Monday, May 9, 2011

A concentration of talent

For whatever reason - chance, environment, or the mysterious dealings of the Illuminati - it often seems that famous people tend to know other famous people before any of them become famous. While it sometimes appears that someone emerges out of the blue, more often people emerge in groups.

Los Angeles residents are well aware that Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda knew Mike Piazza at a young age. However, when Lasorda was an unknown minor leaguer, he came in contact with another legendary sports figure. The legendary sports figure was three years old at the time:

Lasorda had that fatherhood gene kicking all the way back when he was playing for the Schenectady Blue Jays under manager Lee Riley. Riley's 3-year-old son, Pat, found a consistent dugout playmate in Lasorda (and eventually found himself the co-owner and head coach of the NBA's Miami Heat). "I used to hold Pat in my lap," Lasorda has said. "Every time I see him now, I think of his father. He looked just like Pat does now. He combed his hair straight back, too. He didn't dress like Pat, of course, because he couldn't afford to."

Since the article that I quoted was written back in 2000, there was no reference to Riley leaving New York and "taking his talents to South Beach."

Now some of these concentrations of talent can be explained. For example, the chance of a half dozen movie stars attending the same high school can be explained if it's noted that the high school in question was in the Los Angeles area. Specifically, Santa Monica High School, with a student body that included Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen's sons Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, Sean Penn, the late Chris Penn, Robert Downey Jr., and Holly Robinson Peete.

It remains to be seen whether the current Santa Monica High theatre students will achieve similar levels of artistic success. After all, some of the Brat Pack kids got to hang out at Martin Sheen's house, which certainly didn't hurt their future employment prospects. Including Martin's employment prospects.

But the Brat Pack isn't the only set of celebrities who knew each other in high school. Cameron Diaz bought weed from classmate Snoop Dogg. The Convent of the Sacred Heart numbers Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton as alumnae. And this page lists a number of these schoolmates, including Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, who both sang in the choir. (But did he bring her flowers?)

And no, Barbra didn't attend school with Slim Whitman.

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