By Keith Hoffman
I have successfully stalked Tyne Daly for 35 years.
I am nothing if not loyal to my obsessions.
New York is a great place to live if you want to be close to celebrities. In Los Angeles you may often see them but they are usually roped off at some fancy event or in a car next to you where you have to scream how much you love them from your window while nearly sideswiping them trying to keep up on the busy freeway.
In NYC they walk around as if they were regular people.
MY TOP 5 CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS IN NYC
Mid 1980’s: I was newly arrived in the city fresh from my Midwest college and making my living working the register at a trendy housewares store where celebrities such as Richard Gere or Glen Close could often be spotted among the designer teapots and outrageously expensive toothbrush holders. One afternoon Meryl Streep meandered in to buy some fancy version of Windex. She was not quite as celebrated as she is now but with Deer Hunter, Sophie’s Choice and the French Lieutenants Woman under her belt she was no slouch either. I was young and not nearly as sophisticated as I am now. When she approached my register our eyes locked meaningfully. This was my first big celebrity encounter and I was determined to handle it with style, wit and élan.
“DIRTY WINDOWS HUH?” I shouted at her as she set the window cleaner on the counter.
Then I laughed maniacally at my own wit. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
I’m not sure why I found it funny. I’m not sure Ms. Streep did either.
Still I’d like to think that she looks back at that moment as fondly as I do.
(Meryl Streep is Surprising Domestic!)
Late 80’s —Sean Penn is walking down the upper West Side and he’s holding someone’s hand. This is excitment enough until I suddenly realize whose hand he is most likely holding at this time in his life. I literally trace down from his face to his shoulder to his elbow to his forearm to his hand over to the hand it was clasping. Madonna is attached to him in all her pop superstar glory. Almost as amazing as the sighting was how the crowd on the sidewalk parted before them and then stood looking back in a dazed awe at what they had just witnessed. A friend once told me the same phenomenon happened when she saw Bill and Hillary walking down the street together. A power couple sighting apparently excites even the most jaded New Yorkers.
2003—Phillip Seymour Hoffman is sitting on the curb nervously smoking outside the theatre of Long Days Journey Into Night–the play I was about to see him in that very evening. “I’m going to see you in the play tonight! In only four hours!!” I yelled as I passed by. He smiled and waved shyly at me.
Sure we may be haunted by inner demons but we Hoffman’s are a friendly bunch.
(Taking A Bow in Long Days Journey (2nd from Left))
2010—I am sitting in a restaurant in the heart of Broadway approximately six feet from Angela Lansbury at the next table. I find it impossible to talk to my dinner companion since my brain can only focus on such thoughts as, “Angela Lansbury is inserting a fork with pasta into her mouth…Angela Lansbury is wiping red sauce from her chin…Angela Lansbury is trying to avoid my intense stare…”
The night got even better as the playwright Neil Simon and then Alec Baldwin both came to eat dinner at the very same restaurant. And yes even though they sat at different tables, they all acknowledged and said hello each other. I guess all famous people actually do know each other.
(Angela Has Always Enjoyed A Good Meal)
2013—I spot Susan Sarandon carrying her dry cleaning down West 10th street in Greenwich Village. I have that feeling of “do I know this person?” before realizing she is not a friend but just famous. This moment is straight out of the “Stars Are Just Like Us” section of Us Magazine.
(They Pick Up Drycleaning!)
Of course Tyne is not the only celebrity I’ve stalked. That would be too much pressure on both of us. We have an open relationship.
OTHER CELEBRITIES I STALK
STEVIE NICKS—She is right up there neck and neck with Tyne because she is…well….Stevie Nicks. I have also loved her since the early 80’s. I have stuck with her through the cocaine addiction, the Kolonopin addiction and the overweight years. I loved her when it was uncool to love her. The only issue with Stevie is she is far less accessible than Tyne. The closest I have come to her is handing her flowers on stage from the audience and accosting her mother outside a concert telling her what a wonderful daughter she raised. (Yes, I knew what Stevie’s mother looked like—I do my research).
One of the more fun parts of loving Stevie Nicks is that fans love to dress up like her at concerts. No one ever seems to dress up like Tyne at one of her plays.
(Life Should Be Viewed Through a Tambourine More Often)
BEATRICE ARTHUR –Beside growing up pining to marry Maude and then later wanting to be one of the Golden Girls (like I suppose any typical red blooded adult male did) , I finally got to say hello to Bea only once after watching her perform her one-woman show shortly before her death. Not long after I was in Florida at a gay writer’s conference when I heard Bea died. To this day there is hardly a memory more tragic to me than seeing the grief-stricken, panicked faces of a sea of gay men as the news of her demise spread throughout the large convention room on closing night.
And yes, I realize I have a weird “strong woman” theme going on here indicating possible unresolved Mother issues….
(Are you my Mother?)
HILLARY CLINTON – Whatever you think of her politics, hair or outfits, this woman is strong. You can knock her down but she will get right back up like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction or Kathy Bates in Misery. The only problem with Hilary is any stalking of her is out of the question what with all those pesky Secret Service agents.
