Remembering My Celebrity Sightings in New York City
Living in New York, friends who live elsewhere often ask me about the celebrities I've seen. This got me thinking about how many sightings I've had in the 40+ years I've lived here. I'm sure many pass by me unrecognized because they're under hats, behind sunglasses, or I'm just not looking at faces as I go about my business. (When I walk around my neighborhood in sunglasses during weekday afternoons I often wonder if tourists think I'm a celebrity.) What follows is a list of nearly 80 celebs I've spotted, who I've grouped into the following categories: My Neighborhood; On the Subway; At Fire Island; At the Gym; Elsewhere in Manhattan; and Those I've Spoken To.
- IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD (Greenwich Village) -
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Actor) - I've probably seen him most since he lives in an apartment building across the street from me. I've seen him walking with one of his his kids, one time on a bicycle, another time chatting on his cell phone. The last time he was sitting outside with his family at a restaurant on Hudson St. (This was written less than a week before his untimely death on Feb. 2 in 2014.)
Matthew Broderick (Actor) I've seen him a number of times, sometimes with his son, and once (in Sept. 2019) with wife Sarah Jessica Parker as they crossed Seventh Ave. South and walked to the Sheridan Square subway station (uptown side).
Susan Sarandon (Actress/activist) - In the winter of 2013 I spotted her shopping for veggies at Citarella, wearing a kerchief and sunglasses.
Jake Gyllenhaal - I spotted him walking down Christopher St. alone at the intersection with Seventh Ave. South. Others I've passed on this street include Johnny Galecki from the Big Bang Theory, Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps and, in separate sightings, SNL alums Seth Meyers and Andy Samberg.
Bebe Neuwirth (Actress) - Three times I've sat across from her at The Village Den restaurant on Greenwich Ave.
Emma Stone (Actress) - She turned onto 6th Ave. from West 10th St. (on the block where Citarella is) and was walking behind me and I recognized her hearty laugh. It was winter 2012 and she was wearing a very pretty purple-colored coat that contrasted nicely with her auburn hair. She was with a young man.
I've walked past John Waters, Isaac Mizrahi, Ric Ocasek and Wallace Shawn all in the vicinity of the corner of 6th Ave. and 12th St. By coincidence, I was going to see Waters' new movie Serial Mom (spring of 1994) when I spotted him.
Aziz Ansari (Comic/actor) - He was rushing somewhere while looking at his cellphone, heading west on W.4th St. after crossing 7th Ave. South.
Jason Sedakis (Sat. Night Live/actor) - He was walking along Bleecker St. (where he used to live).
Willem Dafoe (Actor) - Walking past Gourmet Garage on Seventh Ave. South.
Lauren Bacall (Actress) - She was shopping at Balducci's on 9th St./6th Ave (before it was bought by Citarella).
Leontyne Price (Opera singer) - Spotted just south of Bleecker St./7th Ave. South.
Everett Quinton (Off-Broadway actor) - He's probably only recognizable to a small number of New Yorkers who recognize his work with the Ridiculous Theater Company (which used to be across the street from my apartment). I've seen him on numerous occasions walking about or having a meal at Manatus on Bleecker St.
Michael Urie (Actor) - He was walking into the CVS at the corner of 6th Ave./Washington Place. This was in the fall of 2014 and he was finishing up his run in the one-man show Buyer Cellar at the Barrow St. Playhouse and this sighting was about an hour before the curtain.
Barry Diller (Movie/TV executive) - He and a much younger man were eating next to us at Mi Cocina. This was in the late 1990s.
Mary-Louise Parker (Actress). I was standing behind her and her daughter in the checkout line at Gristede's.
Harvey Weinstein (Film executive) - He was attending a dance performance at the Joyce Theater. I also saw him crossing 7th Ave. South near Charles St. heading to the restaurant Morandi.
Anderson Cooper (CNN News Anchor) - On time he was riding a bike, the other time coming out of the David Barton gym in Astor Place.
Tim Robbins (Actor) - In May 2002 I was standing behind him and one of his sons on the up escalator at the Village East movie complex on 3rd Ave./12th St.
