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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 08/10/2009

Vacation Tall Tales: TomKat on OBX?

By Liz Kelly

Is that Tom Cruise back there behind my nephew Brian? Nah. Probably just his brother Will. (Image courtesy Bess Kelly)

Turns out the Outer Banks has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster: Tom Cruise. And because it is impossible for me to actually escape celebrity infiltration of my life, even while on vacation, I wasn't surprised last week when my 17-year-old niece came back from a plane tour of North Carolina's beaches with breathless tales of Tom Cruise owning the property JUST TWO HOUSES DOWN THE BEACH FROM OUR RENTAL! OMG!

The fact that no one has ever seen the Cruises frolicking on the beach or even visiting Duck's charmingly named Wee Winks Market for a six-pack hasn't deterred locals from spinning this one out for slack-jawed city folk already stupefied by hours of sun and saltwater. And, according to one local, time share marketers may be to blame for sparking the great OBX TomKat myth.

"It's an urban legend," said local real estate agent Richard Hess. "It's been going on so long. I think it all started 20 years ago with the time share people. They'd use it as part of their pitch: 'Tom Cruise owns a house up in Duck.'"

A more conspiratorial-minded colleague of Hess's at Sun Realty, who refused to be named, claims the rumor was true 10 years ago and that a "location was confirmed" but is now "hidden under corporate locations." And yet another secretive native, a Wee Winks employee whose perch in the heart of Duck puts her at the center of the gossip pipeline, matter-of-factly stated that Cruise did look at properties about 10 years ago but never bought. Sounds like him -- secretive, indecisive, annoying.

Like Hess, though, I remain skeptical. If Tom, Katie and Suri had visited the Banks we'd know. The paparazzi would follow them, even up the traffic-choked two-lane highway that serves as the only way in or out by car and we'd doubtless be reading about how TK had a canal dredged so the Scientology cruise ship could dock outside his place. No such luck.

Said Hess, "You think if they owned property they'd at least come to visit it once."

One true tale: Andy Griffith retired to the Outer Banks's Roanoke Island. And, truth be told, I'd rather see him anyway.

Did you perhaps bump into Kenny Chesney while snorkeling St. John or catch a glimpse of Mariah Carey kayaking her way around Puerto Rico in high heels? Since none of us can go on vacation without hearing tales of celebs (they're just like us!) lurking about somewhere behind a privacy fence, share your own tales below...

By Liz Kelly  | August 10, 2009; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  TomKat  
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On the ride from the Portland, ME airport to the lake house my husband and I were staying, the cab driver regaled us with stories of famous people that had been in her cab, including Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who rumor has it, own a house just up the lake from where we were staying. She said that they were as nice as folks could be.

Posted by: StuckatWork | August 10, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Hahaha. This reminds me of the ongoing rumor that Britney Spears was going to attend my tiny liberal arts college. (I think every college had the same rumor around that time.)

I don't have any celeb close encounters, but my uncle once ferried around Dr. Ruth, and said both she and her husband were absolutely sweet and charming.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | August 10, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

We sat in front of Bruce Hornsby at a basketball tournament one year. We gave his kids balloon swords, which they promptly used to smack us in the heads. Bruce said we could kick their butts if we wanted.

Other than that, and going to see Yogi Berra every year, I got nothin.

Posted by: eet7e | August 10, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Everybody knows Tom Cruise spends his vacation with the rest of the Scientologists back home on the planet Neptune.

Posted by: kabuki3 | August 10, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Other than that, and going to see Yogi Berra every year, I got nothin.

Yogi Berra's a legend. Do tell how you get to see him every year!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 10, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I was on the Thalys between Paris and Amsterdam one summer several years ago. I was alone in the car and looked up when a scruffy-looking college kid passed through. I smiled and nodded and Jimmy Fallon smiled and nodded back.

Posted by: DMaswell | August 10, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Chris Klein is from my hometown and tons of people have six-degrees of separation from him. My old boss had been in Show Choir with CK. My boyfriend went to law school with CK's sister (who, apparently, insists Rollerball is a huge cult classic.) And to tie in nicely with today's post, I have a friend who worked at airport and claimed Klein and Katie Holms used to come through all the time and snog like crazy while waiting for their flight.

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | August 10, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Ooo, this is my mom's story, but I'll share it anyway. She and some friends went backstage after a concert and invited Kris Kristoffernson to their place for some beer. This was the 70's and the concert was in highschool and the "dressing rooms" were a HomeEc lab. Kristofferson and his crew had plans with some other people, but they were nice and thanked my mom and her friends for the invite and for coming to the show.

