By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
When Asbury Park native actor Danny DeVito comes to town, residents old and new, take notice.
But for one resident and former Our Lady of Mount Carmel School classmate of DeVito’s, it was also an opportunity to meet up and give him a gift from one of their old teachers.
Retired Asbury Park firefighter, Fred Bates, said he knew DeVito would be at Mr C’s Beach Bistro in Allenhurst on Sat., April 28 and he stopped by with a letter from Sr. Celesta, their sixth grade teacher.
Bates said he keeps in contact with the 92-year-old nun who now lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
When he told her he would be going to see DeVito’s show at the Paramount Theater on Saturday night as part of the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival, Sr. Celesta decided to write her former student a letter, which she then emailed to Bates.
Bates said he delivered the letter Saturday afternoon and later attended DeVito’s show, sitting in the front row.
“It was very funny…it was unbelievable,” Bates said.
Bates said Devito talked about his movies and Asbury Park, making references to the boardwalk and the house he grew up in.
The actor also held a question and answer session after the show, first taking questions from reporters and then from audience members who passed around a microphone.
Bates said he and DeVito were in class together from kindergarten through eighth grade at the Asbury Park Catholic school.
He also said as a classmate, DeVito was very much like the man the world has been watching for decades through television shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Taxi,” and movies, “Throw Mama from the Train,” “Twins” and “Matilda.”
A year ago DeVito was nominated for a Tony Award for his work in the Broadway play “The Price.”
“He was just the way he is today – just a funny, funny guy,” Bates said about their school days.