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Celebrity Crush Revisited


Photo Credit: Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging

Even as a kid, I had good taste in actors. While most of my friends were crazy about the Kirk Camerons and New Kids on the Block, I was obsessing over Dennis Quaid. Okay, in fairness, I wasn't just drawn to his acting but to that charming smile grin and handsome, all-American face. Fortunately, Quaid has stood the test of time and now in his 50s, is doing some of the best work of his career.

So I was really into Dennis Quaid. Like, REALLY. I had photos of him all over my wall, to the point where there was no space in between pictures and it looked like wallpaper. I had gigantic standees from "D.O.A." and "Innerspace" crammed into my little room. I think I even wrote him a fan letter, inviting him to my prom. (This was in the days when people still wrote letters.) I even made my parents drive me an hour out of town to see his band play when they came through Oregon.

Understand that while my childhood lust for Quaid has faded, my appreciation for his work has not. I think he was robbed of an Oscar nomination for his turn as a closeted husband in "Far From Heaven" and was utterly hilarious as a Bush-esque president in "American Dreamz." He also took a big risk playing Bill Clinton in the recent "The Special Relationship" on HBO, for which he's nominated for an Emmy. 

In recent years, I've had the opportunity to interview Quaid, but it was always over the phone. He was gregarious and good-natured, even indulging my stupid "Innerspace" question--who would he like to be shrunken inside of? (His answer: his son Jack.) And I've seen him in person--he walked past me once at the SAG Awards and I froze up. But last Sunday, I got the opportunity to meet and speak to the man in person--and I think I even formed some complete sentences.

The event was the Will Rogers Ranch Foundation's Dog Iron Polo Match and Champagne Brunch, held at Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades. As one of the celebrity co-chairs (Diane Keaton being the other), Quaid was on hand all afternoon.The sold-out event featured two polo matches--for which Quaid handled the "throw in" of the ball--and a squadron of jets flying over the park in a tribute marking the 75th anniversary of Rogers' passing. Proceeds from the event go to preserving the historic park, which was recently threatened with closing.

But back to Quaid. I first spotted him actually on the polo field, on the back of a horse. Quite a way to make an entrance, and the Houston native looked right at home. When I was introduced to him, the first thing I said was that my 10-year-old nephew recently discovered "Innerspace" and is a big fan of Quaid's character, pilot Tuck Pendleton. So much so that he saw Quaid was in "Far From Heaven" and wanted to see it, which made Quaid laugh. I asked him how he became involved with the Will Rogers Ranch Foundation and he explained he actually lived very close to the park. (No, I didn't get an exact address.) "I had horses in Montana and I don't know why it never occurred to me that I could have them here in L.A.," Quaid noted. "This is the best place for riding--the trails are amazing. It's too great a spot to not take advantage of."

I pointed out that as an equestrian and an actor, he would actually make an excellent Will Rogers and should play him in a biopic. Could he see himself doing it? "Well, I didn't see myself playing Bill Clinton, but I did that. I just gulped and said yes," he responded, then added, "Actually, I would love to play Will Rogers. That would be a lot of fun." Looking for any excuse to get him back on a horse, I asked if he'd be doing a Western anytime soon. "I'd love to," he sighed. "They just don't make enough of them."

Quaid looked amazing (I can't believe he's 56) and was extremely gracious with everyone all day, posing for photos and breaking out that infamous grin. I wanted to thank him for being such a nice guy, because there are few things worse than when you finally meet someone you've loved from childhood and they act like a jerk. Which has happened more times than I care to admit, and it's soul-crushing. Part of me wondered what the 16-year-old me would say if I could have told that girl that one day she would be face to face with Dennis Quaid. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have believed it.

--Jenelle Riley

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Hi Jenelle,

It is so great to read such nice things about Dennis Quaid. My crush on him was more recent. It started when I saw Frequency and went over the moon. I was 47 at the time, married with a son, but he made me feel like I was 16. Got to meet him when he did a concert with the Sharks in 2001,at Mohegan Sun in CT. Saw him again a month later in a club in Port Jefferson, NY and at B. B. King's in NYC in August of 2002. He is just what you said, gracious and down to earth. He looks even better in person. He posed for pictures and I got an autograph.I am so glad he is happy in his marriage to Kimberly, his twins are now healthy, and Jack is going to college.

You are so right, nothing is worse than meeting your idol and finding out he/she is not as nice as you thought. Thankfully, Dennis is as nice as you thought and then some.

He knows when to be nice. he's a CELBERITY. However doesn't mean he's perfect. He also was DUI last year. Plus he's a cheat. But it's nice that he's nice to his fans.

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