On Meeting Al Pacino And Shaking His Hand


I honestly don’t know how I discovered this, but back in 1976 while I was living in New York City, it came to my attention that actor, Al Pacino, enjoyed having dinner quite frequently at the restaurant, Right Bank, which was on Madison Ave and 68th Street. And it just so happened that I lived on 65th Street and Madison Avenue, which was only three blocks away. So I got this psychotic idea in my head that if I went there, I would miraculously meet him.

I should probably tell you that I have a tendency to get overly starstruck with certain actors/actresses that I admire. And Al Pacino is one of them.

Now keep in mind, this incident occurred not too long after the movie Dog Day Afternoon was released, which was based upon a real-life story that happened in the early seventies in which the Chase Manhattan Bank in Gravesend, Brooklyn, was held siege by a bank robber, who was portrayed by Al Pacino. I love any movie with Pacino. However, if I were forced to choose just one it would be this film, hands down. Not only is the story absolutely fascinating, but Pacino is riveting.
 
So one evening, my partner and I and three of our theater friends, walked over to the Right Bank and were determined to sit there and eat until Mr. Pacino walked into the restaurant.

After we got our table, I positioned myself so that I'd have a perfect view of the front door. And each time the door would open, my entire body would jerk with anticipation of him possibly making an entrance.

Finally. FINALLY, after almost an hour of eating as slowly as we possibly could, guess what?

Yessiree, Al Pacino walked in with two other men and sat at a table across the room. The Right Bank was an intimate restaurant, so we could clearly see him from our table.

OH MY GOD...Al FREAKING PACINO! In the flesh!

My friends and I just about died looking at him without appearing as if we were a bunch of crazed-stalking fans.

Which we were.

Immediately I began to make a plan on how I was going to get myself over by his table because I didn’t want to just look at him, I was also hoping to speak to him.

And possibly touch him.

I decided that the easiest way to do this would be to get up and use the restroom because I'd have to walk by his table to get there. Now, to get to the actual restroom you had to go through a door and then walk up a long flight of stairs. So that's what I did. I walked by his table (looked at him); proceeded to go to the restroom; then on the way back I walked passed his table (and looked at him) again.

As soon as I got back to my seat, my friends asked me in unison, “Ooooooo Ron...what did he look like up-close?

And no sooner did I open my mouth to tell them, I noticed Mr. Pacino getting up from his table and heading for the restroom door.

Shit…what rotten timing!

But then I thought, “No, this is perfect…I’ll just go back to the restroom because then it’ll be just he and I alone, the perfect opportunity to talk.”

So I leaped up from my seat and made a beeline for the door. But as I pushed it open, I felt the back of the door slam into something behind it. And as I looked to see what it was, I stared directly into the face of Al Pacino who was talking on a payphone. I couldn’t say one single word because I was totally embarrassed, so I just dashed up the stairs to the restroom.

I was beginning to think that this was turning into a zany I Love Lucy episode, in which Lucy gets herself into trouble trying to meet movie stars.

Anyway, to kill some time, I dilly-dallied in the restroom by washing my hands and checking my hair. I then took a few deep breaths and headed back down the stairs because I figured I’d be able to get another close look at him while he was talking on the phone.

WRONG! He was no longer on the phone.

Shit! Shit! Shit!

When I got back to the table I told my friends, “Let’s just go because it's useless, I’m just not meant to meet him tonight. I'll have to come back some other time.” So we paid the check and got up to leave. We all decided to walk by his table on the way to the front door and just be satisfied with looking at him and calling it a night.

I was the last one in line. And as I got near his table I thought to myself, “No, damn it…I will not allow this opportunity to pass.” So I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at him straight in the eyes and said, “Hi Mr. Pacino, I’m sorry for interrupting your dinner, but I just have to tell you how much I respect your work. In fact, I just saw "Dog Day Afternoon” and loved it.

He was incredibly sweet and gracious, and politely said, "Thank you very much."

And then I held out my right hand to shake his, and he responded by shaking mine. I smiled and said, “Enjoy your dinner," and then walked out of the restaurant.

When I got out onto the street, I started jumping and shouting, “I DID IT….I DID IT...I actually talked to Al Pacino and touched him with THIS hand (holding up my right hand), which I will NEVER wash it again!”

