04/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Celebrity Etiquette, American Style!

A chance encounter with a celebrity can leave anyone speechless. Have you ever been distracted by a celebrity sighting and not known what to do? Maybe you just saw that person in one of the celebrity weeklies and wanted a good long look (off limits at all times). If this happens to you, just how should you behave?

  • Never interrupt a celebrity to ask for an autograph.
  • If you meet a celebrity on the job (hotel, restaurant, spa), remain professional at all times. Use discretion, and never reveal any personal information such as that person's room number, credit card information, or home address.
  • Respect that person's privacy. Just because he or she is on your favorite television program or in the movies doesn't give you free rein to hound him or her. If you must take a photograph or video, ask permission first. Think Princess Diana!
  • If a celebrity is with his or her family and clearly wishes not to be disturbed, show restraint and keep your distance. (it's no wonder celebrities travel with security guards!)
2010-02-22-harrisonford.jpgHarrison Ford, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel NewsomExtraordinary Measures, San Francisco Premiere Photo credit: Drew Altizer

  • Err on the side of formality until you are asked you to do otherwise. Use honorifics such as Mr. or Mrs., as in Mr. Redford or Mrs. Taylor.
  • Actors you meet in public are not their screen personas. Can you imagine anything worse than a real Gregory House? Go back to watching your favorite soap opera for real drama.
  • Avoid asking special favors such as "Can I be an extra on your series?" or "I'd love a lock of your hair to sell on eBay."
  • If you are lucky enough to be introduced to one of your idols, it's a golden opportunity for small talk, but nothing more. Shake hands and use good eye contact, even if the meeting is brief. Say something like "I'm a huge fan, Mr. Redford. I love your work."

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the City & County of San Francisco and the founder of The AML Group, (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Cornell University and Microsoft to Nordstrom and KPMG. She has been quoted by The Sunday Times, the San Francisco Business Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. She has appeared on various radio and television stations, such as ABC, CBS, and Fox News. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and