Let the rest of the U.S. make fun of the Sunshine State, home to gators, snakes, hurricanes (every few years), now love bugs and, yes, Florida man.
That hasn’t distracted celebrities from flocking to its sandy shores in recent months, to speak at an event, hobnob with astronauts, eat at a restaurant or just chill for a few days.
George Clooney showed up Thursday night along the Space Coast for a black-tie affair, along with his wife, Amal, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. The celebration took place at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, located at the Space Center.
In the Panhandle, Tom Cruise flew into Pensacola for a private event Tuesday morning at the Naval Air Station there. Cruise — whose mom once lived on Marco Island —knows Florida well (home to the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, of which he’s an advocator).
Cruise of course was in the iconic 1980s film “Top Gun,” in which he plays bravado-on-steroids pilot Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
Last month, Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro made reservations for the Titusville restaurant Pier 220, reserving a corner table. When the actor who made famous lines including “You talkin’ to me?” called ahead, restaurant staff wondered if it really was him.
“We were stoked. I love the guy,” Dr. Sachin Shenoy, who owns Pier 220, told Florida Today. “My whole staff was there to make sure he had a good time.”
And Naples is hardly ever exempt from brushes with fame, with celebrity sightings in recent years including Harry Connick Jr. eating downtown and national championship-winning Clemson coach Dabo Swinney praising the restaurant Barbatella in February.
In March, Tony Bennett visited Parmesan Pete’s in Naples in March, and he’s been known to frequent Italian restaurants before in Naples and Fort Myers when he’s performing there.
Jacqueline DellaRocca, the daughter of the restaurant’s owners Peter and Maria DellaRocca, took the call and let the woman know only outdoor seating would be available.
“I was blown away,” DellaRocca told the Naples Daily News. “No one like that has ever called — we haven’t had any celebrities here before. It was so exciting.”
Other Naples celebrity sightings in recent years include Nicole Kidman (Cruise’s former wife) and her husband, country star Keith Urban, took in a dinner at Sea Salt and watched a “Spider-Man” film at a local theater.
And in 2015, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler shopped at a women’s clothing store in downtown Naples … for himself, buying a leather jacket and custom-made leather boots.