Jesse Eisenberg (Actor) - The first time I saw him he was walking into the restaurant Dublin 6 on Hudson St. wearing a ski cap. The next time he was checking out at Gourmet Garage during the time he was directing/acting in the play The Revisionist (with Vanessa Redgrave) at the Cherry Lane Theater in the Spring of 2013.
Louis CK (Comic/actor) - I was eating dinner in a Thai restaurant at the corner of Cornelia and Bleecker Streets when he walked by alone, hands in pockets. Then during the summer of 2013 I saw him with his kids on Grove St. in Sheridan Square. And then in the winter of 2021 I walked by him on Seventh Ave. South where he was eating lunch at an outdoor restaurant.
Liv Tyler (Actress, Steven Tyler's daughter) - She was walking out of my apartment building, and I have no idea who she might have been visiting.
Mark Adsit (30 Rock) - He was strolling through the Union Square Christmas fair with his wife and child in 2012. Then three years later I saw him, also in December, at the West Village restaurant Gaetana's (corner of Christopher/Greenwich Streets). This time he was with a woman who may have been his mother and he was sporting a beard.
Gregory Hines (Deceased dancer/actor) - Dining with friends at an outside table at a restaurant on Hudson St.
Lee Delaria (Comedian/actress) - She was walking up 5th Ave. and was dressed like she was shooting a scene from The Hunger Games as she was wearing a long black leather trench coat with black boots and was sporting a severely cut/punk hairstyle.
Malcolm Gladwell (Author, contributor to The New Yorker) - I've seen him a number of times walking in the neighborhood.)
John Cameron Mitchell (Director/actor) - He lives on Greenwich Ave., where I've seem him a number of times. The last time was in April 2014 when I was going to work and he was in my subway car.
Kyan Douglas (Hair stylist from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) - I was eating dinner at Bus Stop Cafe with a few friends and I spotted him there with a group of eight guys.
Parker Posey (Actress) - On a Saturday evening n Feb. 2014 she was sitting at the bar chatting with friends at Gene's, an old-school Italian restaurant on W. 11th St. that attracts a neighborhood crowd.
Zachary Quinto (Actor) - My most recent encounter, in June 2014. He was wearing a backwards-turned baseball cap, t-shirt and jeans and was walking his two dogs on the main path of Washington Square Park heading in the direction of Sixth Avenue. And he wasn't wearing glasses.
Alec Baldwin (Actor) - On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2016 he pedaled by on his bike in the middle of the afternoon, turning from Greenwich Ave., east onto West 10th St. heading to 6th Ave. He may have been coming from Equinox Gym, where a friend of mine has seen him working out.
Wynton Marsalis (Jazz Musician) - On Election Day 2016 he and one of his children were walking into my polling place at PS 41 on W.10th St. as I was leaving at around 9:30AM. He was wearing a suit.
Kyle Mooney (SNL writer/actor) - I was walking behind him on Sixth Ave. between Waverly Place and Washington Place on a fall evening in 2017. I've also seen him at my gym (NY Sports Club).
Andy Cohen (Bravo executive) - As I was taking a run along Hudson River Park on a warm Saturday afternoon in April 2019 I made split-second eye contact with Andy Cohen, who was sitting on a park bench with his baby, a cute dog (which is what got my attention) and a younger woman.
John Mulaney (stand-up comic) - On an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in November 2020 (the day Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election) I spotted him strolling with a woman pushing a baby carriage in Hudson River Park across from Christopher St. (I assume they were his wife and child). I wouldn't have noticed him, but when I heard his distinctive voice I looked behind me and saw him.
- ON THE SUBWAY -
Cherry Jones (Tony Award winning actress) - She was seated and chatting with a friend on the downtown #1 train. Then in April 2014 I saw her entering the West 14th entrance to the #1 train on 7th Avenue.
Keith Hernandez (New York Mets) - I spotted in my car on the downtown Lexington line during mid-afternoon, standing alone. This was years after he was Met.
Chris Parnell (Sat. Night Live) - Seated, reading a folded up piece of paper, perhaps a script.
Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) - He was waiting for the uptown Express train with friends at Times Square station late on a Saturday night. I was heading uptown after seeing Bye Bye Birdie in the winter of 2010.
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) - On my way to work one autumn morning in 2015 I saw him going through the turnstile at the West 4th Street subway station. He was carrying a skateboard. Because of his height the turnstile was at neck level.
