Celebrity Encounters in the Bubble
There were a couple things that happened during my time in the “bubble room” that are definitely worth mentioning. First of all, I was a huge fan of all things Teen Beat and Seventeen Magazine. My room was covered in pictures of all my boy crush celebrities and all the girl celebrities that were on my favorite TV shows. I loved getting new posters and pictures to hang up. My biggest crushes were Chad Allen (Our House and Dr Quinn Medicine Woman) and Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains).
Two days before my birthday, my mom handed me the phone with a big smile on her face and she said “You’re gonna want to take this”. I nervously answered the phone and on the other end was a boy voice that said “Hi, is this Jamie Anderson? This is Chad Allen.”
For those of you who are not big 80s buffs, let me explain who Chad Allen is. For a couple seasons right before I was in the hospital, there was a show on television called Our House. It was a show about a grandfather who was taking care of his son’s family after the son had died. Diedre Hall (of Days of Our Lives fame) played the mother, Shannon Dougherty, in her first role, played the daughter and Chad Allen played the young son. I was smitten instantly. That baby face and the blonde hair had me hooked.
I just happened to have a couple pictures of Chad Allen on my wall right in front of me when I answered the phone call. I didn’t believe the person on the other end of the line. “No way, who is this? Is this Steve?” My uncle Steve was known to play pranks on me all the time and I was convinced this was him trying to get me good. The poor boy on the other end was very confused, and said “I don’t know who Steve is, this really is Chad Allen. I’m looking for Jamie Anderson.”
I think my mouth gaped open and it took me a good minute or two to start talking. The hospital had a hotline where parents could call and request that their child’s favorite celebrity make a phone call to them in the hospital. My mom never told me that she did this, just in case it didn’t pan out. Well, to my shock and excitement it did.
We talked nervously on the phone for about 20 minutes. He was only a couple years older than me, so the conversation centered around “How many pets do you have? Which are your favorites? How is it working on a television set?” I can almost still hear that voice and remember the pure joy on my 10 year old face from a simple phone call.
I ended up getting an autographed picture from him in the mail on my actual birthday. I kept that by my bed for years after. It’s funny the amount of joy that a cute face can bring to a young girl’s heart.
Because the hospital was in Los Angeles, celebrities made frequent visits to the patients, almost always with a full paparazzi crew following them around. If you had a room in the oncology hallway, you couldn’t miss them when they made their rounds.
I was however in a special unit in the back that the celebrities rarely made their way too, so it wasn’t too common an occurrence for us. This changed however one afternoon when my mom was in my room bathing me and my grandparents were in the hallway waiting. I was in the tub when a nurse poked her head in and said “Get dressed quick, Howie Long is walking through!”
My mom was on the phone with my dad at the time and asked him who that was. My dad instantly got excited and said “Why? He’s there?!” Apparently he was a big deal football player.
My mom told me to get out of the tub and wrap a towel around myself, and almost as soon as I had the towel on, the curtain was yanked open. In front of my room stood about three photographers, my grandparents and one of the biggest men I had ever seen. My mom’s mouth dropped open and you could hear my dad on the phone saying “Shelly…….Shelly……what’s going on? Is he there? Shelly?……..”
My mom was apparently so taken back by his size and good looks that she was speechless. She held the headset in the phone and waved at me to go by the opening and say hi. I kept trying to remind her that I was in nothing but a towel, but she wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to me in that exact moment.
The photographers waved me over to my “door” and told me to lean in and smile. I stood as close to the green tape as I was allowed and half smiled, half shocked took a picture with the football player. He took a couple pictures with my grandparents (that he made look like the Wizard of Oz munchkins in comparison), and promised to send pictures our way.
Well, we never received the pictures, I’m guessing it wasn’t such great publicity for a large football player to be seen in a picture with a bald, 10 year old girl who happened to be draped in nothing but a bath towel. Oh well, my dad and I still have a good chuckle at my mom for that one.