The premise of the 1993 movie "Six
Degrees of Separation" is that we are all separated by fewer than six
intervening acquaintances. So at the most there's
me - a - b - c - d - e - you.
In rec.arts.movies they made a challenge game of linking movie stars, or themselves, to Kevin Bacon. For example, since I was an extra in "Days of Wine and Roses" with Jack Lemmon who was in "JFK" with Kevin Bacon, my "Bacon number" is 2. The challenge is gone now, due to the automated Oracle of Bacon.
While contemplating this I made a list of celebrities with whom I've had contact, the first such list I know of to appear on the internet. Here they are, grouped under Music, Literature, Movies, Politics, and Potpourri.
Highgraders -- When USF threw me out (1961) I joined The Highgraders, a folk music group; I played guitar, Dan O'Neill
William Randolph Hearst, Jr. -- Son of Citizen Kane? When I was editor of the USF Foghorn we won the American Newspaper Publishers' Association "Pacemaker Award" for the best college newspaper in the country (we had no journalism department, not even a course). I received congratulatory telegrams from many people, including former Foghorn editor (then JFK's press secretary) Pierre Salinger. The award itself was presented to me during a luncheon of the Commonwealth Club by Pulitzer Prize winner Hearst, whose Castle lies just an hour northwest of my hometown.
Aldous Huxley -- When I was at St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara, 1952-56, I used to go for walks in and around the Botanical Garden behind the Old Mission. On one of these walks I saw a man in his rose garden and said hello (we were not supposed to communicate with others outside the seminary). I later realized (from his mailbox and our conversation) that he was the author of Brave New World, Eyeless in Gaza, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, etc. His eyesight was as bad as mine. He died the same day as John F. Kennedy (see below).
John Steven McGroarty -- First Poet Laureate of California, author of Just California and Other Poems  and The Mission Play.  For forty years author of a Los Angeles Times column "From the Green Verdugo Hills." The only Democrat elected to Congress from Pasadena CA (1934-38). My father was his legislative assistant. He actually wrote the letter attributed to McGroarty by John F. Kennedy in his Profiles in Courage. My mother typed McGroarty's California of the South  and many of his other works. He was my godfather.
Rice -- Anne is a well-known and widely published author
whose works include: Interview with the Vampire (1976), Feast
Kevin Starr -- Kevin is the author of several major works on California history Americans and the California Dream, Material Dreams, Inventing the Dream, Lands End. In Material Dreams he (accurately) referred to my godfather as "a dreamy poet of the lo! hark! school." He is now State Librarian of California and a professor at USC. I knew him at USF. He became editor of the USF newspaper when the Jesuits threw me out.
John Steinbeck -- His parents, John and Olive, lived in my hometown, Paso Robles CA around 1899, and there are still lots of Steinbecks all over the Salinas Valley.
Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival -- We went there nearly every summer for about ten years (roughly '65 - '75) and have often been back since. Pat and JoAnn Patton, both with the festival since the mid-sixties (they both act; he directs), are friends from our days at the University of Oregon together. JoAnn was a bridesmaid in our wedding. With the arrival of Libby Appel as artistic director, our friends left Ashland.
"Days of Wine and Roses" -- As a paid extra I sat in a box next to Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick at Bay Meadows Racetrack during filming of this movie. All I had to do was pretend to be watching a horse race (it was really the movement of Director Blake Edwards' finger). The scene was later chopped and re-shot (without me!) at Candlestick Park. My Internet Movie Database biography of Jack Lemmon was used in the tribute paid him by the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival.
James Dean - The 24-year-old star of "Rebel Without a Cause," "East of Eden," and "Giant," was killed just east of my hometown, Paso Robles, when his Porsche Spyder collided with another car at 5:45pm, September 30, 1955. The hospital in which James Dean was prounced dead, the "Paso Robles War Memorial District Hospital" which my father helped to found, was just up the hill about fifty feet from the home my parents built at 89 15th Street. At the time of Dean's death we lived at 1908 Spring St., two blocks from Kuehl mortuary, where the body remained for three days before being shipped home to Indiana. There's a nice panorama of his monument at Cholame.
