting and just getting to know members of our community. It doesn't matter where you've been, what you've done, with whom, why or when. RIGHT HERE, I promise you, are some of the most fabulous, talented, intelligent, loyal and compassionate individuals in the Universe. Everyone always willing to help.....and "newbies" are treated well.

    As it is anywhere, there are your basic A$$wipes here, as well. You struck me immediately as the kind of man who will have no problem recognizing them in an instant. Keep in mind, we're such wonderful people, we tolerate them anyway. We're all free to be who and what we are....even total jerks..............

  • Dan W Miller profile image
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    Dan W Miller 3 years ago from the beaches of Southern California now living in Phoenix since 2000

    Aw thanks. I hope someday to be a Level 7 Commander of my own starfleet like you, "f." Until then, I'll keep practicing my writing skills as your personal Star Trek "guys in a red shirt" crewmember.

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    A sweet Dad/Son tale. As a Daddy's girl, I thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end. Continue the great writing, Dan. Up & awesome.....shared.