And as we walked back to my apartment, I remained in a starstruck coma. I kept staring at my hand, bedazzled; realizing it contained Al Pacino's DNA.

And it's funny because right after that experience, whenever I would see him in a movie my attention would first go to his right hand, and I'd think, "Damn...I shook that paw!"


Have a 🌟-studded week, y'all!
X


P.S. Oh, and I eventually did have to wash my hand.

36 comments

  1. LOL! Ron, what an awesome story! You are one great storyteller because I could picture everything happening as you were explaining it. I Love Lucy was the perfect description too. I love how she was always trying meet celebrities and get into Ricky's shows at the night club.

    I'm a fan of Al Pacino too. I loved "Scent of a Woman." It's so nice to hear that he was sweet and gracious. Although, I'm not surprised because he seems that way in all the interviews I've watched.

    Thank you for the Monday morning laughs!

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  2. http://ladyfi.wordpress.comJuly 20, 2020

    What a great story!

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  3. http://ladyfi.wordpress.comJuly 20, 2020

    I'm so glad you shook his hand! How long before you washed it? ;-)

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  4. How funny and I can’t believe you’ve been holding out on us all these years! LOL! You’ve got more nerves than me. I’d have to be three sheets to the wind to stop at a celebrity’s table!

    Years ago, before cell phones, my husband literally sat next to JFK Jr in a NYC restaurant. Their chairs were catty corner to each other. John had a big ring of keys hanging off his belt loop, like a janitor, which cracked us up. One of the women at my husband’s business dinner went to the pay phone to call her mom because she was so excited!

    Hope your week cools down. It’s been hotter than hell, hasn’t it?

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  5. Ron, this ROCKS! And I am so jealous that you met one of my favorite actors. I wish I could have been there with you because I would have talked to him too.

    My top 4 favorite Pacino movies are:

    1. The Godfather (all three but one and two are my faves)

    2. Dog Day Afternoon

    3. Scarface

    4. And Justice For All

    I just recently saw him being interviewed and he seems like such a regular, chilled, genuine guy. Not at all pretentious.

    Great story, dude!

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  6. Hey there Candice!

    HA! I know, exactly like an episode of "I Love Lucy!" The only thing that was missing was Ethel. LOL!

    OMG...I LOVE "Scent of a Woman" too! I love his character in that film. I need to watch that again.

    "It's so nice to hear that he was sweet and gracious. Although, I'm not surprised because he seems that way in all the interviews I've watched. Very down to earth."

    Yes, you're so right because I've thought the same thing whenever seeing him being interviewed. So sweet and REAL. And what I really admire about him is that he doesn't give off a "celebrity movie star" attitude.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a terrific week!

    X

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  7. Thanks, Fiona! I recently recalled my experience after watching him in an interview and noticing just how genuine he is, and how comfortable he is in his own skin; being very open about his past struggles with alcohol.

    I feel so blessed to have actually met him.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a faaaaabulous week!

    X

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  8. Ummmmmm.....a MONTH.

    HA! No, I'm only kidding. I actually washed it the next day when I wet my hands to shave. However, I did seriously think about putting on a rubber glove. LOL!

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  9. Super story, Ron, and I'm glad you persevered to get that handshake! We don't get many "stars" in this part of Illinois, but I was right there with you in your description of how it feels to be star-struck and know that somebody famous is just a breath away!


    I've always enjoyed Pacino's films as well. A talented man, and I'm delighted to hear he was so gracious over your encounter. I imagine the famous among us sometimes must tire of everybody fawning over them, so your sincere compliment had to come across as a refreshing thing.


    Enjoy your work-week. xo

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  10. I know, can you believe that I haven't share this story in all these years? I recently recalled that experience after watching him in an interview in which he was so charming and sweet. For all his fame, he seems to have such a groundedness about him.

    "Years ago, before cell phones, my husband literally sat next to JFK Jr in a NYC restaurant. Their chairs were catty corner to each other. John had a big ring of keys hanging off his belt loop, like a janitor, which cracked us up. One of the women at my husband’s business dinner went to the pay phone to call her mom because she was so excited!"

    OH MY GOD...what a GREAT experience! I loved JFK Jr. And I also thought he was very handsome, LOL! Do you remember the restaurant? Was is it the restaurant at the Carlyle Hotel? The reason I ask is because I know he (and his mother) used to dine there a lot.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. OMG...the heat here has been horrendous. Today it's supposed to be 98 with a heat index of 109. PRAY FOR ME!

