Some autograph collectors do it for profit. Others enjoy the touch of fame. But Centralia resident Josh Major does it purely for fun. His collection boasts a whopping 439 signatures – and it’s growing, a testimony to his determination and the power of positive thinking.
His favorite autograph belongs to country superstar Alan Jackson. It holds center stage at the front of one of Josh’s eight autograph binders. “I love country music,” he says, flipping over to a photo of Reba McEntire. “Redheads are the best,” he adds with a smile, “and Reba signed hers with love.”
It can take dogged persistence to acquire some autographs. This was the case with Joe Diffie. Josh’s first attempt came back marked “return to sender.” But he didn’t give up, ultimately locating a post office box in Reno that was successful.
Josh finds most celebrity addresses through Google. “You have to do a double check on it,” he says. “One of the best websites is fanmail.biz.”
In addition to collecting autographs, Josh is also a wiz at star-related factoids and trivia. He holds up a signed photo of Craig T. Nelson and says, “He was born on my grandma’s birthday, April 4. He’s from Spokane too.”
Flipping through the binder, Josh stops at his Miguel Ferrer photo. “He’s George Clooney’s cousin,” Josh says. “The thing is, a week after I got this autograph, he passed away. I was getting ready to send him a thank you card and I read on Facebook that he had died.”
Josh also has autographs from departed celebrities Joan Rivers and Tim Russert from Meet the Press.
Some replies take months to get. A request sent to Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush in Australia took two months. NASCAR diver Richard Petty took three months but Josh was determined and hopeful. “One year as a kid, I dressed up as him for Halloween,” Josh says.
A fan of the TV show Roseanne, Josh tried his hardest to get autographs from superstar Roseanne Barr or John Goodman, but he wasn’t successful. “So I decided to try for the grandma because she’s crazy and cranky.”
After six months, Shelley Winters’ autograph arrived in Josh’s mailbox. He also acquired Martin Mull, Roseanne’s boss and the principal on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
One typically hard-to-acquire autograph belongs to Harrison Ford. Josh has two. He gave one to a friend. “He doesn’t sign autographs that much,” says Josh. “His publicist sent me a letter and said he doesn’t sign autographs. But at the bottom, it said, ‘Here are some photos for you,’ and they were signed.”
Jack Nicholson also proved a difficult addition to Josh’s collection. Lacking the funds to purchase an expensive unsigned photo from eBay, Josh found an affordable one that wasn’t as good and sent it off to acquire a signature. Jack kindly replaced the image with a signed one of much higher quality.
After years of perfecting his technique, Josh says making the task easiest on celebrities adds to his success rate. “The biggest thing is sending them a return envelope with seven stamps,” shares Josh. “They love that. It’s like cheesecake to them. It’s really an investment if you want to do it complete, to make sure it’s going to get to you.”
Josh’s tenacity is evident. “You have to make them think you’re determined,” Josh says. “With only an email, they think you aren’t determined enough.”
Josh has his sights set on adding red-headed country singer Bonnie Raitt and actor Neal Patrick Harris to his collection.
Sometimes Josh gets autographs as gifts from his friends and family. Chuck Norris graces his wall, a gift from his mother. “It’s great to add to my collection and it makes me feel good that people are like that,” he says. “Keep cheering me on.”
He’s also known to give autographs as gifts. His mother really wanted Alicia Keys so Josh got it for her. After purchasing photos and postage, Josh estimates he spends around $30 on each autograph. “It’s hard, but it makes me feel responsible when I budget for it,” he says.
His collection began with signatures from a few news anchors at a Miami station where Josh took a tour in 2002. “That’s what started it for me,” he says. “I was like, I am hitting and rolling.”
His newscaster collection now includes Dan Rather, Charles Gibson and Al Roker.
In between collecting signatures, Josh works at Goodwill and attends Centralia College where he studies broadcasting. “I like the news because you can go on the TV and inform people about stuff,” he says.
His dream is to one day work for the Washington Post. Or he might settle for being an entertainment reporter. “I could be the next Perez Hilton – Perez Josh,” he says with a laugh.
For now, he writes vocal letters to the editor encouraging voters to support bonds and levies for first responders and schools. “They are out there saving us every day and they deserve our support,” he says. “My taxes go to those things too.”
Josh has faced challenges in his life, but his positive attitude sets him apart. “It’s tough but I have tried to be hopeful,” he says. “You can only be hopeful in this life if not, then everything looks gloomy.”