Sign Here Please

The noble art of autographs are quite the trade these days – here’s a peek inside my collection.

leo di caprio

When I was 15 or 16 I stumbled upon a website online that contained the fan mail addresses of thousands of ‘celebrities.’ I must have mailed off over a thousand autograph requests in one year – combine that with signatures snatched up in late-night eBay bidding wars and here I am years later with quite a substantial collection of signatures, and no idea why I started.

I guess for some people autographs are a way of bringing them closer to their favourite famous person. For others it’s a business – attend book signings, theatre stage doors and concerts, get free in-person autographs, and have them for sale online that very night for a pretty penny.

The first autograph I ever received in the mail was a signed photo from German footballing legend Franz Beckenbauer. I was completely blown away by the fact that someone like that would take a couple of seconds out of their day to sign a photo for me.

Some celebrity responses can be pre-prints (photocopies of a real signature), autopen (signed with a machine essentially) or secretarials (someone signed for them), but over time I built up quite a collection of authentic hand-signed memorabilia.

My own collection covers personalities from many varying fields (I didn’t discriminate). You’ll find actors, musicians, astronauts, World War Two vets, historical figures and sportsmen and women.

I figured I’d pick out 25 of the most/least interesting (depending on your tastes). Some are personalized specifically to me, and others are simply signed. So in no particular order…

The Simpsons Cast

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Everyone’s favourite yellow-skinned television family.

From top left (clockwise) – Dan Castellaneta (voice of Homer Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart Simpson – yes, Bart is indeed voiced by a female), Marcia Wallace (sultry teacher Mrs. Krabappel – sadly Wallace passed away two years ago), Joe Mantegna (voice of Fat Tony).

Apollo 11 – Buzz Aldrin/Michael Collins

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I came out of the space geek closet some time ago – and besides, landing on the Moon was and is a pretty big deal.

I’ve met Buzz on a couple of occasions and interviewed him back in October 2012.

Michael Schumacher

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A seven-time Formula One World Champion who is still recovering from a horrible skiing accident two years ago.

Leslie Nielsen

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A fantastically funny actor whom I met in Birmingham just six months before his passing in 2010.

The phrase he signed in the bottom photo is of course that famous line from Airplane – “Don’t call me Shirley.”

Edmund Hillary

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The first man to climb Mount Everest back in 1953 along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. This is one the grand-kids will be arguing over in my will.

George Foreman

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Fact of the day: Before he was making lean, mean, fat-reducing grilling machines, Foreman was a boxer.

Who would’ve known?

Donald Trump

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Trump could be the next President of the United States of America. Scary thought, right?

His hair is almost as bad as his policies. Oh, and his signature looks like the squiggles on a life-support machine.

There’s something hypnotizing about it though…

John Travolta

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The star of Grease is also a licensed pilot and owns 5 aircraft – he has a runway that can taxi right up to his house at his $4.9 million estate. Impressive enough.

David Attenborough

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What a man. What an iconic voice. And his shows aren’t just good when you’re stoned.

The renowned naturalist is now 89 years of age and still going strong.

Cameron Diaz

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I only like this one because Cameron Diaz drew a heart for me.

That obviously means she fancies me.

Ringo Starr

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The drummer in the greatest band in history. No, not One Direction, THE GODDAMN BEATLES.

A signature as cool as the man himself. Who needs a surname anyway?

Russell Brand

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The only thing better than getting a heart from Cameron Diaz is two kisses from Russell Brand.

Gene Cernan

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What’s better than sliced bread? Getting a 21st birthday card from the last man to walk on the Moon, that’s what.

Captain Cernan flew in space 3 times (including twice to the Moon), and I had the pleasure of interviewing him in September 2013.

Here is the Apollo 17 Commander having a grand old time bouncing down a hill in the Moon’s one-sixth gravity:

Roger Federer

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The Swiss tennis star has won 27 Grand Slam singles titles to date. That’s more trophies than years I’ve been alive. Food for thought.

Dick Van Dyke

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The Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Diagnosis: Murder and Night at the Museum star will be 90 next month, but he doesn’t ever seem to age.

Bam Margera

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From a star of the big screen to a man famous for hurting himself on Jackass.

Both legends in their own right.

Chuck Yeager

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General Yeager became the first pilot to break the speed of sound in 1947. He was shot down over France during the Second World War and has flown 17,000 hours in over 200 types of military aircraft.

Needless to say, his autobiography is worth a read.

Peter Falk

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Lieutenant Columbo – the TV detective as famous for his trench coat and cigar as for his homicide-solving abilities.

Judge Judith Scheindlin

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Daytime television just wouldn’t be the same without the fearless, irrepressible Judge Judy.

Her easiest case was of course this one, solved in under 30 seconds:

Robin Williams

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The world was left in mourning in the summer of 2014 when everyone’s favourite comedic actor Robin Williams died.

Mrs Doubtfire. Jumanji. Flubber. Good Morning, Vietnam. Aladdin. The Fisher King. More serious roles in Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. The list could go on – Rock on Robin…

Ian McKellen

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AKA Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

This clip of McKellen using a famous Gandalf line to inspire students is brilliant:

Jackie Chan

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Jackie Chan needs no introduction. He also loves me ^^^ (his words not mine).

Martin Sheen

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Not just a signed photo, but a handwritten letter from the star of Apocalypse Now.

Who doesn’t love the smell of napalm in the morning?

Patrick Stewart

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A distinguished stage actor, but perhaps best known for his roles as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men series and Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek films.

Millvina Dean

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This is not a name many people will recognize, but Millvina Dean was, at 2 months old, the youngest passenger on board the RMS Titanic before it sank in icy North Atlantic waters on an April night in 1912.

Before her death in May 2009 at the age of 97 she had been the last Titanic survivor alive in the world.

I was lucky enough to be in touch with with her in her final months, and she mailed me a Christmas card before her 97th and final Christmas.

Hall of Shame

Bill Cosby

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Yeah… the less said the better.

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