Recalling my behind-the-scenes encounters over the years with stars of screen, football and business.
The co-founder of Apple. One of Charlie’s Angels. A Bond girl. A star of “Wheel of Fortune.” An NFL Hall of Fame coach. And two famous brothers from Canada.
Those are some of the celebrities I worked with over the years as mattress companies made connections with famous figures to draw attention to their bedding lines. The celebrities brought fun to the industry, helped sell mattresses and usually gave me some good copy when I sat down with them for quick interviews.
Celebrities and mattress companies have a long association. Almost 100 years ago, Eleanor Roosevelt touted Simmons mattresses. “I’ve never known such comfort,” she said in one ad. Today, America remains a nation obsessed with celebrities.
My first big celebrity experience was back in the 1980s, when an up-and-coming TV personality named Vanna White began promoting Spring Air mattresses. I saw Vanna in action several times. She was always on point and great with reporters and customers.
Back in the days when the Dallas Market was the national market for mattresses, Vanna took that market by storm.
I joined her for the short ride from her hotel to the market, and I was the first person out of the car when it pulled up to the market building. The crowd was disappointed to see me, but all eyes were on Vanna. I followed her as she walked briskly into the building, not stopping as people recognized her. She was on a mission to get to the Spring Air space.
I also saw Vanna at the High Point Market, where she caused a stir by stopping at Krispy Kreme for some doughnuts. She was friendly and upbeat in her meetings with retailers at that market, just as she was in Dallas.
I developed a bond with her. She called me her “favorite writer” when she autographed a copy of her book, “Vanna Speaks,” and gave it to me.
The Charlie’s Angel was Jaclyn Smith, who launched a King Koil mattress line with much fanfare in 2003. Larry McKay, who was president of King Koil at the time, hailed Smith as “an international celebrity and one of the world’s most accomplished women. People know Jaclyn, trust Jaclyn and buy from Jaclyn.”
The Bond girl, starring in “Live and Let Die,” was Jane Seymour, who had a mattress line with South Bay International. Like Jaclyn Smith, she was a poised spokesperson for her mattress line.
The Apple co-founder was Steve Wozniak, who I met after he was introduced as a spokesman for Mattress Firm’s “Technology to Power Off” campaign in 2017. For such a tech nerd he said something interesting about how he prepares for bed: He doesn’t take his computer into his bedroom. That is still great advice today.
The Canadian brothers were, as you might have guessed, Drew and Jonathan Scott. They have become mega-celebrities since they first began working for Restonic in 2018, and I’ve watched them in action several times over the years. With their big personalities, they come alive on the stage, on the screen and in meetings with retailers. Their Game Night event at the High Point Market last year, in which Restonic President Laurie Tokarz played a starring role, was a big hit with the audience and showcased the full range of their hosting skills.
What about the former NFL coach? That was John Madden, who was hired by a bedding major to do a meet-and-greet with retailers at the San Francisco Market many years ago.
I attended a premarket meeting with him and two of the bedding executives who hired him. When I tried to talk to him at the end of the meeting, he blew by me and escaped from the room. So, I was sacked, you could say, by John Madden.
That was my only bad experience over the years with a celebrity. My other memories are all happy ones.
I wonder if Vanna White, who is still going strong on “Wheel of Fortune,” would like to join me at Krispy Kreme in High Point? My treat.