    X

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  11. Hey there Matt!

    I wish you could have been there too, being that you're a BIG fan of Pacino! I was luck to have met him and that he was so nice about it because I literally interrupted his dinner for god's sake. LOL!

    I LOVE all four of your favorite movies! They are faaaaaaaaabulous! And it's ironic that you listed "And Justice For All" because I watched that online about 4 months ago and forgot how REALLY good it was. The last scene is incredible!!!!

    "I just recently saw him being interviewed and he seems like such a regular, chilled, genuine guy. Not at all pretentious."

    I too recently saw him in an interview and thought the exact same thing. He was being interviewed while being driven in a car and he was so funny. He kept waving to people in the other cars! For all his fame, he's seems so grounded.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a most excellent week!

    X

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  12. I will ask him tonight if he remembers and get back to you! I’m thinking it was around 1991. I wasn’t there.

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  13. "I should probably tell you that I have a tendency to get overly starstruck with certain actors/actresses that I admire."

    This comes as the least surprising announcement I have ever heard based on your experience with Robert Redford's chewing gum! Talk about an exciting moment, though. Pacino is one of my favorite actors, too. "Carlito's Way" is an under-appreciated masterpiece (and Sean Penn slays as his coked-up attorney, too). "Insomnia" is another great film of his, with a surprisingly good twist of a role for Robin Williams, too.

    Fun story; thank you for sharing!

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  14. Awesome! And thanks!

    He and his mother lived only a few blocks from the Carlyle, so I was just wondering if that was the place.

    X

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  15. "This comes as the least surprising announcement I have ever heard based on your experience with Robert Redford's chewing gum!"

    Bwhahahahaha! Damn, Mark...that made me laugh my ass off because it's so true!

    "Pacino is one of my favorite actors, too. "Carlito's Way" is an under-appreciated masterpiece (and Sean Penn slays as his coked-up attorney, too). "Insomnia" is another great film of his, with a surprisingly good twist of a role for Robin Williams, too
    ."

    OMG...those are two of his films I forgot about, but I agree with you 100% on both of those films. And you're right...good twist of a role for Robin Williams. Personally, other than "Mrs. Doubtfire", I preferred him in non-comedic roles. I also loved him in the movie, "Awakenings" with De Niro.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a terrific week and stay cool!

    X to you and Tara

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  16. Hellooooooooooo there Debbie!

    Ha! I know, can you believe it? I shook hands with AL PACINO!!!!

    " I was right there with you in your description of how it feels to be star-struck and know that somebody famous is just a breath away!"

    I can't help it, but I get very giddy and starry-eyed when it comes to certain actors/actresses.

    " I'm delighted to hear he was so gracious over your encounter. I imagine the famous among us sometimes must tire of everybody fawning over them, so your sincere compliment had to come across as a refreshing thing."

    Yes, you're right about that. I'm sure they do get weary and tired of people fawning over them. I think because his background comes from being in the theater, that's why he was so gracious. Actors and actresses who originate from the theater are usually much more humble and real because it's a much harder medium of acting. You see very few DIVA'S in the theater.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Have a fantabulous week!

    X

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  17. Rob LenihanJuly 20, 2020

    Ron, what a fabulous story! And it's sooo New York-y!!

    I love how you were on the verge of giving up after all your "I Love Lucy" moves and then you finally put your foot down and your hand out and introduced yourself! Bravo!

    I, too, have an Al Pacino meet up story. Forgive me if I told you before, but back in the 1980s a buddy of mine was friends with a cast member of "American Buffalo," along with Al Pacino, at Circle in the Square.

    I remember it was Good Friday and the three of us had gone to a local bar to wait for the show to end and we got drunk as skunks!

    We went to the theater, my buddy met up with his friend, and this fellow--James Hayden--ushered us into a room we were met and shook hands with Al Freakin' Pacino!!

    I drove my family crazy for weeks bragging about "My friend Al." What a night!

    You're such a great story-teller! Thanks so much for the memory, buddy!

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  18. Hey there Rob!

    No, you never told me that story before, and what an AWESOME story it is!!!! I cannot believe that a friend of yours knew a cast member of "American Bufflalo" with Al Pacino!!!

