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.