The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

Close Encounters of the Treasured Kind #2 Burt Lancaster

Burt Lancaster

Sometime during the middle '70s, my workplace was located across the street from The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles' premier concert hall at the time. This meant that I could always get the best seats for the L.A. Philharmonic's concerts being performed there during its winter season. On one occasion there was a performance of Mahler's 3rd Symphony, a favourite of mine which I picked up some fabulous seats for earlier that same day.   

Before the concert started my girlfriend and I were seated when I heard someone say, "Excuse me" obviously wanting me to sit back so he could get by. "No problem" I thought as I scooted back. Looking up I saw it was Burt Lancaster walking right in front of me. I could not have adored him more. But as I've stated before, I was incredibly shy, especially to those I worshiped from afar, and thought to myself "Fine... just so long as he goes further down the aisle I'll be okay."

He sat right next to me.

Actor James Sikking in the row directly in front of us turned around and said "Hello Burt" and reminded him that they appeared in the film Scorpio together. Me? I just sat there frozen during the entire concert, even during its intermission, sitting right next to my idol, unable to say a word. My friend and I left. We both loved the concert and Burt apparently did as well as I heard him audibly sighing during the Symphony's gorgeous last movement adagio.  

Many years later I was with a male buddy of mine who knew me extremely well (not to mention the story I've related above) attending another Mahler concert. We were just wandering around during the intermission when we saw Mr. Lancaster seated just looking at his programme. "Well this time you're gonna talk to him" my friend said definitively. "Nah... some other time" I replied knowing that simply wouldn't work with this guy. Sure enough, despite my increasingly adamant protests, my "friend" literally dragged me over to where Burt was seated, pushed me in front of him and said: "Excuse me Mr. Lancaster, my friend here is your biggest fan, he's seen all of your films, The Swimmer is his favourite film of all time and he sat right next to you during an entire concert and didn't say a word!" At which point Burt just tilted his head upwards, smiled and said with that unmistakable tone: "Cat got your tongue, eh?"

We laughed and then Burt talked about The Swimmer.  For myself it was a most treasured moment, only made possible by a true friend's insistence that I not have my way.


Burt Lancaster (November 2, 1913 - October 20, 1994) R.I.P.