    "and shook hands with Al Freakin' Pacino!!

    I drove my family crazy for weeks bragging about "My friend Al." What a night!"


    That is sooooooooooooo COOL!!!! So, you and I both got to shake Al's hand!!!!

    And OMG...are you ready for this? I actually went to school (The American Academy of Dramatic Arts) with JAMES HAYDEN!!! And I don't know if you knew this but he died of a heroin overdose at only 29 years old. He was such a great actor.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story, buddy! LOVED it!

    Have a super week!

    X

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  19. Ron, I must agree with your reader and say that this story is fabulous and sooo New York-y!! And being from New York, I loved it! Only in NYC would something like this happen because the celebs who live there just walk around the city and mingle with everyone. I clicked on the link and read that the Right Bank closed in 2000. So many places have closed over the years in that city.

    Hubby and I are big fans of Pacino as well. His whole body of work is so diverse, which I really admire because he's never allow himself to be "typed."

    I love the photo collage you shared. He has such a great face!

    "I kept staring at my hand, bedazzled; realizing it contained Al Pacino's DNA." LOL! You are so funny!

    Thank you for sharing this story, Ron. Always a delight to read your New York stories.

    And can you believe this heat? This is way too hot for me. Stay cool! xo

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  20. He doesn’t remember but said it was a fancy establishment, but not in a hotel. His memory is terrible for that kind of thing.

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  21. Rob LenihanJuly 21, 2020

    Holy crap, Ron, you knew James Hayden?!?! Amazing!

    And, yes, I did know about his death.

    He had just gotten a good-sized part in "Once Upon A Time in America" with the likes of Robert DeNiro and James Woods. And then he was gone. What a waste.

    Take care of yourself, buddy, and I'll tell Al you said hello!

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  22. Hello there Elaine!

    "Only in NYC would something like this happen because the celebs who live there just walk around the city and mingle with everyone."

    You are so right about that! I remember seeing an interview with Susan Sarandon who said that's why she chooses to live in NY rather than LA, because she can walk the streets and no one bothers her. And if someone does approach her, they are usually very respectful.

    Yes, that's why I posted the link. I googled the restaurant just to see if it was still there, and discovered that it had closed in 2000. So many place that were there when I lived there are long gone.

    True, Pacino's body of work is soooooooo diverse. And I love that he keeps on challenging himself and is still working today. Doesn't he have such a great face? I remember first seeing him in the original "Godfather" and thought....WOW!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, neighbor. Hope you're having great week!

    X

    P.S. OMG...this is the part of summer that I hate. It's been so incredibly hot and humid these past several days. When I'm outside, I can hardly breath because the humidity is smothering.

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  23. Oh okay. The Carlyle is definitely fancy, but it's in a hotel on the upper east side. The restaurant/bar is notorious for celebrities. It's one of New York City's classic landmark hotels.

    Thanks SO MUCH for stopping back and letting me know. You're the BEST!
    X

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  24. Yes, can you believe that? He was very good friends with Mickey Rourke. They hung out together a lot during their early years in the business.

    "He had just gotten a good-sized part in "Once Upon A Time in America" with the likes of Robert DeNiro and James Woods. "

    I know, isn't that sad? And I LOVED that film! I have a feeling that had he lived, he would have had a HUGE career.

    "and I'll tell Al you said hello!"

    LOL! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

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  25. Oh, Ron, Ron, Ron....do you have any idea how much I adore Al Pacino? Not only is he a phenomenal actor, but he's also a big time HOTTIE. LOL! I've been following his career since the "Godfather." Did you ever see the move, "Frankie and Johnny?" That came out back in the 90's. He and Michelle Pfeiffer were so good! And I agree with you about "Dog Day Afternoon", he was brilliant! I also loved Chris Sarandon as Leon. You make me want to go back and watch it again!

    I laughed my ass off at this story! I wish I could have been there with you and your friends. I would have been too nervous and freaked out to speak to him though. I get starstruck too with certain celebrities.

    Wonderful post, Ron! I really like hearing about your time in the theater. xo

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  26. Hola Denise!

    Yes! I loved, "Frankie and Johnny!!!" I also saw the play version when I was still living in Florida, which is titled, " Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.

