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Autograph Hounds, Fans-They All Come See Sills

By Emily J. Ozer

Some 200 people--including operafans, autograph hounds and even a Beverly Sills look-alike-turned out Saturday to greet the retired opera queen as she came to the Coop to hawk her autobiography and a new set of records.

Sills, formerly the leading soprano with the New York City Opera before her 1980 retirement, is now the Opera's general director. The opera star, who received an honorary Doctorate of Music from Harvard in 1974, signed copies of her 1982 autobiography and her eight albums re-released this year by Angel Records.

The Coop offered the new Sills recordings--which had been unavailable for several years--at a discount price. But, as one Coop clerk told the crowd, "First you go upstairs and buy an album and then come downstairs to have Miss Sills autograph it."

Among those who waited up to 20 minutes to get Sills's John Hancock was Charlotte Frazier from Needham, said she looks so much like Sills that people often confuse her for the singer. In fact, Cambridge Police Officer Jack Moynihan--who was assigned to guard the soprano from overzealous fans--said he told Frazier, "I thought you were already here" when she arrived at the Coop.

"Even my grandchildren think I'm her. They say, "Nanny, I saw you on television and I didn't know you could sing,"' boasted Frazier.

Enthusiasm for Sills was not limited to Sills resembling her. "I just love Beverly Sills--I have just about all of her operas," said 30-year-old Carolyn Carpenter of Boston. "But I think she's getting tired of this because she misspelled her name," added Carpenter, referring to the way Sills signed her name on an album Carpenter had just bought.

W. Randall Burnip of Berkley, Mass., said he's "not a real big fan, but a big enough one to want her autograph." Burnip said his autograph collection includes more than 100 opera stars' signatures.

America Hates Harvard

"I'm a Glenn Miller fan," said Officer Michael O'Regan of the Cambridge Police. "And I don't like Harvard."

After Sills signed autographs for more than an hour, Coop General Manager James R. Argeros, presented the soprano with a plaque commemorating the day she spent at the store, saying that the memento represented the "sincere admiration for the joy, compassion, and sense of spirit you have shared with us today."

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