The Day I Met Diane Keaton

by Clifford Johnson

In about 1980, Janet Frank was hospitalized. Janet was the soloist at Bethesda Covenant Church in New York City where I served as pastor. I took the First Avenue bus to 68th Street where New York Hospital is located to visit her. Entering the elevator, I joined a few other passengers, one of whom pressed the button for the floor on which Janet was located. She was a rather slight figure in jeans and a flowered shirt. She had what looked like greeting cards in her hand. Exiting together, we turned right and turned right again, entered the same room, and walked up to the same bed where Janet reclined. Janet greeted the young woman warmly and, turning to me, said: "Cliff, this is Diane Keaton." Not having kept up with the latest film celebrities, I said: "Oh, do you work here?" (I thought she might be the person who brings the mail; she had several card-size envelopes in her hand which she had given to Janet). "No, she is in films." "Oh." I knew I had made a faux pas, but didn’t know the severity of it.

We chatted for a few minutes; then I offered a prayer on Janet’s behalf and said good-bye to both of them.

That evening, Alayne and I were out for dinner in Greenwich Village. We came to a theater marquee on which was the large-lettered name, DIANE KEATON. We were crossing a little street as I said: "I met Diane Keaton today. Who is she?" In the middle of the street, Alayne bent over so deeply in laughter that she couldn’t walk. "You don’t know who Diane Keaton is??!! Wait ’til the kids hear this!!"

Janet was a voice teacher who had coached Diane Keaton for her singing part in the movie Reds. Readers might remember the childhood song she did, "I don’t want to play at your house, I don’t like you anymore…"

I was so embarrassed when I spoke next to Janet about my gaffe. She said: "Diane wasn’t offended at all. She loved it that you didn’t know who she is. She likes going incognito."

So that is my encounter with a celebrity as a Covenant pastor. And I never even offered to share a cappuccino with her!