Norm Lewis (actor) - Coming home from work on the 1 train downtown in the summer of 2017, I got out at 14th St. because the train was skipping my stop (Christopher St./Sheridan Sq.). Standing next to me on the platform was Broadway actor Norm Lewis, wearing a t-shirt and shorts. For the life of me I couldn't remember his last name and this, combined me being tired and wilted from the warm platform, kept me from telling him that I enjoyed his performance in Porgy & Bess that I saw in 2012. We both got on the next train and he got out at my stop and then went to Starbucks in Sheridan Square.
David Muir (anchorman, ABC World News Tonight) - I was on the uptown platform at the Christopher St. station on a weekday afternoon in late March 2018 when he came through the turnstile and sat down on a bench.
Richard Kind (actor, Spin City) - On my way home from work on the evening of Sept. 25, 2018 he passed me on the stairway leading up from the subway platform at the Times Square station.
Fran Leibowitz (author, raconteur) - In May 2021, about half an hour after returning to New York after an extended visit with my mother, I left my apartment to go food shopping, and at the corner of my street and Sixth Ave., Fran Leibowitz walked by, and I thought to myself that I really felt like I was back in New York!
- AT THE GYM (Crunch/Archive Building) -
Dean Winters (The All-State 'Mayhem' guy) - He was working out with a trainer. Then in the winter he walked by me at the corner of Greenwich Ave. and West 10th St.
Andrew Sullivan (blogger/political commentator) - On another occasion I was walking behind him, his husband and dog on Bleecker St. near the now-closed Manatus restaurant.
Rupert Everett (actor) - Saw him on numerous occasions in 2000 and 2001. He usually wore a cap, white sweatshirt and blue sweatpants.
John Lutz (30 Rock/comedy writer) - A regular on the treadmill beginning two or three years ago. Over the course of this time he slimmed down noticeably.
Chris Meloni (LA Law/HBO's Oz) - I stood behind him at the water fountain.
Sandra Bernhard (Comedian/actress) - I also spotted her in the checkout line at Citarella where she was dressed all in white (including a hat).
Calvin Klein (fashion designer) - This was my most recent sighting (January 2016) but it wasn't at Crunch, but at the New York Sports Club on Seventh Ave. South, which I switched to in 2013. During a Saturday afternoon weight workout I saw him working out with a trainer. I overheard them discussing men's briefs. Calvin was touting the 2xist label while the trainer was raving about the H&M brand. This sighting surprised me because I had heard CK was a member of the more exclusive Equinox gym. After this sighting I saw him at the gym three or four other times.
- FIRE ISLAND -
Neil Sedaka (composer/singer) - He was one of many guests who attended our house's annual Hat Party, in August 2003.
Sam Champion (TV weatherman) - This was in the late 1990s when he was still the local weatherman on Channel 7. The first time I saw him he was playing in the surf with his dog. The second time he was sashaying ever so slowly down Fire Island Boulevard with his long haired boyfriend at the time.
Jerry Mitchell (Tony Award winning choreographer) - Saw him at Sip'n Twirl during evening tea dance, summer of 2013.
Andy Cohen (Bravo exec/Real Housewives) - Buying cold cuts at Pines Pantry grocery store, August 2013.
David Geffen (Record executive) - He briefly owned a house at the end of the walk where my house was the was previously owned by Calvin Klein - who I also saw out there.
Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) - Mr. Personality, I've passed by him on Fire Island Blvd. and seen him at low tea.
- MANHATTAN, NORTH OF 23rd ST. -
Judd Apatow (Movie director) - During the summer of 2009 Apatow, his actress wife Leslie Mann, and their two daughters were standing behind me in the ticket line for the Titanic artifact exhibition at the Discovery Times Square Exposition Center. And then very recently (April 2014) I saw him walking with one of his daughters along Bleecker St. near Bank Street tin the West Village.
Brooke Shields (Actress/model) - In the early 1980s, when she was still in her teens, I saw her walking through the first floor of Bloomingdale's with her mother. She looked very self-conscious, walking quickly, eyes downcast and biting her lip.
Ron Darling (Mets pitcher) - I was walking to work in the late 1980s when I passed by him on East 30s/Madison Ave. He lived in Manhattan's Murray Hill neighborhood at the time.
