16 August 2015

THAT TIME I MET FRANK GIFFORD

Just a girl from a small podunk town in Alabama whose life choices led me on a strange odyssey through some bizarre highs and lows, I have met or seen or rubbed shoulders with a fair number of celebrities during that journey before settling down to a nice quiet conventional life in Suburbia with Sweet Husband.  When I heard on CNN last Sunday that Frank Gifford had died, I thought about the time our paths crossed once very briefly many years ago when he was between wives, long before he ever met Kathie Lee.



Not a sports fan ever, I was largely unfamiliar with famous sports figures, although I was cognizant of some sports-related ephemera via osmosis since I was married at the time to The Abusive Sperm Donor who was obsessed with sports, just like a lot of other men including the nice husband I have now. I guess it is a man thing.  During those years I used to do a little modeling and TV work for a photographer whose own work involved photographing well-known sportsmen for various magazines.  

It was the early 70s.  I attended a party after a long day at a major golf tournament with this photographer and his wife.  Many people who lived in the oh so Southern little city where this fancy golfing event was held every year threw lavish parties for the celebrities who regularly attended the tournament, and not all of them were sports figures, some being in the entertainment or music business.  The hosts' local friends were invited, too, and they got to rub shoulders with their golden heroes.  This particular party was hosted by some close friends of this photographer and his wife, and I was invited along, too, since I was their houseguest for a couple of days.



The big names dropped in and out in groups, since there were lots of parties every evening, and I suppose they were hitting them all, a short time here and a short time there, just making the rounds.  Late in the evening, someone took me by the arm, and said, "I've got just the guy for you!  Meet Frank Gifford -- he's on TV, and he's handsome and available!"  I had no idea who he was or why he was on TV, mind you, but he certainly was handsome, I'll tell you that.  He was grinning sheepishly at me, looking faintly embarrassed.  I replied (probably regretfully if the truth be told), "Unfortunately, I am not..." and held up my left hand, still shackled with The Abusive Sperm Donor's gold wedding ring.  Frank Gifford actually blushed when he said "Hi!"  His group soon turned to go, and that was that.  

I met quite a few sports notables  at that party, too, and my photo was snapped with many of them.  I had no idea who most of them were, or why they were famous.  They were just people, like everyone else.  Some were very nice and friendly, others were not.  I have never seen any of these photos, so I don't know what happened to them.  

When I got back home to my little life as a somewhat nervous wife and mommy in North Carolina, and I was telling my friends about my trip, and they were all agog.  They all immediately enlightened me as to who exactly Frank Gifford was.  I had no inkling that these women willingly watched Monday Night Football.  "I can't believe you met him!"  Next thing you know, there was a get together, along with the husbands, everybody pressing me for every single solitary detail I could dredge up.  Such was life in a small town, where someone they knew who met some famous people suddenly became a star herself.



Here is an article about the man himself, who would have been 85 today.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/15/how-frank-gifford-inspired-frederick-exley-to-write-the-classic-a-fan-s-notes.html

14 comments:

  1. I stopped watching the news a few years ago. I rarely know what's going on. I didn't know he had died.
    Brenda

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  2. How interesting - your life and that story!

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  3. I am not a big sports fan either, but I did know who he was. I didn't realize he was so handsome when he was younger though. Dianne

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  4. Hi Ellen! Oh, that's a great story! You're a looker now and I'm sure your wowed him with your looks then! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  5. I didn't know that he died. He was a good looking man. I'm sure he was taken with your good looks also. Maybe the ring threw him off.
    Mary

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  6. Wonderful story! And what a hunk he was when you met him!

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  7. That would've been an exciting event to have met him. I sure he put off quite an impression. I knew who he was but didn't respect him especially since he had an affair after he was married to Kathy Lee. That just grinds me. He was a very handsome man and quite a sports hero in the late 50's early 60's. I'd love to see pictures of you from back then!

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  8. Well, he slipped right through your fingers and went straight for Kathie Lee! They seemed like a nice couple and I've heard wonderful things about them and their children. Who knows where life will take us?

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  9. What fun to reflect back on this event. Thanks for sharing your story. I admit, I live in absolute fog when it comes to sports celebrities. ;-)

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  10. Oh goodness Ellen, I love that you met him and had no clue to his fame! Ha! Male sports legends, my husband is always amazed when I say I've never heard or so and so... this is such a cool story, I am so sorry you were still married to the "sperm donor", who knows what my have happened, except your sweet husband is incredible so it's all worked out just perfectly! Who else would paint black and white tiles on your floor, and repaint your sewing closet while you were sipping wine with a blogging friend :)
    Jenna

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  11. I met him at the Crosby Golf tournie they had for many years out at Tanglewood Park// Bermuda Run country club- ooo latidoda lol..

    I was a courtesy driver and picked him and another guy up to take them to the OysterFest they held .. Lots of stars from different venues all very friendly and many of them seriously intoxicated :)
    As you said, he was VERY handsome and rather shy.. He asked if I'd be coming back for them when they got ready to leave and I said-sorry I am just the pick up and deliver person... He said- well darn, that's a shame and gave me a huge , darlingly dimpled smile.. YES I have thought of that moment many times and also thought- what a shame:) and what a memory that would have made...

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  12. Yeah, sigh... what might have been. Sounds like your encounter lasted longer than mine!

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  13. I suspect we could sit for hours and share some stories of our Younger/ Fun days Ellen.. Personally I had a thing for country music)

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