Star watcher has signature approach to hobby


When a famous entertainer shows up in Baltimore, chances are Owen Sweeney isn't far behind.

Mr. Sweeney, a resident of Bel Air who attends the University of Baltimore, collects autographs. Not by trading with other collectors or buying from dealers, but by getting them himself.

When someone famous breezes into town, he's one of a half-dozen or so young men who can pretty much be counted on to show up with pen in hand.

"Not to brag, but I think I'm like the main person in Baltimore," he says, bragging anyway.

He and his fellow autograph hounds are easy to spot. They're the young guys usually hovering near where the stars are, clutching pens and 8-by-10 glossies. In this business, both patience and persistence are virtues. Mr. Sweeney's been known to wait all day for an autograph, and once followed Mick Jagger from his hotel to a nearby Chinese restaurant to collect a signature.

Mr. Sweeney's hobby started about six years ago. His first success, he reluctantly admits, was Motley Crue ("Hey, I was in high school," he says.). Since then he's convinced Mr. Jagger, Kurt Cobain, Joanne Woodward, Holly Hunter and members of the bands U2 and Rush to put pen to paper.

He's recently added a new wrinkle to his hobby: having his photograph snapped with celebrities. One of his finest coups came earlier this year during the filming here of "Home for the Holidays." Mr. Sweeney jockeyed himself into position next to the film's reclusive director, Jodie Foster, and had a friend snap their picture together.

"All I could think was, 'Take it quick,' " he recalls with a laugh. "She didn't look like she'd stay still for very long."

Have someone to suggest? Write Lynda Robinson at The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278; or call (410) 332-6717.

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