TOMBSTONE — “Sweet. Personable. Friendly.”
Actor Michael Biehn may have delivered a convincing portrayal of Johnny Ringo — that malicious character in the 1993 movie “Tombstone” — but the celebrity showed fans his gracious side during the town’s Doc Holli-DAYS celebration on Saturday.
“He is by far the nicest celebrity I’ve ever met in my life,” said Mark Fuentes, who made the trip to Tombstone from Los Angeles when he learned Biehn would be in town as a featured guest. “He took the time to talk to us, made us feel welcome and was a very sweet, kind man.”
Fuentes arrived at the OK Corral early and was first in line Saturday morning for one of several meet and greet opportunities with the actor.
“It was well worth the effort,” he said. “I’m a fan.”
And the Biehn accolades continued.
“This was the first time I’ve met a celebrity and it was an amazing experience,” said Mark’s brother, Ray Fuentes. “He was friendly, kind and personable. I’m really glad I did this.”
Describing herself as a “big fan of the movie ‘Tombstone,’” Safford resident Tina Pease has attended other events featuring Tombstone celebrities.
“I was here last year with Michael Biehn and Billy Zane, so this is the second time I’ve seen Michael Biehn,” she said. “He is a very, very sweet person and fun to talk to. I’ve been a Michael Biehn fan since 1983 when I first saw him in ‘The Terminator,’ when he played Kyle Reese, the movie’s hero.”
Ticket holders started lining up at the OK Corral early Saturday for an opportunity to meet the celebrity and get autographs and photos. Biehn’s Tombstone visit started Friday when he joined a group of people who visited Johnny Ringo’s grave in Dragoon, the first event in a lineup of Doc Holli-DAYS activities, said Sherry Rudd, a local business owner and one of the event organizers.
“We have been more than blessed with this weekend,” said Rudd, who was grateful for Saturday’s overcast sky and cool weather.
“Our four-hour group tour to Johnny Ringo’s gravesite drew about 40 people. It was a big success. Michael (Biehn) was there for an hour signing autographs and he spoke in front of the big oak tree where Johnny Ringo died. Michael and his publicity team are great to work with.”
Saturday also featured a parade down Allen Street, with Biehn waving to the crowd as he rode by in a horse-drawn wagon.
“I’m so glad I was able to be here for this,” said Patsy Roell, who was in the area from Indiana, visiting her son and daughter-in-law. “I was coming here for vacation anyway and we’re big Johnny Ringo fans, so meeting Michael Biehn was really exciting. He was so sweet. He didn’t rush us, took the time to answer questions and talk to us.”
Tombstone visitor Sam Henderson also praised Biehn’s accommodating demeanor.
”I know he was just acting, but after seeing him as evil Johnny Ringo, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “What an incredible transition from villain to a genuine nice guy.”
Along with two meet and greets and the parade, Biehn’s weekend appearances also included a VIP party at the Oriental Saloon.
He is returning to the OK Corral on Sunday for a final meet and greet at 9 a.m. Tickets are $75.
Other Sunday activities include “Hands Across Tombstone at 10 a.m., a 3 p.m. gun spinning contest and Tombstone movie trivia contest at 3:30 p.m.
“We would love folks to come join us for Hands Across Tombstone at 10 a.m. Sunday,” Sherry Rudd said. “We want to line Tombstone’s historic district with people holding hands while we play ‘We Are the World’ as a gesture of unity for the community.”