Skip to main content

Twins Autograph Collection Spans Four Decades

San Bernardino twins share a love for collecting celebrity autographs that span four decades

Twins Karen and Sharon Brawley hold their autograph book, in which they've collected celebrity signatures since they were kids including iconic figures such as David Cassidy, Lucille Ball and George Harrison. (Photo by Rachel Luna / San Bernardino Sun)

Twins Karen and Sharon Brawley collected an autograph from former president Gerald Ford on January 16, 1981, which is one of many iconic celebrity autographs they've collected since they were children. (Photo by Rachel Luna / San Bernardino Sun) 
When it comes to celebrities no one can drop more names than twin sisters Karen and Sharon Brawley.

The 57-year-old Brawleys have collected more than 75 autographs from the rich and famous starting in 1970 with David Cassidy.

“We were just 14-year-old bobby-soxers,” said Karen, a San Bernardino resident. “He was at The Tyler Mall in Riverside promoting ‘The Partridge Family.’ It was right before the show came on, but the record was out.”

The twins were at the front of a very long line when a young, scared looking, Cassidy emerged driving the crowd wild, she recalled.

“Everyone started pushing and we were shoved into this table that was set up for him,” Karen said. “I was scared we’d be crushed. You could tell (Cassidy) wasn’t expecting anything like that. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Security finally came and controlled the crowd.”

Even at 14, the twins were comfortable mingling with celebrities and asking for autographs. It was a passion handed down from their grandmother, to their mother, to them.

“Our grandmother was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and started collecting autographs in the 1930s and 1940s,” said Sharon, who like her sister is a freelance writer. “Her name was Jennie Alvarez and when she was a little girl she would sit on Pancho Villa’s lap. She used to get autographs from bullfighters, matadors, which were a big deal back then.”

The twins have both their grandmother’s and mother’s autograph book, but neither have the quantity or name recognition as the twins’ book.

Autographs in the book include those from Clint Eastwood, Charlton Heston, Zeppo Marx, Henry Winkler, Rob Reiner, Jacqueline Bisset, The Smothers Brothers, Desi Arnaz and Susan Hayward, who was wearing a white polka-dot dress and who’s skin, said the twins, was luminescent.
But that’s just the short list.

Karen and Sharon have been to numerous events, tapings and plays — on both coasts — to collect signatures and stories from many of the world’s most popular people, including Jack Lemmon whom Karen recalled was “one of the nicest people you’d ever meet.”

“He even called us ‘dear,’” Karen said, giggling.

Sharon loved meeting Bob Hope during the Bob Hope Classic. He signed their book while crooning, “ba-ba-ba-boo — ba-ba-ba-da.”

Sharon, who attended a taping of ABC’s “Mork & Mindy” (which ran from 1978 to 1982) without Karen, got two autographs from the show’s star Robin Williams.

“We were up in the nosebleed seats and Robin Williams came out to warm up the crowd dressed as Mork,” Sharon said. “He started taking questions and I raised my hand and asked for an autograph. He started yelling ‘Don’t, don’t, don’t’ but it was too late. I was already running down to him. When I got to him he said, ‘OK, I’ll give you an autograph,’ and he signed ‘Erik Estrada.’ Then he signed his own name. Something most people don’t realize about Robin Williams is he has the most beautiful blue eyes.”

Musicians’ signatures in the book include Robert Goulet, Barry Manilow, Patty LuPone, Petula Clark and Cher — while she was shopping at Newport Beach’s Fashion Island with her then-boyfriend, Rob Camilletti.

They also met Harry Nilsson at Beatlefest who made their day with a hug and a kiss and joining them in a chorus of his hit song, “Are You Sleeping.”

During the Bob Hope Classic in Palm Springs, Andy Williams gladly signed his John Hancock. He was also grateful to the twins for supplying him with countless tissues to aid his unexpected allergy attack.

The book also includes astronaut Alan Shepard; sports stars like Arnold Palmer and political figures from Tip O’Neill to Tom Hayden and President Gerald Ford.

“So many people, including us, love looking through the book,” Karen said. “Just seeing the signatures brings back so many memories.”

