Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Some People I've Met

I never met Sinatra or Satchmo or Duke Ellington.

I did meet Rosemary Clooney and Ella Fitzgerald.

There's more of a story with Rosie so let's start there. The famous Clooney these days is the Oscar winner, the handsome guy, the glib guy, the cool guy, George Clooney. But Rosemary was huge long before her beloved nephew.

Her song, "Come On-A My House" sold a ton, was a huge hit in the fifties, and went to number one on the charts. That song made her a star and it was the beginning of many hit songs. That led to her acting in movies opposite folks like Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

How did I meet her?

By accident.

Cut ahead to years later and I was the weatherman on The Morning Program on CBS. In addition to telling you if it was going to rain, or snow, or be sunny, I announced birthdays. Every day I told you who was born that day and in what year. So one day it's Rosie's birthday. I had heard of her but didn't know much about her other than her name. I say, on the air, it was her birthday and she's turning... 28.

She told me later she was lying in bed, in her pajamas, saw me say that, and laughed out loud. When she finally came on the show our anchor, Harry Smith, was so excited to meet her. She very politely said hello, thanked him profusely for his kindness, and then turned to me and said, "You're the one I wanted to meet."

She proceeded to tell me the pj/birthday tale and that's how we became friends.

Let me tell you a story.

It was Rosie's 70th birthday, a milestone, and she had a big family dinner at Patsy's on West 56th in New York. It was made famous by Frank Sinatra himself and was his favorite restaurant. He used to eat there all the time and Rosie told me that when she was just starting out and starving, they kindly let her run a tab. Even though she hardly had any money, she always had a place to eat.

So there we were at the dinner, there must have been 20 people or more there, but get this. My Maya was little and Rosie had us move her high chair so she could sit next to her and in turn Mr. and Mrs. McEwen sat next to her as well. Can you say special moment?  Maya was too young to remember it but Dad has never forgotten.

Okay on to Ella.

I was at the Grammys, they were broadcast on CBS, and was heading down the aisle of the theater and there she was. Again, I didn't know her but I knew of her. Who didn't? I had to go say hi. I introduced myself and she graciously said hi back. She was older then and I remember her thick glasses and just how dear she was.

Ella, everybody.

She reminded me of my mother.

It was brief but there's more to this story.

As I'm continuing to my seat who do I see? Miles Davis.

I had to say something to him so I go down to where he's sitting and say, "I'm Mark McEwen and I just wanted to say hello." Well, if you know anything about Miles what he did next won't surprise you.

He looked at me stone faced. And said nothing.

Not exactly the warmest egg in the bunch.


There was a woman sitting next to him who I found out later was his sister. She elbowed him hard in his side and said, "That's the weatherman, Miles."

He changed completely.

He smiled, reached out to shake my hand and said in a gravelly voice, "Oh, nice to meet you."

Too funny.

Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney.

Some people I've met.

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