Collecting autographs can be interesting, fun and profitable. Autographs can be obtained either in person or through the mail. Being a writer does have its advantages, as one enjoys certain perks in the field, such as meeting celebrities in person for an interview or knowing who to contact in order to obtain that special access.
I have a number of autographs in my personal collection which I’ve acquired through the years. Here are my top ten personal favorites, along with an informal guide as to current market value. The list reflects my continuing interest in music, movies, television, literature and the popculture/nostalgia beat – fields which I often cover in my feature print/online articles.
Buck Owens, Country Music Legend
Country Music Hall of Famer Alvis Edgar "Buck" Owens Jr. (1929-2006) scored 21 #1 hits during his celebrated career, including such gems as "Act Naturally," "I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail," "Buckaroo," "Open Up Your Heart," "Together Again" and "Your Tender Loving Care." Owens, along with Roy Clark, also hosted the long-running Hee Haw (1969-1993), one of syndicated TV’s most successful variety shows. Buck Owens was always a generous signer, graciously autographing anything placed in front of him. My favorite Buck Owens autographed photo is a somewhat rare early 1960s 8×10 color portrait which he signed in gold Sharpie approximately two years before his death. Saaa-lute!
George Maharis, Route 66 TV Star
George Maharis (1928-) was a familiar face on 1950s, ’60s and ’70s television. He’s best remembered as Buz Murdock on CBS-TV’s iconic Route 66 (1960-64), where he traveled the country in a boss Chevy Corvette with fellow adventurer Tod Stiles (Martin Milner). My favorite George Maharis autographed photo comes from the October 7, 1960, premiere episode of Route 66 titled "Black November," which features Maharis, Milner and their powder blue 1960 Corvette making a crossing on a Mississippi River ferry.
Clive Cussler, Adventure Novelist & Author
Clive Cussler (1931-) shot to literary fame in 1976 with the publication of his maritime/Cold War thriller Raise the Titanic! His subsequent bestsellers include Vixen 03, Night Probe!, Cyclops, Treasure and Sahara. In addition to his writing, Cussler has also engaged in other interesting pursuits, including marine archaeology and the collecting of classic cars. My favorite Clive Cussler signed photo features the author and his son Dirk posing with one of Cussler’s prized vintage automobiles.
Jeannie C. Riley, Country Music Singer
Jeannie C. Riley (1945-) scored a monster country/pop hit in 1968 with "Harper Valley PTA," written by Tom T. Hall and released on the Plantation Records label. Her other hits include "The Girl Most Likely," "Country Girl," "Oh Singer" and "Good Enough to Be Your Wife." If anything, Jeannie C. Riley is a survivor, having overcome clinical depression in the 1990s which had left her bedridden for six years. My favorite Jeannie C. Riley autographed photo comes from the 1970s.
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Herb Alpert (1935-) & the Tijuana Brass were all the rage in the 1960s, scoring such hits as "The Lonely Bull," "A Taste of Honey," "Flamingo" and Alpert’s own solo "This Guy’s in Love with You." The co-founder of A&M Records (with Jerry Moss), Alpert is also an accomplished painter and sculptor. My favorite Herb Alpert signed photo is an official A&M Records still from his glory years of the 1960s.
Joseph Wambaugh, Novelist & Author
Joseph Wambaugh (1937-) is known as America’s "police novelist." A 14-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, Wambaugh scored his first literary success in 1971 with the publication of The New Centurions. His subsequent bestsellers include both fiction and nonfiction, many of which were turned into films and TV productions – The BlueKnight, The Onion Field, The Choirboys, Echoes in the Darkness, The Black Marble, The Glitter Dome, et al. My favorite Joe Wambaugh signed photo is one he sent to me in 2005.
Jan Howard, Country Music Singer
Jan Howard (1930-) was one of country music’s trailblazing female artists of the 1960s. Her biggest hit and signature song, "Evil on Your Mind," was released in 1965. The ex-wife of singer-songwriter Harlan Howard (1927-2002), Jan’s other hits include "The One You Slip Around With," "Bad Seed" and "My Son." In 1967 Howard and Bill Anderson scored a #1 hit with their duet "For Loving You." My favorite Jan Howard signed photo is an official Decca Records portrait still from the early 1960s. Jan graciously signed several other vintage photos I had acquired from the estate of an Illinois songwriter named Charles "Chaw" Mank Jr., telling me that she wished she had copies of these early portraits. This Grand Ole Opry star is one classy lady.
Gale Storm, Singer & Actress
Gale Storm (1922-2009) will forever be remembered as Margie Albright on the classic TV sitcom My Little Margie (1952-55), which costarred Charles Farrell (1901-1990). Storm also appeared in films and recorded on the Dot label. My favorite Gale Storm signed photo is one in which some kind of paper loss occurred on the right eye portion, which she then playfully inscribed, "To William - A little eye surgery please! Hugs & kisses, Gale Storm." Well, that’s my little Margie!
Bill Anderson, Country Music Singer & Songwriter
Bill Anderson (1937-) is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Anderson, who joined the fabled Grand Ole Opry in 1961, scored his first Top Ten hit in 1960 with "Tip of My Fingers," which peaked at #7 on the country music charts. His other hits include "Still," "Po’ Folks," "I Get the Fever" and "World of Make Believe." My favorite "Whisperin’" Bill Anderson signed photo – and I have more than a few – is a classic still from the 1960s which Bill autographed for me in 2004.
Roy Clark, Country Music Singer
Roy Clark (1933-), perhaps best known for co-hosting TV’s Hee Haw (1969-1993), recorded such hits as "Yesterday, When I Was Young," "Thank God and Greyhound," "Come Live with Me" and "If I Had to Do It All Over Again." Always a gracious signer, Roy has autographed a handful of items for me in the past. My favorite is an official Dot Records portrait still circa the late 1960s which Roy signed in gold Sharpie.