Jack DeGovia -- Production designer. His feature credits include Multiplicity, Die Hard: With a Vengeance,
Dan Dugan -- roomed with Jack DeGovia and me at 1849 Page. He was theatre lighting/sound technician for the USF College Players then. After that Dan lit productions for the San Francisco Actors' Workshop, the Old Globe Theatre, and the San Diego Opera, and was "sound designer" for many Bay Area productions over many years, including the Mondavi Jazz Festival. There are thousands of his patented automatic mike mixers in government chambers, churches, and courtrooms throughout the world, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and he services the special Swiss tape recorders used on movie sets. He is active in many skeptical (anti-fraud) movements.
Hedda Hopper -- I met her in the waiting room of my childhood ophthalmologist in Beverley Hills. I may have been ten. She told me at length of all her vision problems. She also pointed out another patient to me, Yul Brynner.
close kin -- Two of my Jesuit professors at USF had actor brothers. William Egan (theology) was the look-alike brother of Richard Egan ("A Summer Place"). Gene Schallert, my mentor in Sociology and much more, was the brother of William Schallert (many movie/tv roles: Prof. Pomfret in "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis", Patty's father in "The Patty Duke Show", Carson Drews in "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries", Roger Wainwright in "Santa Barbara"; my fave was the Admiral in the "Get Smart" tv series).
roles -- I played the German Commandant in a Villanova production of Stalag 17 and Mr. Spettigue in a USF College Players presentation of Charley's Aunt.
Josiah Beeman -- Joe asked me to manage his campaign for the state legislature in 1962. Our campaign headquarters was 3324 Steiner Street,
Phil Burton -- When he was still in the California Assembly he paid me to work other Assembly campaigns (Joe Beeman, Willie Brown). He later became the US Congressman from San Francisco, just missing the speakership by one vote to Jim Wright. I also knew his brothers Bob and John, sister Shirley and wife Sala - all heavily involved in San Francisco Democratic Party politics. Nancy Pelosi, who replace Sala in Congress, came out of the Burton machine.
George Christopher -- Mayor of San Francisco. Brought the New York Giants there in 1958. When Christopher ran for the
Mark O. Hatfield -- U.S. Senator from Oregon. He addressed a meeting of the California State Central Committee, of which I was an appointed member, in 1959. I was 19. He was 37 and Governor of Oregon. I cheered and cheered his very liberal speech; most of the 700 stupid old fogies sat on their hands, booed, or walked out. After the speech he spent some time giving two friends and me encouragement to work in politics.
John F. Kennedy -- President of the United States. I shook hands with him in 1960 in the alley behind the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco during his campaign for the presidency. He was just leaving to give the Cow Palace speech in which he announced his plans for a Peace Corps. He was assassinated 22 Nov 63.
Robert F. Kennedy -- U.S. Senator and Attorney General of the United States. I shook hands with him in 1968 at the Lane County fairgrounds in Eugene OR during his campaign for the presidency. One week later he was assassinated in California.
Richard Lamm -- former Governor of Colorado. He gave a talk at Western Washington University, 8 Feb 89, on "The Decline of America". I sat next to him on the panel discussion which followed. The data I provided mostly supported his "get off the planet" message (aimed at the oldsters, many of whom were pissed enough to boo).
Richard Nixon -- While he was running for President in 1960. I happened by San Francisco's Union Square just as his limo pulled up in front of the St. Francis Hotel. He, Pat and their daughters walked between two lines of Secret Service into the lobby. I
That same visit to SF my friend Lee Vandendale and I got in a ban-the-bomb line so we could work our way through the 40,000 crowd in Union Square, leaving the line right in front of the speaker's platform. When Nixon was introduced and was just about to speak we jointly shouted "Hey, Dick, tell us another dog story!" (If that means nothing to you, learn about his 1952 Checkers speech). This made Herb Caen.
Casper Weinberger -- Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under Nixon (73-4) and Ford (74-5) and Secretary of Defense under Reagan (81-7). I went to a small cocktail party at his home in 1959, when I was in the Young Republicans (the San Francisco ones used to be Earl Warren liberals, i.e., liberal). In 1992 "Cap" was indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal and then pardoned by George Bush (who would have been implicated if Weinberger's diary had surfaced in court).
