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When Autograph Hounds Hunt in Packs

October 19, 2003|ANDREW ASCH

It's just ink and paper, but to a nation of collectors, autographs can be a link to celebrity stardust. At the Autograph Collector Magazine Exposition & Symposium in North Hollywood, pay dirt could be the Beatles' scrawled signatures or penmanship from guests such as "Get Smart" stars Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. We asked some collectors for an endorsement.

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Jamal McCants

Musician

Hollywood

What's in a name?

You can't get close to the person, so you get a piece of it in your home. It's got to have some intrinsic emotional value.

Your tips for autograph seekers?

Become a musician. I get to everybody at some point. Openings, premieres, parties, conventions. I've got about 2,000 autographs. My house is a museum.

Your favorite from your collection?

Dave Prowse. He played Darth Vader, my favorite character. Darth Vader is no-nonsense. The dude had issues, but he had a degree of compassion.

Autograph you dream of owning?

John Hancock or George Washington. Their signatures started our way of life.

What does the fan/celebrity relationship resemble?

Royalty and minions. We elevate celebrities to a status that to me is not deserved. They're just working, like we are.

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Tom Willis

Freelance video producer

San Diego

What's in a name?

I only go to people I think have made a solid contribution. It's personal. Not only did I meet these people, but I was able to get close to them for a little while.

Your favorite from your collection?

Del Unser. He played center field for the Washington Senators between 1968 and 1971. As a kid, baseball was my entire life, and he was my man.

Autograph you dream of owning?

John F. Kennedy. I was 4 or 5 when he was assassinated. He touched everyone's life. He was a president who was bringing a new direction to this country.

What does the fan/celebrity relationship resemble?

Personally, I think it's on the level of friendship.

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Edna Isman

Designer

Los Feliz

What's in a name?

What can I say? You want your favorite actor's signature, don't you? You see them on the screen, and it's like they're your best friend.

Your favorite from your collection?

Charlton Heston. Because it says "Best to Edna." He's a great actor. He's done many beautiful things.

Autograph you dream of owning?

F. Murray Abraham. Watch him play Salieri in "Amadeus." You can't question him. He blew me away.

What does the fan/celebrity relationship resemble?

You admire them. You can actually fall in love with them.

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Don Adams and

Barbara Feldon

Agent 99 and Maxwell Smart

Manhattan and Los Angeles

What's in a name?

Don: I don't know.

Barbara: Frankly, I don't understand why people want autographs. I don't even have pictures from our show. I have one picture of Don and me and that's it. I live in the present.

Where do you stand on giving autographs?

Barbara: On the street? Absolutely fine. People are so nice. I live in Manhattan, so it happens a lot. I don't quite understand it, but it's always a sweet encounter.

What does the fan/celebrity relationship resemble?

Barbara: It's a fantasy, like kids and Santa Claus.

Whom are you a fan of?

Don: Catherine Zeta-Jones. Why did she marry that old man Michael Douglas when I was available?

Barbara: Certainly not an actor. A writer, maybe. The one autograph I would have wanted would have been Eleanor Roosevelt's. She was an incredible woman.

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