A lot of us would not hesitate to pose for a picture with a Hollywood celebrity. It is a one of a kind memento, as it is not often we get a chance to be with someone so famous. Surely a prized possession for the one whose picture was taken with a celebrity. Recently, a thrift store in Mortsel, Belgium, discovered an old photo album among some boxes of donated clothing and other paraphernalia. The store, Opnieuw & Co., had workers sifting through the donated boxes and they came across a vintage photo album of a woman posing with various A-list Hollywood celebrities. This was in Belgium, but these celebrities are well-known all over the world. People like Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Cage, and Jack Nicholson, to name a few. Even a photo with a young Elijah Wood when he was just a kid, and a rare photo with Bruce Willis who still had a full head of hair, was among the pictures. Employees figured that this album was truly special, and may have been included among the donated stuff by mistake. Normally, discarded personal photos are damaged or unimportant when donated to thrift shops. But this vintage album of photos with top celebrities was surely valuable. And who was the lady in all the photos with the celebrities?
Well, Opnieuw & Company turned to the internet to find out who the lady was, with the intention of returning the precious memorabilia. After some detective work, they found out the lady was Maria Snoeys-Lagler, a former member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). These journalists report on the entertainment industry, particularly the Golden Globe Awards. Sadly, Maria passed away in 2016 at the age of 87.
But it didn’t end there. With the identity of the lady now known, one of Belgium’s national TV stations, used their contacts to reach Maria’s daughter in California, to return the valuable keepsake. Our hats off to these Belgians, they could have easily sold the album for a hefty price, since it was among donations anyway. Yet they chose to search for the owner (and relatives) of the precious memento and return it, knowing it was surely something of value to the owner. It was actually like a Hollywood time capsule.