TV NotesSale of Willie Aames’ housewares draw a flock to his Olathe home
By Joe Lambe, The Kansas City Star
Was it the stuff that lured hundreds of garage-sale shoppers to a south Olathe home?
Or was it hard-luck actor Willie Aames, who played Tommy Bradford in “Eight is Enough” and later portrayed the costumed hero “Bibleman”?
It had to be Aames, who is trying to move on after a year of negative press reports: bankruptcy, a ruptured marriage and a suicide attempt last Thanksgiving.
Hundreds of people, many with cameras, gathered outside his home Thursday for the two-hour sale of belongings that marked the former child actor’s life.
There was a plush leather couch and chair and a giant television. Also, a lion head mounted on an oak pedestal, along with stuffed wild boars and other wildlife he hunted. Other items included crystal and posters of Aames when he was young.
The posters had the blond curls that helped launch his acting career at age 9. Now he is 48, and the curls are marked with gray.
Mikki Wehrli of Olathe said, “I’m looking at the stuffed lion.” It was not to be, but she would later leave lucky. As a waitress at Winstead’s on the Plaza in the 1990s, she said, she served Aames often and he tipped well.
Many there felt they knew him.
He became a teen star with “Eight is Enough,” which ran from 1977 to 1981, and he toured as lead singer and guitarist with his own rock band. He later portrayed the role of Buddy Lembeck in “Charles in Charge.”
There were problems with cocaine over the years, and he and his second wife overcame that together and became Christians. Aames taught Christianity to kids for years as “Bibleman.”
Eager to leave Los Angeles, the couple moved to Olathe in the early 1990s. He had been in Kansas City earlier to work on a syndicated fishing program and liked the area.
Shortly after noon Thursday, he walked out smiling with a stuffed deer head under his arm.
“I think you’re all nuts,” he said. “I want to party with you.”
Someone shouted, “We’re sorry, Willie.”
“We’re your friends,” another added.
People cheered and clapped.
Soon Aames was in the middle of the crowd trying to dicker on prices after he told handlers, “I have no idea what the prices are.”
Big cameras focused in, and fur-covered mics dangled from poles above him, and they were not just from local television stations.
People are making a television documentary of Aames’ life, the hard times he’s faced and how he gets through them, said Sarano Kelley, a California life coach for athletes and celebrities who’s now advising Aames.
“We’re filming what Willie is going through, like what the country is going through,” he said.
Aames is getting rid of stuff “to learn,” the coach said, “to learn how to let go of the past.”
He and Aames will now start working on where he will live and what he will do for a living, Kelley said.
Meanwhile, Aames negotiated while buyers and others jostled to take his picture.
“I got him,” one woman yelled to another.
“E-mail it to me,” others said.
He signed $5 posters of himself as a young man in a bathing suit. “It’s been a long time since I looked like that,” he said.
Michele Price of De Soto left with one of the signed posters. “I had posters of him as a teenager. That’s why I wanted it.”
“How much for the lion’s head?” a man yelled.
“He wants $3,500,” another buyer responded.
On some things, Aames would not bend readily. Someone offered him $200 for a giant chopping block with legs.
It is over two centuries old and comes off a meat butchering ship, he said. “If you could find one today you’d pay $2,000 for sure.”
Besides, he said, “all of my kids have been changed on that so you probably don’t want to eat on it.”
Wehrli, the former waitress who eyed the lion, backed off on that. But she purchased three crystal decanters for $5 each from one of Aames’ helpers.
When the Olathe woman went up to Aames to show him one, she said, he remembered her from Winstead’s. He also told her in a kind of wonder, “That’s a $500 decanter.”
She was told that members of his rock band bought the decanter, made by Orrefors of Sweden, for Aames while they were touring overseas.
Brandon Johnson of Olathe paid $100 for the deer head. “I have one at the house just like it,” he said, “so we’re going to give him a buddy.”
Toward the end of the sale, Deborah Essex of Olathe approached Aames and offered $400 for the lion head.
“It would mean a lot to me but you don’t have to say yes,” she told him.
“It’s one of my favorite things,” Aames said. “You promise to love him... It’s yours.”
As she walked away, she said, “My boyfriend is going to kill me.”
Judy Frese of Lenexa left with DVDs and books and said the event was bittersweet.
“He’s got the weight of the world on him but he’s laughing, too,” she said.http://www.kansascity.com/105/v-prin...y/1109154.html