Monday, July 19, 2010

Friendly Encounters

This is a weekly feature highlighting friends who have met celebs.

My friend Evil Zebra has graciously agreed to share another great picture and really interesting story. As always, I'll let the Evil Zebra tell you about it.
I'm not great with years and ages, but you can probably figure them out. LOL. It was around 1977-1979 and Dana was 14 or 15 years old... I was an adviser to our high school's DECA program (Distributive Education Clubs of America). That year, we had our national conference in Miami Beach, FL. My students were competing in a project run and sponsored by the 7-Up company. When we got to Florida we learned that 7-Up was bringing in a surprise guest to present the award to the winning high school. That guest was none other than the star of tv's Diff'rent Strokes...DANA PLATO.
Dana and her mother Kay were flown into Florida to spend 3 days at the convention, meet with the students and present the award to the winners at the award session on the final night.
As luck would have it, as I was checking into the Fountain Blue Hilton with my students from Pennsylvania, Dana and Kay were also checking in.
Being the outgoing and friendly person that I am, while my students were star-struck, I started a conversation with Kay (a wonderful lady, I might add).
As it would turn out, their room just happened to be 2 down from mine, so we got to know each other pretty well. I remember Dana being so excited being around so many kids her age. She got real friendly with a few of my students and kinda hung around with them for the entire 3 days. I also had Kay and Dana eat with our group, so we spent a lot of time talking.
One memorable story happened on the first afternoon. The kids had some free time to just hang by the pool. Dana wanted to go and Kay agreed as long as I would be there to keep an eye on things. I had to judge another event first, so Kay agreed to sit by the pool to watch them until I got back.
I went to my room and threw on my 70's 3 piece pinstripe suit to head on over to judge the event. I had about 5 minutes before I had to be there, so I figured I would swing by the pool before I went.
What happened next was history-making!!!!
I walked to the pool, where my kids and Dana were having a ball. Kay was sitting there reading a book. I saw Kay sitting at the edge of the pool. Next thing I know, the kids dared Dana to...jump out of the over and push ME into the pool (in my 3 piece pinstripe suit!).
SHE DID!!!!!
The entire place went nuts. Kay was so embarrassed at mad at Dana. I thought she was gonna kill her, but she didn't know how "EVIL" I really was...even back then and I only just cracked up and started laughing!!! I told Kay it was okay...and from that moment on...I just LOVED Dana. (My kid of kid!)
Needless to say I had to hurry back to the room, dry off and change to go to my judging. I went back to the pool later and had a little more fun.
So that is how we met. Lots more stories to follow if anyone is interested.
I always enjoy contributions from the Evil Zebra, but this one is especially interesting. I enjoyed reading about Dana just being a kid. It is great to see that side of her and to see her having that fun. It had to be wonderful to be there.
Thanks to EZ for sharing. If you haven't already, I encourage everyone to check out EZ's Yahoo group.
Dana Plato and the Evil Zebra in Miami Beach, FL-Mid 1970's.


Evil Zebra said...

Glad you enjoyed that one, Mr. Leno! Dana was and always will be a very special person to me.

That being said.... looking back at the picture, it's hard to believe that EZ once had hair!!

And.... to rub it in, I see you did your next blog on a real HAIRY guy.... Chewbacca!!

OK.... you even got a "plug" over on the homepage in EZland:

Take it,

Johngy said...

Thank you for sharing and for the plug.
I always enjoy your stories.

Sunny The California Girl said...

Well that was very nice . I miss dana thank you for the share .