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Autograph Adventures – Bill Murray

March 27, 2012
Boston, Massachusetts

Hundreds of anxious fans lined the sidewalk in front of Suffolk University’s Ford Hall. Behind the theater, there was just one. Searching for a stage entrance I walked up an alley-sized street in the shadow of the State House. Up ahead, a skinny young brunette in a pencil skirt peeked nervously from behind an unmarked door. Her attention was directed toward the far end of the road and didn’t notice my approach. I asked her if she was expecting him soon.

Bill Murray autographed 8x10

Bill Murray autographed 8x10

He was one of my comedy idols. He was Bill Murray.

“Uh, yes,” she said hesitantly. She righted herself. “Who are you? What are you doing back here?”

“Just passing through,” I told her before reaching the end of the street and ducking around a corner. There I found another collector who had been staked out with a copy of Quick Change on Laserdisc.

A man of many moods, a meeting with Murray was by no means predictable. What was certain was his well-known reputation as a rough signer. Even with our small numbers, the odds were long. With a half-hour to go before the panel discussion he was in town to moderate, we watched a trio of police officers arrive at our corner which only made me feel worse. It was one thing to sidestep a college stage manager. It was quite another to circumvent the cops.

Just before 6 p.m. a white Lexus sedan rolled to the corner. The rear passenger window rolled down and Murray’s index finger poked out at us.

“Get these guys out of here! I don’t want to see these guys!” he yelled to the cops.

My shoulders shrugged. My heart sank. My hope vanished.

“No, see he’s joking,” the other collector said, ensuring the officers could hear. “He’s got a smile on his face.”

With only a sliver of confidence restored, we approached the car which had pulled up to the unmarked door. The street was only slightly wider than the vehicle and had no sidewalk. We called out to Murray from several yards beyond the trunk as he unfolded himself from the backseat. With one step he’d be inside the building. He chatted excitedly with the welcoming committee and hovered near the stage door which was opened toward us. Our pleas went unheard or ignored. He momentarily dropped out of view then reemerged. Time was running out. I had heard him mention in a Howard Stern interview that he didn’t mind signing autographs for fans but didn’t appreciate the “professionals”. In one last ditch effort I tried to communicate that I wasn’t the latter.

“Mr. Murray, I’m a huge fan—you can personalize it!”

Breaking away from the pack, he took two steps toward me then stopped. His eyes rolled. “Oh, blow me with the personalization!”

He grabbed my Sharpie and scribbled his name across my 8×10. I asked him again to personalize but he ignored my request and proceeded to sign the Laserdisc. I fumbled the camera out of my pocket. Murray pointed to the cops, “You want to hit some guys tonight? Ask these guys, they know where everyone is in this town.” He turned back toward the door, his arm extended behind him to hand back my pen.

I urgently requested a picture with him and was again ignored. Juggling the signed photo and camera I reached for the Sharpie and watched helplessly as it bounced off my fingers and fell to the pavement.

“Oops,” Murray said flatly.

Then he was gone. He was exactly as expected. Enigmatic. Schizophrenic. One part Frank Cross, one part Ernie McCracken and, thankfully, one part Bob Wiley.

About the author: is the founder of Autograph University. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and two sons. Connect with him on Twitter at @mattraymond.

7 comments… add one

  • Jason C. April 3, 2012, 9:53 am

    I hear of these type of stories a lot with Bill Murray, so I almost feel guilty that my experience with him was so pleasant. Several years ago the St. Paul Saints hosted the Northern League All-Star Game. As part owner of the Saints, Murray was in attendance and was on the field with all the All-Stars and coaches. Fans were allowed something like 30 minutes to meander around and get autographs. While Bill wasn’t dead center of the fray, he smiled and chatted with me for a few minutes as he signed my program (which included a drawing of him on it). I only went over to him because no one else was there. Later, I added Bill Veeck’s son, Mike on the program. The now-framed program still hangs in my den. The bat with the All-Stars like Daryl Motley? Eh, it’s around somewhere…

  • Matt Raymond April 11, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Great to hear about your positive experience Jason, thanks for sharing!

  • Steve Cyrkin April 3, 2012, 12:49 pm

    Great get and great story…you should blog this on Autograph Magazine Live!

  • Matt S April 4, 2012, 12:15 am

    hey matt, i saw you walking down Temple St before heading to the back alley. I was in line for the event, so couldn’t want to run over and say hi. Bill signed my Ghostbusters photo inside at the stage after the show. I was in complete shock. No photo ops inside, either, though. Later on that evening, he really let us have it, though, after he went drinking (apparently) at the Ames hotel. He was yelling all kinds of stuff at us outside before he left.

  • Matt Raymond April 11, 2012, 3:49 pm

    Glad you got him inside Matt. Thanks for sharing your story. I would have loved to attend the actual event.

  • Mettie July 3, 2012, 10:07 am

    My experience after the Ford Hall Forum looked a little something like this: http://i.imgur.com/T9clJ.jpg

    As one of Bill’s biggest fans, I can truly say that this was one of, if not, the happiest moments of my life.

  • Matt Raymond July 3, 2012, 11:22 am

    Incredible.

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