When Autograph magazine  used to be something you could find at newsstands, I was sometimes asked to write the Top 10 list of best/worst autograph signers for the years. This sometimes lead to threats of lawsuits (Steve still won’t tell me what A-list actress sent a nasty letter from a lawyer), another time it lead to Conan O’Brien holding up the magazine to scold Will Ferrell for making the list (they ended up doing a funny bit about why Ferrell doesn’t sign autographs). It’s not uncommon for comedians to be among the list of worst autograph signers, and I’m not sure why. Now, I’m not talking about stand-up comedians. They’re usually great about signing. I’m talking about the folks that started in stand-up, and parlayed that into great acting careers. A lot of those I’m thinking about are former Saturday Night Live cast members.

Arguably the most successful to come out of the SNL cast in terms of a movie career, is Bill Murray. He made the “worst list” a few times, and the only time I’ve ever known him to sign autographs is at golf tournaments. If you catch him at a restaurant or out in public, it just doesn’t happen.

I’ve talked to a handful of people over the years that have met him, and were turned down for autograph requests. Yet there’s something really strange about Murray, too. He may not honor autograph requests, but he loves doing wacky things.

There was a time when he got arrested for drunk driving. He was driving down the road in a golf cart, and drunk. I can’t remember what country that was in, but it was late and night, and he had dropped off a friend first.

During one divorce, a wife accused him of spousal abuse. You never know if allegations like that are true, but she apparently had angry voice mail messages, and...if it weren’t true, it wouldn’t be hard for him to sue for defamation of character.

I prefer the humorous stories involving Bill Murray. I met one young man that told me when he was a kid, he was at the country club just outside of San Diego (where Murray owns a home), and it was Easter weekend. Murray did the an egg toss with the boy, and posed for lots of photos.

Another guy told me about having a son that played on Murray’s kids little league team. He’d sometimes go out and coach, and he always had the team (and parents), laughing with his antics on the field.

There are famous stories of Murray walking up to people in restaurants, taking one of their French fries...and as he stuffs it into his mouth, says “Nobody will believe you.”

A few weeks ago, it was the negative side of Murray that came out. There were diners’ at a restaurant in Carmel, California, that wanted to take photos of the star. Police were called to Vesuvio restaurant, where Murray apparently took their cell phones and threw them off the roof. One cell phone wasn’t damaged, as it landed on a cushioned chair. The three people claim they weren’t taking photos or videos of the star, which seems unlikely. I doubt that Murray would’ve just randomly grabbed cell phones and chucked them. I also don’t think the three guys realized that they’re actually allowed to photograph people in public. Doens’t mean it’s not rude, but it’s legal. I didn’t realize this once when Tori Spelling and her husband were at a book signing and I snapped photos. They snapped at me, saying unless I paid them, I didn’t have the right to do that. Steve Cyrkin is the one that told me a few hours later, “You can take any photos you want!”

The 65-year-old actor wasn’t there when cops arrived (he’s not stupid), but he didn’t deny the charges when contacted.

The owner of the restaurant claims Murray wasn’t drinking, which is hard to believe, as he’s gotten a reputation as a drinker.

The three people involved are not pressing charges, as the incident was handled with Murray’s representatives, and this case won’t be going to court.

I’m guessing with broken phones though, they won’t be calling Ghostbusters anytime soon.

Views: 1594

Tags: Bill Murray, Conan O'Brien, Ghostbusters, Saturday Night Live, Will Ferrell

Comment by Greg Jeranek on February 25, 2016 at 7:22am
GREAT story I really enjoyed it. I think when you're a celebrity and in the public eye you owe the people who want your autograph that graph,within reason of course.
Comment by Daniel Johansson on February 25, 2016 at 7:54am

I agree. Great story. And it was here, in Sweden, where he got caught in the golf cart. In Stockholm 2007.

