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By Peter Huston

We haven’t had many “A” list celebrities come to Put-in-Bay (in a very long time). With the exception of Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, I really can’t even think of even one. Most of the current Hollywood stars or big time sport types don’t make their way here at all.

When I was growing up comedian Paul Lynde (originally from Mount Vernon Ohio) was my favorite star on Hollywood Squares TV show. He was the center square for many years. His acerbic whit and cutting satirical humor made me laugh out loud. You might be surprised to know that he had a direct connection to Put-in-Bay. As a child he was a camper at the summer choir camp here on the island. His child’s eye view hand painted map of Put-in-Bay is still on display at the Mount Vernon Historical Society. Later he worked for Chick Linker at the original “Boat House”. Very few will remember him anymore and I don’t think he ever came back once he was a star.

When I give tours I like to mention actress Katie Holmes who grew up in Toledo (she was married to Tom Cruise). I understand her parents come to the island from time to time, but that’s as close as we can get these days to Hollywood. I think that’s just fine. We don’t need to have top tier Hollywood Celebs to make us the “cool kids”, no sir!

We are so off the radar, heck even most of second and third tier celebrities that go to trade shows from our baby boomer past don’t visit either. If they did I bet most millennials’ would probably not even recognize them unless they watched “TV Land”!

Some people might still recognize “Seinfeld” characters. We had Larry Thomas, the Soup Nazi here a couple of times. His character might create a flicker on “the face or recognition” meter if he returned. Truth is that much of the stories I could tell about the movies, TV shows and “Stars” that came to Put-in-Bay won’t even register with anyone under 30.

In today’s social media driven world (I heard on a morning talk show) many “celebrity du jour” stars (I don’t even have a clue who they are) are getting paid 6 figures to be social media spokes people. I was thinking maybe if we could recruit one of those up and coming stars we could invite them to give it a go for us. Or better yet maybe we could make up our own “island stars” and have them start a “Celebrity” Twitter conversation about #PIB with @seakingjames, @mileybucyrus or @jayseapib!

Still, I’m not that optimistic we can get a star, so as a plan B I think what we need here is a big time Hollywood movie. We need to lure them to shoot here on the island. All we need is just one scene, and we can even tell them we’re really near Canada to make it seem more hip. I mean Cleveland has had a bunch of action movies like “Bat Man”, Mansfield had the “Shaw Shank Redemption”, and even Sandusky had the “Edge of Seventeen”.

We almost had a shot at island stardom last year with “Perry’s Luck”, the film that was slated to be shot about Oliver Hazard Perry and Battle of Lake Erie… but that fizzled too. So plan C would be to create our own Lake Erie Islands Film Commission (sounds snazzy enough). Let’s dazzle Hollywood with our old cars, unique locations and island charm. When you look at the resources here, we have great “period” buildings, tons of cool old cars, and some nearly deserted islands that would make amazing “sets”. How could they resist?

So summing up this story, no stars here yet, we need to create a buzz, so we can give Hollywood a reason to visit, and see what happens. We will probably survive just fine without them, but it’s worth a shot. Just ask Mansfield Ohio and Upper Sandusky about their success and the long-term residual benefits of “Shaw Shank”. Time to put on the Glitz #Putinbayloveshollywood !

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