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    Banana Republic, Michael Keaton and the Stars

    I wore a sweater this week I haven’t worn in a very long time. It’s from a store called Banana Republic and I bought it many years ago in NYC. I’m not exactly sure of the location of the store but after Herman did a quick search on the Internet for me I came up with two possible locations. The store I went to was most likely on 6th and Bleecker in the West Village. There’s one other possibility-it might have been in 17th and 5th in Chelsea. It’s an area in Manhattan that runs between 23rd and 14th St on the west side. And since 5th Ave is the divider between west and east I just realized it’s not in Chelsea.

    Anyway as I was entering the store Michael Keaton was coming out. I grabbed his shoulders and said, “O my God, Michael Keaton! I love you.” He didn’t skip a beat, but asked my name and said, “O my God Kathryn I love you, too.” That was it. That’s how it was in New York. It was very common to see stars on a daily basis. It was especially true for me because I worked in a trendy restaurant that was frequented by a lot of stars.

    This theme continued in Los Angeles where I worked in a bar/restaurant called the West Beach Café.   I bartended there and I loved the restaurant because f the close proximity to the beach and where I was living a the time.

    The restaurant was on Venice Boulevard a block from the beach. My little beach house was also on Venice a couple blocks further down.

    I got to know the stars who came in pretty well because they would come in and we’d talk about a little of everything.

    One of my regulars was Dennis Hopper. He was a real down to earth and very nice guy. I also remember Angelica Houston being in the restaurant a lot.

    I didn’t talk to Angelica that much as she didn’t sit at the bar but at a designated “star” table with her husband. Dennis, on the other hand, sat at the bar and we chatted about “the business” the beach and Southern California in general. He was very unassuming, not looking for star treatment. I remember him being good friends with the owners as well. Their names were Bruce and Rebecca Marder.

    Across the street from the café was a place called Rebecca’s that Bruce opened for his wife. She was pretty much under Bruce’s thumb, subsequently she related more with the staff than he did. Bruce pretty much felt the staff were subservient. I specifically remember working there bartending with a dear friend Dana. Dana and I are still friends today after all these years and I remember laughing myself silly at the restaurant about Bruce. Bruce took his role with the stars very seriously and you could tell he felt his status with them was something that swelled his head.

    One of the few stars I knew on both coasts was Julia Roberts. I had met her in New York at a restaurant where I was working and she stayed in touch when I moved to California to continue pursuing my acting career. I remember when Julia had first done Mystic Pizza and wasn’t well-known yet. After that her career virtually sky-rocketed and we lost touch.


    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com