Thoughts on celebrity, and Dr. Ruth

I had a few ideas for what to write on my blog today, but scrapped them when I read Judith Timson’s column in today’s Toronto Star. She wrote about the influence celebrities have on our lives – a timely topic, prompted by the buzz around the Toronto International Film Festival, which ends on Sunday. But it was Timson’s own thoughts as a journalist that struck a chord with me. “Up until this year, as a journalist, I did not have one picture of myself with a celebrity,” she wrote. She now has one, which she has “shamelessly” framed.

As a reporter at The Canadian Jewish News for 22 years, I never asked for a picture of myself with a celebrity (it doesn’t sound like Timson did either), but I do have one or two.

In 1999, I interviewed Dr. Ruth Westheimer at her hotel over tea, when she was in Toronto for the Canadian Booksellers Association trade show. We talked mostly about her then-newest book, Dr. Ruth’s Pregnancy Guide for Couples, but I ended the article by writing, “Unlike some celebrities, she loves bme & dreing recognized. ‘It’s nice to be Dr. Ruth,’ she said.”

The world-famous sex therapist, a child survivor of the Holocaust, was a delight to interview – articulate and candid, with things to say that were worth hearing. Her trademark giggle and impish humour made her a lot of fun to talk to. She told me at the time that she wasn’t computer literate yet, but I googled her this morning, and see that she is now on Twitter.

I believe she was the one who suggested taking a picture of the two of us, although it could have been one of the hotel employees. If she didn’t suggest it, she definitely encouraged it. Who was I to argue?

Before we sat down for our interview, a passerby recognized her, and requested a picture of the two of them together, which Dr. Ruth cheerfully agreed to. “You’re an icon,” the woman said.

I didn’t shamelessly frame the picture of me with Dr. Ruth – it’s in an album – but I am (shamelessly, or not) including it in this post.


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