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | August 10, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I'll have you know that I spotted not one famous person at the Jersey Shore last week. Not even a Philly weather person. Very low-key. It was paradise.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | August 10, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Um, do politians count as celebrities? Having lived in DC for a number of years, I've got lots of encounters on that front.

Posted by: changling | August 10, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I was going to tell the story about Demi and Ashton but you beat me to it! My partner and I have a lake house about 25 miles NW of Portland, ME and a few years ago a huge, lodge-like home was built on the lake. The rumor was that a rich, older man built the place for his new, young wife but she didn't like it so they sold it to Demi and Ashton. We've seen people around there on a few occasions. They are either the non-glamorous real owners or members of Demi and Ashton's domestic staff. Who knows?!

Posted by: dcbny | August 10, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I occasionally appear on amateur videos to remind people that I exist.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | August 10, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Last weekend at the Jersey shore an ex-bodyguard of Michael Jackson was hawking a book, and brought along a Jackson impersonator with him to help promote it. They had a boom box and the fake Jackson danced along at the water's edge as they played Billy Jean.

It was pretty sad/amusing.

Posted by: Roxie1 | August 10, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

aside from a few politicans while I was living in DC, the only famous person I have met is Bruce Hornsby, and that's only because he lives here in Williamsburg.

Posted by: intgirl | August 10, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Back in the day, Katie Holmes and the Dawson's Creek teens were regulars in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina because they filmed the show in Wilmington.

Posted by: buffysummers | August 10, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

About 8 years ago I was summering (rather camping for a week) on Martha's Vineyard.
Took a dip in the chilly waters of the Atlantic. Only other guy in the water was Don Cheadle. "Cold, isn't it?" says I. "Yeah!" says Don.
I get back to the beach and tell my father. He missed seeing Don b/c he couldnt get his eyes off the visage of Bridgid Coulter sunning on the shore.
That was a nice afternoon.

Posted by: toneye | August 10, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Back in the 80's Tom Cruise bought a house for his folks in Avon-by-the Sea, NJ, just down the street from our house. We spend a lot of time walking the dog near their house, but never got a glimpse.

My folks just built a house in Exuma, Bahamas, where they filmed a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean. In addition to the cast members, the island seems to be a celebrity hot-spot. Al and Roxy (Lenny Kravits' mom, The Jeffersons) Roker their roots to the island, as well as well as Esther Rolle. Jack Black moored his yacht Tenacious D there a few months ago. My dad kept running into him, but had no idea who he was. He did mention that his run-about was was bigger than his boat.

Posted by: MzFitz | August 10, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Back in the day, on honeymoon, who should I bump into at the lunch buffet? John Cleese who was taking some solo R&R after filming A Fish Called Wanda. There was only 20 people, tops, at the resort and we had a nice chat.

Posted by: TonyMostyn | August 10, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Sasquatchbigfoot just gave me the biggest laugh...totally needed it today too. Thanks.

Posted by: mlc2 | August 10, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Honeymoons.... my wife and I spent one night at a manor house in Ireland in 1990. Stupid me decides to go swimming while she wandered the grounds with her camera. There's Tracey Ullmann vacationing with her family, and this was at the height of her Fox show. She was very gracious to my wife and even let her take a photo of her (proof! we have proof!). Of course, the closest I got to her was a long-distance shot as we were leaving the next day. Sigh. So close....

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | August 10, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I used to live in LA & worked in the industry, so had many, many,many close encounters, but this is my fave:

1990 or so. A bank lot where rows of parking spots faced each other. Driving my rusty 1970 VW Bug, I pulled into my spot just as a pretty Jaguar pulled into its spot nose-to-nose with me. We both got out of our cars at the same time, looked at each other and laughed.

Me and Shirley MacLaine.

Posted by: dadada | August 10, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

It is actually totally true that Tom Cruise visited the OBX. My close friend's mom (who is also a friend) owned a photography shop in Nagshead ... her photos are gorgeous and she is a well-known artist in the OBX. Tom came into her shop and was particularly impressed with one of her photos. "Hold on a minute ... let me go get my wife," he told her. He then returned with NICOLE KIDMAN. True story. So it is no surprise to me that TomKat might be haunting the banks once more ...

A friend of mine also ran into Matt Damon at George Mason University a year or so ago, and it was rumored that Mel Gibson had lunch at McCormick and Schmicks in Reston Town Center a few years back (everyone was changing their lunch plans that day).

Posted by: purelittleking | August 11, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

omg, you have made me long to be back at the beach! we spend a couple weeks in Southern Shores every year and Wee Winks is where we pick our Wash Post up every day.

never saw Tom Cruise tho

Posted by: kawilson69 | August 11, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

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