BEVERLY HILLS, California (AP) — Win or lose, Hollywood's biggest
stars will be looking forward to Oscar once again at Sunday's Golden
Globe Awards. But not necessarily THAT Oscar.
bartender in the show's off-camera green room, Oscar Zuleta has toasted
with Sean Connery, gotten a head rub from Tom Hanks and shared a selfie
with Jessica Alba. The 48-year-old Beverly Hilton Hotel staffer keeps
the drinks flowing at the awards circuit's booziest gathering.
lot of people know me for that - 'you are the only Oscar at the Golden
Globes,'" Zuleta says. "I know many of the presenters for years now -
wonderful people and I get to see them every year and they happen to
remember me, luckily."
Zuleta immigrated to Los Angeles from
Guatemala as a teenager. He started working for the Hilton in 1986, at
first just pouring cups of coffee. Eventually, he landed on the hotel's
banquet staff, commuting daily from the working-class Mid-City area to
the mecca of affluence that is Beverly Hills. He would dish out meals at
business conventions or clean up after the hotel's many charity galas.
first brush with Globes glamour was in an eighth-floor suite
after-party in 1995. Tom Hanks was celebrating his win for "Forrest
Gump" and noticed Zuleta's "Oscar" name tag. "He says, 'Come here. Let
me rub your head. I need some luck,'" Zuleta recalled, laughing. Hanks
went on to win at the Oscars.
One year, Zuleta delivered extra
food to a Globes guest mid-show and found himself crawling between
tables as the televised ceremony continued — and while an amused
Angelina Jolie looked on. Then there's the time he held an extended
conversation with Mike Tyson — in Spanish. And Zuleta is ready with a
ginger ale as soon as he spots Robert Downey Jr.
wouldn't be a Golden Globes without Oscar. Everybody looks for him,"
said Globes executive producer Barry Adelman. "Everybody who is anybody
has been served a drink by Oscar."
Meryl Streep, an Affleck
brother or two, and dozens of other actors will be packed into Cabana
Room 138 on Sunday as they wait their turns onstage in the hotel's
International Ballroom. But Zuleta says he won't have time to chat much
as he pours out martinis and Champagne. It's the stars' loss; this
bartender has stories of his own to tell.
He raised three children
alone for years after his first wife, Cecilia, died of a brain
aneurysm. He saved enough money from his unionized job to help pay
tuition for his two older daughters at East Coast colleges.
remarrying, his current wife, Zonia, also suffered a brain aneurysm.
She's doing OK, though, and Zuleta took her on vacation last month to
visit California's Monterey Bay Aquarium, the place that inspired his
favorite movie of 2016, "Finding Dory."
Moments of kindness stand
out for Zuleta in the yearly whirlwind of fame and glitz. "Everybody is
nice to me, but there are people that show you that you matter," he
Jessica Alba posted a selfie with the heavyset bartender on
her Instagram feed. One man tipped him an envelope stuffed with $300.
But it was a red wine toast with James Bond actor Connery that's become
Zuleta's favorite Globes moment.
"He did a wonderful thing. He
told me with his heavy accent that his custom is not to have a drink of
wine - only if the person that is serving it to him has it with him. But
you know, being a worker, I'm not allowed to do that. But he insisted,"
After getting permission from the banquet manager
and Globes host Dick Clark himself, Zuleta took a sip. "And he says,
'Cheers, my son,'" Zuleta recalled. "I'll never forget that."