I never met Tim Conway or got his autograph, but I had a number of times I could have. A guy I played racquetball with for 15 years, was a big deal at the Del Mar racetrack. He’s sit in the exclusive “turf club” where a number of famous people were. Since I didn’t bet on the ponies, I rarely went with him. But every time I did, I’d witness an autograph incident. One time it was celebrity couple Anne Bancroft (The Graduate) and Mel Brooks. I watched as someone approached with pen and paper in hand. Brooks snapped, “I’m not signing any autographs.” The guy, without missing a beat, said “I didn’t want your autograph, I want hers.”
She laughed as she signed her name.
Another time, Vic Tayback (Mel from the show “Alice”), was sitting there. He had a purple shirt, purple sunglasses, and a purple hat. He was puffing on a cigar (back when you could still smoke in places). A woman approached and asked for his autograph and he was being flirtatious with her. When she said, “Is everything you have purple?” He immediately let out a belly laugh and said something like “I can show you something else that’s purple!”
Everyone sitting around him laughed.
Of course, Tim Conway was often at the track. His love of the horses is legendary. And he was always signing autographs. This afternoon, I heard radio station KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles (where Tim Conway, Jr. hosts a funny show in the evenings), tell some Conway stories. One caller said he worked as an usher at the Turf Club, and people would always hand him programs to take up to Conway for him to autograph. He said Conway always did, and people would often give him a few dollars as a tip for doing that. One day Conway showed up with a stack of programs and gave them to the guy saying, “Here, this will help you pay your college tuition.”
The guy responded, “Well, they’re not signed.”
Conway smiled and said, “Here’s a pen, start signing. You know how to spell my name. It’s T-I-M C-O-N-W-A-Y.”
His comedy, and autograph signing, will be missed.