July 25, 2010

Robert Hegyes on his brush with George Harrison

I was on the MGM lot in 1982 co-starring in an episode of CHIPS. I decided to go to the commissary to buy myself a lunch. I grabbed a table where I was quickly approached by the maitre d'. He informed me that a Mr. Harrison wanted me to join him for lunch. He added, Mr. GEORGE Harrison, raised his eyebrows and nodded his head in the direction of George Harrison. I said, oh, that Mr. Harrison, grabbed my plate and walked over to his table.

As a child of the 60s, I was a huge Beatle fan. I remember seeing them on Ed Sullivan the first time. It caused a huge rift in my family because my mother wanted to leave my dad for John Lennon. The Beatles were the soundtrack of my youth.

He stood up and greeted me warmly, shaking my hand. He said, hi my name is George, my family are big fans of Welcome, Back Kotter, and won't you join us for lunch? And I thought... oh my G_d, I'm talking to a Beatle (the quiet one). But he sure isn't quiet today.

He introduced my to his wife and son, and told me that they watched the show every week. He loved the comedy... he was a big Marx Brother's fan. He started spouting scenes of different episodes he liked. He loved John Aston in the episode where he was the curator of the museum. He said, oh, what a perfect person to curate a museum... Mr. Addams.

He loved the episode where the kids had a strike against the cafeteria by sitting in Mr. Kotter's classroom. He thought it was a good example for the kids today to protest things they disagree with by peaceful means. He loved Epstien's Madonna, where Epstein paints a nude on the side of the school and puts Mrs. Kotter's head on it. He was commenting about artistic freedom. It really blew my mind at how well he knew the show.

Keep in mind that everything was a blur... I didn't eat because I was sitting there with George Harrison... I was in awe. I wanted to get on my knee and genuflect (spelling?) but he just kept talking. In the midst of this conversation, he grabbed a napkin and asked me to sign an autograph for his son. Again, all I wanted to do is reach over and kiss him on the lips.

He was giving family and friends a tour of the studio. He had planned on dropping by the CHIP'S set that afternoon. I couldn't speak. After a few more minutes of me just mesmerized by him talking (I must have been the worst table guest possible... I hadn't spoken two words. I wanted to scream, I LOVE YOU GEORGE HARRISON, but nothing came out), we were interrupted by several executives that George, again, greeted warmly. They informed him that they were going to be continuing the tour. The family stood to leave and we said our goodbyes. George thanked me for being so nice to his son. I grabbed his hand with both of my hands and looked into his eyes. I said, thank you for the music. He said, thank you.

As I walked away, I thought of a hundred things I wanted to say, but nothing I could have said was more important than, thank you.

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