(What Does It Take To Get Some Alone Time With You, Hillary?)
“That is a lot on Keith’s plate,” you may be saying to yourself about now. “How does he manage successfully stalking without getting arrested?”
.4 SIMPLE TIPS ON HOW NOT TO BE A CREEPY STALKER
- Only approach your obsession at stage doors after a show. Never interrupt them during a performance or while they are eating a meal…especially if the meal is breakfast in their own bed.
- Ask politely before grabbing them and taking a selfie.
- Do NOT push them in front of a taxi and then save their lives at the last minute so they will forever be in your debt. It could go very badly.
- Do NOT smell their hair without consent.
By now you are asking yourself….
WHY IS TYNE DALY WORTHY OF OBSESSION?
I’m sure you don’t have time to hear about ALL of her great TV and theatre roles so I’ll just name the two greatest:
Cagney and Lacey—As Mary Beth Lacey she was the mom and wife and cop who was tough and maternal both at home and at work and who Emmy winningly nursed her partner Christine Cagney through her alcoholic bottom.
(Christine Cagney Hits Rock Bottom–Watch above link and try not to cry. I dare you.)
Gypsy (Broadway)—She literally spit on me while savagely singing Everything’s Coming Up Roses as the infamous Mama Rose–the ultimate stage mother who turns her daughter into the stripper (a plot that eerily echoed my own life but that is another blog).
(Rose Turn–Watch This Tony winning Nervous Breakdown Scored to Music and Try Not To Stand and Applaud At the End–I Dare You.)
And why has she lasted? Why Tyne and not Melanie Griffith or Loni Anderson who I had brief flings of obsession with?
Sure she has won a lot of awards–17 Emmy Nominations with 6 wins; 3 Tony Nominations with 1 win (so far)–but so has Meryl Streep , another great actress who I don’t I obsess over.
Judging Amy–Emmy Win
Rabbit Hole-Tony Nomination
Master Class–Unforgivable Tony Snub
And maybe that’s it—maybe unlike Meryl who everyone (except my mother) loves, I have found my own unique obsession.
Meryl Streep is for the masses.
(For the Masses)
Tyne is off the beaten track.
(Another Shoe-Stopping Performance)
MY TOP TYNE ENCOUNTER
I’ve seen her walking down the street with her daughters; I’ve met her countless times backstage (including the time she held my hand while she took off her make -up after Gypsy). I’ve bought her a Bacardi at a bar…
But there is one encounter just a few years ago that reminded me just how weirdly and crazily and marvelously connected this universe actually is.
It was the day before I was flying to Seattle to host a TV show for the very first time in my life. I was nervous to say the very least. The last time I had preformed for anyone was when I danced a Scottish jig in a kilt in my college production of Brigadoon.
(nope you are not seeing a video of that).
I was thrilled to have a chance to do something that was so different than anything I had ever done but how was I to know I would be any good?
That particular day I had left for work late (well, later than usual) because my dog had devoured an entire package of heartworm pills. (Apparently it doesn’t hurt them and I’m pretty sure she is immune to heartworms for the rest of her life). Even though I was already incredibly behind schedule I took the subway that was a little more out of the way because I knew I’d get a seat. During my long ride into the city I nervously fretted and worried I was going to mess up the shoot the next day and waste people’s time–not to mention all that money they were spending to do it. My fretting was morphing into full-fledged panic by the time my subway arrived at my final stop.
I stepped out of the subway and made my way to the stairs when I practically ran into her.
Tyne Daly was standing on the subway platform reading a newspaper.
That was amazing enough but just to top it off she was wearing an outfit covered in orange butterflies.
Now that may seem like nothing to you but orange butterflies were the thing I saw EVERYWHERE after my sister died.
I saw so many orange butterflies I tattooed my right arm with an orange butterfly.
I stood on the platform just inches away from Tyne…stunned
The odds that I was on that train platform at that unusual time of day –the same time that she was on that train platform in that part of the huge city after picking out an outfit covered in orange butterflies that morning…well if you were a guy who believes in signs….
Let’s just say I knew I was going to be all right the next day. It was like my sister sent me my favorite entertainer to let me know.
(Yes, These Are Stalker Photos But Can You Blame Me???)
So what does this all mean?
Is Tyne Daly my spirit animal?
Can spirits influence TV and Broadway stars when they need to send messages from beyond?
I don’t know.
I do know that I have found joy in my life by finding my very own unique people, to love.
A few are famous.
Most barely have an Emmy or an ounce of fame between them (and a few are near recluses) but those people are the important people in my life. They are my pack—my circle—who actually know who I am and who love me back dearly.
And even though I may not write about all those regular souls in my life as much on Facebook as I do about Tyne. You can rest assured I treasure them every bit as much.
But every once in a while, is it so bad to find those people who you admire from afar and who inspire you with their talent or strength or bravery and who make this somewhat harrowing journey just a little bit more fun?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith Hoffman is checking his google alerts for the latest Tyne Daly news and seeing the very first preview of her new Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You on March 18th. Please don’t call, text or email him on that day after 7pm.