In 1994 I was working at my best friend’s Italian restaurant Ca’ del Sole, on the corner of Lankershim Blv. and Cahuenga in Los Angeles. I was the person you met at the door telling “I have a reservation..” I’d count the people on your party give the waiter the same number of menu to match that number and a table number where she was supposed to sit you and your friends…
I didn’t realize how closed we were to Warner Brothers Studios or Disney’s and of course on Cahuenga, just a mile down the road was the studio; Hanna and Barbera, the makers of Tom and Jerry and Yoghi the bear, but sincerely I did not pay too much attention at all the famous actors and actressses who came to the restaurant to eat lunch or dinner.
Danny De Vito was a regular; he’d prefer a table outside for he loved to smoke a good cigar after his meal.
Andy Garcia was living somewhere in the Valley, and he would come twice a month for dinner with his wife.
That year Ron Howard teamed up with Brian Grazer to produce and direct Apollo 13, so they showed up one day with Tom Hanks who I noticed for his manners that I didn’t like much. (he practicly ignored me as if I were a piece of furniture).
Henry Winkler really surprised me for his charme and warmth, he was really as you saw it on TV.
Many other walked trough that reception during the year I spent there as a Host: Bob Hope, Scott Bakula, Ennio Morricone, Guns and Roses, just to mention a few… but the only one who really left a sign was JOE BARBERA.
He would come for lunch almost everyday and he preferred the booth number 9 or 10.
I always spoke with his secretary when she was booking the table, she was very charming too and gentle person.
So, when Simonetta, a friend of mine from Rome came to visit me, she asked if we could visit some studios. I thought of Hanna and Barbera’s and spoke to the nice secretary of Joe.
She sat a date for us tio go visit the studios and few days later we were there, at the reception, all excited to see how a cartoon comes to life and there he came down the reception, warm and friendly with his dark sunglasses. He showed us the way to his studio and we followed him to that room filled with memories, including some Oscars. After the presentations with my friend Mr. Barbera noticed my interest in the statue (the Oscar) standing behind him… he picked it up and said: ” Now, pretend that you won it…here is your chance to make the speech”. he then handed me the statue.
I started off with great emotion, trying to remember in the fake speech that I was making, all the people that i considered i should have thanked for my success. So I spanned from Mom and Dad, to my fellow friends on the job thanking them for their support. When I finished my fake conversation with the fake public, JOE BARBERA looked at me grievely and said” In your speech you forgot one very important Thanks that you should have given…” He then rolled his eyes up as pointing at Someone up above..
And by that sinple gesture he made me realize that I had not thanked God.
A lesson never forgotten, in my life, from a Great Man I had the chance and the privilege to meet.