New York City's "Celebrity" Tourguide Jim Dykes spots celebs all over New York City!
Matt Baker recalls the time that Tony Bennett hitched a ride on his CitySights Bus from the Museum of the City of New York to Fifth Ave. & 53rd St. The bus was nearly empty when he got on, but the 3 or 4 passengers who were there were THRILLED (especially the lady from…where else? San Francisco!)
Matt says he recently did a private tour for the Duke University basketball team. The famous Coach K is a West Point grad and his connections got the team a chance to visit otherwise restricted sections of the military school.
Guide Lee Michael Klein sent me quite a huge list of celebs he’s spotted or interacted with on tours such as: Billy Joel, John McEnroe, Vanessa Williams, Conan O’Brien and more. Robert E. Cruz has two specific times legendary singer Roberta Flack ended up interacting with his tour.
Gwen Anne Strum mentions Mercedes Ruhl on her bus (and not tipping!) even after Gwen recognized her and greeted her.
Andrea Janes remembers the time Parker Posey joined her “haunted” walking tour on W. 10th St. and clapped. Lee Gelber remembers the time Al Roker rode along on his bus and tried his hand on the microphone for a special TODAY report, as did Richard Dreyfus on another day with guide Hans Von Rittern, contributing stories about his days in Greenwich Village.
Readers of this column know that I’ve had quite a few “celebrity” moments myself: A few years ago I was leading a group of professional women on Beekman Place and a bearded man tagged along as I talked about the famous residents on the block. Suddenly as he pointed to a brownstone, the man piped up: “Don’t forget to tell them that Steven Spielberg lives here…” Of course it was Mr. Spielberg himself who couldn’t have been nicer. He chatted with the people a bit and hopped up the steps into his rented house.
Just yesterday on the subway with a small group we were standing next to Good Morning America’s Sam Champion. Several years ago in the dead of winter I was doing a small walking tour in Chelsea…as we passed the movie theatre on 23rd St. just as the matinee was letting out, Julia Roberts and her husband Danny Moder strolled out of the theatre, their eyes adjusting to the daylight and they walked right into the heart of my tour group!
I had many Ed Koch sightings in Greenwich Village over the years…so many that when Mayor Koch would spot me, he would say: “Hi Jim- where are they from today?” I also see Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick in their West Village neighborhood all the time. Once, I had a group of boy scouts who attended the TODAY Show and met Ann Curry. She still remembers me and smiles and says hello when I see her on the streets (unlike Katie Couric, who was decidedly un-friendly as soon as the cameras were turned off).
Years ago when I worked at Radio City Music Hall in the tour dept. it was Music Hall legend that movie star Gregory Peck had once worked there. One day while working an event, I met Mr. Peck so I asked him directly and he said “Yes of course I was a guide here while I was taking acting classes. I lived in a little walk-up apt. on W. 52nd St. nearby.” This made me smile because I also was living, at the time, in a little walk-up apt. on W. 52nd St.
My good friend Alison Arngrim played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie and after years of me and her other friends telling her to write a book, she finally wrote a memoir: CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH (she mentions me on page 299). When Alison is in New York from L.A., she stays with me and has tagged along with me on numerous group tours over the years. When she was here in June, she got a call to be on THE VIEW because Whoopi Goldberg had read her book and liked it. I had a small group that day and Whoopi was able to get us all into the audience to cheer Alison on and then met everybody afterward.
Years ago after my first or second appearance on Joan Rivers’ local show, Joan became momentarily fascinated with tours of New York and for a short time, was doing her own “Joan Rivers tour” on the Big Taxi tour bus!