As a journalist, I have had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing many celebrities. Their star power usually doesn’t faze me. Only one time did I ever become “star struck.” It involved a chance encounter in 1987 with James Bond himself, Sir Sean Connery.

I had been a college senior attending a work-related conference in Vancouver, Canada. The hotel in which I had been booked screwed up and, to make it, right transferred me to the more-upscale Mandarin Oriental. There, a co-worker had been talking to the desk clerk who told him Sean Connery was staying at the hotel. He told me, knowing that I was a huge 007 fan.

At first, I didn’t believe him because he was kind of a jokester. I asked the clerk myself and she confirmed this terrific bit of news. She said Connery stayed there often when visiting or filming a movie. My jaw dropped as I stood in the lobby that night and who should come striding the sidewalk in that familiar panther-like gait seen through the Bond series? Connery, Sean Connery! My composure went right out the open lobby door as Connery passed right in front of me. He walked with the authority of someone who knows how to avoid being bothered by the public.

I mumbled “umm, hello Mr. Connery” and he responded in his thick Scottish accent, “good evening.” This was WAY before the days of cellphone cameras so I couldn’t even snap a picture of this momentous occasion. Pretty cool but the story doesn’t end there.

Whenever I visit a new city, I find the used bookstores in hopes of adding to my collection. As is if the stars were aligned, a place within walking distance of the hotel had in its “Mystery and Thriller” section, a hardcover copy of “Goldfinger,” the basis for Connery’s greatest Bond film (in my opinion). It lacked a dust jacket but it wasn’t exactly in mint condition. However, it wasn’t a book club edition. And amazingly -as far as I can tell – it was a Jonathan Cape FIRST edition. And it also cost only a few bucks! I snapped it up immediately and ran back to the hotel.

My mission: to get Sean Connery to autograph my copy of “Goldfinger.”

I didn’t want to bother Mr. Connery given how he responded to autograph-seekers and journalists in Japan during the filming of “You Only Live Twice.” What would 007 do in this case? Enlist the help of a friendly and attractive desk clerk, of course. I ask if she could delivery my book to Mr. Connery’s room. She said that it would be possible and I wrote a respectful fan letter asking him to please autograph the book. The risk, of course, would be that he would ignore the book and I would lose it. I turned the book over to the clerk thinking that Bond wouldn’t play it safe.

That evening, following dinner, I returned to my hotel room. When I turned on the light, I saw the book sitting on desk. Did he sign it or just send it back? I quickened my pace to it and opened the front cover. There, inscribed on its first page, a nice note and signature from Sean Connery. Mission Accomplished!

I did not see Connery again that weekend. Someone did tell me he went for breakfast at a restaurant across from the hotel the next morning. Apparently, all conversations ceased in a rolling wave as he passed through the dinner room to his table.

As for the hotel upgrade that precipitated this Bond experience, the room wasn’t just a room – it was suite because it was all the hotel had left. I should have quoted George Lazenby’s “this will do me nicely” from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” (Thanks Paul Kyriazi) This was a case of meeting James Bond while enjoying the James Bond life style.

meeting sean connery