    OMG...Chris Sarandon was FABULOUS as Leon! I just wish the role was bigger because his character, as important as it was, didn't have much screen time. But he was sooooooooo good!

    "I would have been too nervous and freaked out to speak to him though. I get starstruck too with certain celebrities."

    I get nervous too, but my desire to meet them is stronger than my fear. I just couldn't pass up the chance to meet Al Pacino.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, girl. Hope you're having a wonderful week so far. I bet it's so HOT and HUMID in Florida!

    X

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  27. DA PerrucciJuly 21, 2020

    Really enjoyed this story of your meet up with Al Pacino, Ron.My favorite movie of his is Scent of a Woman. My favorite scenes are the tango and him driving blind. Do you also like this film?

    The only celebrities I have met have been those that signed the Playbills when years ago I used to go to Broadway shows and wait by the stage door to have my playbill signed. My collection is small and since leaving NJ, I no longer go to shows. But, of course, these days no one is going to any shows, sadly.

    What a thrill for you to have meet someone whose performances you enjoyed and to have found him so gracious in return.

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  28. DA PerrucciJuly 21, 2020

    Ok so I just had to go onto YouTube and rewatch that tango scene, Ron, and it’s still my favorite scene in the whole movie!!!

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  29. Since you mentioned that scene, I just went to YouTube did the same thing! OMG, I forgot how fabulous that scene was. It's such a sweet scene. It actually made me teary-eyed watching it again. He's such a gifted actor because he can do anything.

    Thanks so much for mentioning it!

    X

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  30. Hey there D!

    "My favorite movie of his is Scent of a Woman. My favorite scenes are the tango and him driving blind. Do you also like this film?"

    Yes! Absolutely! One of my favorites! In fact, someone else here mentioned that film as well. I need to watch that movie again. I may do that this weekend.

    "The only celebrities I have met have been those that signed the Playbills when years ago I used to go to Broadway shows and wait by the stage door to have my playbill signed. My collection is small and since leaving NJ, I no longer go to shows. But, of course, these days no one is going to any shows, sadly."

    Oh how faaaaaaabulous! And I bet you cherish those Playbills! I remember years ago when the caricaturist, Albert Hirschfeld, used to create the front covers of all the Playbills. Isn't going to a Broadway show such an amazing experience? And you're right, it's sad that no one is going to any shows. I'm very concerned about what's going to happen to not only Broadway, but all live shows.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend. Hope you're having a fantastic week!

    X

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  31. Valerie DaggattJuly 23, 2020

    How well I remember I Love Lucy. Reading this took me back a few (a lot) years and I thank you for reinstating it in my memory.

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  32. Helloooooooo there Valerie!

    Didn't you just LOVE "I Love Lucy?" I still watch it online, and I also have several of the episodes on VHS tapes. That show is timeless and is still funny today.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, dear friend. I so appreciate your comment!

    Hope all is well, and know that you are missed by many of us.

    Much X to you and Charlie

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  33. Al Pacino is one of my all-time favorite actors! It's so awesome you capitalized on that opportunity and got to shake his hand. I giggled at your description of it being like an I Love Lucy episode. I can picture it now! Entrepreneur and I were in Hawaii a lifetime ago and saw Tom Selleck in a restaurant. I was on my way over to get his autograph when I bumped into a server....who quickly figured out what I was up to and blocked my efforts to go any further. Boo. That's the closest I've ever been to a celebrity. Thanks for sharing! X

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  34. Oh Lisa, what a GREAT story! And that too reminded me of an I Love Lucy episode--the one in which she meets William Holden at "The Brown Derby" in Hollywood and bumped into the waiter, which caused him to drop the entire serving tray of food all over William Holden. Hilarious episode!

    Ooooo.. I don't blame you for wanted to met Tom Selleck--WOOT! I used to watch "Magnum, P.I" every single week!

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story!!! Have a great almost-weekend!

    X

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  35. What a fun story! And good for you for summoning up the courage to just speak to him. It's easy to forget that celebrities are still people - and who wouldn't like hearing how much you appreciate their work? I'm so glad you got that opportunity!

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  36. Meeeeeeeee too! And what's even more special to me is that he was so sweet, kind, and gracious about it, because I acted like a LUNATIC. LOL!

    Much thanks for stopping by, my Libra friend! I just read your most recent post and loved it!

    X

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