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Unexpected Meetings

Marilyn Monroe and Nikita Khrushchev. Mark Twain and Helen Keller.  Unexpected encounters of the famous and infamous.

This handout file photo shows President Richard Nixon, left, meeting with Elvis Presley on Dec. 21, 1970, in Washington. (AP/White House)

This handout file photo shows President Richard Nixon, left, meeting with Elvis Presley on Dec. 21, 1970, in Washington. (AP/White House)

People meet all the time.  But some meetings are more amazing to contemplate than others.  When Charlie Chaplin met Groucho Marx.  When Elvis met the Beatles.  When Proust met James Joyce.  When Princess Grace met Princess Diana.  When Marilyn Monroe met Frank Lloyd Wright.

My guest today has sewn together an incredible daisy chain of incredible meetings.  How they got together.  Who said what.  What Twain thought of Kipling.  Madonna of Martha Graham.  Sigmund Freud of Salvador Dali.

This hour, On Point:  Amazing meetings of the famous and infamous.

-Tom Ashbrook


Craig Brown, author of “Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal “In August 1910, Gustav Mahler was having marital problems with his much younger wife, Alma, and the composer made an appointment with Sigmund Freud. The two men met in the Netherlands at Leiden, where they went for a long walk, during which Freud suggested that Alma had a father fixation. Among other points of friction in the marriage, Mahler had forbidden her to write music.”

CNN “When Elvis Presley wrote Richard Nixon a few days before December 21, 1970, he had an explicit goal in mind. ‘Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out,’ wrote Presley. ‘I can and will do more good if I were made a Federal Agent at Large and I will help out by doing it my way though my communications with people of all ages.’”

Excerpt: “Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings”

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.


“Blue Suede Shoes” by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

“Chelsea Hotel” by Leonard Cohen

“Prelude in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 3″ by Sergei Rachmaninoff

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  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Nixon and Presley meeting–which one’s the famous one?

  • Benjamin Conrick

    This image of Barack Obama, Toni Morrison, and Bob Dylan floored me a couple of months ago from the Medal of Freedom Awards.


  • http://www.facebook.com/tamer.dishek Tamer Dishek

    Perhaps your guest could comment on the meeting of comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell and spiritual leader Jiddu Krishnamurti on a steam boat en route to America in 1924?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Elvis Presley, a rural electrification program for rhythm and blues, and the Beatles, scriveners of the music of others–the schlock must have been deep that day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003176132796 Joe Makela

    here i am commenting on frivolous subjects…we can only imagine the possibilities and or realities. just anecdotally i know of many meetings…pictures bare witness to some “iconic” moments ie: “Hanging Out in Hollywood” – Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield. Cheers, Tom and team.

  • J__o__h__n

    Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein

  • Duras

    At the end of Twain’s autobiography, is a beautiful letter from Keller expressing thanks to Twian. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    Walter Cronkite & me. Him: the retired Grandmaster of the TV News Media & me: the upstart Arts journalist for the local newspaper. Oil & water have been known to be a more congenial & compatible pair.

    • J__o__h__n

      I met him once too and I didn’t like him. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

        Context is everything. The first time we met I was working my 2nd job in an upscale toy shop on the Vineyard & he was an unsatisfiable customer.

         “I can tell that YOU didn’t go to retail charm school!”, he boomed, alarming all the little children who were present. The second time we met I was on assignment covering a gala reception for the Vineyard Playhouse at Mike Wallace’s lavish home.

        Cronkite was smoothe as a baby’s bottom, then. I still didn’t like him, though. He was mean to the “little people” & a smarmy suck-up to his betters. At least, when there was an audience to attend him.

  • RussellSleigh

    Does anyone meet Wittgenstein? The funniest newspaper article I ever read was by Craig Brown describing how to choose a chocolate mousse, out of the dozens on a supermarket shelf, using a decision-path in the form of propositions from Tractatus.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      He was a part of the Vienna Circle and interacted with many philosophers of his time.

    • SMK73

      Apparently Wittgenstein and Karl Popper exchanged some spirited words. Menacing with a fireplace poker was involved.

  • Paul Richardson

    Speaking of Twain and Russia, the great writer actually met Tsar Alexander II in Yalta (see “Innocents Abroad”), then later went on to play a leading role in the anti-Tsarist movement in the U.S…

  • http://www.facebook.com/sam.burton.3557 Sam Burton

    Is it true Winston Churchill requested a meeting with the philosopher Isaiah Berlin and was set up by mistake with Irving Berlin?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MVTBWA6H6ZYKJ764N2VLLQJJE4 Rahul

    How about: 

  • Garboskindredspirit

    Just wanted to point out (although I’m sure it will seem a trivial fact to most) that, when they’re talking about Marilyn Monroe’s meeting with Khrushchev, and apparently Natalie Wood having given her (Marilyn) something to say to him in Russian, neither Tom nor the guest seemed to know that BOTH of Natalie Wood’s parents were Russian. The guest *thought* she was half-Russian, but that’s all. . . Just sort of irritated me, for some petty, silly reason.

  • franny28

    Tom:  I’m a big fan of yours.  I don’t think you are covering the visual arts, movies and theatre enough.  Your index of past shows has a category for books and music, but nothing for these other topics. 

  • Pingback: Listen to This! « yepindeed

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