I’ve never been a “star-chaser” and I don’t subscribe to any tabloids. But the other night I was dining with friends at the local Big Bear restaurant that used to be owned by character actor Andy Divine and the conversation turned to celebrity sightings. Specifically, Big Bear celebrity sightings.
My first celebrity sighting occurred just after I had just moved to Big Bear in the early ‘90’s. I was skiing by myself at Snow Summit and was waved up from the singles line to join a half full chair of other skiers. Everyone was pretty bundled up but I heard a distinctive voice coming from one of my fellow chair riders and looked up to see Emilio Estevez. We exchanged hello’s and I asked if he came to Big Bear often (original right?). He told me he was in town visiting his girlfriend and was taking a lesson with a ski instructor so he’d be able to keep up with her on the slopes. I didn’t have anything else to do so I started following Emilio and the instructor to the bottom of the run. Sure enough, I ended up at the base of chair two just in time to see Paula Abdul and Emilio Estevez holding hands. I learned later that Paula’s family owned a large home on Papoose Bay and the couple was seen in Big Bear quite often. Exciting stuff!
My next Big Bear celebrity sighting was just a few weeks later at a local sports bar. A pool tournament was just getting started and I thought it would be fun to enter. I’m no great pool player but that night I was in pretty decent form and I managed to beat my first two opponents. My next opponent was a Hispanic guy, kind of young and not too tall. I can’t remember the details of the game but I know I lost badly – maybe even knocked in the eight ball. I had no idea I was playing pool with a famous boxer and in a way I’m glad I didn’t. I probably would have been distracted. Anyway, I’m getting ready to leave when a friend of mine asks me, “How does it feel to lose to Oscar de la Hoya?” I was sure someone was joking with me but when I turned back to look again – it was “The Golden Boy” himself
My third celebrity sighting was a little more personal, and strange. I ran my property management business out of the Log Cabin Restaurant in the late ‘90’s and one afternoon there was a private wedding reception on the deck outside my office. A few of the guests had inadvertently walked into my office looking for the bathroom. I was gracious and let them use my restroom, no big deal. The next person to walk into my office looked a little haggard and it was obvious he was trying to keep a low profile. He took his sunglasses off and I immediately recognized Robert Downey, Jr. He asked me if he could sit down for a minute to get out of the sun. I asked him if the person getting married was another actor or movie mogul or someone like that and he shook his head and laughed. “No, that’s my AA sponsor and I can’t let him out of my sight, court order.”
These are only my personal experiences. I’ve heard of many celebrity sightings in Big Bear, from Tom Cruise and Ron Howard to Michael Jackson’s brother Marlon. Many celebrities have owned homes in Big Bear over the years and I’ve always felt that if it’s good enough for Emilio, Paula, Oscar, and Robert, it’s certainly good enough for me.