Future famous crossing paths
February 14, 2011 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of future celebrities or public figures crossing paths when both were unknowns.

I understand Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones were college roommates in 1968 (John Lithgow lived downstairs). I am told that Jeffrey Archer's family moved out of the same house that John Cleese's family were moving into in Weston-Super-Mare when they were both boys. In the early seventies, you could possibly have found Carrie Fisher, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jack Abramoff all in the hallways of Beverly Hills High School; a few years later you might have encountered Nicolas Cage, Lenny Kravitz and David Schwimmer crossing paths in the same halls there(or Angelina Jolie and Monica Lewinsky a decade after that).

I am interested in people who are not otherwise associated in the public eye (never worked together on the same projects or even necessarily in the same fields -- I don't so much care about 16-year-old John Lennon and 14-year-old Paul McCartney meeting for the first time in Liverpool).

As a backup -- and partly because I know I will get these answers too, whether I ask for them or not -- I am interested in people having a glancing encounter with their distant successors in the same prominent position: John F. Kennnedy shaking a teenaged Bill Clinton's hand, Canadian PM Wilfrid Laurier buying a newspaper from opinionated teenaged newsboy John Diefenbaker (who would himself be PM fifty years later). For this last, I am even keen to hear about things like this photo (which I thought was previously on MeFi, but damned if I can find it) in which a wide shot captures a seven-year old Teddy Roosevelt watching Lincoln's funeral procession from a window.

Hivemind, do your thing.
posted by ricochet biscuit to Grab Bag (32 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are a bunch of the college roommate ones.
posted by lakeroon at 6:54 PM on February 14, 2011


Bobby Fischer went to high school with Barbra Streisand.
posted by dfriedman at 7:01 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's another blog entry about roommates who later became famous.
posted by crunchland at 7:22 PM on February 14, 2011


Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart.
posted by sourwookie at 7:38 PM on February 14, 2011


AIUI, the other Jessamyn West (1902-1984) interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald for a story. She is believed to be the only person that met both Oswald and JFK.
posted by jgirl at 7:47 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lot of the ones in lakeroon's link fall into the same territory as the Beverly Hills High stuff - it's not actually very surprising that two Julliard students who roomed together later became famous, for example. Lots of Julliard students eventually become prominent artists.
posted by Sara C. at 7:49 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brian Greene and Lisa Randall also wen to high school together. Not sure how much of a public figure these two are, but they are fairly prominent physicists.
posted by dfriedman at 7:50 PM on February 14, 2011


dfriedman: I'd be inclined to count that if the high school in question wasn't Stuyvesant.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:56 PM on February 14, 2011


I'm hazy on the details since it's been a few years since I read his biography, but I remember that when Neil Young was a teenager in Winnipeg, he got to know Bob Dylan, who would come through town and play small coffeeshop shows.
posted by mannequito at 7:56 PM on February 14, 2011


AIUI, the other Jessamyn West (1902-1984) interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald for a story. She is believed to be the only person that met both Oswald and JFK.

In Robert MacNeil's underrated memoir Wordstruck, he mentions he was in Dealey Plaza, covering Kennedy's visit to Dallas as a low-level reporter for NBC. Shortly after the shots were fired, he headed for the nearest building, the School Book Depository, and was stopped by a man exiting, who asked directions to a phone. This may have been Lee Harvey Oswald, who, when being interviewed by Dallas police that night, recounted almost bumping into a man with a blue suit, a blond crew cut and a Secret Service badge (MacNeil was wearing a press badge but otherwise fit this description) and asking him directions as he exited the building.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:12 PM on February 14, 2011


Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft) and Jeffrey Immelt (CEO of General Electric) worked together at Procter & Gamble before either became well known.
posted by dfriedman at 8:17 PM on February 14, 2011


Jon Stewart roomed with Anthony Weiner in college.
posted by Marky at 8:48 PM on February 14, 2011




Joe Henry went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer.
posted by davebush at 9:34 PM on February 14, 2011


Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman were roommates back when they were both struggling actors. The audition for "The Graduate" was (supposedly) originally meant for Hackman, but he had another engagement that day and told Hoffman to go in his place.
posted by egeanin at 9:36 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then again I heard this from someone who was friends with Dustin's son, so it might be anecdotal.
posted by egeanin at 9:37 PM on February 14, 2011


Wittgenstein and Hitler attended school together as boys, but unsurprisingly they didn't choose to hang out together.
posted by notquitemaryann at 9:49 PM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman were roommates back when they were both struggling actors. The audition for "The Graduate" was (supposedly) originally meant for Hackman, but he had another engagement that day and told Hoffman to go in his place.

I dunno about The Graduate story, but yes, Hackman and Hoffman were roommates. Actors are an impecunious lot and often share digs: on balance, it seems the law of large numbers suggests a few sets of actor roommates will get famous.

All in all, I would have liked to hang out on the other coast, where Jack Nicholson shared an apartment with Dennis Hopper (and Harry Dean Stanton a frequent houseguest, I hear).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:57 PM on February 14, 2011


My favorite "actor roomates" stories are about Marlon Brando and Wally Cox, because holy crap.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:20 PM on February 14, 2011


Also, a favorite completely random story about celebrities knowing each other comes from Simone Signoret's memoirs, where she talks about going to a small private school where the most interesting thing were the weird howls from the shed where the proprietresses' brother was busily inventing the Ondes Martenot.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:23 PM on February 14, 2011


Sir Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen went to Cambridge together. McKellen had a crush on Jacobi that he described as "a passion that was undeclared and unrequited".
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 10:28 PM on February 14, 2011


Not famous, but a noteworthy example is this story of a married couple who discovered that a photograph shot during a vacation to Walt Disney World actually captured the couple crossing paths 30 years before they were married.
posted by sambosambo at 3:20 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Truman Capote and Harper Lee. As a child Truman Capote used to live with his cousins during the summer. They lived next door to young Harper Lee. Capote claimed to be the inspiration for Dill in To Kill A Mockingbird.
posted by apparently at 4:15 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson were once house painters for Fry and Laurie, although I think Fry and Laurie were already big by that point.
posted by marginaliana at 6:35 AM on February 15, 2011


Supreme Court Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor were classmates at Stanford Law School. They even dated briefly. Unfortunately, the widely repeated story that he finished first in the class and she finished third is untrue.

As for the backup question, Judd Apatow's high school radio show, on which he interviewed many big deal comedians, might count.
posted by Xalf at 6:43 AM on February 15, 2011


Chevy Chase was in a college band called Leather Canary with Walter Beck and Donald Fagen (who later became Steely Dan); Chase's girlfriend was Blythe Danner.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:05 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore were college roommates.
posted by ducktape at 10:46 AM on February 15, 2011


In 1965, an unknown Neil Young was playing small club dates around Toronto in a band called the Mynah Birds, led by a flamboyant singer named Ricky James Matthews. Matthews was AWOL from the U.S. Navy, and was eventually caught and forced to return to duty, signaling the end of the Mynah Birds.

Fifteen years later, Matthews resurfaced under the name "Rick James", with a hit single called "Super Freak".
posted by chaff at 2:05 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, Hitler was not very popular. I didn't like his paintings.
posted by wittgenstein at 3:10 PM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not a meeting, but one of Ronald Reagan's first jobs was doing radio broadcasts for home football games of the University of Iowa. Once, he called a Michigan-Iowa game in which Gerald Ford was playing for the Wolverines.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:47 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson were once house painters for Fry and Laurie, although I think Fry and Laurie were already big by that point.

Emma Thompson also lived with them while she was dating Laurie. They have great stories. As one of my friends once said, what a great time travel destination.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:12 PM on February 15, 2011


Ooh, also, Reagan and Putin. I guess they weren't both unknowns, but it's worth noting.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:14 PM on February 15, 2011


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