The twins also have additional signatures, not in the book, but on various pieces of memorabilia including Jerry Seinfeld, who signed a program from his one-man show, and the autograph of Elizabeth Montgomery, who signed a restaurant menu. They even have Andrew LLoyd Weber’s signature on a record jacket of “Jesus Christ Super Star” as well as Sir Elton John’s autograph on a CD of his “Road to El Dorado” album.

“We got to shake Elton John’s hand and were amazed that he had such stubby hands and fat fingers,” Karen said. “Not at all what we expected for such a great piano player.”

Financial limitations has significantly decreased the opportunities for the twins to add to their collection. Three years ago, times got so rough they parted with their most prized signature.
“We sold our George Harrison (autograph) to a dealer for $900,” Karen said. “I had gotten his autograph when we were at dinner at Spago celebrating our brother’s birthday. I ran up to him and asked for his autograph and he turned to who he was with and said, ‘No rest for the wicked.’ I’m sorry we had to sell it.”

Sharon and Karen believe the book brings so much enjoyment because of the relationships the public forms with celebrities persona.

“They come into your home and become part of your family,” Karen said. “They feel so familiar. Then when you see them in the flesh and meet them it puts a whole different dimension to the relationship. You’re thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s really you! You’re really here.’”

To see a celebrity in a casual setting is a surreal experience, Sharon added.

“It’s like, ‘They are actually talking to me, calling me by name,’” Sharon continued. “They are giving you whatever little time they have to give and you own that time. It’s a memory you can hold onto forever.”

To order my book Autograph Hell, please click HERE
For more information about my Summit Murder Mystery series, please CLICK HERE
Order my newest book Murder on Kilimanjaro by clicking HERE
Follow me on twitter, HERE
'Like' my Facebook page, HERE
Subscribe to my YouTube channel, HERE and HERE


Popular posts from this blog

James Dean’s Intimate Letters to Girlfriend Coming to Auction

Three James Dean handwritten letters to his girlfriend, never before offered for sale, will be sold at Christie's London November 23, 2011.I've posted the article below from Autograph Magazine.  Take a look! 
James Dean handwritten letters are among the rarest and most valuable of Hollywood autographs. Only a few have come to market since Dean’s tragic death in a 1955 car crash, just 24 years old. So when Neil Roberts, Christie’s Head of Pop Culture in London, asked for any information we might have on them to help him with a potential consignment, I had to know more.

But I had to wait….

“At the moment they are reluctant to send me any copies,” Neil said. “However the names and places they provided seem to add up. I’m sure you will understand that at this time I cannot pass on any details.”

That was a year and a half ago. The wait was worth it.

On November 23, Christie’s will auction three James Dean handwritten letters never before offered for sale during their fall Pop…

How to Preserve your Autographed Photo Collectables

I came across this article and thought it was a good one to share!  We all know that preserving your photos is very important!  What is the point of collecting autographs if the photos become faded and start to deteriorate in a few years because you don't handle them properly?  Take a look at these autograph preservation tips!

1. Acid free is the way to go - Whether you choose plastic bags, cardboard folders or frames to display your autographs, you need to make sure that the material you use is acid free. Standard bags, folders and frames are made with materials that release acids over time. These acids can make your photographs and other memorabilia fade and disintegrate. Make sure that the products that you buy to store your autographs is clearly labeled acid-free. If the package doesn't specify that, don't trust it with your photos.

2. Keep humidity low - Humidity causes moisture which can be devastating to paper products like photographs. To keep your autogra…

Is the selfie the new autograph?

By Brent Briggeman

Advertisement Every time a fan pulls out a phone and asks Michael McKenry to pose for a selfie, it makes him laugh.

It reminds the Rockies catcher of "The Goonies," where one of the young characters created a device that holds the camera out in front of him.

"When you think about it, he's the one who invented the selfie stick," McKenry said of the kid in the 1985 film. "And it took all this time for technology to catch up."

Technology has caught up, all right. Roughly 100 million selfies are taken daily according to a study from Google, those making up part of the nearly 900 billion photos snapped in a year according to Agence France-Presse. The Internet is filled with surveys that tell what your selfie habits reveal about your personality, Oxford Dictionaries named selfie the Word of the Year in 2013 and if there was any doubt selfies had hit the mainstream, that was erased when host Ellen…