Comment by mccawgomets on February 25, 2016 at 8:42am

My boss saw Bill at the Westchester County Airport pawing through a trash can.  He knew I collected autographs and had an index card.  Bill was very accommodating, signing the card "To Mike, Happy Halloween"  (it was July).

Comment by mccawgomets on February 25, 2016 at 8:43am

Oh, and this was about 15 years ago.

Comment by Jason Strecker on February 25, 2016 at 2:01pm

As an autograph collector, I do hope for the best for those asking for his autograph but I also have to think "what if..." they just let him enjoy himself without having to sign. I bet he would open up much more, let his guard down so to speak and I think the fan would wind up taking home more memories than an autograph. I collector autographs like mad for many years. Now, as a I get older and especially since a number of celebrities I met have passed away, I wish I had taken the time to speak with them or enjoy their presence rather than just asking for a signature and leaving the signing area.

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Admin on February 25, 2016 at 2:17pm

Great piece, Josh. I guess we need to start doing a 10 Best/10 Worst signers piece again. They were crazy fun...and spot on! Start a discussion if you want and let's see what members have to say!

Comment by Robin McKay on February 25, 2016 at 3:35pm

Interesting piece but the most intriguing part was that Tori Spelling saying unless you pay me, you can't take photos. Dear me. Shows her up and just makes her look stupid, imo and tarnishes her reputation and exposes her over inflated ego.

Comment by Josh Board on February 25, 2016 at 5:01pm

Loved the trash can story. What a bizarre man he can be sometimes.

I do think the celebs owe a certain degree of it to the fans. I've used this example before. Since everyone thinks it would be so hard to be a celebrity and go anywhere and get hounded. Bill Walton, the basketball Hall of Famer, and local legend here in San Diego -- (doesn't really sign any more) -- but when he did, he would keep walking as he signed. And if it was a really big crowd around his car, he'd say "i'll sign for about 10 more minutes, than I got to go."

As for talking, and having a memory with them and not getting the autograph...two flaws with that logic. If you don't want to "bother" them by asking for an autograph, what in the world makes you think going up and striking a conversation with them isn't "bothering" them? They want to be with their friends and family, not listen to how you loved them in "Stripes" or "What's your golf score these days?" To YOU that might be memorable, to him/her...that's also an inconvenience.

If you just asked for the autograph, you can say something briefly "I really loved the small doses of humor you brought to Tootsie. Thanks for making such enjoyable films."

Then when they hand you the autograph, you walk away. It doesn't get any easier, or more flattering to the ego, than that!

Comment by Robert Rubin on February 29, 2016 at 5:38pm

Over 45years ago I met Bill Murray. It was in Piermont, NY, and he lived in Palisades, NY a short distance away.

I was a bank drive in teller and he came to our drive up with a transaction. He was jumping all over in his jeep singing out loud to a song on the radio. He acted like you would like a comedian should be. I also took my children trick or treating to his area and his house. He put a large bowl of candy bars for children to take. He's been in our local paper many times, and all articles have been positive. My description of an autograph is A time in a celebrities life who took a moment to give you an autograph. It's something that won't fade as time goes by. It's a permanent remembrance and any star that signs autographs shows kindness in their heart. Most remember why they are important.

Comment by Robert Rubin on February 29, 2016 at 6:01pm

Greg, I sort of disagree with you that a celebrity owes us to sign and that we made them a celebrity.  They are celebrities because they act, do comic routines, etc, but it is their Talent that makes them great. We only back them up as a believer. A celebrity is in no way owing to sign an autograph. I have seen how celebrities have been bothered while taking a walk, eating at a restaurant, etc. Give them a break on their out of office time. Get a good address and write to them, and maybe tell them how you didn't want to bother them at that point in time.
Even hard to get signatures, occasionally come out of their shell, and many get better as they mature. Marlon Brando is an exception. He knew how good he was, and he was an activist. He was a "tough cookie", and had been known to not only sign, but to insult the requestor.

What a shame for such a talented man. 


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