Celebrity Shyness

I threw up the following comment over at Baseball Think Factory where some people were talking smack about Joe DiMaggio and thought it worth crossposting here. Not sure why necessarily, but here it is:

My great-uncle was a friend of DiMaggio’s and he tells me that DiMaggio got burned early on by a few people who pretended to be his friends but were using him and his fame for their own purposes, which caused him to throw up some barriers against people he didn’t know. Add in a natural shyness and he got a reputation for being rude. Once you proved you weren’t after something from him, he very nice and generous. (I have a personalized autographed photo of him through my great-uncle.)

Side note: I have another family friend who was close to Judy Johnson but never introduced me to him because Johnson was also very shy. So, I missed on chances to meet two Hall of Famers due to their shyness.

It also probably didn’t help me that I was also very shy and young and therefore wouldn’t have known what to say in their presence anyway, adding to their discomfort.

Given these stories, I tend to assume that celebrities aren’t necessarily jerks; I’ve read that a surprising number of celebrities are actually introverts. Being an introvert myself, I know how hard it can be for them to deal with talking to strangers. Add in that they have to deal with it a lot and I’m not surprised if they sometimes snap and come off like jerks. I’d probably do the same.

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3 thoughts on “Celebrity Shyness

  1. I’ve found them to be a mixed bag. I’m not bragging when I tell you I’ve met a few of them and they’re mostly pretty normal. I think the problem is that there is much expected of them and if they don’t fall over themselves being nice to people they get a rep. Don Mattingly (and a few other Yankees) lived in my hometown. He had a rep for being a jerk but really he just wanted to be normal. I remember I was getting out of my car one time and he was coming out of a local pizza joint. I had unknowingly parked next to him and was getting out w/ pen and paper (grocery list) and he looked at me like “Aw crap”. I just said “Hi” and walked past him. He was more than a little surprised. When I realized who it was I turned around and saw him grinning from ear to ear as he backed out.

  2. Yeah, that’s kind of the point I was trying to make. I read one time about a player trying to leave a spring training game to make his daughter’s birthday party (or something of similar importance). One guy brought his kid over to get an autograph from the player, but the player noticed behind the guy a crowd of people coming that would reach him if he signed the one autograph resulting in him to have to sign a lot more as a result of signing the one. The player apologized and mentioned his other commitment and as he was driving off, he heard the father say what a jerk he was for not signing one autograph.

    There’s an expectation on the part of many that celebrities exist for us alone and don’t have other people who matter more to them then their fans. It’s a sign of the growing self-centeredness in our society.

  3. I’ve read about celebrity shyness as well, that there are many of them who are introverts. Maybe that’s what you get from having too much attention. I agree also that there’s just much expected of them.

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