I met President Regan because we were in Washington D.C. playing against the Washington Redskins for an Alzheimer’s charity event. As it happens, out of everyone there playing this game… Michael Keaton, Matthew Broderick, Mark Harmon… he turned out to gravitate to me because he was a huge “Welcome Back, Kotter” fan. He was quoting me episodes and quoting me Epstein’s notes. His favorite was, “Roses are blue, Violets are red, I’m sorry to announce, my Grandma’s dead.”
After he shook my hand, a few moments later, a Secret Serviceman came up to me and said, “The President would like to see you in the Oval Office.” I mean here’s all these guys that are bigger stars than me, and here’s Ronnie… a Kotter freak.
I was escorted into the Oval Office and sitting there by myself. I remember thinking… “Jack Kennedy!!! let’s blockade the Russians!!! Harry Truman… let’s drop the big one!!! Abraham Lincoln… let’s free the slaves!!!”
Ronnie came in with two Secret Servicemen and said, “What would you like for lunch?” Being at the White House and being able to order anyyyyyything I’d like… I ordered an Italian sub sandwich with everything, including the Italian dressing. Ronny ordered the same thing… hold the mayo. I immediately offered that I loved, “Bedtime with Bonzo.” “How was it working with a monkey?” Mr. President.
“The same way it is working with Congress,” he laughed. “They need constant rehearsal, and you can never trust them when they get on camera.” Within moments, ten people burst into the Oval Office and the President’s phone started ringing. Two Secret Servicemen whisked me out and joined me with my partners saying that the President had urgent business. I asked about my sub sandwhich. They asked which hotel I was staying at. I said, “The Four Seasons.” They said they would have it delivered.
I turned on the news that night in my hotel room only to discover that Russia had shot down an American passenger jet, accusing us of spying. There was a U.S. House of Representative on board. I never got my sub sandwich. (Who’s gonna deny it… the man’s got Alzheimer’s).