BD Wong (Actor) - We walked past each other in the Manhattan Mall a few weeks before Christmas 2008.
Liz Smith (Gossip Columnist) I was having lunch on the outside terrace of El Rio Grande on Third Avenue and East 38th St. in the spring of 2008 when she walked through the tables on the way to her apartment building which was adjacent to the restaurant.
Frank Perdue (Businessman) - I rode in the elevator with him at my office building at 800 Third Ave. His account was with the ad agency I was working for at the time in 1980 - Scali, McCabe, Sloves.
Al Franken (Comedian, US Senator) - Another elevator encounter, this time in my office building at 3 Park Ave. in 2004. Franken was on his way to the liberal radio network, Air America. This was before he was elected to the US Senate.
Buck Henry (Sat. Night Live comedy writer and actor) - He was my first celebrity siting, occurring in July 1979 as I was walking to the big post office on 3rd Ave. between 55th & 56th Streets (FDR Station) with a co-worker at lunchtime.
Hal Linden (Barney Miller) - Like Buck Henry I spotted him on 3rd Ave. in the 50s while I was out for lunch. This was during the Spring of 1980.
- CELEBS I'VE SPOKEN TO -
Andrew Rannells (Broadway and TV actor) - This encounter was on a Friday afternoon in April 2014. He walked into the Karavas pizza joint in Sheridan Square as I was waiting for a slice I had ordered for a late lunch. I told him that I had just seen him perform at the Broadway Cares event, "Broadway Backwards", where he sang The Man That Got Away.
Victor Garber (Broadway, TV and movie actor)- I was going to a Wednesday matinee of Evita in August 2012 and spotted him waiting for the #1 uptown local at 14th St. I walked over to him and told him how much I enjoyed him in Showtime's sitcom Web Therapy (in which he plays Lisa Kudrow's gay husband). I've also seen him walking in front of Gourmet Garage.
Paul Schneider (Parks & Recreation/the movie The Family Stone) - I saw him on 6th Ave near my apartment as I was exiting the ATM at HSBC. At first I didn't recognize him because his hair was long. I told him that I was sorry he was no longer on the show and he told me that he left because his character wasn't developing the way he had hoped.
David Hodo (Construction worker character from the original Village People) - He was a guest at a brunch I attended in March 2013 on the Upper West Side. He wasn't introduced as the construction worker, but a friend of mine took me aside and told me.
Tanner Cohen (Actor) - In 2008 he starred in a sweet gay-themed film Were the World Mine, which I saw. Then a few months after I saw it I was walking through H&M on lower 5th Ave. when he walked into the store. I stopped him and told him how much I enjoyed him and the movie - this was the first time I ever spoke to a celeb.
Cherry Jones (Actor) - In addition to seeing her on the subway, in April 2022 I found myself standing behind her in the checkout line at Westside Market (14th St. and Seventh Ave.). I told her that I recognized her even thought she was wearing a face mask. I then mentioned how I liked seeing her in the HBO show Succession.
I've seen Louis CK at many comedy clubs :) and I auditioned for his show. And Jerry Mitchell !!! - I danced in his choreo for the opening ceremony at the Gay Games at Columbia U.! As for Jesse Eisenberg, I've never spotted him but check out my jesse- related blog postings :)
Posted by: Evie | 02/02/2014 at 02:05 AM
I saw Andy Warhol many times. And I always had the same reaction: "Look there's some guy wearing an Andy Warhol mask!" During the 70s and 80s I would see him in the Flatiron district coming out of Max's Kansas City or in the Village walking with a gaggle of Japanese business men all dressed in lookalike black suits.
In the 80s I would see him on the Upper East Side, where I think he lived. One time I spotted him from behind, wearing a handpainted denim jacket with the likeness of Michael Jackson on it. I thought it was a guy wearing an Andy Warhol wig until I got up close to him.
I have many other memorable NYC celebrity sightings... bumped into Woody Allen many times; once bumped into and almost knocked down William Burroughs.
Another favorite was when I was looking in a shoe store window and noticed that the guy standing next to me looking in the window was Harrison Ford... we just looked at each other and smiled some kind of mutual recognition -- me recognizing him/him recognizing that I recognized him.
Posted by: Joe | 02/10/2014 at 10:18 AM