FBI -- In 1961 got a call from a friend who was an attorney at the SF City Attorney's office. When I got there he showed me two 8x10 FBI photos out of a huge stack. One showed me in a ban-the-bomb line in 1960 (see Nixon) with my head circled in ink and my then-current address written on the back. The other showed the attorney and me looking over a balcony as they used firehoses to wash university students down the City Hall stairs during the House Un-American Activities hearings on May 13, 1960. Much of this recalled here. My newspaper, the USF Foghorn, published he UC Berkeley Daily Californian which had been thrown off campus. Again my head was circled with my current address written on the back. I was impressed with (1) how they did this and (2) why they bothered.
Frugal Gourmet -- His name is really Jeff Smith, but we usually refer to him as "Frugal". He's the author of a bunch of cookbooks, beginning with The Frugal Gourmet in 1984. He had a long-running cooking series on public television. I met him when two of my students, Mike Finch and Joan Gentili, got married. The wedding took place at University of Puget Sound (Tacoma WA) where Jeff had been chaplain, then opened the Chaplain's Pantry, and was at the time catering the wedding. He later autographed his books for us in Bellingham. I wish I could have gotten Pierre Franey to autograph my Franey cookbooks for me (slurp!).
Haight-Ashbury -- This is a map of the San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. I adapted it from one in the center of ROLLING STONE for 26 February 1976, a ten-year retrospective on the Haight. I've added a number of locations, including places where I lived between 1957 and 1965. In my lynx-only days I did an ASCII map of the same region.
Randy Johnson -- The M's ace hurler and 1995 Cy Young award winner played at Livermore High (east of San Francisco), and his last high school baseball game was played against Foothill High School (Pleasanton CA). His opposing pitcher was a young hot-shot named Tom Twisselmann. The first three innings were no-hitters on both sides, then Randy blew everyone away, much to the delight of all the scouts who were in attendance, and the disgust of Tom's mother, my twin sister Sally.
Guy Laroche -- Paris designer. I met him at the Nordstrom store in Bellevue, WA, sometime in 1985 I think. He gave me an autographed 8x10 photograph and used a silver-ink pen to floridly autograph the back of my 100ml vaporisateur bottle of his Drakkar Noir. Incidentally, I agree with its recent rating
O.J. Simpson? -- This is just a hunch. I worked for the San Francisco Housing Authority during 1958 and 1959, when he would have been 11 or 12 years old. Part of that time I worked at the office of the Potrero Hill project where he grew up (rest of the time was at Hunter's Point and the main office). One of the things I did was give out stuff, such as cans of roach powder, to tenants and their kids who came to the office for it. I also checked out the police reports we received on our tenants. Wouldn't be surprised if I met him in one or both of these ways.
Margo St. James -- founder of the international association of prostitutes COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) and founder of San Francisco's outlandish Hooker's Ball. Her parents built their house across the street from mine here in her hometown of Bellingham WA. Their house replaced one which burned down. The former one was occupied for a number of years by the Bou-saada Dance Troupe (belly dancers).
Jack Sikma -- It was 1979, which would become the Seattle Sonics' championship year,
-- father of the hydrogen bomb. I obtained two autographs from
both on First Day Covers -- one a stamp honoring Eisenhower's
"Atoms for Peace" program, the other honoring Senator Brien McMahon, the
author of the Atomic Energy Act. The latter features a cachet showing a
mushroom cloud half an inch from Teller's autograph.
Jim Whittaker -- On May 1, 1963, James W. Whittaker, with Nawang Gombu, became the first American to attain Mt. Everest's summit, planting the American flag on Earth's highest point. Twenty years later, I sat near him during Graduation at Western, 10 June 1983, and shared a table with with him at the luncheon following (honoring the installation of Western's new president, G. Robert Ross). He was the guiding force behind the growth of REI outdoor outfitters in Seattle. His book was described by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: "My father's greatest living heroes were John Glenn and Jim Whittaker-a physical giant with a huge heart, a decent soul, and inspirational courage. We can all be grateful that Whittaker has finally put his extraordinary life on paper. Whittaker's story is a riveting saga of high adventure by one of history's greatest climbers."